Free TV on your Computer

Posted By BrokenClaw on October 28, 2008

Video has been on the Internet for a long time. Until recently, however, it was mostly limited to short video clips or tiny picture windows on the webpage. Today’s broadband connections now make it possible to stream higher quality video in real time. Most everyone has heard of YouTube.com, which became a phenomenon of user-generated content by providing a platform to share all kinds of video clips. There are other similar sites as well. Some websites, particularly sports teams and leagues, offer subscriptions to view their live sports over the Internet.

However, this article is about the websites where you can find complete television shows and movies that you can watch for free on your computer.

At this time, none of the TV networks stream their regular shows over the Internet at the same time they are broadcast, other than a few isolated live events. But more and more of the these content providers, both television and movies, are allowing their shows to be accessible online. The payment model is similar to over-the-air TV, meaning that the content is sponsored by advertising. Nevertheless, most Internet viewers agree that the short commercial breaks within online TV programming does not detract from the viewing experience. For the most part, the ads are specifically produced for online viewing, making them shorter and more entertaining. Often the video even includes a countdown to let you know when your show will resume.

All of these services use streaming video, meaning that the video is delivered to your computer through your Internet connection. So you have to maintain a continuous broadband connection to use them.

  • hulu.com — Probably the most extensive collection of full-length TV and movies online, in addition to thousands of popular clips. The website is affiliated with NBC and FOX television networks. The episode library consists of a wide variety of shows like The Simpsons, House, and My Name is Earl, plus full collections of old shows like Alf, NewsRadio, and Doogie Howser.
  • joost.com — Another site with clips and full episodes of old TV shows like Star Trek and Hawaii Five-O, and even vintage shows like Have Gun Will Travel, as well as some original content. The website is affiliated with CBS and independent Viacom productions. A social website that requires free registration.
  • major networksnbc.com, abc.com, fox.com, and cbs.com — have clips and highlights from current shows, as well as some full episodes, including old shows. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to what they make available at any given time.
  • cable networks like The Cartoon Network, the History Channel, and TV Land also offer full episodes.

These websites are still evolving and adding content, but they all work differently. There’s no central index, so you just have to go and search or browse for something to watch.

The next step in home entertainment is Internet video on your TV.

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