Ditch cable. Ditch satellite. Watch what you want, when you want. Watch TV online.
With our economy in freefall, everyone is looking for ways to cut back on their budgets. Giving a little more thought to the cable bill is a popular place to start. In previous days giving up cable basically meant giving up TV. Sure you could probably pull in a few snowy over the air channels, but your options ended there. Things have changed tremendously on this front even in the past year. There are now tons of options for cutting out your cable bill entirely without pain or feelings of deprivation. Here’s a comprehensive guide to sites that if implemented well could end up saving you quite a bit of money:
Free Sites To Watch TV
If you are like us, then you have probably wondered at one point or another where the best places are to watch free TV online. So many of the sites out there claiming to offer free TV are junk or totally unreliable. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best free sites for watching real, full-episode network TV shows. These sites will probably make up the bulk of your online TV watching. They are free, and some of them are extremely high quality. That means you don’t have to sacrifice quality to watch TV online anymore.
Without Hulu I’d probably still have cable. It’s just that simple. As long as you live in the US Hulu offers shows and movies from virtually every network including NBC, Fox, Comedy Central, PBS, USA Network, Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, SPEED Channel, Sci Fi, Style, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus, Noggin TV, Nick Jr., PBS KIDS Sprout, Disney Channel and Oxygen. They also index shows from CBS and ABC and redirect you to their sites for their shows. If you’re married and trying to convince your spouse to give up cable that list gives you most of the ammunition you’ll need. There’s plenty for men, plenty for women, and they even have kids well covered. I can’t say enough good things about Hulu, and if you give up cable you will quickly feel the same way.
Veoh is similar in concept to Hulu and features content from CBS, ABC, The WB, Viacom’s MTV Networks, and ESPN amongst others.
In2TV is a solid source for classic television and is a great place to find shows that rarely, if ever, seen anymore on broadcast television. Lot of old gems here.
TV.com is owned by CBS and has just recently relaunched to more directly compete with Hulu.
Fancast is owned by Comcast and offers many of the same shows as Hulu and similar services. Also a great source of classic content. Has over 100 sources of top shelf content.
Joost has had something of a rocky existence, but it’s a solid source for Viacom owned content (MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures) as well as other odds and ends.
Crackle is the online home of Sony Features, and focuses on Sony television shows and films.
Most of the sites in your cable free TV strategy will offer entirely free (sometimes ad supported) content. That being said there are still a few pay-for-TV options worth exploring to fill in some entertainment gaps.
The iTunes store offers standalone episodes as well as season passes to many popular shows. Single TV episodes are priced at $1.99.
Visit the iTunes Store
With it’s “Watch Instantly” feature you can watch many classic and contemporary television shows through Netflix. The main drawback is of course that not everything is available through Watch Instantly, but if you are into older shows this is invaluable. Plus the DVD rental service is also nifty of course. Even though this is a paid service, for less than $10 per month you get to watch an unlimited amount.
Jaman is a video on demand service focusing heavily on foreign and independent film. Jaman does charge for some downloads, but they also have some free TV content as well.
Amazon provides a nice alternative to iTunes, with similar TV show offerings and price points.
If you’re a B movie or bizarre content fan then this is the site for you. Think softcore porn, wrestling, and cheesy horror movies and you’ve got a pretty good picture of what VOD.com has to offer.
More foreign movies, documentaries, and rare films. Offers a mix of free streaming and paid content.
CinemaNow has deals with pretty much all the major studios, and they offer movie rentals as well as full purchase options.
More B movie heaven here. Free offerings as well as paid accounts that cost $11.99 a month. Sample title: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter
Some of the people that have the toughest time canceling their cable TV subscriptions are sports fans. While you’ll still find the biggest events on over the air broadcasts, the day to day grind of professional sports is more often found on cable these days. While there are often free alternatives online, they are usually flighty not terribly legitimate sites that get shutdown pretty quickly. The only real alternative to cable as a sports fan is to shell out some money for the online season packages for your favorite sports. While this can get somewhat pricey, you should still be saving significant money compared to what you would be paying for cable every month.
Major League Baseball (MLB.TV)
NBA (NBA League Pass)
NHL (Center Ice) or Hockey Streams (unauthorized)
Unfortunately you are still out of luck when it comes to the NFL. Their deal is so tied into DirecTV that you pretty much have to have DirecTV to do business with them at this time.
College Basketball: March Madness On Demand
Big Ten: Big Ten Conference (various sports)
ESPN: Various ESPN Programming
The Internet is blurring the lines of what counts as a TV show. Some sites produce regular, short 5 minute video clips that many online visitors watch religiously. Do these count as online TV shows? Who cares, right? It’s entertainment and that’s all that matters.
Revision3 has made a name for itself as a geek culture video production company with shows like Totally Rad Show, Diggnation, and Tekzilla as its most prominent and popular shows. They are really cool company because they are the first totally online TV network that’s been successful. All shows are professionally produced and targeted to the Internet generation.
College Humor is now venturing into actual television, but they have a ton of great original video on their site that’s well worth checking out.
Funny or Die
Founded by Will Ferrell, this site features skits with lots of well known celebs. Great place to waste some time.
Onion News Network
Like The Onion, but this time with video. A little more hit and miss than the print version, but still worth your time.
Not just game trailers, lots of video game related media, including the underrated Angry Video Game Nerd.
User Generated Content
Again, the line between TV Shows and video is getting blurred by online technology. Some sites are mostly about users uploading video (many of them weekly skits with big audiences), here’s the most noteworthy of those:
Does watching an old movie on USA network or TNT count as watching TV? What if you watch the same movie online? We don’t really care, honestly. Just more proof that everything you can do on a TV you can get online with your computer.
Here are a couple of sites that don’t fit in to any of the above:
Asian Horror Movies
A comprehensive roster of Asian horror, all at your fingertips. See the originals instead of the crappy Hollywood remakes.
If you’re an anime fan, or looking to get into anime, this is the site to visit.
Additional Online TV and Free TV Resources
Our readers have sent in loads of recommendations and we are adding links to those resources below. Check them out. This is the beauty of the Internet.
tVadio – Watch Internet TV Channels – tVadio is a packed library of internet TV channels and online TV Episodes. With so many videos and television stations flooding the internet tVadio has created a central hub for online TV.
Watch Free Live Football Online – A comprehensive guide to watching live soccer online for free. It covers everything from P2P to streaming and live Internet football channels.
Watch TV Shows Online – webtvwire.com – A selection of guides on how to find your favourite TV shows and episodes online. The webtvwire research team hunts out the legal destinations that broadcast full episodes online.