How to Watch TV Shows on Your Computer

by Laurel BrownUpdated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Computer

  • Internet connection

  • DVD drive

These days, you don't actually need a TV to watch TV shows. Most current shows are also available in multiple formats on the Internet, and many older shows are available as well.

Choose how you want to watch TV on your computer. The two main methods are via DVDs and via the Internet. DVDs are more reliable and will play on any computer with a DVD drive, but newer shows may only be available on the Internet.

Search for your show on the Internet. If your show is currently on the air, check the website of the network that airs the show. Most networks provide Internet viewing of recent episodes---often the five most recent.

Check out legitimate TV show sites like These sites partner with networks to provide free access to many TV shows, especially recently aired episodes of current shows. Such sites also provide access to many older TV shows.

Buy and download TV show episodes from online sellers such as iTunes. Many shows can be purchased in both normal resolution and high definition. You can download the shows to computers and portable devices for future viewing.

Use sites that make shows available as downloaded rentals. If you have a Netflix membership, you can watch many shows directly on your computer without having to wait for the DVDs to arrive. Sites like offer viewing of recent shows for a fee.

Search the Internet for shows you can't find on these sites. Several websites offer unauthorized TV shows, but the quality is generally quite bad, and videos are often removed due to copyright violations.


For the clearest and most fluid viewings, stick to DVDs. Only the fastest computers and Internet connections can provide a viewing experience comparable to television. If you buy TV episodes from a pay site, such as iTunes, consider buying a "season pass." This will allow you to download a full season's episodes for a slightly reduced per-episode price.


If your show airs on a premium cable channel, it is less likely that you will be able to view it on the channel's website. You will instead need to watch the show on TV, on DVDs or on sites that provide links to unauthorized versions of shows. Almost every show is available on the Internet, but not all available episodes are authorized. Watch out for sites that provide ad-free, non-network video as most are unauthorized. Some are even illegal and might infect your computer with spyware.

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About the Author

Laurel Brown has several years experience as an educator and a writer. She won the 2008 Reingold Prize for writing in the history of science. Brown has a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in the history of science and Middle Eastern studies from Columbia University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in astrophysics from Colgate University.

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