Free and Legal TV and Movies online

watch tv on a retro television

When I started writing this post, I was going to name it something like “where to find free TV and Movies online,” but changed it to make sure I added “legal” in there. It turns out that a whole lot of what I was finding wasn’t legal. I saw a link on one site to “Marley and Me” and I thought to myself, “isn’t that still in the theaters?” Sure enough I was right, as the video started, I noticed that I could actually see the theater seats in the recording. I guess someone recorded it directly from the theater – I am going to assume that isn’t legal. :)

But, it is amazing to me how much free legal television (and movies) is out there. I first started watching TV episodes online about a year or so ago and it has been going on for a while. There are really a ton of sites, in the article I just focused on a few of the bigger, better, and cleaner ones that I found. So, let me also mention that from what I have seen of each of the mentioned sites, I think they are pretty clean. That said, I haven’t thoroughly inspected each site and advise you to use caution when checking them out.

Amazon’s “Video on Demand”

Amazon’s program has a few free options, but most of the movies and TV shows will cost you a few bucks. That said, they have a huge selection of shows and movies that you can watch from the comfort of your own home – and many in HD. So as an alternative to driving out to rent a movie, I think it is great.


Hulu.com

This was the first online TV watching site I found. It also seems to be the most well-known, and for good reason. They have a well laid-out site, that is user-friendly, pretty to look at, and simple to understand. I watched my first movie on Hulu this last weekend when we didn’t feel like going out to rent one and I think we will be doing this a lot more…

hulu - free movies and tv online.jpg

They have a wide variety of classic and some fairly new and popular movies that you can watch. All for free and without downloading anything. Isn’t technology great?

Hulu also offers most popular TV shows the day after they air on the networks – TV as we know it is soon to be obsolete. ;)

These are just a few of the television shows you can watch on Hulu…

  • The Office
  • Family Guy
  • Saturday Night Live
  • American Gladiators
  • Prison Break
  • The Simpsons
  • House

Fancast.com

This site is similar to Hulu and offers a lot of the same content. Another good place to look for free movies to watch online. We watched an entire season of Arrested Development on this site.

Fancast - free tv channels.jpg


TidalTV

I like the layout they have. It is fairly easy to navigate and find tv shows or movies that interest you. There is no need to download anything to start viewing either.

TidalTV free tv shows online.jpg


TVchannelsfree.com

It is a little overwhelming and not laid out too well, IMO, but there are an abundance of options… They say that they have 3,839 Online TV Channels from 60+ countries. Most of the channels worked with Windows Media Player, so I couldn’t get it to work on my Mac.

online tv channels.jpg


4TV.com

This place has a bunch of genres that all contain different channels within them. The problem I was finding was that each channel I tried didn’t work. The one channel I did get to work had a horrible picture quality. They might have free tv, but I wouldn’t recommend them.

4tv.jpg


Other legal online TV resources

Individual network sites

If you miss your favorite TV show, you should check the network website. Most of the major networks have the shows online for viewing.

Watch regular HDTV channels on your computer

I wrote a post a while ago about how to watch HDTV on your computer. You need to buy a little gadget for about $70, but it does open up lots of possibilities.

Stream New Movies Online

iTunes now offers a lot more than just music – they also stream new movies online so you can watch them via your computer – basically functioning like online movie rental software… There are also a ton of video podcasts on just about every subject imagineable that you can access via Itunes.

Bringing it all together

Since this technology has not matured, things are still a little bit messy and not yet very streamlined. Bottom line: watching TV online just isn’t as simple as flopping down on the couch and grabbing your TV remote – yet.

Boxee and Miro are trying to solve that problem. Both of them offer a interface that allows you to make the whole online movie/tv watching experience a better one. Rather than having to go to each site to watch your favorite shows, you can do it through their interface. I haven’t used either of them yet, so I don’t know all the details, but if you spend a couple minutes on either of the sites you will learn a lot.

Do you watch TV online? If so, where and how?

email

















FTC Disclosure of Material Connection: In order for us to maintain this website, some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to readers. Read more here.

70 Comments
Add a comment
  1. I became aware of Hulu (and more recently Fancast) a few months ago and have enjoyed watching a movies and shows with my wife and with my family on a few occasions now.

    I hadn’t yet taken the time to see the depth of what other sites existed. Thanks for listing a few of the popular sites and listing your thoughts on them.

    In light of my own online TV/Movie experience I’ll offer the following comments.

    Like any use of the internet or browsing television it’s disappointing and frustrating to have to sort through family friendly and not-so-family friendly shows and movies. I find that particularly true on Hulu. A lot of the “Popular” movies probably belong in an Adult store. While I like the search on Hulu, I hope that Hulu at some point implements an alphabetized list like Fancast has to easily scan through their movies or shows without browsing through a handful of thumbnails at a time.

