When I started writing this post, I was going to name it something like “where to find free TV and Movies online,” but changed it to make sure I added “legal” in there. It turns out that a whole lot of what I was finding wasn’t legal. I saw a link on one site to “Marley and Me” and I thought to myself, “isn’t that still in the theaters?” Sure enough I was right, as the video started, I noticed that I could actually see the theater seats in the recording. I guess someone recorded it directly from the theater – I am going to assume that isn’t legal. 🙂
But, it is amazing to me how much free legal television (and movies) is out there. I first started watching TV episodes online about a year or so ago and it has been going on for a while. There are really a ton of sites, in the article I just focused on a few of the bigger, better, and cleaner ones that I found. So, let me also mention that from what I have seen of each of the mentioned sites, I think they are pretty clean. That said, I haven’t thoroughly inspected each site and advise you to use caution when checking them out.
Amazon‘s program has a few free options, but most of the movies and TV shows will cost you a few bucks. That said, they have a huge selection of shows and movies that you can watch from the comfort of your own home – and many in HD. So as an alternative to driving out to rent a movie, I think it is great.
This was the first online TV watching site I found. It also seems to be the most well-known, and for good reason. They have a well laid-out site, that is user-friendly, pretty to look at, and simple to understand. I watched my first movie on Hulu this last weekend when we didn’t feel like going out to rent one and I think we will be doing this a lot more…
They have a wide variety of classic and some fairly new and popular movies that you can watch. All for free and without downloading anything. Isn’t technology great?
Hulu also offers most popular TV shows the day after they air on the networks – TV as we know it is soon to be obsolete. 😉
These are just a few of the television shows you can watch on Hulu…
- The Office
- Family Guy
- Saturday Night Live
- American Gladiators
- Prison Break
- The Simpsons
This site is similar to Hulu and offers a lot of the same content. Another good place to look for free movies to watch online. We watched an entire season of Arrested Development on this site.
I like the layout they have. It is fairly easy to navigate and find tv shows or movies that interest you. There is no need to download anything to start viewing either.
It is a little overwhelming and not laid out too well, IMO, but there are an abundance of options… They say that they have 3,839 Online TV Channels from 60+ countries. Most of the channels worked with Windows Media Player, so I couldn’t get it to work on my Mac.
This place has a bunch of genres that all contain different channels within them. The problem I was finding was that each channel I tried didn’t work. The one channel I did get to work had a horrible picture quality. They might have free tv, but I wouldn’t recommend them.
Other legal online TV resources
Individual network sites
If you miss your favorite TV show, you should check the network website. Most of the major networks have the shows online for viewing.
Watch regular HDTV channels on your computer
I wrote a post a while ago about how to watch HDTV on your computer. You need to buy a little gadget for about $70, but it does open up lots of possibilities.
Stream New Movies Online
iTunes now offers a lot more than just music – they also stream new movies online so you can watch them via your computer – basically functioning like online movie rental software… There are also a ton of video podcasts on just about every subject imagineable that you can access via Itunes.
Bringing it all together
Since this technology has not matured, things are still a little bit messy and not yet very streamlined. Bottom line: watching TV online just isn’t as simple as flopping down on the couch and grabbing your TV remote – yet.
Boxee and Miro are trying to solve that problem. Both of them offer a interface that allows you to make the whole online movie/tv watching experience a better one. Rather than having to go to each site to watch your favorite shows, you can do it through their interface. I haven’t used either of them yet, so I don’t know all the details, but if you spend a couple minutes on either of the sites you will learn a lot.