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Years ago, there were very few tools available to watch TV on your computer. It was only around 2010 when streaming services started making a dent in the armor of the cable TV monopoly.

These days, a host of major companies are trying to get into the internet TV game. Netflix was certainly a major market leader early on, but now there are companies like Sony, Amazon, Google, and Apple all fighting for a piece of the online entertainment pie.

Unfortunately, because it’s so competitive and because so many people are scouring the web for both streaming and live TV content 6 Ways to Watch Live TV on Windows 8 6 Ways to Watch Live TV on Windows 8 With the release of Windows 8, several apps have come along that make enjoying TV on your computer much easier. The following apps are all free from the Windows 8 Store. Read More , there are also lots of scams. There are sites that promise free TV or movies, but then infect your computer with a virus or malware the moment you download a file that you think is a movie. There are also sites that promise “live TV,” but actually offer nothing more than streaming content from other major video streaming sites like YouTube.

Your best option is to avoid all of that nonsense. What you’ll find below is a comprehensive list of sites and services for watching TV on your computer over the internet. Behold!

How to Watch TV on Your Computer

With so many options for watching TV online, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, the best place to start if you want to immediately dive into streaming TV content right away is with the big three that everyone knows and loves — Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

Netflix: Because You’ve Always Used It

There’s a reason Netflix became the king of streaming. People are lazy, essentially. Stores like Blockbuster and small video-rental places let people walk in and pay to rent DVDs. Netflix was one of the first Is Netflix Worth The Money? Is Netflix Worth The Money? There are more people who don't subscribe to Netflix as those who do, and that swathe of the population wants to know if they're missing out on anything. Is Netflix worth the money? Read More companies to capitalize on the internet for the same purpose.

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The benefit was that regardless of the weather, the consumer could rent a movie without ever leaving home. It all started with a mail-order DVD rental business, but then grew into the online streaming behemoth we know today.

You Have to Love Hulu

Then there was Hulu. For a long time, Hulu was the go-to place for people looking for free, high-quality TV content. At the free end of the site, you could find old episodes of shows that you haven’t seen in years. On the paid side of things, you could find a growing library of movies and more recent TV episodes.  Hulu eventually converted its free offerings Hulu's Free Streaming Option Is Shutting Down Soon Hulu's Free Streaming Option Is Shutting Down Soon Hulu's free streaming option is coming to an end, but it's not the end of the world yet. Here's how you can keep watching that free content elsewhere. Read More into a joint venture with Yahoo! called Yahoo View.

Today, if you want to get true TV content online, a Hulu subscription is one of the few places where you can watch the current seasons of popular TV shows.

Hulu is also the place to find recent hit movies, and even some original series. If you’re considering completely cutting cable for good, a Hulu subscription will go a long way in making sure you don’t live to regret the decision.

Pay as You Go With Amazon

Amazon is the last of the “big three”, but it’s a bit different than the previous two. While Netflix and Hulu give you full access to all of their content for a fixed monthly subscription fee, Amazon takes more of an a la carte approach to digital entertainment. A “Prime” membership is potentially the cheapest subscription of the three big video streaming services – only $99-per-year, or $10-a-month if you pay monthly.

There’s certainly plenty of free content available to stream with a Prime membership, but for the most part these are really low-ranked movies 7 Places To Find Free Movie Rentals Online 7 Places To Find Free Movie Rentals Online Going to the movies is expensive, so save money on the cinema by renting for free at home instead. Here's 9 sites and ideas to check out. Read More and very old TV episodes most people won’t care to watch.

That isn’t to say you can’t find some great stuff to watch within the free Prime library, but for the more recent or higher quality movies or TV shows, you’re going to have to cough up anywhere from $2.99- to $19.99-per-rental.

If you only watch a couple of movies each week, that still isn’t a whole lot of money. But if you’re a TV fanatic who loves to binge on the latest TV shows and movies every single night, Hulu or Netflix are probably better suited for you.

With that said, the world of streaming movie and television content Canceled Cable? 8 Streaming TV Apps to Fill the Void Canceled Cable? 8 Streaming TV Apps to Fill the Void If you have canceled cable you may be wondering what to watch next. These streaming TV apps may be the answer, as they offer a traditional viewing experience. Read More over the internet to your computer has exploded by leaps and bounds. These “big three” are no longer the only options. Some might even say, they are no longer the best options either.

Other Ways to Watch TV Online

Whenever anything becomes popular, every company large or small tries to jump into the game. This is most certainly the case when it comes to streaming entertainment on the internet.

