Granted, you may not be able to watch the entire seasons or access all the shows you want to see. However, you'll be surprised at how much content is available online and how many options you have to display.
There are of course some limitations. For example, in many networks, you can only stream if you are a paid cable or satellite subscriber. And as with broadcast television (do you remember that?), You're probably going to have some commercials. Let's take a look at some of the best free, legal ways to pamper your inner trainer potato. (Prefer films? Look at these.)
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What You Can See: Crackle's commercially supported selection is quite extensive and includes some great series like Community, Happy Endings, and Rescue Me. Unfortunately, not every series is complete; In some cases, you may only get one or two seasons or even a single season.
Where You Can See: Crackle's list of supported devices is also extensive. The service offers apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and popular streaming devices and is even integrated with many smart TVs. It does not provide an option to download shows for offline viewing.
Do you have a library card? Check if your library has partnered with Hoopla. With this digital media service you can try all sorts of things – including TV shows. If you "borrow" one, you have 72 hours to look at it. Your library determines the total number of titles you can borrow each month.
What You Can See: Hoopla's TV selection is a kind of mess, with a few well-known shows blended with lots of self-help, documentary and family fare. For example, you'll find three seasons of the SyFy Original Humans, both seasons of the Jim Gaffigan Show, and many Ken Burns documentaries. Hoopla also offers educational videos from the The Great Courses series, various PBS Kids shows, and plenty of Acorn TV content that would otherwise require a subscription.
Where You Can See: Hoopla content can be viewed almost anywhere: on mobile devices, streaming devices and on your PC in a browser. Surprisingly, the mobile apps not only provide streaming, but also an option to download for offline viewing.
Network Apps and Web Sites
Almost any major network allows you to stream broadcasts through a website and / or mobile app, which is good news for cable cutters. What if you could not see the latest episode of Bob's Burgers? Just start the Fox Now app and stream it as needed. At least that's the idea.
What You Can See: If there's a program being aired, chances are you can watch it online. In some cases, however, there is a Catch-22: Many networks require an active service provider such as AT & T U-verse, Dish or Xfinity. If you can not specify valid credentials, you will not be able to stream. This is true for networks like AMC and Syfy, which means no episodes of The Walking Dead or Deadly Class for you. But CBS (which owns CNET), TBS, The CW and a few others will allow you to watch at least some episodes of some shows without signing up. So you have to poke around a bit.
Where You Can See: This also varies from network to network, but in most cases you can view shows in a browser on a mobile device or through a Media Streamer app. However, there are only a few download options. So do not expect to watch shows offline, unless you pay for them.
The relatively new newcomer Pluto TV is not only suitable for on-demand films, but also for live TV channels such as CBS News and CNET. It's of course ad-supported, but definitely one of the best options available for free content.
What You Can See: Pluto has a pretty impressive selection of live channels sorted by categories such as news, sports, comedy, and movies. On Demand TV content consists mainly of crime and reality shows and is actually not as well organized as the live channels. Curiosity: When you watch a live stream, you can not take a break. You can only mute it.
Where You Can See: Pluto TV works in desktop browsers, but also offers a Windows client. It has apps for Android, iOS and various smart TVs and channels for Apple TV ($ 179 at Walmart) Fire TV and Roku.
The name denies the content: Tubi TV offers a lot more movies than TV shows, but that does not mean that you should not visit the extensive library. Similar to Crackle, this ad-supported network is available on a variety of devices and does not require an account. However, if you sign up for a network, you can save favorites and resume playback as you switch between devices.
What you can see: Tubi TV is definitely not Hulu; His TV selection consists of many British imports and various shows you've probably never heard of. In fact, there is not even a separate TV department, but only a few TV-specific categories (comedies, dramas, etc.) in its much larger list of contents. I can not say that I found much to recommend, except for Season 1 by Everybody Hates Chris and many taxi episodes. Ironically, Tubi TV is better in the film department.
Where you can see: Tubi TVs list of supported devices may compete with that of Crackle. The service features apps for Android and iOS, major game consoles and streaming devices, and some Samsung TVs. It does not provide an option to download content for offline viewing.
Although Yahoo's streaming service is a bit of a movie, the emphasis is on television. There are many of them through a partnership with Hulu, and you do not even need a Yahoo account to sign up. This is indeed the most common source of free online TV.
What You Can See: Yahoo View offers many of the same broadcasts that Hulu makes, but not nearly as many episodes and still with commercials. For example, View has only the last four episodes of Bob's Burgers, while Hulu offers the entire series. If you are looking for a place where you can see a wealth of current and classic television programs (Happy Days, Anyone?), Yahoo View is an excellent resource.
Where You Can See: Unfortunately, Yahoo View's TV selection remains stubborn on the Web. No mobile apps, no support for streaming devices.
Originally published on February 28, 2017.
Update dated March 11, 2019: Updated information.
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