New Zealand Television
How to get great TV and skip the adverts

I remember someone asking on a New Zealand forum website "what's the TV like in New Zealand" and after several people said that it was dreadful, someone added "But you don't emigrate to New Zealand to watch television".

To be fair, the infomercials are bloody funny. There's a vacuum cleaner that can pick up a bowling ball, a bald guy who's rather too excited about his stepladder, and some gunk you can use to cover up your tattoos.

Shiny bald man gets excited by ladders

Something else you might find surprising is the number and length of adverts. Typically, a 90 min film will be drawn out with adverts to more than two hours. And they have the insufferable habit of squeezing a few ads into the end of a film just before the closing credits.

So what's the answer?

1. Get a PVR (personal video recorder) for about $100

You can pick up a digital Freeview PVR (personal video recorder) for about $100. Then you just plug in a USB flash drive or an external hard drive and you can record your favourite TV and fast forward through the adverts.

The top-performing terrestrial and satellite receivers recommended by Consumer Magazine NZ are Dish TV, Hyundai, Panasonic and UtraPlus. I bought this digital satellite receiver in 2013, from JB HiFi.

It can record to USB drive, record directly from the Electronic Program Guide, and has Series Linking. $88 with free shipping!

2. Get Internet TV

Lots of great television and films are easily available online. There are streaming TV shows and websites where you can download your favourites. The internet is uncensored in New Zealand, unlike the UK, where sites like Pirate Bay are banned.

Unfortunately, many television stations and web channels only allow web access to people in certain countries. But there are ways to get around geo-restricted internet TV.

My favourite free internet tv websites that are not banned in NZ are: Cucirca (a great selection of TV shows), Pirate Bay (massive selection of torrent downloads), LinkTV (documentaries and global news), Comedy Central (big selection of comedy shows from their TV channel), YouTube (streaming videos) and Google Videos search engine for videos.

3. Get around geo-restricted internet television

The Netfix tagline is "TV shows and movies anytime and anywhere". Unfortunately, anywhere doesn't include New Zealand. And if you try and watch content on the BBC website you get "Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only". Hulu, which is the king of free online television in the US, is also only accessible if you happen to be in the US.

But as with all things digital, there is a way round it. You can access geo-restricted TV channels through a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which makes the broadcaster think you're in the same country as them.

VPN users can browse internet without any restriction, and watch TV shows on the web that are banned in their region. Prices range from free (which I've never actually got to work for geo-restricted TV) to around $100nz a year. Just google VPN.

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