It is possible to watch TV shows online even if your network blocks torrent traffic, or if your ISP interferes with torrenting traffic. Online streaming media, or streaming for short, uses different Internet protocols to torrenting allowing you to download shows to your computer.

Why do ISPs interfere with traffic to begin with?

Not all ISPs do interfere with traffic, but some do and the list of ISP’s shaping their traffic is growing every day. BitTorrent is the protocol usually targeted by ISPs. That is because it is a bandwidth hog, putting an increasing amount of pressure on ISP servers all over the world. ISPs are interfering with this traffic because they need to keep their networks operational for all users, especially during peak periods. Even encryption of torrents is not working as ISPs are doing deeper packet inspections to overcome users who are trying to get around their restrictions.

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Why do colleges and schools block the ports that BitTorrent uses?

RIAA and DMCA notices are becoming more and more prevalent. The reason is that copyright holders are cracking down on the sharing of files. They are using hash scrapes used by torrents to do this, tracking them back to their source and sending out fines or even prosecuting the people involved. When a school or college network is used to download files, they get the notice and fine if they cannot identify the user who has downloaded the files. To identify the user takes additional resources as well. You really can’t blame them for restricting traffic in these areas. It’s a legal minefield.

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Why does online media streaming media bypass these restrictions?

Online streaming media works in a different way to BitTorrent. It uses a protocol known as Real Time Streaming Protocol or RTSP for short. This is very similar to Hypertext Transfer Protocol better known as HTTP, the basic Internet language, and differentiating the traffic on the server is difficult because the two often overlap. So if you use streaming to watch TV shows online, it won’t be picked up.

If you want to watch TV shows online, and your network or ISP restricts bit torrent traffic, use a streaming media client instead. You’ll still be able to see most of the shows you want to watch and your ISP or college network won’t even look twice to see what you are doing.

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