How to Watch TV Online for Free

Last updated on June 25th, 2017

Cable television comes at a high price:

Financially: $55/month, compounded over 10 years at 7% interest, equals roughly $10,000 spent.

Intellectually: According to a recent Nielsen study, Americans spend 34 hours a week, or 1768 hours per year, watching TV. About 30% of that time, or roughly 530 hours per year, are spent watching advertisements. Not only do you pay thousands for the cable service, you’re persuaded to continue spending through excellent advertisements.

How to Get it for Free

You can find any television program on the internet for free, which means cable television can be completely replaced by a high-speed internet connection.

A few favorite streaming sites of mine are Series Cravings and TV Box. Neither charges any fees or requires you sign up for an account (although you’ll need an ad blocker on your internet browser to combat the annoying pop-ups). Also note that the sites have DMCA (copyright) compliance policies listed, which makes them seem legitimate.

For the most part, individuals in other countries host the files. It’s a bit of legal gray area, but as long as you don’t download any of the files, the general consensus is that you have not violated any internet/media agreement laws.

If you still can’t find what you are looking for, you can simply type in what you want to watch in Google. Try various terms like “(Your Show) Season 1 Episode 5” or “(Your Show) S1e05” or “(Your Show) Season 1 Online”

If you aren’t comfortable streaming the content online, how about buying an antenna to enjoy free programming? We own this HomeWorx HDTV Digital Antenna and it pulls in 25+ High Definition channels for free.

Other cheap options include:

  • Amazon Prime includes a huge number of TV shows and movies at no additional cost
  • Netflix is around $10 per month
  • Huluis $8 or $12 per month
  • Sling TV: Offers 150 channels starting at $20 per month
  • Roku streaming player: a streaming hardware device that makes streaming across multiple platforms simple. Devices cost about $110.

Getting Internet Shows on the Big Screen TV

All of these internet based video options can easily be connected to your primary TV using one of the following methods:

1) The Best Method  Buy a streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick. These work great, and everyone in our family has one. Then install Kodi on the Fire TV. Kodi allows you to watch almost anything through the internet for free, including live TV streams.

2) The Easiest Method – Run an HDMI cable from your computer/tablet/phone to the television. All newer laptops (and many other electronics) have an HDMI out port. Desktop computers can be outfitted with a cheap graphics card to create an HDMI out port.

*Disclaimer* Many people have asked us for this information, so we decided to share it publicly. If you don’t agree with anything written, feel free to ignore this article and move along.

Comments
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    • Liam
    • April 5, 2017
    Reply

    Any suggestions for CBS NFL games. I cannot get Sunday Ticket (streaming) in my area. Antenna signal strength websites say I cannot receive a good signal in my area. Thank you.

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    • Zeric
    • December 15, 2016
    Reply

    I’ve been cable/satellite free for 15+ years, and before that I was only using one or the other about half my adult life. The cost savings really adds up over time, even with the additional hardware I use for my setup. I stream Netflix/Amazon Prime and use Kodi for some content (all legal), as well as streaming from NextPVR on my PC that records off the air using a HDHomeRun Connect receiver. I also agree the Amazon Fire TV works very well, I have three of them.

    For the technically inclined, there are *many* free/low cost options, far more than 10 or even 5 years ago. For those that are less technical, a streaming box with carefully selected subscriptions isn’t too hard to setup and will save over cable/sat. Those that want someone to come into their house and hook everything up for them, and who they can call when something doesn’t work right, are still going to be best served by cable/sat.

    • Tammy Mills
    • December 14, 2016
    Reply

    We recently cut the cable. I have my laptop attached to my TV with an HDMI cable and am running Phoenix OS which is an android OS that runs on a pc or laptop. I have a great app called USTV. The pro version has no ads and when I bought it, it was a one time fee of less than $2. It has a ton of channels and is an extremely reliable app. It has the 3 major networks, Discovery, Lifetime, HGTV, History, HBO, and tons more all live channels. When people come to our house, they think they are watching cable. There is another very reliable app called iptvrestream. For $8 a month the channel lineup on this one is unbelievable. It has a ridiculous amount of live sports channels as well as just about every channel we were getting @ over $100 a month. If you are interested in the android OS it is @ remix.com. Make sure you get Phoenix. Remix OS doesn’t support HDMI but Phoenix does. Android has plenty of live TV apps. I have a friend who was so inpressed with my set up, he had me do it for him. I will be happy to answer any questions. I hope this helps others who are looking to save their hard earned dollars.

