Free Ways To Watch Television Online, Catch Movies on the Internet

by Millie Kay G. on 2009-01-0542

More and more people watch television online these days, stream their media, and opt for cheap video options. Check out some cheap and free ways to watch TV and movies on the Internet!

Handling The Digital TV Transition

It’s been years since I had cable, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get my fix of bad robots and cartoon capers. With the switch to digital television (DTV) earlier this year, I had checked out my options many months ago.

First off, I got a DTV converter box as I’m not ready to buy an HDTV yet. This device enables my old-school analog TV to catch the digital signals put out by the local stations I already know and love. For the best quality, the instruction booklet advised me to hook up the TV to an outdoor antenna. However, the reception’s been fine with the powered rabbit ears we got from a local big box store.

Now the DTV transition has spurred me to investigate other ways to enjoy my favorite shows. Following are some of the things I’m doing for entertainment.

Watch Television Online! How To Watch TV on the Internet

sling.com

In addition to the DTV converter box, I need lots of funny animal videos. Like many of you, I visit sites like YouTube and Google Video and click away when I want to watch something short or really popular on the Internet.

When I’m in the mood for episodes of my favorite TV shows, I try Hulu.com. It’s run by the folks who own NBC and Fox, so you can catch lots of good programs here — for free. Me, I can barely stay awake for Saturday Night Live anymore, but Hulu has the clips and a selection of the full episodes I’ve missed.

In addition, the networks often provide episodes of their shows as streaming content (the way YouTube shows its videos). For example, when the mega-popular show Heroes first came out, I missed the early episodes. NBC and ABC let me watch the shows on their site, and it only cost me the inconvenience of watching a few brief commercials. Other places to find great programming online include video podcasts from my favorite magazines, and sites like Sidereel. I can even watch clips of those cable TV shows everyone talks about around the water cooler.

Speaking of free TV, there are lots of articles out there (including this comprehensive one from Mashable) that list out free (or almost free) television online resources. These resources may seem like a dime a dozen, and easily come and go for various reasons. Some popular ones still standing:

Free Internet TV Resources

Video Stores: Still Open During the DTV Transition

       
Sign Up With Blockbuster, Get 50% Off!

I still hit the video store, but only when I’m armed with coupons, and since I have Blockbuster Online, I can trade in a video that came in the mail for an in-store rental. Check to see if your local video store offers a program that rewards you. I’m also tempted to give Netflix another try because of their low rates and vast selection.

If I want to add to my movie collection, I should remember to peruse the used videos for sale, too.

Watch Movies on the Internet, or Download and Watch ‘Em Later

PS3 movies, Playstation 3 videosImage by Ripten

As an alternative to the video store, more and more providers are starting to put their TV shows and movies out there for download. Netflix, iTunes / Apple TV and Amazon Video on Demand have lots to offer for reasonable prices to either purchase or rent. Do you have a Playstation 3 or a Playstation Portable? Then you can even download videos from the Playstation Store website. If you’re thinking about picking up an XBox 360 instead, then you’ll be able to snag movies and TV shows through XBox Live.

If you’re looking to learn more about BitTorrent movie downloads, head over to Legal Torrents and find out how you can download movies and other forms of media that have a Creative Commons license meant for sharing. Just remember to scan anything you download with a virus checker.

Video Streaming Software

Orb 2
This is orb.com.

Of course, nowadays a lot of people have tons of videos stored on their computer. While the PC is okay for one of us to watch videos, it gets to be a hassle when the whole family wants to watch the same thing. Thanks to a software program called Orb.com, I can share media from my PC with another source — like the PC in the family room, the XBox 360, the Playstation 3, or even a compatible mobile phone. Another service called TVersity.com provides similar offerings.

A lot of people seem resigned to grabbing an expensive cable or satellite plan or even a new HDTV when the DTV transition hits us in February, but with all these other options out there, you can stay on the couch with both your remote control and your piggy bank intact!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

The Digerati Spouse January 5, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I’ve been trying to convince my spouse to turn off the cable and go over-the-air HD supplemented by Internet downloads. No luck so far but I keep trying! Cable is over $100 / month due to some funny international channel she likes.

Silicon Valley Blogger January 5, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Lol, good one! I need to watch that channel when my favorite shows are out of commission. And it’s not just me who wants it too….other people in the household like it. I need to keep up with news in that part of the world! But maybe there are other options?

