Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

Watch TV, on your computer – without the need for an antenna, TV card or subscription. FilmOn is a free service offering a wide variety of TV channels in the US and UK.

Internet TV service Aereo’s been in the news a lot recently – an upcoming US supreme court decision will determine whether they’re stealing from broadcasters, or helping people access content already on the public airwaves. But Aereo, a subscription service, isn’t the only online TV company with something at stake. The lesser known, and ad-supported, FilmOn also provides access to local TV broadcasts.

FilmOn probably can’t replace a cable subscription, but if you only need access to a few live channels it’s worth looking into. You’ll find a variety of local stations, and a few rotating collections of old movies, among other things.

Finding Channels

FilmOn can be overwhelming, to understate things. I’d start by heading to filmon.com/group and looking over the categories.

filmon groups   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

Not the greatest first impression, is it? Bikini Babe as a category and Daniel Tosh representing comedy might prompt some to close the tab, but give it a chance. Click the “Live TV News” button to start watching immediately.

filmon frace24   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

The first channel to come up is France24, a France-centric news station presented in English.

filmon channels   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

You can channel surf by clicking the arrow overlay on your video, or even check out a TV guide to see what’s on:

filmon tvguide   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

These are all channels you can easily find online elsewhere, of course. Things get interesting when you click “Local TV”.

Live TV Streaming

FilmOn offers over-the-air TV stations to you online – for free.

filmon local listings   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

What’s listed here, for American viewers, seems to change regularly and at least partially depends on your location. If you’re in NYC, for example, you’ll probably see your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates. If you’re in Colorado, as I am, you’ll probably just find a bunch of PBS, CW and other stations from around the country.

filmon PBS   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

This is the result of ongoing legal disputes, which may or may not be cleared up by upcoming supreme court decisions. Still, there’s plenty to explore here.

Viewers in the UK have a lot more choice: you’ll find all the terrestrial stations.

filmon uk bbc   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

I wonder if it’s only a matter of time until lawsuits question the legality of such a service in the UK as they have in the USA, but for now this is a great alternative to setting up an antenna.

With Your Media Center

Love the content, but don’t think FilmOn will work well on your TV? I’d recommend watching with XBMC (our complete guide to XBMC). A plugin called F.T.V gives you access to all these streams from a remote-friendly interface:

xbmc ftv   Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

If you’re in the UK, you can take things even further with OnTapp.tv (once known as TV Guide Dixie). This uses streams from FilmOn and other sources to give you a satellite-style TV guide you can browse:

It’s a nice interface, and relatively easy to use, but works best with UK TV at the moment.

More Online TV

Looking for some more live TV to watch on your computer? You could check out LiveStation, which provides live news broadcasts over the Internet. The station selection isn’t overwhelming, but it offers a nice interface.

Or you could check out our list of places to watch TV online legally and free.

The Future

The best part of this service is, without a doubt, the access to broadcast TV content from around the country. This will presumably go away completely should Aereo lose its pending supreme court case, of course, but for now the service is well worth checking out.

Beyond broadcast, FilmOn is a bit of a mess, interface wise, but buried in there is some great content. You just have to do some digging. FilmOn also offers free streaming apps for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

Did you find any channels worth bookmarking? Let us know in the comments below, okay? Or recommend other ways to watch TV online.

12 Comments - Write a Comment

0 votes
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Nancy B

Sounds great BUT is it available straight to pc’s in Canada or just UK and USA?

I’m planning on purchasing a ROKU and have found whether I buy the USA or Canadian version I can go to http://www.unblockus.com and for $60 per year ($4.99 per month) and registering my Roku under a USA address, and with my Paypal account and not my credit card as it has a Canadian address; I can get anything available in the US. (I live in a border city with the US so no biggy which place I buy it in except cost and exchange on the dollar)

So then I should be able to get this service…. I think??

Have you (any writers on this site) checked out Roku’s yet? I have found the LT, Roku 1 and 2 are able to be used on any TV, while the Roku 3 are only good on the newer flat screen TV’s with the plug in for a computer line. The various ones have somethings different and could make the experience better depending on your needs/wants and TV and wireless router connection.
Just wondering, if you think my plan is good? as due to financial downfalls I’ve had to cut the cable. (saving over $60 a month)

0 votes

Howard B

The “plug in for a computer line” (in the video sense) could be anything from VGA to DVI to HDMI (the latter of which carries audio). The Roku 3 only has HDMI; the others have component (5 RCA connectors, 3 for video and 2 for audio) or composite (S-Video or yellow RCA, plus red and white for L/R audio), IIRC.

The FilmOn channel for Roku only allows you to stream the lower-quality channels (designed for iPod/iPad, 1024×768 resolution).

0 votes
Reply

Nancy B

Just checked this out and it’s also available in Canada.
I did notice on the TV guide a few channels had no content listed so I suppose those are the ones we can’t get?
But I am impressed that we can stream CW, PBS and Biography TV immediately, as well as a number of the other USA and UK channels… I didn’t check out every countries listings.

Films have a lot to be desired and range from silent ones with Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson to cheesy 1950′s-60′s movies (OK they are good for a laugh) Billy the Kid vs the Vampires!?? and a few 1930-60′s classics which are great for classic viewing/rainy days but nothing new.

I would use it to stream some of the live channels but definitely use something else for movies and more current repeats of current TV listings.

0 votes

Justin P

Yeah, the movie offerings really aren’t fantastic, but it’s nice to have a few live TV stations without the need to pay for anything.

0 votes
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art

This sounds very interesting to me. I’m looking for one thing specifically: access to UFC fights. I live in the UAE now but I do have a good proxy I can use if I need to (TunnelBear). Which of these options should I pursue?

art williams

0 votes

Justin P

UFC is pretty locked down, I don’t think FilmOn is going to be what you’re looking for, even with a proxy. FilmOn is for broadcast channels; UFC is usually on cable, frequently pay per view.

0 votes
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Ronald S

This seems possibly a decent option for my household, possibly to find some new stuff we’ve not encountered before and maybe even some old stuff we once thought lost in the forbidden zone of time and space. Thanks for the info. The only disappointment for me, is having to pay for HD, since SD is free, but I guess they have to make their money somehow, right? Perhaps once I feel more comfortable and secure with the site, I might invest in it for HD content, but for now I have Netflix to pay for, lol.

0 votes
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Snoopy168

From Singapore using 100M home fiber, this Works. ^-^
Will try more of the channels later.
Wondering if there is anyway that I can get this played on my Samsung Smart TV.

Thanks for sharing.

0 votes

Dev1024

I think chromecast could be the solution for your need!
Give it a try!

0 votes
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lies

battlecam is pointless if it not on tv

0 votes
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Caroline W

I’m amazed!! So much choice. I wish I could stream it with Chromecast!

*Update:* It works with ChromeCast!! I can’t believe it!! Thanks @Dev1024, I never thought to try it, only thought YouTube itself and Netflix were supported.

Thanks a lot for showing this to us, I for one really like it, there’s a lot of good and interesting stuff to watch and podcasts to listen to, it’s great!!

The video quality isn’t the best, but hell, it’s free!! I’m over the moon with this, Thank You Justin!!!!! :)

0 votes

Justin P

I’m glad you found this useful!

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