Watching TV With Walmart?

The American company, Vudu, started out offering its own devices and a proprietary peer-to-peer technology where people could use to stream TV and movies over the internet to an actual television. In March of 2010, Walmart acquired the company. The hardware is no longer supported, as the Vudu service has shifted to offering a library of thousands of movies and TV series for streaming to third-party hardware, computers, or mobile devices.

Vudu’s pricing for individual video rentals is competitive with Amazon’s pricing structure, with the added competitive advantage that there’s absolutely no membership fee for signing up with Vudu. You simply pay for whatever you watch. The movie selection at Vudu is just as plentiful as Amazon’s library, without many of the one or two-star “free” movies you’ll find at Amazon that nobody cares to watch anyway.

Speaking of which, Vudu has a free section as well called “Movies On Us”, where anyone can choose from a selection of hundreds of free movies or TV-shows Vudu Offers 1,000+ Free Movies On Us Vudu Offers 1,000+ Free Movies On Us Vudu has launched a new offering called Vudu Movies On Us. This lets you watch thousands of movies and television shows for free with "limited commercials". Read More . The only catch is that they also come with ads.

Not a bad compromise considering many of these selections are really good movies and TV shows.

If your main goal here is only to watch the most recent TV shows you’re interested in, Vudu is a good place to turn.

There are families that pay well over $150-a-month for a cable subscription and really only watch two or three of their favorite shows each week. By using a subscription-free service Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free Whether you’re thinking of cutting the cord or just want to watch TV on your own schedule instead of the television network’s, there are more legal ways to watch television online than ever. Even better,... Read More like Vudu instead and simply buying the shows you want to see (like an entire season of The Walking Dead in SD for only $26.99), you can save a lot of money every month.

Xfinity Doesn’t Care What Device You Use

This isn’t to say that all cable companies are evil Netflix Vs Cable Companies - Who Is More Likely To Win? Netflix Vs Cable Companies - Who Is More Likely To Win? Netflix is a growing force in the entertainment world, but broadcast and cable television have been around for a long time, and they didn’t achieve that success by playing fair. Read More . The reality of the world today is that everyone in every family likes to watch television in whatever way is most convenient for them. In any given household, you may have:

  • Dad laying on the couch in the living room and watching The Walking Dead on the TV.
  • Mom working on the computer in her office and watching The Voice on her laptop.
  • Big sister lounging on her bed after school and watching Deadpool on her smartphone.
  • Little brother watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants on his tablet in the basement.

Comcast caught onto this trend and through their Xfinity brand, are quickly expanding their entertainment offering to include internet-based media streaming services. The service offered to all of their customers is called Xfinity Stream.

This service allows customers to choose from a collection of popular (and recent) TV series and movies that are just as bursting at the seams as Netflix’s collection. In fact, I’m currently catching up on the latest episodes of The Voice using Xfinity Stream while writing this article.

iTunes and Google Play

Did you think this list was over? Not even close. Those big companies getting into the entertainment streaming business include Apple and Google. Both companies also provide digital content streaming through their iTunes and Google Play services, respectively.

On iTunes, you’ll notice two categories – TV Shows and Movies The Easy Way To Automatically Add Downloaded Movies To iTunes The Easy Way To Automatically Add Downloaded Movies To iTunes A few experiments later, I found two ways to achieve the goal: the easy way and the geeky way. Read More .

Prices for both movies and TV episodes are comparable to other services like Amazon and Vudu, but of course you get the added benefit of quick access to iTunes from all your Apple devices.

On Google Play, there is a Movies & TV section where you can similarly buy and stream both movies and TV episodes Watching Offline Movies From Google Play? You CAN Do That On A Chromebook! Watching Offline Movies From Google Play? You CAN Do That On A Chromebook! Today we take a look at one area where a lot of people still harbour many misconceptions about Chromebooks - offline movie playback. Read More to your Android (and other Google) devices.

Prices are generally equivalent to iTunes prices, but again the benefit of using this service is how quick and easy it is to access all of your favorite entertainment straight from your Android mobile devices. Fast, easy, and with no subscription required.

Best Buy: Don’t Buy. Stream.

You know Best Buy is the first place you go when you want to browse laptops or digital video cameras, right? Well, did you know that Best Buy now also offers an subscription-free online digital streaming experience called CinemaNow?