JVG Consult January 6, 2009 at 6:04 am

I wasn’t aware of all the free online stuff. Thanks.

vilkri January 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

Thanks a lot for these tips! Maybe I can convince my wife now that we should cancel our cable subscription. We don’t watch that much TV anyway.

Jarod - say no to debt January 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

Great resources! We’ve opted for basic cable to sooth the need for occasional television and most of our movies, come from Mc Donalds! Red Box DVD rentals are $1.00 a night and can be returned to any Red Box. I’ve seen these located in Wal Mart as well. Just try not to charge the movie to your credit card, forget to return it and then wind up in debt ;)

jim January 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

I’m a huge fan of Hulu and similar sites, it’s kind of annoying to log in for some shows though (like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)… but it’s free!

Drew January 6, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I am tech savy enough to do all of this, but my parents are not. You cannot believe how hard it is for my father when he is in town, to wait 45 minutes after a football game starts to watch it. He is turning on the TV to watch it in real time, and I start it over to watch it with the DVR. He hates the commercials – and mutes them all, but he cannot “miss” a show. He plans his entire night around it. We cannot eat dinner late. He will leave dishes if it is 6:59 and his show starts at 7:00 (remember – 8:00 shows start at 7:00 central time).

I really like what a friend of mine has done. He does not mind paying to see the shows. He does not own cable, owns multiple TVs, but also Multiple X-Box 360s. They are going to be DINKs their entire lives – and the love to play video games. They buy the DVD of the shows they want to see. So they are currently watching last years season of LOST as it came out on DVD in November. They don’t have commercials, and they can watch it when ever they want. If they get it on sale, it is $20 bucks a season. So they spend $20 bucks, never watch a commercial, and have no stress about when to watch it, when it is due, what service to get it from, etc. I am considering it. Most of my shows are OTA, so it is hard for me to justify it.

Craig January 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

As video quality improves on the computer you are going to see less people reliant on TV and cable subscriptions. Hopefully then the cable companies will finally supply quality customer service.

Silicon Valley Blogger January 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I think the best invention for TV watching ever created is the TIVO. I’ve had it since it first came out — was it around 8 years ago? Anyway, I can’t imagine watching television any other way. Easy access to advanced show tapings, with no commercials (I skip them) — what more can I ask for? Taping shows is so easy — just type in the show titles, check genres etc. It’s one of the things I’ll miss terribly if I ever relocate to a different country (presumably without support for this sort of thing)!

Free Chat Community January 6, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Nice Article.

Me trying freetv.com from your links.

Its good website for watching TV & Movies.

shelly wagar January 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Soon one monitor and system will work for your PC, t.v., and video games.

Norman Roberts January 8, 2009 at 3:41 am

thanks for the link, here’s a link to over 600 free movie sites
http://www.nosubscriptionrequired.net/

Austin Real Estate Broker January 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

I hear that about the international channel. My ex-girlfriend used to love Bollywood movies. We rented more of those things than I care to remember. They were like Fame crossed with Days of Our lives! I however like British TV and only really get a few stations with my local cable provider. Many of the British channels are availble on the net, but are restricted to folks in GB. Kinda stinks that way. I’ve had a SlingBox for two years now and it RULES. Can’t beat being able to watch my DVRed channels from the office if I decide to eat lunch at the desk or want to catch up on news (although lately, I’ve sworn off the doom-and-gloom news). I’ve been thinking that if I can find a SlingBoxer in the UK we could trade our logins and I could watch my British shows and s/he could watch American tv. I suppose that depends on the other person liking American TV, but I’m sure there’s someone out there. :)

Joe

Shadox January 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm

The problem with Hulu is that it has commercials, and I have been spoiled by my DVR. I can no longer bear commercials…

My brother in law swears by Apple TV – they use it to download and view HD content, without owning a Blue Ray.

geek05@free blogger templates February 3, 2009 at 5:23 am

This is cool! its like preserving your favorite TV series.. thanks for the info it really helps me… Now i can do watching TV while going on surfing…

thanks,
geek05

Hippo February 7, 2009 at 4:40 am

Wow, didn’t know there was soo many ways to watch TV online! It’s a shame we can’t get Hulu or Netflix or Amazon over here in NZ, we still have to go to the video shop! :(

Caleb C February 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

I’m sure it was somewhere on the comprehensive list, but one my favorite shows is Seinfeld, and TBS has got a few episodes on their site. They tend to rotate them slowly, and they have some issue with full screen (at least on my computer)-but it is available and free! I’d say there are probably some other smaller networks who post some of their shows online, too.