    • Jerry
    • August 30, 2016
    Reply

    Thanks for the the tips. I want to cut my cable after 20 years at age 80 we enjoy our tv shows and our
    DVR. We don’t need many channels offered by comcast. We have netflix, chrome cast, roku now. We need a inexpensive internet/wifi servise , DVR,modem/router antena to purchase plus any free software to receive programs.We have a flate screen TV with HDMI inputs, smart blueray player
    3 other small flat screen tv’s with HDMI inputs. we don’t know how to tie all this together to when
    we cut our expensive unaffordable cable bills!! Can you help us with some sugestions.
    thank you very much.
    Jerry & Jacki

    • Jennifer
    • February 29, 2016
    Reply

    I have been researching this for months and I’m about ready to take the plunge and cut the satellite off and buy an antenna. My question is is there an option for watching animal planet and discovery channels, and if so how behind are the available episodes? Also, can someone give me a kindergarten level breakdown of how to set up your tv with the computer and to get multiple tv’s to work with the setup?

    • susan blacker
    • February 3, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you for the great tips and interesting article.

      • Boogerman
      • February 24, 2016
      Reply

      Nothing is free

    • Joey Parks
    • January 1, 2016
    Reply

    watchseries.to has almost every tv show for free

      • Sandyjeanie
      • March 1, 2016
      Reply

      Unfortunately, watchseries is now asking for credit card info. They WERE my favorite site until recently…and now they are dog squat!!

        • Bill
        • March 20, 2016
        Reply

        You got the wrong end of the stick. I’m not sure what you clicked, but watchseries does NOT require a credit card.

    • Jimbo
    • September 8, 2015
    Reply

    I watch tv on frankschannel.tk They have their own tv programming schedule and movies sometimes and are just great for watching tv online without any hassle

    • Cembie
    • January 8, 2015
    Reply

    I really enjoy using the net for my shows. I am trying to get my dad to stop his cable because it costs him a fortune for it, but he likes his nascars live and is stubburn towards change. It certainly is challenging to find shows you like that are on cable and not so popular online. I love watching CW and ABC but I also like anime and online wise it is a bit of a juggle to find a show with all the episodes and not having to read subtitles. It is also hard to find any free episodes of nick jr. or disney jr. shows like paw patrol or sofia the first for my little one. Netflix is great but they don’t have the selection on stream as they do for mail sadly and sometimes it takes months before they come out with an anime that isn’t subbed or just action and gore based. Thanks for the site options you provide and maybe as streaming gets more fans there will be better options out there. I like multitasking and my little one requires it so having a few moments of t.v. doesn’t hurt when your frequently on the go.

      • Jacob
      • January 9, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Cembie, I agree it can be difficult to find great streams all in one place. And like you, I’m a fan of anime! That’s not big here in America…

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    • Anya
    • March 30, 2014
    Reply

    My favorite method: find someone spending a fortune on cable already and ask to use their user name and password.

    DH and I got rid of cable about two months ago because the only thing watch is our premium channel shows (HBO and Showtime) and couldn’t justify the cost anymore. Prior to that, we purchased a Roku with a gift card we received for Xmas and fell in love with it. It has Showtime and HBO apps in addition to YouTube, Netflix, and many others. We asked his parents if we could use their login in exchange for paying half or two thirds of their premium cable bill (which would have been around $20/month for us). They insisted we don’t pay and thought we were crazy for giving up cable in the first place. So now we’re enjoying access to our favorite cable shows at no charge.

      • MarianL
      • February 28, 2017
      Reply

      Wanna share it with me? ??

      • Shawn R
      • July 8, 2015
      Reply

      Hello, this is all new to me. I don’t even have a face book account yet.
      I have recently lost my job and am looking to cut expenses, i can probably figure out how to watch TV without the cable bill but my concern is the inter-net at home for my daughters lap tops.
      Can you help me with that?

  7. Reply

    Hi Jacob & V,

    I agree with most of your tips on saving money by watching TV for free. We also use XBMC ourselves and we find that the news is better on XBMC by adding video add-ons such as FOX and CBS. Also another great thing about XBMC is that we have our home windows server connected to it so that we can access all movies, music and pictures from a centralized location to anywhere in the house. We have tried this antenna you mentioned before but we get poor reception out here sometimes and it is great other times, must be an antenna placement issue.

      • Jacob
      • March 14, 2014
      Reply

      Hey guys! Thanks for stopping in and adding your methods. Antenna reception can be spotty depending on location. We’ve even seen some issues depending on where we set it up in our house. We live just west of town.

  8. Reply

    Like you, we refuse to pay for cable. In fact, we don’t even pay for Netflix (though I think if we had to, we would). My brother lets us share his account and he pays for it.

    Some of the streaming sites that you mentioned, as well as some other really popular ones, aren’t available in Canada. We therefore don’t watch the shows until they come out on Netflix. We’re okay with this method though, as long as we’re not paying for cable.