CinemaNow is Best Buy’s foray into the digital entertainment marketplace. It includes an impressive collection of not only old and new TV episodes, but also documentaries, season downloads of your favorite network shows, and a giant library of just about any movie you can think of.

As far as pricing goes, many of the more popular or recent movies are only available as full-download purchases, while other movies are available for one-time rental fees at a fraction of the cost.  Thankfully there is also a “New Rentals” category, if you’re more interested in cheaper one-time rentals. The selection of rentals isn’t bad – but most of the best movies are only available here at full purchase prices.

Fandango Streams TV?

Fandango has been around for a long time as one of the internet’s most popular movie review sites. Now the site is also the place you may want to go to watch movies as well. The streaming service is called Fandango Now.

Prices at Fandango Now Think Fandango Is Just For Checking Movie Showtimes? Think Again [iPhone] Think Fandango Is Just For Checking Movie Showtimes? Think Again [iPhone] Are you a movie buff? If so, you probably like to keep up with all the latest happenings in the movie world at all times. You want all of that critical information about what is... Read More  seem pretty close to Amazon’s prices, but of course without the annoying Amazon Prime subscription fee. The beauty of a service like Fandango Now is that it’s such an inexpensive alternative to paying over $100 for a monthly cable subscription. You can easily find a new hit TV series like Mars, and purchase the entire season for $9.99 (in Standard Definition).

Some TV series, like Game of Thrones for example, will cost upwards of $27.99 for an entire season.

But considering an entire season is 15 to 20 episodes, you’re looking at almost a month’s worth of nightly entertainment for a fraction of the cost of cable.

The real secret to saving as much as possible on your digital entertainment is to shop around. For example, the movie The Road is only available as a $9.99 purchase on CinemaNow and Google Play, but it’s included as part of a Netflix subscription. Start out by thinking about what you want to watch, and then check all of the available streaming services for the best possible price, before you buy.

How to Watch TV Online for Free

It may seem like all of the digital streaming services out there are now offering some form of pay-only option, but you don’t always have to cough up money to watch great TV or movies.

If you have a favorite TV show, the first place you should always check is the website of the network running the show. Often you can watch each new episode of a show merely a day or two after the show airs on TV. The following are some of the most popular network stations that let you watch streamed episodes of their most popular shows for free Free to Watch: 1st Episodes of Amazon's Original TV Shows Free to Watch: 1st Episodes of Amazon's Original TV Shows Did you know that Amazon produces original TV series? You can watch them with Prime, but if you don't have that, you can watch all of the first episodes for free! Read More .

There are still also some decent free video streaming sites available online Crackle: Watch Free Full Length Movies & TV shows Crackle: Watch Free Full Length Movies & TV shows Read More . The content there is not quite as varied or recent as some of the options listed above, but there’s still some great entertainment to be found there.

  • Crackle – Older shows and movies
  • LinkTV – Colorful and cultural shows produced by LinkTV
  • YouTube – YouTube has more free video content than any other site out there

As an honorable mention, the following sites offer subscription access to multiple channels of online content.

  • YouTube Movies – Premium movie rentals, some as cheap as $0.99
  • SlingTV – Digital streaming service similar to Xfinity Stream, but starting at $20-per-month instead of a cable subscription.
  • PlayStation Vue – For as little as $29.99-per-month, get access to major live TV networks.
  • DirecTV Now – For as little as $35-per-month, you can watch live TV, and for a little more watch some premium channels as well.

Still Have Cable? Why?

These days, with so much amazing content available on the internet at prices much lower than any cable subscription, it really doesn’t make sense for anyone to remain bound to a cable box. You’ve got options to watch just about any movie or TV show your heart desires. So, what are you waiting for?

Which streaming service(s) do you use to watch your favorite movies or TV shows? Do you have a particular favorite or do you use several? Please share your thoughts with us on this topic in the comments section below!

Image Credit: Diana Grytsku via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Ken Driver
    March 29, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I still think cable is best. You have the DVR which is great. There are a lot of great basic cable channels that produce original shows that are better than most movies. A lot of movies just aren't worth paying for.

  2. Leah
    March 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Until I can get live local baseball games on the 'net I will have cable. They have suckered me in.

    • Oofy Prosser
      May 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      Ditto for hockey. And not just local games, either. ANY games.

  3. strewart songemon
    April 9, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    waste donot use this site it will waste your mb and you cannot do anything

  4. Jason
    January 27, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Thank you so much for this! I've been looking everywhere for a way to watch television and the first option, Sling, works great!

