Please note that these are US-specific sites and shows may not be available if you access the sites from outside of the United States. Other countries offer other options (such as the BBC iPlayer), so if you want to share legal sources of online TV from your own country, please feel free to do so in the comments.
Here are ten places where you may be able to watch your favorite shows online, and legally!
Hulu.com offers legal access to shows across several networks for free. There is also a paid version called Hulu Plus that gives you access to even more episodes of your favorite shows. This is my own first stop for watching TV online. Having shows from several networks here together saves a lot of time over having to visit each network site individually.
Netflix.com offers a Watch Instantly service now in addition to their DVD rentals through the mail. The service isn’t free, but I’ve found them to have some of the best streaming capabilities and you can find a lot of great older material there. You’ll also find more full seasons of TV shows there, whereas services showing the current season often only show a few episodes at a time — out of luck if you miss them.
If you visit the ABC network’s site you can find free access to full episodes of shows like Private Practice, Modern Family, and Desperate Housewives, in addition to some of their news specials.
NBC offers a nice selection of full episodes online for free for current shows like 30 Rock and Chuck as well as older shows like The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
On the CBS network site you can find full episodes of TV shows including the Late Show, CSI, and CSI: Miami.
FOX offers full episodes of some of its popular shows for free too — Glee, American Idol, The Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy, Bones, Fringe, House, and Lie to Me among others.
The USA Network has been one of my favorites for a while now, with regular quality, quirky, and original shows. You can find full episodes to check them out for yourself. Psych, Royal Pains, and Burn Notice are included.
8. The CW
If you’re interested in popular shows like The Vampire Diaries or America’s Next Top Model, you should check out The CW’s site for full episodes of your favorites.
9. The WB
The WB’s site could be a good stop for you if you’re interested in older shows like Pushing Daisies or even cartoons from your youth, like Smurfs, The Flinstones, or The Jetsons.
10. Comedy Central
If you enjoy shows like South Park, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report, you should check out Comedy Central’s site for the latest full episodes online.
Legal, and in many cases free — how can you go wrong? If you’re tired of being a slave to TV schedules and remembering to record your favorite shows to watch later, try watching them online. Not interested in watching TV on a computer screen? That’s okay. In most cases you can connect your computer to your TV and watch it on the big screen like you would watch TV normally. In my case that means using an HDMI cable to connect my laptop to a TV. Check your computer and TV connection options to figure out what cables you need, and then get watching — when it’s convenient for you!