Remember the days when you could only compare CBS, NBC and ABC on the television set?

The quaint notion of just three channels – not to mention a TV where you actually had to stand up, walk over to the set and turn the dial – seems like it was so long ago.

Now, with the advent of the Internet and being able to watch TV from your desktop or laptop computer, or even your mobile phone, there are many more ways to watch your favorite shows and even shows and entertainment from other countries.
Whether you look across the Pacific to Asia and Japan for entertainment, or you scan the Atlantic and look at what Europe has to offer, there are so many different choices for television networks.

When people think of foreign television networks, the Univision or Telemundo names come to mind from Mexico or even CTV or the CBC in Canada.
With the United States’ growing Hispanic population, Univision has become a popular network in this country, with levels of viewership it did not have even five years ago. Univision’s “telenovelas”, or Spanish-language soap operas, have become so popular they even outrank NBC programming on some nights (or that of the CW, the former Paramount/WB network now owned by Viacom/CBS).

Univision’s prime market for international sales happens to be the United States, thanks in part to a 56 percent growth in the Hispanic population to 50 million residents. Univision’s research indicates the 18-49 market is growing thanks in large part to that Hispanic population. In the most recent upfront figures available, which reflect advertiser purchases for commercial time, Univision booked $1.8 billion in upfront ad sales in 2011.

CBC and CTV offer shows that can be seen here, but both networks offer original content exclusive to Canada but possibly syndicated to the USA later like the crime shows “Rookie Blue” and “Flashpoint”. Program sales internationally for CBC are handled through Content Television, while CTV’s program lineup consists of plenty of American fare like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Big Bang Theory”.

Head overseas to Europe and you may see the familiar logo of Thames Television, which became famous in this country through repeats of “The Benny Hill Show” in the 1970s and 1980s. It went out of business as a British network in 1992, but it still serves as a program producer through Fremantle Media. Or you may even see the true British Broadcasting Corporation on the air or its counterpart in this country, BBC America. BBC America syndicates the current version of “Doctor Who” to this country. BBC spends $3 billion per year on content, some of which is shown on BBC America and the rest can be seen on British TV stations.

With a tap of the computer keys, you can access other channels. Satellite TV services such as Hunan/Qinghai ($200 million in ad revenue in 2012) and Shenzhen in China offer original programming and knock-offs of such popular USA shows as “The Voice”. However, one of China’s shows, “Celebrity Splash”, was such a hit in that country that it was copied to the United States.

The possibilities are endless. Through “rundfunks”, or networks, you could watch German television programs.

Nippon Hoso Kyokai is a Japanese version of America’s Public Broadcasting Service, so you may be able to see serious programming in a nation loaded with satellite technology and escapist programs.

With Khalijia, you could watch Arabic movies or other live TV shows originating from Arab nations. Khalijia is part of the Rotana group of network channels, owned in part by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and mostly by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Khalijia was founded in 1987 and operates one of the largest TV networks and ad sales operations in the region and owns the largest Arabic film library. It has also built the leading record label in the Middle East, managing many of the most popular artists in the region and controlling the biggest Arabic music catalog.

A look around the television world shows how much times have changed. We have gone from the Big Three to the Big Four in America (with the addition of Fox in 1986), cable channels have exploded from dozens to hundreds, and numerous worldwide satellite services have proliferated.

This easily means you could watch an Arabic network from your own American home and make yourself comfortable. Or you might tune in to an old movie from another country with subtitles.

The possibilities are endless in this new world of television. See for yourself just how much the global reach has affected us.