  9. I want to cancel my cable service so badly, but I just can’t give up the access to live sports. As soon as I can find a way to watch sports without traditional cable service I’ll cut the cord immediately!

  10. Reply

    My worry here is that your internet providers, often the same as those who can and want to provide the cable service, can throttle or limit what content they provide via streaming. With the repeal of the net neutrality laws, there is nothing preventing this from happening. It might get bad press, for sure, but honestly, since when do cable companies care about having a great rep?

  11. We were cable-free for 5 years and recently added it to our bills. Ugh. I hate that we did it. But we switched internet providers and it was no extra charge. (We’re actually paying less for Internet than we were before.) So, we have it. And we never use it. We already had Netflix (mostly for my son’s Thomas the Train addiction). I wish we could have found an Internet provider that didn’t bundle it, but that’s okay. We were having issues with our digital box reception so now I can watch The Following (the only hour of television I watch) in peace.

    Anyhow, thanks so much for sharing your tips. I’m checking out your recommendations and pinning this post. I actually prefer to watch on my laptop while sewing or doing other things. I also really like ulive.com for watching DIY Network and HGTV.

  12. Reply

    Great tips Jacob! I also think higher speed internet connection is better than paying for cable television.

  13. Reply

    Great ideas Jacob. We cut the cable a couple years ago….and actually donated the TV last March. In the past year we’ve made the following observations:
    Our evenings are more relaxed
    We talk more
    We sleep better
    And I have gotten a whole lot more reading done.

    The financial savings are just icing on the cake. We probably watch 5 hours per week of television….all online.
    -Bryan

  14. Reply

    Good stuff there, Jacob. We still pay for DirecTV, and are happy with the cost as we split it with our renters. We pay about $37 per month for tv and internet…let’s say maybe $20 for television.

    I can definitely see how this is a good place for folks to cut costs, especially if your baseline is higher. But we’ve chosen to keep it (mostly for ease and for not having to stream entertainment) and to look for savings elsewhere.

      • Jacob
      • March 14, 2014
      Reply

      $37 is a bargain. From my research and questioning, most spend 3-4x that amount.

      • Jacob
      • March 10, 2014
      Reply

      No problem! Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment!

  15. Great tips, Jacob! My husband built an antenna to get over-the-air channels for free (in HD!). We hooked up our TV to a computer which hosts all of our content and we DVR our favorite shows using Windows Media. We also have a Netflix streaming account which represents the only paid TV we use. Though we save money with our system, I know we still waste too much time in front of the flat-screen. I’ve made it a point to split my evening into TV watching and something productive, like laundry or straightening/organizing.

      • Jacob
      • March 10, 2014
      Reply

      That’s awesome that he built it! That’s also a great idea with the multitasking and getting another chore accomplished. We try not to watch too much TV, but a few of the shows are addicting!

    • MD
    • March 10, 2014
    Reply

    Excellent tips. Thanks! Just like in one of the comments, it would have been great to have lots of options on internet service providers. If you try to buy “only internet”, these guys charge pretty heavy trying to bundle TV along for few more dollars. Of course I ain’t becoming “game” to their strategy and these tips are great anyways.

      • Jacob
      • March 10, 2014
      Reply

      No problem MD. In bigger cities, it is easier to find affordable stand alone internet. And even the bundles often skyrocket in price after the introductory pricing for the first year…

    • Bill
    • December 8, 2013
    Reply

    Am I correct that most of these sites want you to download add ons and sign up for accounts? That seems like you are opening yourself up to viruses and other malware. Have you had any issues thus far?

      • Jacob
      • December 11, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Bill, no they do not. I haven’t created an account at all. They are virus free, but they will have ads. That’s how they make money.
      But there is an easy fix for that. Just install adblock for your web browser. It’s free and removes them all.

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    • emily
    • September 13, 2013
    Reply

    Without cable, what inexpensive options are there out there for internet, specifically internet that is strong enough to enjoy online streaming/viewing tv shows, etc.? I would love to drop cable, but have yet to find an affordable internet only option. Thanks!

      • Jacob
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      It just depends on the local market. Just use Google to search for cable or DSL internet providers in your area. Most cities have internet options for $30 or less/month.

    • Online Tv
    • July 15, 2013
    Reply

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    Regardless, I’m certainly delighted I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking
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      • Jacob
      • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      Glad you enjoy it!

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  19. Reply

    Surfthechannel.com (tv muse) is another site I use to stream tv shows and First Row Sports for live streaming sports.

      • Jacob
      • April 29, 2013
      Reply

      Awesome, thanks for the tip.

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