Watch TV Shows Online for Free
Sometimes you just can't be home to watch your favorite network tv shows when they air, or there's another show you'd really prefer to watch. Fortunately, several of the major networks (ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW) are now streaming their most popular televisions shows online for you to watch for free, usually as soon as the day after their broadcast airing.
Watch TV Shows Online is a brief guide to what each of the major networks have to offer. I get into my more specifics, including links directly to show pages, on my other hubs.I also break out show descriptions in links to "current" tv series and "cancelled" series because I think it helps to prioritize what you are going to watch. My recommendation is that if there is a cancelled tv series that piques your interest, you should watch that first because they could disappear at any moment.I would definitely try to watch cancelled shows before the regular 2007 Fall season begins because I'm sure the networks will move some shows offline to make way for their new cancellations (lol).
Watching US TV Shows Internationally
Before we get too far into this, I just want to warn upfront that the US Broadcast Networks who do air their tv series online have restricted access to their streaming tv shows to US viewers due to syndication and distribution agreements. So most international viewers are out of luck.
However, if you live in Canada, you can watch many of these shows on Canadian websites.Check my hub for Hulu Canadian Alternatives and you will find plenty of places where you can stream US shows from within Canada.
Watch Fox tv shows online
Fox debuted their Fox on Demand service last year with a limited number of tv shows streaming online, but since then they've added a substantial number of series to their online tv series roster and primarily use MySpace to host the service
Fox on Demand is an HD Streaming Video service that requires a brief download of the Fox Full Throttle Player. The player downloads very quickly and does not require any installation and so far I have not noticed it doing anything weird with my computer, so I highly recommend it. Currently, the Fox Full Throttle Player only works on Windows systems.
Fox far and away offers the best online streaming experience for the viewer. Not only do you get a crisp and beautiful high definition picture with no lagging, pauses or stuttering, there are no commercials or breaks during the episode. The fact that there are no commercials almost makes watching Fox shows online better than watching them on tv. NO COMMERCIALS! How awesome is that?
My hub, Watch Fox TV Shows Online, lists the full roster Fox Tv Shows available to watch online for free, including links to each show's landing page, how many episodes are available to view and what night each show airs so you know when to look for the uploaded episode.
ABC TV Online
Like Fox, ABC also has a proprietary plug-in that you need to download in order to watch ABC tv shows online in full-screen mode. Again though, it's a quick and painless download and doesn't require any kind of registration to use.
I think there are clear advantages to the proprietary plug-ins that both of these networks use because they offer a superior viewing experience when it comes to streaming video. ABC's offering doesn't quite match Fox's though because you do have to watch some commercials (though far less than you would watch on your tv at home). Also, their website isn't quite as user friendly because you cannot bookmark the episode landing page for individual shows, but instead must always start at their gateway page to launch the Full-episode player. I find that quite annoying.
My hub, Watch ABC TV Shows Online, provides a complete rundown of what's on offer from ABC, along with some additional information about the player.
NBC TV online
NBC shows can be watched online in either half-screen or full-screen mode without any kind of special download. Because they aren't using a proprietary plug-in however, the picture quality is not as crisp as what Fox and ABC have to offer.
I think NBC makes up for it though by offering the most generous episode selection available. For most of their hot shows, they don't just stream the most recent two or three episodes, they stream the entire season! Right now, you can watch the full seasons of Heroes, Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock online. And if you are not watching Heroes, I recommend you load up the NBC website and start from the pilot and don't stop until you've caught up :)
My hubpage, NBC TV Online, gives a complete rundown of what shows NBC has to offer, both current and cancelled, as well as links directly to each show's landing pages for the streaming episodes.
CBS offers my least favorite online tv streaming service. This is what happens when you don't develop your own software. CBS offers a choice of either Real Player or Windows Media Player to stream their episodes and neither of them are that great.
For a complete rundown of what CBS shows you can watch online, visit my hub Watch CBS TV Shows Online. It includes links to the individual landing pages for each show.
The CW TV Shows Online
The CW, formerly known as The WB, also streams full episodes of most of their shows online. However, their website tends to load very slow (though video works just fine) and their "full-screen" player is a total joke. It isn't even remotely full screen. The "full-screen" mode means that the video player expands to the size of your browser window (not your monitor) and the video itself doesn't expand at all. It's about half the size or so of the screen. Stupid. That said, video quality is quite good and the playback is smooth.
I'll create a hubpage soon for The CW.
Classic TV Online
- Classic TV Shows Online
For more info about classic tv shows available at both AOL's In2TV service and Joost, as well as some other sites, check out my TV Classics hub.
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