Channel Five has just updated its catch-up TV service, rebranding it from Five Download to Demand Five along the way.

Demand Five is now a stronger proposition, adding the ability to stream shows on its site, rather than simply downloading a limited selection for local playback. You can also rent programmes for a 14-day stretch or buy them outright.

However, we tested the Demand Five service a couple of days after it went live and encountered issues with the Firefox plugin for Windows Media Player. This seemed horribly reminiscent of the teething troubles ITV had with its TV streaming service, but we did get it to play 'Neighbours'.

In fact, when it works, Demand Five works very well, easily surpassing the visual quality of ITV's player and as good as BBC iPlayer even at full-screen. If you wish, you can even opt for high-definition (HD) versions of many programmes. These cost £1.99 each.

Demand Five's not a flawless service, however. There are some horrible glitches with pre-roll ads when the advertised programme fails to start. We're confident these will be ironed out, however.

Content-wise, there's nowhere near the wealth of choice you get with Aunty Beeb, but if you like 'The Gadget Show', 'Zoo Days' or US imports such as 'Grey's Anatomy', you're in luck. A limited amount of content is free. You can pay to download shows, too; 'CSI' episodes came in at 99p each. Many programmes come with a second file for viewing on a portable media player.


Demand Five is a user-friendly service that beats most of the competition to the HD chase. And once a user base is established, the YouTube-style user rating system will come into its own, helping you decide which programmes it's worth paying for.