Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

television remote control icon   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For FreeWhether 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 TV online than ever. Even better, many of these legal options are free. Most of these websites will expose you to commercials – someone has to pay for the free TV – but you’ll end up watching commercials if you pay to watch TV the traditional way, anyway.

Many of these services are only available in specific countries, such as the USA. Some services are only available in the UK, so even Americans can’t watch everything. If you’re one of the majority of human beings living outside these two countries, never fear – we’ve covered easy ways you can get access to region-blocked media services, wherever you live.

HitBliss

HitBliss is a new service. It’s a sort of store you can purchase TV shows and movies from, just like Apple’s iTunes. However, you can also watch targeted ads and receive credit you can put towards watching streaming TV shows and movies. Watching two minutes of ads gives you roughly enough credit to pay for a TV show episodes, so HitBliss appears to have fewer advertisements than traditional television.

hitbliss   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

Hulu

Hulu is well-known in the USA as a popular way to watch recent TV shows. Unlike services like Netflix, Hulu offers recent TV episodes from currently airing seasons. You’ll have to pay for a Hulu Plus subscription to watch some shows – and older seasons of shows – but Hulu Plus also offers a week-long free trial where you can watch TV online – everything for free.

watching free tv show on hulu   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

Television Network & Show Websites

Every television network has its own website, and many networks offer recent episodes for free streaming. For example, you can find recent episodes of The Office on NBC’s website for The Office. The Daily Show and Colbert Report offer full shows on their own websites, too. These only work on the USA – in other countries, you’ll need to use the appropriate television network’s website.

For example, The Office airs on Global TV instead of NBC in Canada, so you’d need to use Global TV’s website for The Office in Canada, not NBC’s website for The Office.

This can be a bit complicated, and individual episodes can be hard to find as shows are scattered across websites and networks, but you’ll often find recent episodes for many shows on their official website for your country.

nbc the office website   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

Netflix/Lovefilm/Amazon Free Trials

Netflix, Lovefilm (in the UK), and Amazon Prime Instant Video are all popular ways of watching TV shows online, but they’re not free. However, it’s easy to forget that Netflix, Lovefilm, and Amazon all offer free trials you can enjoy for 30 days. On Amazon, you’ll need to opt into the free trial of Amazon Prime to get access to the free-with-Prime Amazon Instant Video catalog.

At the end of the 30 day period, you can cancel your subscription if you don’t want to pay for the service.

watch walking dead on netflix   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

Crackle

Sony’s Crackle offers a limited catalog of TV shows (and movies) for completely free streaming. To get all of its content, you’ll have to be in the USA, although some of its catalog is also available in the UK, Canada, and Australia. Like many services, Crackle offers a mobile app.

In the US, Crackle offers Seinfeld, Dilbert, and a variety of other shows and movies. Only 9 episodes of Seinfeld are available at the moment, so that should give you some idea of Crackle’s limitations.

watching tv on crackle   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

YouTube

YouTube is a common destination for people looking for free TV shows online. You can find lots of free TV shows on YouTube. But let’s be honest – most free TV shows on YouTube are put up by users and not officially sanctioned. However, sometimes television networks put up free TV show episodes on YouTube.

YouTube offers a YouTube TV Shows page where you can watch TV online – watching shows that have been put up on YouTube legitimately. Sometimes TV networks may put up episodes of their own TV shows on their own YouTube channels, as HBO did for a limited time with the first episodes of some of its new series. Selection will vary by country, as with the other services here.

watch free tv shows on youtube   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

Livestation

Livestation offers video streams of live TV news networks. They’re completely legitimate and approved video streams, too. You’ll find a lot of big news networks here, including BBC World News, CNN International, Bloomberg, Sky News, and Al Jazeera English. Some of the networks, like BBC World News, require a subscription, but many are free. Unlike many other services, Livestation appears to work in all countries without any region-blocking.

We’ve previously taken a look at other websites where you can watch news at online, including Livestation.

watching news on livestation   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer offers a variety of BBC television shows for free in the UK, including the popular Doctor Who series. As with other services on this list, international users can get in on the action, too.