    I enjoyed being able to hook up a wireless laptop to my father-in-law’s HDTV over the recent holidays and being able to watch some of Hulu’s content on a larger screen. The only problem was initially getting the sound from the laptop to the TV speakers. I think it would be great to have set things up so that you can feed your computer video and audio to your entertainment setup. My one friend does this already.

    It’s amazing how things change.

    • Interesting article. Unfortunately all of the channels on many of the websites listed don’t work. “The page could not be loaded”; that’s the error message I got. I’d love to see many of the same channels I used to get on cable TV over the internet. I enjoy some of the SCi Fi channel TV shows and some of the HGTV and History Channels show, but you can’t get them, and you can’t get the major TV networks entertainment channels. There are plenty of free news channels and many boring TV channels from overseas.

  2. Wow! Thanks so much for all these sites! I knew about Hulu but not the others! Awesome!

  3. My husband and I have even hooked up a cheap computer we got at an auction for like $20.00 to our 52 inch screen tv. For Christmas my husband got a wireless keyboard for it. So we sit on the couch with the computer turned on. Turn on the wireless laptop-with built in touchpad. We have made shortucts to all the major networks as well as hulu, and fancast. We simply cick and play and it looks just like TV. But it is way more enjoyable then watching it on a small computer screen.

    We love it! It has made our tansition from expanded cable to basic cable so much easier. We also watch instant movies on netflix too. People think they have to buy those special boxes to do that, but you don’t, just need a computer attached to your tv.

    Also it is pleasing to the eye. It is a tall black tower for the computer sitting unknowingly behind the TV.
    Thanks for this list. You found a few that we were not aware of.

  4. Thanks for compiling this list. My family loves tv but we are definitely trying to scale back our cable subscription costs.

    One suggestion for those who are concerned with family friendly issues – it is very easy to look up ratings through IMDB.com. I know that ratings do not always reflect what we might not like our kids to see, but clearly something rated R will be a warning, whereas something rated PG13 might be worth doing further research on. I just suggest it as a baseline from where to start. My family has also sent a feedback email to Hulu, and the more people who do, the more responsive they’ll be.

  5. Excellent! Thank you for all this links – I didn’t knew about single one mentioned here.

  6. We use Hulu when we miss an episode or our DVR doesn’t record it. I don’t know anything about the others but I’ll be sure to check them out. Thanks!

  7. youtube.com is also starting to put more legal content on the site. Also, I always go to the networks site such as nbc.com. They always have free shows to watch and in excellent quality.

  8. For those of you who already have an Xbox 360, Watching TV shows/movies/etc on your TV is as easy as streaming them to your Xbox. Here’s how we do it:

    1 computer with mediamall “playon” software installed
    1 xbox 360 attached to TV
    1 network connection

    With the mediamall playon software installed (about $30) we are able to stream tv shows and movies from hulu.com, netflix, CBS, youtube and a couple of other services. The only caveat is that you have to watch many shows a day or so later than they air. Small price to pay!

    We’ve found the quality of the tv shows and movies to be excellent – no stuttering or jumping – and we don’t pay for cable tv – we just use playon with our xbox. seamless!

    • i have been using playon for over a year and a half. i love it. it is awesome!

  9. Thanks for this awesome round-up! I’ll be using it, for sure.

    I’ve watched movies and programs at my son’s house, but until recently haven’t figured out how to get at them myself; besides, my computer screen is a little small and an office chair is a bit uncomfortable for extended viewing. That’s about to change, though: now that I’ve figured out how to use Hulu and I’m about to figure out how to get my favorite PBS shows on the computer, my son plans to hook up a refurbished MiniMac to the TV screen, which will put me back in business.

    I sure do hate the HTDV thing. The stupid box provides yet another piece of clutter to have to dust, and the antenna doesn’t bring in the channels I want to watch consistently–every now and then it’s “No Signal,” and whenever a neighbor turns on a microwave or the guy across the street who runs a shade-tree mechanic business starts using a piece of shop equipment, my signal breaks up. Attaching a computer to a monitor that’s big enough to see from an easy chair across the room will get around that, but I imagine that once everyone is doing that, it will mean the end of traditional broadcast channels, including, I expect, PBS.

    • @Funny
      since you brought it up, I should mention that monitor prices, like all technology, continue to drop – the last computer monitor I bought was a 22″ and it was about $170 – just some food for thought…

  10. I just hooked up a spare computer to our 37″ basement TV last night. Streaming TV shows – and Hulu – just got easier! Of course it was already pretty easy with the Xbox setup.

  11. I tried watching TV using Fancast and Hulu using a wi-fi connection while traveling in Mexico, and they don’t work outside the U.S. Do any of the sites work outside the U.S.?

