Most cable companies enjoy a monopoly within their communities. So far, they are oblivious to the fact that people now have access to some of the best tools to watch TV on computer. When it comes to the costs of cable TV, consumers are left footing the bill, paying upwards of $80 to $100 every month for a list of about 50 to 100 channels, most of which are filled with half-hour infomercials or documentaries about the many uses of whale blubber in third world countries.
Much like phone companies became complacent with their position of power before the world of VoIP started capturing more of the telecom market, cable TV providers are complacent and oblivious to the rising popularity and reach of Video over IP. More and more people are getting fed up with the exorbitant rates these companies charge, and they are looking to the internet for alternatives. Here, I will introduce you to some websites that lets you watch tv on your computer over the internet.
Finding the Best Tools to Watch TV on Your Computer
While the world of VidIP has a long way to go before it can capture a large portion of the video broadcasting market, it has made a great deal of progress over the past few years. Most people don’t realize that there are now enough options available online so that you can permanently trash your cable TV subscription and still have access to some of the best entertainment video content available. The only prerequisite is that you have an excellent broadband connection and a computer or laptop. To get free content, you have several options available – either Video On Demand (VOD), streaming Internet TV, or standalone PC applications that connect via the Internet.
Movies and Network TV Shows
There are a whole range of websites that provide the ability to access cable TV online. Some offer more content, and some have higher quality streaming video. My own experience is that streaming quality is far more important than quantity, since there’s nothing more annoying than trying to watch sports when the screen keeps freezing up every minute or two. Luckily there are plenty of options available.
Hulu is a popular website that offers the option to legally download full episodes and video clips of your favorite network shows and major motion films. Browsing through Hulu, I discovered an episode of my favorite show, “The Office.” The quality of the video is smooth and clear. Hulu has organized the selection of shows based on categories like “Comedy,” or “Action and Adventure,” so finding your favorite show is easy.
offers popular channels like FX, CBS, NBC, FOX, and SciFi. The variety of shows Sling offers is impressive, with full length episodes identified by a TV image next to the show title. Were you a fan of the 1980s hit show, “The A-Team?” Well, on Sling you’ll find 61 full-length episodes. Similar to Hulu, Sling also offers an impressive list of popular movies for free. I fired off one of my favorite movies, “Behind Enemy Lines,” and within less than a minute the Sling player launched the movie in amazing detail and virtually no skipping, even in full-screen mode.
Hulu seems to offer a little bit more in content, but slightly lower streaming quality than Sling. Unfortunately, both Hulu and Sling are US only sites. However there are ways you can watch Hulu and Sling videos from abroad.
Popular TV Channels and Programs
One of the biggest hurdles to turning away from cable and using Internet TV for video entertainment is that many people have favorite channels or programs that they like to watch. Luckily, there are websites available to solve that dilemma. For example, TVChannelsFree is one of the largest collections of TV channels in one place on the web, featuring over 3700 channels from more than 60 countries around the world. You’ll find Animal Planet, TTV Asia, and even Game TV from Germany. The site requires a variety of plug-ins, however, so be prepared to install SopCast, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player if you don’t already have it.
Another great website that offers on-page TV viewing of popular programs is TidalTV (update: no longer available). The navigation is in the standard TV Guide table format. The site design is excellent and the video quality is absolutely stunning.
In the process of testing this web app, I realized that there was an episode of Jericho on, which I’ve been wanting to watch! Other channels on TidalTV include Discovery, Food Network, National Geographic, HGTV and other great content. The full-screen mode for the viewer works well, and the quality remains sharp enough for display on a big screen TV.
One other great website where you can locate all of your favorite TV shows is InnerLive, one of the few online TV websites with enough of a selection so that I could find Nickelodeon – the one channel my kids need if I’d ever switch from cable to Internet TV. InnerLive is also one of the few TV sites that cleverly combined social networking with the TV viewing experience by integrating a chat room alongside the viewer.
One other honorable mention on the list of TV viewing websites is TVWeb360, which uses the same viewer technology (without a chat room) as InnerLive, but it has slightly fewer channel choices. I did notice slightly more skipping with these two websites, but if you make sure to optimize the speed of your Internet connection, you shouldn’t experience any problems.
One impressive website that offers more sports channels than any other site on the web is MyP2P (update: no longer available). While this website offers a short list of live TV channels, its real strength lies in the “Live Sports” section.
The cool thing about MyP2P is that you can click on the sport category you’re interested in and view all of the live games that are scheduled for broadcast. MyP2P features broadcasts covering 11 major sports, and even an “other” category with sports like darts and snooker! The list of live sports content is impressive, the football section alone currently lists 18 scheduled live games from across the world over the next two weeks.
Watch News Channels Online
While other websites where you can watch TV typically list popular channels like Discover or HGTV, they are often lacking when it comes to quality news broadcasting from the major news organizations across the world. Providing the best news content from across the world is where the website LiveStation is a powerhouse. Of all TV viewing sites I tested, LiveStation had the best quality by far, and its interface was far more aesthetically pleasing. LiveStation offers a few popular channels like MTV and Sci Fi, but it’s news offering is the most impressive, including Al Jazeera, BBC World Service, ITN, Russia Today, France 24, and CNN. Watching NASA TV in full-screen mode, with the channel carousel around it, absolutely blew me away.
While video over IP technology still has a long way to go, the technology and the associated broadband speeds have advanced far enough at this point so that if anyone is fed up enough with the overpriced monopoly of cable TV, switching to the Internet for your video entertainment needs isn’t all that painful.
Have you switched to the the internet solely for your television watching? If so, what applications do you use to receive your programming?