  5. J
    January 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    What I find frustrating is the shows freezing a lot. Fancast, Hulu, IMDB. It seems that it is mostly CBS shows but it happens a lot. Is that internet connection or pc issues? Could it be the site lagging from users?

  6. leechy
    January 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    a excellent site i use is
    http://www.dwi-tv.com

  7. Pablo666
    December 11, 2009 at 5:14 am

    This is the best streaming site-3500 channels in HD for one time small fee:-

    http://snipurl.com/net.tv2009

  8. Dj23
    December 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm
  9. James
    November 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Hey guys the best place to find a tv on pc software is http://www.gettvoncomputer.com. I used them and I cancelled my cable bill. I get all the football games and tv shows I've always wanted.

  10. kevinms
    October 29, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    just go to freewactchtvpro.com......i personally like it....

  11. JOhn
    October 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    limited30.etvcorp.hop.clickbank.net

  12. Dave
    September 12, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Yeah, TVChannelsFree asks for your cell number then in the fine print says you agree to pay 10 dollars a month. Maybe it wasn't a scam when this article was written, but it looks like it is now.

  13. David
    September 6, 2009 at 5:51 am

    What?? The "TVChannelsFree" site you mentioned asks for my CELL NUMBER. Instant fraud site alert!

  14. Chris
    September 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hii

    I watch TV channels from USA, UK and Europe on Youweb.TV :

    youweb.tv/en/index.html

    CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX... sports, movies... for free without any software or submission needed.

  15. yhuu
    August 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    100 % scam tom nd jerry is on nick according to that picture lol

  16. Scott
    August 5, 2009 at 3:42 am

    How can I use these sites overseas? I've heard of people using ISP blockers. What's out there I can use?

  17. Henry
    July 26, 2009 at 12:25 am

    My friend recommended the World's #1 video Downloader for Web Video & TV called RipTiger:

    Capture, download and convert popular web video formats, like hulu video, youtube video and almost all other sites.

    It saves video to your computer as soon as you start watching. It captures web video automatically and downloads it while you continue surfing the web. All downloads are saved to your download folder so you can change file names, convert web video to other formats and enjoy your video.

    • kevinms
      July 26, 2009 at 1:35 am

      Henry – thanks for your comment..

  18. kevinms
    July 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I register Graboid via CJ but my application disapproved.... and state refused by Graboid... is there anyone can help solve my problem?

  19. Garth
    June 20, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Useful atricle.... movies and tv on the web are here to stay.
    Here's a collection of free movies/tv sites:
    MovieSwamp.com

    Here's a firefox addon that online movie watchers might find useful ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/11037 )

  20. ninja
    March 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    ninjavideo.net for Divx quality tv shows. New episodes updated every day

    • Ann Onymous
      May 29, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Avast blocked ninjavideo.net as a threat.

    • Ann Onymous
      May 29, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Avast blocked ninjavideo.net as threat.

  21. Jeremy Jacobs
    March 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    innerlive.com is not allowing new people to register, and you can't contact them either.

  22. chad
    February 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    You Rock !! thanks a lot for the GOOD INFO everything was just like you said!!

  23. Ryan Dube
    January 31, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Thanks. I have to say that Hulu and Sling are, by far, my favorite for movies. But I agree, when I want to watch sports online I always turn to MyP2P too. Thanks for your comment!

  24. Ryan Dube
    January 29, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Edwin, thanks for your comment. Yeah, yahoo and McAfee both report that the site has spyware, adware, and other "malicious" ads running. I'd avoid it..

  25. Edwin
    January 29, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Hi, ever hear about zangocash? This site legit? Ever heard their program is contains spyware? many thanks.

  26. steadyboy
    January 8, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Jocuri Miniclip, it's a bit of strang i can't post link sucessfully.

    you can search "hulu downloader" in google, there is a site mp4kits dot com, which has that "hulu downloader" program. However, it is not free. So make sure you download for try first.

  27. steadyboy
    January 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    It's a bit of strange, i can't post the link.

    You can search "hulu downloader" in google search, you will see a site called mp4kits.com, which has that program.

  28. Jocuri Miniclip
    January 8, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Great list.
    (steadyboy) Can you post the link for the Hulu downloader ! I 've been looking for one but no luck so far .

  29. steadyboy
    January 7, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Hulu downloader can easily download Hulu video/tv shows/movies/web videos. Capturing Hulu web video automatically and downloads it while you continue surfing the web. Free download Hulu download.

