Watch Live TV Online, For Free, With FilmOn

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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

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.

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filmon-frace24

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

filmon-channels

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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Comments (12)
  • 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!!!!! :)

  • lies

    battlecam is pointless if it not on tv

  • 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.

    • Dev1024

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

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.