We’ve covered how you can access BBC iPlayer and stream TV shows outside of the UK.

watch doctor who on bbc iplayer   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

TVCatchup

TVCatchup is a free service for people living in the UK. It allows you to watch over 50 channels of live television from your computer, phone, or tablet. It doesn’t offer individual episodes on-demand, but live streams of the networks.

watch live tv with tvcatchup in the uk   Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free

If you’re willing to consider a paid service, check out our comparison of the best streaming media services to figure out which one is worth your hard-earned money.

Where else do you get your free television show fix and watch TV online? Share any other free (and legitimate) services in the comments!

Image Credit: TV remote control via Shutterstock

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42 Comments -

0 votes

Florin Ardelian

I like how the title says “legally” and you link to the proxy/VPN article which is usually against the TOS of some websites. Kids, if you want to do it legally, read the terms and conditions of the website you’re about to use and if you need to use some sort of proxy to spoof your location, it is probably illegal (perfectly harmless, but most likely illegal).

Also, I find it amusing that I just discovered the YouTube TV Shows page in an AskReddit thread a few hours ago, which made me look up online free online TV stations, but I somehow got lost in other AskReddit threads for the past 4 hours and never finished my search. Thumbs up for a great article which is exactly what I was looking for!

2 votes

Chris Hoffman

I see people make this mistake all the time. Breaking a terms of service is not “illegal.” If you post on a forum online and the forum says “No discussing cats on this forum!” and you start a forum thread about cats, you haven’t broken any laws. You did not do something “illegal.” You broke one of the website’s rules.

The point of “legal” here is that you’re accessing the content in a way that its creators authorize and making them money. If someone in Germany uses a VPN to access Netflix and pay them a subscription fee, is that really “wrong”? It certainly isn’t a crime.The creators are getting money they otherwise would not have. Content creators need to get with the times and offer legal content everywhere. For the meantime, people that want to do the right thing have to use such services. We jump through hoops to do it legally rather than pirate, like so many people in countries without legal services do.

So yes, this may be against the terms of service (do you read every website’s terms of service or every software’s EULA? lots of other things are against them, too), but it’s certainly not “illegal.”

(Actually, breaking a EULA technically is a crime in the US under the CFAA, which was used to drive Aaron Swartz to suicide, but… it shouldn’t be.)

1 votes

Florin Ardelian

>If someone in Germany uses a VPN to access Netflix and pay them a subscription fee, is that really “wrong”?

Yes. Netflix only wants to give their service to people living in America, at a certain price. I believe if you use a proxy to make it appear that you are currently living in America, you are literally lying to them. Okay, the TOS is an issue, but copyright is much clearer. The owners of the TV shows gave the shows to Netflix to re-distribute them only to certain parts of the world. This is Netflix’s DRM and by using a proxy you are circumventing it. It’s as illegal as playing DVDs on Linux.

The owners of the service simply don’t want money from people living in other places, because they don’t want to be held responsible for competing with all the video services (TV/online) from all over the world.

Yes, it’s totally wrong that doing this is seen as “wrong”. It’s totally unfair that I, living in Romania, should have to wait at least two years after a TV show or movie played in the US to get to see it. But, until we get rid of all the borders and normalize our laws, we have to deal with crap like this. Not to mention that the legality of TOS from other countries has never even been brought to question in most countries. Until we have a clear answer, this is still a gray area and not acceptable as legal advice.

1 votes

Chris Hoffman

Netflix has no problem with giving their service to other countries. I can subscribe to Netflix Canada with a Canadian address and then always access it through a US VPN. Netflix could easily stop this if they want, but they don’t want to. The content providers with their patchwork of ancient licensing agreements don’t want to. Netflix is happy to look the other way, take my money, and give it to content creators.

Sure, I suppose this is a gray area, but I’m happy to come down on the side of supporting licensed services. By encouraging people elsewhere in the world to use them and not pirate, I feel I’m doing content creators a favour. I’ve never heard anyone complain about how terrible it is that people outside the US are using VPNs and paying to access Netflix. At worst, Netflix will close your account.

I’ve also played DVDs on Linux. I’m a rebel living outside the law. MakeUseOf publishes guides to jailbreaking iPads people legally own, so we encourage all sorts of “crime.”

0 votes

Ells

“The point of “legal” here is that you’re accessing the content in a way that its creators authorize and making them money”

BBC iplayer is available in the UK because the BBC as a whole is funded by the UK tax payer. Everyone who pays taxes in the UK pays for a service like iPlayer – That’s why there are no adverts.

