At the start of 2012, the number of cable TV subscriptions in the United States peaked at 103 million. The figure has now dropped to 96 million, and by the end of 2018, experts believe it will be down to about 92 million.
But all those people haven’t suddenly stopped watching television. Instead, they’re increasingly finding ways to watch TV online for free.
Clearly, there are lots of illegal ways to watch your favorite shows, but there are also plenty of perfectly legal (and free) ways. Here are some of the best…
If you set up your equipment on one machine, you can stream your content to other devices in your home, thus letting you watch TV in bed on your tablet or stream it to your Roku device in another room.
On Plex, you can even access your content remotely; you’ll never miss an episode of your favorite show, no matter where you are in the world.
Crackle is a free-to-use app that’s available in 21 countries and broadcasts in three languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese).
The company offers apps for all of the major mobile operating systems and streaming devices, including Android, iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, and several smart TVs. Its content is also Chromecast-compatible.
Content-wise, Crackle has partnerships with several Hollywood studios and major TV networks. Some of the most notable are Universal, FOX, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Disney.
The videos are ad-supported.
3. Yahoo View
Yahoo View has a free tier and a paid tier. The paid tier includes shows from ABC, NBC, and FOX. They become available eight days after being aired. The most recent five episodes are available.
The free service gives you access to a reasonably-sized selection of older content such as Saturday Night Live, Community, and Will and Grace.
Unfortunately, Yahoo View is only available in the United States.
OVGuide offers free TV shows and full-length movies in 20 distinct genres. It has a web player, smartphone apps, and standalone apps for most mainstream streaming devices.
The site doesn’t host any of its own content; it acts as a hub for content elsewhere and relies on users to submit suitable sites. But don’t worry, there’s nothing shady going on. All of the sites it sources from are entirely legal.
It also has a great feature that’s not present on some other services: If OVGuide doesn’t have the content you want for free, it will tell you where you can find a paid-for version of the video instead.
LinkTV is an American satellite television network which has a focus on global-minded content.
The videos on the site are broken down into five categories: Arts and Entertainment, Culture and Society, Environment, News and Analysis, and World.
The content is mainly a mix of original episodes and snippets from other shows. Original shows include Who Speaks for Islam?, Men of Words, and Future Express.
Lastly, unlike some other sites on this list, LinkTV also offers world music videos.
Deals are in place with several studios and producers. You’ll find films and shows from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Starz, and more. At the time of writing there are more than 7,500 videos to choose from.
In addition to a web portal, you can download apps for Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, and PlayStation 4.
It’s easy to overlook the TV networks’ websites, but if you live in the United States, they’re a treasure trove of content.
For example, the FOX website not only has recently-aired shows, but also has a vast amount of information about the cast and the episodes. It also offers sneak previews and trailers, as well as the occasional special offer.
If you like shows on NBC, check out the company’s NBC Video Library. Like FOX, there are both new and old shows, as well as games, news, and a surprisingly active community.
ABC Go offers many of the network’s most popular shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Designated Survivor, and The Good Doctor.
PBS generally focuses on educational content and documentaries.
YouTube isn’t always thought of as a TV streaming service. It’s not the site’s primary purpose. But don’t dismiss YouTube entirely.
Obviously, you’re not going to find the latest Game of Thrones episode in the library (and if you do, it’s illegal and will be taken down swiftly). However, lots of old classic shows are available. They are often made available by the rights holders or the networks themselves.
Just search for your favorite shows from the 1990s using the “S00E00” suffix, and you might be surprised at what pops up.
If you like anime and manga, Crunchyroll is the site for you. It has more than 800 anime shows, 200 Asian dramas, and 50 manga titles.
It’s the only place you’ll be able to find some of the content; Crunchyroll is the exclusive worldwide digital distributor for Kadokawa anime titles.
In addition to the web portal, you can watch Crunchyroll on Chromecast, Wii U, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Android, Apple TV, and Roku.
10. Free Trials
Services like Netflix, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu are not free. However, remember that they almost all offer free trials for their services.
If there’s one show you desperately want to watch, sign up for a trial and binge-watch the content you’re craving. You might even be impressed enough to purchase a full subscription.
How Do You Watch TV Legally Online?
In this article, we’ve introduced you to 14 ways you can watch TV online legally and for free. Now we want you to add your favorite services to this list.
Which sites and services do you turn to when you need a fix of free (legal) TV? As always, you can leave your suggestions and recommendations in the comments below!