The news earlier this week that Apple was finally selling TV shows through the Australian iTunes Store was welcome for people keen to legally purchase and download television using the familiar and well-regarded iTunes interface. But as several readers have pointed out in emails, downloading shows will use up much more bandwidth than music. With virtually all Australian ISPs enforcing some sort of bandwidth cap, what tactics can you use to minimise the impact of a spate of TV downloading? See our suggestions after the jump.
Check file sizes before you buy. iTunes includes an option to show
download sizes; right-click on the episode you want and select Get
Info. There's a size field on the Summary tab, although we couldn't
find many examples currently in the store that accurately displayed
this information before purchase. You can also see file sizes in the
download window. As a guide, an episode of South Park takes up 180MB.
See if your ISP includes iTunes downloads. Although it's not common, some ISPs do exempt iTunes purchases from the monthly bandwidth quota, iiNet being the most visible example. If you regularly download video, that could represent a big saving. (This might also happen with the iPhone once local plans are revealed, as Apple has experimented with similar schemes in the US, although you won't be able to fit much television on it in any event due to space constraints.)
Use your off-peak download cap. Many ISPs offer an increased download limit for activity outside of peak hours. While you can't schedule iTunes to begin downloads at a particular time, you can commence downloading during the off-peak periods if you don't want to urgently watch a show during the day. (Allow plenty of time; the iTunes servers aren't particularly fast in our experience.)
Check the DVD options. At $2.99 an episode, there's quite a high price to be paid for convenience in downloading. For older shows, buying a season box set will almost certainly be cheaper than excess download fees if you're on a plan that charges for excess. This is less of an issue for people who get their speed shaped after they reach their cap, but the inconvenience still may not be worth it.