From New Releases to Old Favorites
Most people have said goodbye to cable television, and are signed up for one (or more) streaming services. What's better than watching your favorite shows on-demand? Nothing! Binge-watching series has never been easier. In this article, we’ll go over how to watch TV shows online legally. There are tons of legal content providers that offer users quality online shows, documentaries, sports and movies, all through different streaming services.
Say Goodbye to Cable, and Hello to Streaming Services
For many people, it doesn't make sense to keep paying for cable services. Streaming platforms can be cheaper, and have shows on-demand. Still not convinced? Consider these reasons:
- You're probably paying for way more channels than you actually watch.
- Cable bills are often more expensive than streaming subscriptions.
- Cable television requires owning a TV, but you can utilize streaming services on your phone, tablet or laptop.
- You'll have access to region-locked content you wouldn't be able to view otherwise (via a VPN).
- Streaming services have original content not available on cable.
9 Streaming Services to Choose From
There are a lot of streaming services to choose from, and several serious competitors are on the way later this year, but we’ve narrowed down the field to three top picks: Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Hulu isn't the best overall streaming service, but when it comes to watching your favorite cable TV shows online, it's definitely the best option. Hulu’s Streaming Library gives users access to the networks CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW. TV shows from these networks appear on Hulu the day after they air. In addition, users can opt to subscribe to Hulu + Live TV, which will give them access to over 70 channels including ESPN, FX and The Discovery Channel. At $44.99 per month with ads or $50.99 per month without them, Hulu’s Live TV service is a lot more expensive than a standard streaming service subscription, but still significantly cheaper than cable. If you want to cut your cord but still be able to watch most of the best channels on TV, Hulu is for you.
2. Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime isn’t as good as Hulu when it comes to network TV, but it gets the job done. Amazon Prime has a healthy number of classic shows available, such as "Parks and Recreations" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation." They also give the option of purchasing episodes or entire seasons of TV shows. This can get a bit expensive, but we reckon most people aren’t going to be watching a ton of TV shows anyway, so it’s not too bad. Amazon Prime is the best option for college students because they can get six months of Amazon Prime for free, and then pay half-price for an Amazon Prime subscription after that.
Netflix is our third streaming service suggestion and the weakest when it comes to licensed content. This is entirely intentional by Netflix, as they have been focusing on original content over the last couple of years. As a result, they’ve been purging their licensed content library. Netflix is notorious for taking a very long time to acquire new seasons of TV shows, both recent and (sometimes) old. If you want to watch currently running TV shows while they are still fresh, then Netflix is not for you.
Philo is a popular streaming service that offers an extensive collection of live and on-demand television content. It aims to provide an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional cable or satellite TV subscriptions. Users like Philo for its affordability. You can access over 60 channels (including AMC, Comedy Central, HGTV and more) at a fraction of the cost. It's also compatible with smartphones, tablets and web browsers, so you can stream anywhere.
WarnerMedia will be releasing its own streaming service later this year. WarnerMedia has a lot of noteworthy licensed content under its umbrella, with three standouts being DC, HBO and TBS. If you’re into DC Comics, then this streaming service is one you will want to look out for. We may very well get a streaming platform with all of DC’s glorious animated television shows of years past from "Batman: The Animated Series" to "Static Shock" all in one place. Having ownership of HBO means WarnerMedia also has a wealth of classic HBO shows that it can put on their streaming platform like "The Wire," "The Sopranos" and "Entourage." Oh, and this little show called "Game of Thrones." Despite its wet-firecracker Season 8, it is still a show well-worth watching.
We reckon Disney doesn’t need much of an explanation so here’s a brief spiel: Disney+ has Disney movies and TV shows, Pixar movies, Star Wars, Marvel and Fox. That’s a lot of great content all in one place. Disney has plans for a number of new Marvel and Star Wars TV shows, such as "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier," a Hawkeye series that includes Kate Bishop, and "The Mandalorian." With their recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox, this also gives them options from Fox’s catalog, such as the iconic thriller show "24." We won’t be able to tell for sure until it is released, but Disney+ is likely going to be the best option for family-friendly cord cutters.
Sony-owned Crackle is free and lets users watch dozens of TV shows, both relatively recent and old. This includes the one and only "Seinfeld." And anything that lets you watch "Seinfeld" for free is a very good thing indeed.You have to sign up for an account and sit through ads, but it’s more than a fair price to pay. Keep in mind, though, that Crackle’s library isn’t the biggest, so if you’re a binge-watcher, you might run out of shows to watch pretty fast.
8. Yahoo View
Previously, people could enjoy a limited amount of Hulu content for free. This came to an end several years ago, but lives on in the form of Yahoo View, where Hulu's free content library was moved.Fast forward to 2019, and Yahoo View has a pretty huge collection of old and modern TV shows and anime that you can watch. From "Grey’s Anatomy" and "Gotham" to "Cowboy Bebop" and "One -Punch Man," there is bound to be something here for you.
Believe it or not, YouTube isn’t just filled with vlogs and slime tutorials — there are actually a lot of TV shows and movies that you can watch for free. Want to take a trip down memory lane and get your game on? You can watch many seasons of the classic anime "Yu-Gi-Oh" for free on YouTube.
Networks like Nickelodeon and the Discovery Channel post a good amount of free content to enjoy as well.
Watching Shows from the Respective Network Provider
Most giant TV networks like AMC make their top-rated shows available on their websites for free. The only drawback is that the shows are only available for a limited period of time and you have to watch a couple of ads before you actually get to watch the show.
For example, The CW’s online platform lets you watch episodes of their TV shows the day after they air. They typically keep the five most recent episodes of any given TV show in the rotation.
Keep in mind that these episodes don’t stick around forever, so don’t take too long to catch up on a series. Also, speaking from personal experience, their video player tends to suffer from buffering and freezing issues more often than I would like.
Other Ways to Legally Watch TV Online
Streaming sticks come fully loaded with free and premium apps like Pandora, YouTube, ESPN, Crackle, Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, Google Play, Showtime and thousands more. Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire are also options.
If You Have a VPN, the World Is Your TV Screen
Looking to watch some BBC documentaries? Trying to watch seasons of "MI-5" ("Spooks") again or catch up on episodes of "Luther"? Well if you live in a place that’s not the United Kingdom, that might be a problem. Or at least it is so long as you don’t have a VPN. But if you do, then it’s a non-issue.
There is a lot of geo-restricted content out there, but VPNs provide users with a workaround. With a VPN, you can hop on to a server located in nearly any country in the world, which will then give you access to content exclusive to that country.
Looking to get your Bollywood fix? Get a VPN, hop on to a server located in India, and check out the Indian streaming service Hotstar!
With VPNs, international content is right at your fingertips! To save you some time, here are our recommended VPNs:
Perks of Watching TV Online
Online TV gives viewers flexibility, allowing them to watch what they want, where they want, on a multiplicity of devices. In addition, you get to watch TV in the best and latest formats available — convenient, right?
Compared to cable TV, streaming and online TV rentals are way more cost-effective. Plus you get to pay for only the shows you want. Cable costs up to $700 USD a year, while streaming sites like Netflix are less than $200 USD.
Online TV provides users with a wide range of content to choose from. Watch all your sports, drama, horror and blockbuster movies all in one place.
The Digital Era is here, and it’s made the viewing experience better than ever. Granted, you might find yourself with several online service subscriptions that you’ll need to keep track of, but it’ll be worth it. At the end of the day, you’ll have a better selection to choose from at a lower cost to you. What do you have to lose?