How to Watch Television Online for Free

By Aaron Charles

Updated September 22, 2017

Some services allow you to skip over online TV commercials.
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Watching television online for free is not difficult once you understand the process. Whether you're looking for sitcoms, dramas, reality TV shows or news, you can often view at least some of what you're looking for without any cost. By taking note of some of the complications and learning what to avoid, you can begin watching free television online that much faster.

Visit Network Websites

Go directly to network websites. If you have favorite shows on any of the major or cable TV networks, such as CBS, Comedy Central or PBS, there's a good chance that you can watch some TV shows for free on their websites. Do an Internet search for your preferred network and scour its website for the show you want to watch, either by entering the show title in the site's search box or by visiting the "Shows" or "Episodes" section of the site. Not all episodes are available in every case; some shows might offer clips instead of full episodes.

Visit Indexing Sites

Websites such as Hulu, YouTube and LiveStation provide free TV episodes from a variety of different networks. In general, Hulu provides the most recent episodes of a show, perhaps the last four to eight shows, free of charge. Beyond that, though, you must subscribe to the Hulu Plus paid service to view more episodes. YouTube operates a bit differently, offering popular shows from different networks at a cost; usually you must purchase an entire season. There are quite a few shows on YouTube, however, that are offered free of charge. On the other hand, LiveStation provides news programming from multiple networks, even news programming from NASA and the United Nations -- all free (see links in Resources).

Free Trials

Pay attention to some of the providers that normally charge fees to view television shows. Examples include Amazon, Hulu Plus and Netflix. They might offer free trials occasionally. Netflix, for example, as of 2012, allows you full access to its online television show programming for an entire month without cost. Simply suspend service before the month's over to avoid charges (see links in Resources).

Get The Right Hardware

Buy hardware and stream free online TV to your television. Roku and the XBox360 are two devices that will give you access to some free programming, such as Crackle. The hardware is not free, and you could get the same free programming by going online with your laptop, smartphone or desktop computer. But you may prefer to watch programming on your television, and the Roku and XBox360 may save you money in the long run compared with a cable subscription (see links in Resources).