A little while ago Jennifer de-lurked to ask about downloading television shows so she wouldn’t be at the mercy of our networks.
What follows is a completely non-exhaustive, unofficial, as basic as you can get guide to getting what you want on your telly, when you want it.
What You need
First off you need a broadband connection.
You can do this on dial up but when you are dealing with files about 350MB you won’t be answering the phone for a very long time. If you don’t have a broadband connection yet go to Netspace and tell them ‘caffeine’ sent you.
A Bit Torrent client.
BitTorrent is what makes this whole thing possible. I’m not going to explain how in detail, you can get that from the BitTorrent Introduction page. Put simply you get bits of the file from different people and in turn you share the bits you already have with other people. You can see that the more people accessing file, the more choice of downloaders you have and the faster it should go for everyone.
Bit Torrent is free. Don’t pay for it. You can use the original BitTorrent client from www.bittorrent.com but this tends to confuse people ’cause nothing appears to be installed after you install it. There are other clients around ? Bit Comet for Windows and even Mac users (Hi Rob and Rob) can get in on the action with the Java based Azureus.
Torrent files for each episode.
The shows are downloaded via torrent files. These tell your client where to start looking and how to share your download. These torrent files are listed on web sites and here Google is, as always, your best friend. Googling ‘torrent desperate housewives‘ should return you a list of pages with torrent files for Desperate Housewives.
What I Use
So what do I use? I use Bit Comet as my torrent client and do most of my searching on www.isohunt.com to search for shows or go straight to www.tv-swarm.com or www.tvtorrents.tv and search from there.
How I Do It
This is the simple part. Once you’ve installed your client and found the show you’re looking for you click on the torrent file link. Your client should start up and then, after a few seconds, start downloading and sharing at the same time. It’s that simple.
Things I’ve Found
The show names. I always go for those marked HDTV_LOL ? these are great qualities .avi files, wide-screen and around 350MB per episode (42 minutes of show time). I still have no idea what the LOL bit means but they always work for me. One I downloaded had some obscure sound format that needed a codec, which all became too difficult so I downloaded a different file. I think most are encoded with mp3 so Windows Media Player plays them no problems.
Those marked HDHR are High Resolution files and look stunning ? but are twice the size and hence take twice as long to download.
Some are encoded with surround sound too, just look at the file name and it should be obvious which ones these are.
Variations in download time
This is the killer. Some files have taken 14 hours to download, and just last night one took only 4 hours. The time taken depends upon many factors from how many peers (those holding the file to download) to net traffic, to which way the wind is blowing. I’ve found it really helps to download new episodes the day after they are aired, when demand is greatest. Older episodes ? even those a month or so old ? can take significantly longer to retrieve.
As for old old shows, such as the first season of Carnivale that screened in 2003 in America yet is only getting it’s first airing here, you can almost forget it.
Most shows ripped (or capped) from television will have the network logo watermarked on it. Ads are always removed and sometimes end credits can be missing too.
Don’t leach. Make sure you keep the torrent available for as long as you can – remember there are others like you probably wanting the same episode and the longer you keep it open, the more people can share and the better (quicker) it is for everyone. BitTorrent depends upon many people sharing the same file.
And that’s pretty much it.
In summary :
- Get a bit torrent client
- Find a list of torrent files
- Download or click on the torrent you want
- Open this file, or it should open automatically
- Download, share and enjoy
Oh yeah, you may want to invest in a DVD burner for your PC so you can watch them on your television.