    • Aibek
      January 8, 2009 at 1:49 am

      link ?

  30. Jeremy Mordkoff
    January 5, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    zeevee makes zviewer, a free firefox add-on that makes it easy to find and play internet video content

    we also sell ZvBox, a device that attaches to your PC and lets you localcast your audio and video to all the HD TVs in your house over your existing Coax cables and RF remotes.

  31. finelliville
    January 5, 2009 at 10:16 am

    just go to ovguide.com they have links to everything known to man

  32. j•murg
    January 2, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Very helpful and informative article. Thanks for taking the time to research and share, Ryan.

    - j•murg

  33. Cory
    December 31, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Nice article. I recently wrote a post on "how to watch on demand commercial free HDTV without cable" with some additional insights:

    http://www.coryshaw.com/how-to-watch-commercial-free-hdtv-on-demand-without-cable/

  34. Topsy-Techie
    December 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    We chucked our satellite about six months ago, and haven't missed it a bit! One of the sites we use the most is VIP-TV.net. It isn't completely free, but pretty close! I've struggled to find a good sports source, though, so thanks for the info on that!

  35. Ryan
    December 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    For those who want to watch Internet TV on a TV...

    Here's a how to (if interested):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-IryK4wsUM

    I got sick of watching on my computer and paying $80 a month for stuff I could watch free on the net!

    HTH some readers :)

  36. Adam
    December 31, 2008 at 10:07 am

    If you Live in Engaland (and soon Europe) You can watch all freeview channels LIVE on
    http://tvcatchup.com

    Its not owned or operated by any UK Network, and is useing a loophole for freeview, great stuff I can not beleave Makeuseof has featured this website.

    The channels currently Live, Free to anyone in UK:
    BBC One, BBC Two, ITV 1, Channel 4, Five, ITV 2, Five US, E4, ITV 3, ITV 4, More 4, BBC Three, BBC Four, Dave, Fiver, Film 4, BBC News, CBBC

    Adam

  37. Pat
    December 31, 2008 at 6:49 am

    What?? No mention of boxee? It's about to go public alpha on Jan 8th.

  38. Richard Hartman
    December 31, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Thanks for the great advise
    I use this site for all my free movies,cable and TV links
    http://www.nosubscriptionrequired.net/

  39. alex
    December 31, 2008 at 2:10 am

    What about software for watching tv from a tuner?
    thanks

  40. Marco
    December 30, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    @ Ryan

    Excellent piece! Definitely going to my bookmarks.

  41. FancastFan
    December 30, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Ryan, just to note your response to Mike, while Fancast certainly has shows from NBC and Fox (the parent companies of Hulu, hence the logo on some of the videos) it ALSO has full-length programs from ABC, CBS, Viacom cable nets like Comedy Central, and other outlets like The WB - in fact, every major network and studio, including pay channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz. And old classics too from the golden age of sit-coms (which usually means CBS).
    Maybe you can note that?
    Cheers,
    Jim (for fancast)

  42. Kevin
    December 30, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I'm pretty sure that Tom & Jerry has never been on Nick. I went on the site and it showed Flinstones, and Spongebob was on on my TV. Went to Cartoon Network and it showed some old show I vaguely remember seeing on TV several years ago. Inner-Live is more like Inner-5 Years. I WANT MY CARTOONS! >:C

  43. Ryan Dube
    December 30, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Mike - thanks for your comment. Did you notice that Fancast has the Hulu logo at the top of their videos for the full length TV episodes?

  44. Mike
    December 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Not all cable companies are oblivious to Internet TV. Comcast, for instance, took the initiative to launch Fancast, which you don't list here and which is a better site than half of the ones you've got listed, IMO.

  45. san
    December 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    of no use to european region users,, what a shame.

    unless you get a proxy , which is in USA and is fast enough to stream,, but thats almost impossible..

    mabe in 10 years it will be available here too

  46. Gregg B.
    December 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    anyone know anything about http://www.isoftwaretv.com/ ?

    Looking at the site I can't tell if its legit or a scam.

    • blueye
      January 21, 2009 at 9:16 am

      hi gregg, i have been looking at this one too, did you find out if it's legit?

    • sallysung
      February 3, 2010 at 1:30 am

      Are you interested in different cultures , with channels from all kinds of countries , you will never get bored , you can switch from Europe to Asia ,Africa or south America . There is a software can make it come true for you ,SatelliteDirectâ„¢ ,
      http://softjohn.com/tv_on_pc/pctv.html