If you’re in the USA and pretending to be in the UK, you’re not contributing anything to the BBC. You’re accessing a service that almost every UK citizen pays for for free. Even if it is legal, it’s a dick move.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

BBC should allow people outside the UK to pay for access to iPlayer. Instead, they’re refusing to sell us their product and complaining when people find ways to get access to it. If this encourages BBC to allow non-UK citizens to pay for access, it can only be a good thing.

0 votes

Tom Sobieski

Picky, picky, picky.

0 votes

Zhong Jiang

I prefer streaming sites for favorite movies and videos. But those comes with ads that’s annoying.

0 votes

Paul G

Steaming is fine if you live in an area with a fast enough connection such as a large city. I live in a rural area and need to download to watch later. Trying to watch live is unbearable with “play 2 seconds, buffer, play 2 seconds, buffer……” is unbearable.

There are various browser add-ons for stream capture but I am yet to find one that works for every site on the Web.

0 votes

Scott M

Being in Canada I have to spoof my location and I wish the present government would finally relax the rules and allow us to view normally as everyone else does.

0 votes

michel

I’m in Canada too, but I have no delusion that my government will or can change global copyright laws so I can waste my time watching sitcoms.

0 votes

Scott M

1:It isn’t Global law preventing Canada from watching.it is our own government.2:Why would you assume that I wish to watch sitcoms????

0 votes

michel

now you’re just being stupid. Tell me how the Canadian government is keeping you from watching foreign tv, please.

In fact, it’s not any government anywhere, it’s how copyright works, by territory. Any provider could buy global rights, but they don’t. They buy geographic rights.

and as for sitcoms, anything else is just as trivial. Unless you’re under ten years old, you should have understood.

0 votes

Scott M

Please check at the Pirate Party website and the CRTC.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

I’m also a Canadian. It’s not the Canadian governments’ fault, it’s the patchwork of ancient licensing agreements that mean a TV show has 50 different owners around the world and they all have to be negotiated with separately.

0 votes

Dave Bakker

Loved the review. Every year there are more and more options. We cut the cable over a year ago and have netflix now. We are in Canada so the selection is not as good as the US however, there are still more shows than I can watch anyways. Would be nice if you in the future do a similar review on free online sports sites. Thanks

0 votes

Federico Guzman

Just note that Crackle is now available in this countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, República Dominicana, Uruguay and Venezuela.
I use it in Argentina and the content selection seems to be smaller than the USA version but is nice anyways. The only downfall might be video quality (no HD here…) and subtitles. In latin america we love subtitles and almost hate dubbing and a lot of content in Crackle is dubbed…
But hey! It’s free and works great on mobiles too!

0 votes

null

I love subtitles, too…but only because I’m deaf.

0 votes

Murray_A

How do these services compare with AppleTV? I’m seriously considering going from Shaw Cable to Apple. Any thoughts?

0 votes

Kobi

HI!
Great Article! Just thought I’d give my 2 cents & maybe help few people out since I’m big into my big TV & movies! :)

OK, 1st, If you want HULU+, there are “2 week” coupons online, as of 48 hrs ago, you may have to search a bit, but 2 free weeks is better then 1. I have used them before, more current shows then Netflix for sure but the ads drive me nuts!!!

STREAMING TV– I was given the original Apple TV as a gift a few years back. Funny thing is I like it better then the new one—however hte new one, which I own as well is smaller and wireless! Apple TV is GREAT IF you are willing to Pay for TV, Movies etc.

If you own other Apple devices, it’s what I would get no doubt as you can put movies music etc on your iPads and phones!–nice for traveling!

i have tried few other common name brands over the years, none compare.
I also follow lots of products and know where to get great bargains since I run an affiliate site online, and I am not trying to promote my site but to tell you that if you do want an Apple TV, they are normally $99—-you can get one tiny bit cheaper via MacMall, who is actually having a sale cuz i just got info in my email, & I DO NOT RECEIVE COMMISSION on any devices such as this.
Just hope you can save $—I also luv apple!!! My daughter too!!!

Amazon I like for streaming, and it’s also the best place to get real cheap DVD’s if there is a movie you want to get to keep or collect that’s the way to go!!!

