Watch TV Online For Free!

I used to be the proud non-owner of a television set. Where I lived, it was difficult to get a clear signal without paying for cable, and I don't believe in paying for things that are chock-full of advertising, so there was no way I was signing up for cable. Eventually, I got a cheap TV, a cheap DVD player, and a Blockbuster subscription, which was not only cheaper than subscribing to cable, but provided more interesting entertainment that was completely commercial-free and easy to turn off when what I wanted to watch was over.

These days, it's even easier than that to cut your television costs. If you haven't been keeping up with the trend, you may be surprised to learn just how many TV shows you can view online completely for free, sometimes even without commercials. In fact, many of the TV shows you'll pay $2 an episode for on iTunes can actually be viewed for nothing at other websites. Additionally, if you prefer the convenience of watching shows when you're in the mood and have the free time rather than when the TV station decides to air them, but you don't want to fork over the money for a Tivo box plus the monthly subscription fee, you'll also benefit from these websites.

Here are some of the best websites I've found for watching TV online. Though I've found others in the past through Google searches, these sites tended to be so unreliable that I can't even remember what they were called.

ABC: ABC's website has a couple of minor annoyances: you have to download their player, and if you're the type who always has ten browser tabs open at once, you'll find it annoying that in order for the ABC.com show-watching page to actually load, you have to be actively viewing that page on your screen (weird, huh?). Most shows will have quite a few back episodes available for watching, but some will only have two or four at a time, so if you get too far behind, you're out of luck. Shows offered at ABC.com include Lost, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, The Bachelor, and many more. They also have old episodes of My So-Called Life.

NBC: Watch shows like Heroes, Jay Leno, Conan, and my favorite, The Office. Unfortunately, I can't really comment on their player because I haven't been able to use it.

CBS: Watch CSI, Dexter, Survivor, Star Trek, Big Brother (that show is still on???) and more. I guess CBS isn't targeted to my demographic, because I don't watch a single one of their shows. I'll let you tell me what you think of their player.

CWTV:
In addition to full episodes of guilty pleasure shows like America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, and Beauty and the Geek, you'll also find shows like Supernatural and One Tree Hill. The CW's website also has lots of interesting extra video clips, like interviews with each show's actors.

Fox: Fox-on-Demand's show listings page is a nightmare: it has a scrolling wheel that rotates through all the available shows much more quickly than I can actually read them or click on them. However, if you can hang with their format, you'll be able to enjoy shows like K-Ville, The Simpsons, Prison Break, and Bones.

Fancast: Fancast is not the home of exclusive free content: many of its shows can be viewed on the networks' sites. If you have trouble with a particular site, though (I can't watch NBC.com without crashing my computer), you'll be glad to know that there is more an one place to watch some shows for free. Fancast also gives you a venue for reminding yourself just how bad Melrose Place and other now-dated hits really were. You can see a complete list of shows available on Fancast here.

Online TV shows can also come in handy for hard-core TV addicts: even if you have a TV, cable, and Tivo, you might not be able to catch all the shows you want to watch due to overlapping scheduling. Of course, the quality is arguably better on TV, and if you have a small computer monitor or lack a comfy chair near your computer, then you might just prefer to watch your shows the old-fashioned way.

I kind of wish I could still say that I didn't watch TV, because it really does take up a lot of time. However, I've found that as my life has become more stressful and my responsibilities have increased, I enjoy having television shows as a way to zone out from everything else that's going on in my life.

Photo by midnight digital

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2 comments:

K8 said...

hulu.com also has episodes of various shows online as well. You have to register to be a beta tester, but it's free.

J.T. Blevins said...

You can also watch classic cartoons at ToonJet.com. It's also free.