Watch TV Online

10 Places to Legally Watch TV Online

Watch TV Online

Wouldn’t it be great if you could watch your favorite TV shows on your schedule instead of TV networks’ schedules? Wouldn’t it be even better if you could do it legally and not have to worry about things like viruses often associated with illegal downloads and streaming sites (not to mention the prospect of getting caught)? As it turns out there are more places to legally watch TV online on your time than ever before! Today I want to share ten examples, most which are free.

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!

1. Hulu 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.

2. Netflix 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.

3. ABC

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.

4.  NBC

Watching TV online doesn't have to mean sitting in front of a computer screen.
Watching TV online doesn't have to mean sitting in front of a computer screen. - Credit:

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.

5.  CBS

On the CBS network site you can find full episodes of TV shows including the Late Show, CSI, and CSI: Miami.

6.  FOX

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.

7.  USA

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!

Written by
Jennifer Mattern
Join the discussion

  • Before they comment that most of the stuff listed is not available in their Geographical location, people from outside the United States should ensure that they read the part of the article that says that they should “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”

    Of course, they can ignore it if they choose to. But who will look foolish?

  • IG: And I suppose it makes YOU feel better about yourself by being condescending towards Kamran and trying to make him feel stupid. Maybe he just didn’t notice that paragraph. But you could have told him what it said without being insulting.