If you are looking for other ways to stream, there are a bunch. Like I said I luv my Apple TV, but there is a company called Go Hastings which has used movies, books and other media for good prices…I have searched the site in the past but have not made purchase but thought well enough of them to include them in my books & media area.

I hope that maybe my 2 cents help—-I am an avid reader of MakeUseOf & you guys have killer articles, and best books/tutorials!!!

Thanks for a great post!

Kobi
[link removed]

0 votes

Mark Zumkeller

http://www.yidio.com is a good website that shows you which of several services listed above actually carry the show you are looking for. That way you don’t have to go search each site util you find where your show is available.

0 votes
0 votes

Caz

Has anyone tried TvPortal? It’s an Android App that you use to browse for your fave movies, programmes and then watch by streaming. It’s a great App and the movies/programmes very rarely suffer from buffering/lagging.

You can currently download it from Amazon’s App Store.

Have a look and enjoy.

0 votes

Ray in Las Vegas

We dumped Cable subscribed to Hulu+ and Netflix and are not going back… For under $20/month we eliminated a $100+/month cable bill where most of the channels were of no interest.

What would be nice is a site like the TV Guide site that brings all the content together for browsing. I intend to try some of those sites mentioned above, they look like they might be good.

0 votes

Daniel J. Karas

Great article and a good reference. I’ll have to try some of these services. One thing I noticed about online TV, is there doesn’t seem to be any authoritative directory to what shows are available, when, and where. Hulu, for example, usually provides the last five episodes of a current show, but often releases the whole current season when a show goes on hiatus. And, this varies network-to-network. A cross-provider online “TV-Guide” would almost be worth paying for. …hmm … Venture capital, anyone?

0 votes

Adam Fofana

Why didn’t you guys mention tv.com ?

0 votes

Shane L

These look awesome i got to try them out…

0 votes

Stephanie Staker

Thanks, Chris, for all of this info. I knew about Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix and, of course, You Tube. However, the rest of the article plus the link to iBBC was good info as well. I gotta tell you that I look forward to seeing new posts at this site. I learn something useful every day!

0 votes

Richard Paul-Jones

Now that we can tune into the TV channels, maybe you could do the impossible and find us 10 programmes which are worth watching.

:-)

RPJ

0 votes

Onaje Asheber

Nice! I’ve checked out HULU now I will look into some of the other programs. Thanks again Makeuseof.

0 votes

Gary Mundy

Thanks for the article it pointed out a couple of sites that I hadn’t tried.

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Alright!! Great UPDATE article! This Tech is changing fast… like, OVERNIGHT!! Thank-you!

1 votes

Noah A

One could set up a tv tuner and stream and record live tv from windows media center.

0 votes

Rita Spratlen

I will have to share this with my husband. He would like this for sure. Rita Spratlen

1 votes

Joel Thomas

Thanks this was just what i was looking for

1 votes

Paul Wilson

I think you can watch TV this way being charged arm and leg. Your cable bill can run up to 200 dollars or more per month.

0 votes

Elbow

Hi,
thanks for your article.

I have trouble getting Hitbliss to work with my VPN. Netflix worked flawlessly in the past though.

Has anyone any tips or tricks he could share? The Hitbliss app seems to circumvent the VPN and connect directly.

greetings and thank you

0 votes

casey

you can also go to the tv web site like nbc, abc WB, or any channel even cable tv channels like sify and history channel have free stuff to watch.

0 votes

John Smith

Some TV channels can already be watched live online, see http://www.satellitetvtopc.net

0 votes

Eduardo Avila

Hello Chirs,
your information about legal TV on line ist great. I ive in Germany where TV is really awful, very few new TV programs all of them awfully sincronized in germn and most of the time films and programs from the 80′s and 90′s, that they keep repeating for years!
I love watching TV in original language, that is english. Do you know if there is any way to watch TV on line in english legaly in Germany?
Thank you for your attention.

0 votes

Tina

What about fullepisodes.touchlogo.com ??

0 votes

Danielle Pires

Hello,

I’d like to know if it would be enough to watch tv and films online using a tablet?

And how fast must be the internet conection? It is so anoying when I am watching films online and it stops…

Thank you