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How to watch TV online for free

With the impending merger between Comcast and Time Warner on the horizon, it could get even more expensive to own a cable TV subscription in the near future. The cost of cable has increased sharply in the last 20 years, and the potential loss of competition that’s looming may likely serve to just feed the beast some more.

However, there’s hope. If you have a decent Internet connection, there are some free sites out there that you can use to watch your favorite TV shows, which we list here. Check them out below.

Alternatively, feel free to take a look at our guide on how to connect your computer to your TV. If you don’t have a computer, check out our guide on how to watch TV on your iPad


Yes, Hulu has commercials, but if you’re looking for free shows, you usually have to sit through advertising of some form anyway. Hulu features shows from a wide variety of networks that get published on the site as soon as one day after an episode’s air date.


Hulu arranges all your favorite shows into one place, and alerts you when a new episode airs. However, note that some episodes will expire after a couple weeks. 

Network websites

All of the major over-the-air networks, like NBC, ABC and CBS, will post episodes of recently aired TV shows to their respective websites. Generally, these sites host the five most recent episodes or so, and don’t include episodes from previous seasons. NBC posts videos the day after episodes on their network air, while CBS will post episodes immediately after they are broadcast on the East coast.


Other networks, like ABC and Fox, put up shows a week after they are shown on TV. With that in mind, be sure to avoid spoilers between the time those episodes are broadcast, and whenever you plan to watch them online. These sites will force you to watch commercials, but we recommend that you use those moments to grab a snack or take a bathroom break, if you really can’t stand ads.


Crackle doesn’t offer a huge variety of stuff to watch, and there are ads to deal with here as well. However, Crackle features some full TV series, and also has some movies that you might want to check out.


You don’t have to register for an account to watch stuff, but if you do, Crackle will generate suggestions and organize what you’ve already seen for you. Crackle is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, so there’s no need to worry that this is some illegal operation that could land you in the slammer just by using it.


LiveStation compiles news networks from around the world in one place. Some of the news streams that LiveStation offers include Al Jazeera, Sky News, Reuters, BBC, and more–all for free. Image and audio quality are generally good, but in our experience, it took a few moments to load streams.


The free version includes ads, but there is a premium paid option (which costs $5.99 per month) that includes more HD channels, and omits commercials.


At first glance, TV.com looks like a blog for TV show reviews and news. However, if you hit the “Videos” tab, you’ll find full episodes of recently aired network shows. It’s a lot like Hulu, but with less variety and fewer commercials. There’s no need to fret about any legal issues either: the site is run by CBS Interactive.


It generally only features the five most recent episodes of whatever show you want to watch, but for zilch out of your pocket, that’s not bad.

What do you think of our guide on how to watch TV online for free? Let us know in the comments below.


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