MMeter March 19, 2009 at 10:21 am

The cost of keeping cable right now is too expensive especially when trying to save as much as we can in these hard economic times thats why I just watch movies online.

Myrtle Beach TV April 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm

The sling box is awesome! My boyfriend has it on is phone and you don’t think you’d want to watch TV while you’re out and about but you’d be surprised. Waiting in line at the DMV, in an airport, etc you can catch up on all your favorite shows!

LoveTink April 6, 2009 at 8:57 am

We are trying to downsize. Hot to ditch DirectTV. We figured out how to connect TV in living room to computer in another room and view stuff from the internet. New problem, one of us watching a program on TV while the other surfs the net. TV has no PIP. Has anyone else done this and how?
After we figure this out, next to go is Vonage.

Chris May 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Let me tell you that I loved TV and my wife kept telling me that we needed to get rid of it to save money so I avoided the situation. Until one day I come home and no more cable. I started to look for shows online to watch and have found a ton of places to watch television online for free. But I hated having to visit multiple sources to get what I needed. So I came up with my own TV blog that lists all of the places you can watch TV and sorted them by show name. Check it out here.

Suzanne May 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm

The cost of cable is expensive, and the amount of money that you need to spend just to rent movies or get HBO, Showtime on your TV is overwhelming. So yeah, watching TV online for free is great!

Kirstie June 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

Internet tv is fantastic for when you forget that your fav prog is on! we’ve used bbcs i player an similar services countless times when we’ve been late getting back, its saves the whole trying to work out whats going on when u miss the start!

Raph King@ Place to get Live tv Online July 12, 2009 at 12:52 pm

That’s great at least i know when to expect when we go digital here. In my country, changing to digital is like a millenium development goal and is not expected until 2012. But all the same, i can’t wait to be connected. It’s also a good thing that quality will improve and we may be able to watch tv mostly from our computers.

HorryTelephoneMB July 15, 2009 at 6:31 am

I was not aware that a Slingbox was capable of putting off a single as far as some the distances people are posting about. Are there different types/kinds of these boxes or exactly how does this thing work. It sounds great!

Raph King August 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Yeah Hulu might be free but some programs are just plain boring and i would rather pay up a satellite tv service with dishnetwork anytime.

Mike January 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

I like Hulu. But they come with some disadvantages like disturbing ads and older versions of TV episodes. I prefer the Satellite TV PC software that I bought couple of months ago. I now get a huge number of sports, movies, TV shows, entertainment and news channels. Besides, after I paid the 50 bucks I think it was, I didn’t pay for the monthly cable/satellite subscriptions.

Great post though!!!

Mike January 14, 2010 at 11:57 am

I was just wondering if it would be possible to connect Tivo in some way to the streams of Hulu to get rid of the commercials in Hulu? Could that be possible?

James February 25, 2010 at 6:26 am

I love watching tv online – any tv you want at any time – why pay cable? :)

Ivan April 8, 2010 at 3:06 am

I like watching movies and i use cinema-world-online.com for that.

Watch The Losers Online April 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hulu isn’t bad, but the commercials make me mad sometimes.

Mario Lopez May 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

Hulu may be good for the American people but it’s pretty useless if you live in the vast majority of other countries around the world that get blocked by Hulu.com. We could use proxies, I heard… but i have never had much success with them.

Rob September 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

You’re spot on. I’ve been using a $9/month Netflix subscription to supplement my Hulu addiction. Plus, Netflix will give you access to quite a bit of Television content and movies which are no longer in Hulu. This is particularly useful if you start watching a show that is a few seasons in, as Netflix gives you a way to catch up on all the seasons you’ve missed.

Anton November 25, 2010 at 7:15 am

The only thing i want to say is, this is the greatest review i have ever read, thumbs up, hope for you latest updates, thanks in advance.

bob March 1, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the great list of sites. My wife and I are watching more an more shows online. We ended our cable TV subscription two years back and have been renting a lot of movies since.

Willie Turpin April 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I thinks it great to be able to watch movies online. As much as I like to go to the theater, there are definitely advantages to watching online. Many of these points most people don’t even realize.

Film critic May 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I love watching films online but why do so many of these sites ask for a monthly membership, and the ppv is just a bit too expensive.

GL Victor October 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

This is great!! I do most of my work via the computer so I hardly have time to sit down and watch TV on regular television anymore. :)

Online Trailers December 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Watching TV online will always be the best thing to happen on the net!

Leave a Comment