Whether you’re a busy college student, an overworked professional, or simply forgetful, it’s possible that the Fall premier season has swept by you. WIth so many great new shows, it would be a shame to miss out. So here are some helpful tips to find TV shows on the internet for free and get caught up!
First of all, you’ll need to identify which shows you want to watch. If you’re still reading this article, I’m going to assume that you at least already know what you’re missing. Even if you’re not aware of every new show, we’ll get to how you can find new ones in a little bit.
Once you know what you want to watch, you might do some research. The best place for this is The Internet Movie Database or IMDB. Contrary to the name, the IMDB has expanded its scope to encompass just about anything to grace big or small screens. For our purposes you might want to use it to look up which shows are on which networks. The benefit to using IMDB is that it will also clue you in to show stats like who’s playing who and the concept behind the show. Another reason to use the database is that they are fairly good about keeping spoilers out of their listings.
If you have determined the network that owns your shows, you can move on to the process of finding them online. Of course there are less than legal methods of doing this, but nowadays there are fewer reasons to because most of the major shows are already available for free from the networks themselves.
Finding them on their flash-heavy websites can be tricky, so I’ve compiled a handy list that should (fingers crossed) take you through the fog and straight to the steaming goodness.
[Note: Some of these sites heavily divide the videos so that each show has its own page. The links as close to the videos as possible.]
Of course not every show will be encompassed by this list because there are a number of really great shows on the smaller networks. Unfortunately these are a little harder to track down because the digital rights agreements may not have been drawn up for them beyond DVD sales and the like.
There is another option at your disposal. If all the flash menus are starting to get to you, you can switch over to Hulu, which has largely the same content as the network site, but also has a wide range of other agreements, including entire catalogs of older shows. In fact, here’s the direct link to their alphabetical television listings.
Personally, I love Hulu.Their player is fantastic, with several notable features and neat style choices. First is the interface. With a translucent simplicity, the player is soft on the eye and doesn’t clash with the video. Once you’ve got the show started, there is a “lower lights” button that casts a dark filter over the rest of the window. This little add-on, which probably required three lines of code, makes the entire experience a lot better and reduces eye strain.
Even the ads, dreadful as ads are, remain fairly unobtrusive. They stay within the original box, tell you exactly how long they are going to last (so you might grab something in another room if it is a long one) and they are clearly experimenting with new ad models. Whenever an ad comes up, you can actually rate whether or not you like it. Also, occasionally Hulu will prompt you as to whether you want to see one long ad (usually a movie trailer) at the beginning or the normal intermittent ads. Unfortunately the latter option tends to show the same ad over and over throughout the show.
(If Hulu says that you it’s not available in your geographical area then you might want to check out our post on how to watch Hulu episodes from abroad)
Hopefully one of the above options was able to help you find that new sitcom or the season premier of The Office. If it didn’t work out, you’re one of many, struggling to find an easy way to access television online. At this point, rips on YouTube and torrents are the only technological option and they are usually illegal. Even so, keep your hopes up, because sooner or later every network will get on board with online distribution sites like Hulu.
You might also want to check out the MANY past posts on Make Use Of covering online television. Here are a selection :
Watch Television on your Desktop with Livestation
What are your favourite methods of watching television shows on the internet? Are you a Hulu fan? A Joost watcher? What shows do you watch?
[Images from papermag.com, NBC, and Hulu]