    • Judy, that is a bummer! I am not sure where you can go to watch it outside the US… hopefully someone else does…

  12. I knew about hulu and watched all 3 Karate Kid movies on there, which are one of my favorites. I thinks I’ll check some of the rest out that you’ve found. What about you tube? I love survivorman but you tube is the only place I can find anything decent. It’s usally not the whole show but maybe about 1 to 3 ten minute segments.

  13. shinystar

    i couldn’t get any of these to work….they all told me the videos were not available in my region. i guess cause i’m in canada??

  14. Someone who went by the name of moviemadness included in the forwarded email to me a link that went to a pornographic site. I didn’t exactly appreciate it but thank the Lord this person wasted his time. Why? Because once I was looking for free christian music and I clicked on a free christian mp3 link and it opened up to a porno site. Since then I downloaded a free program that automatically will block any sites like that. That’s why this person wasted their time with me the program blocked it so I didn’t actually have to see anything. If you have any children that have access to your computer it’s a great program. It also blocks gambling, violence and other anti-family sites.If you would like the program it’s called K-9 and can be found here http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

    I know God loves them and so do I but you have to protect yourself from people like this until they believe the truth. Keep your kids and yourself protected from these porno pimps who have admitted to going to various sites like you tube and actually making other sites to look family oriented when all they are trying to do is their version of evangelizing so they can make a buck

    • Dan, I apologize for that – I deleted the comment – I try to stay on top of comments as best as I can, but the amount of spam this site gets is ridiculous… But either way tools like you mention are very helpful because there are lots of people trying to cause others to stumble…

  15. Hi Bob
    No problem. I hope you know I don’t hold you responsible, I thought I would try to pass on some info that could help others. I guess it’s the nature of the beast right now on the internet since there is no police help we have to be proactive in protecting ourselves and families on the net.
    I’ve seriously thought about doing the same thing as these pornography peddlers do, but I don’t think I could stomach that and I’m not sure how scriptural that would be :)
    I think I’ll just stick to praying for them to see Christ and other human beings as being created in His image.
    Blessings to you and thanks again for this site it’s a real blessing

  16. Ooopppsss ! I need to clarify that when I said I was thinking of doing the same as the porno peddlers I meant set up links or site that would lead them to a christian site instead of what they wanted. I think I’ll stick to what I’m good at :)

  17. Awesome post! My husband and I have been contemplating how to continue to enjoy the television shows that while scaling back our spending. We purchased an external hard (400 GB) for an awesome deal. We plan to hook it up to an extra PC and use it with hulu.com. I will certainly take a look at the other suggestions you have listed here.

  18. I found several illegal sites out there too, but a lot of those illegal sites are virus, trojan, and worm infested. I have had to perform a many system recoveries, therefore, I stopped accessing those sites. Be careful!

  19. Those are nice but you missed out on two of my faves http://freetubetv.net really good live tv streaming site better than tvchannelfree because they actually remove the dead channels. and they have the premium religious channels on here like abn that I watch now and then. My friend really liked the smile network remembering some cartoon shows he used to watch in bible camp in Milwaukee.

    oh and second is ninjavideo.net – they got flash videos for tv shows and films.

    I would add these two for sure.

  20. Here is a site that contains older public domain tv shows, films and movies that might interest some of you.

    http://www.archive.org/details/movies

    There is a large selection there and you can watch online or download as they only post those which are no longer in copyright.

  21. Here’s also some article about how to get movies and videos legally from the internet: http://audials.com/en/blog/article/34/3-ways-to-legally-download-movies-and-videos-from-the-internet.html
    Seems to have some good tips as well.

  22. hey all just put up a site to watch all your favorite show free at TopFreeTv.info let me know what you’ll think.

  23. Hey, i was just wondering if anyone here has heard of “movie hulu” it is not the same as regular hulu and i was wondering if anyone knew if it was a legal website. There is no downloading required, but i figured it would be better not to risk it. Any thoughts?

  24. Thanks Bob for the article, I just wanted to mention that Screenit.com is also a good place to check the content of movies before watching. There is a monthly fee, but you can also use the ad-supported version if you click at the bottom.
    God Bless,
    Dave

  25. Misterpants

    You may want to try http://www.Moviephiles.com/about.php

    They track a lot of the free movies available online.

  26. Jun Willis

    Thank you so very much for sharing the movies, etc,, information and
    your very vauable time. You are most generous.

  27. T.A.Paxton

    Helpful list. But be careful. My mac crashed after visiting a questionable site. The first site was fine but the main player wasn’t working on a vid and I followed it. Boom. Crash. Found a line in console afterward that said “machine-destroy”. I really think I was attacked so be careful!

    • ta, are you saying it was one of the sites listed? I went to each of them when the article was written and had no problems -

  28. Davis

    I love watching movies online since that’s my primary method these days to save money. I found Streamsly not too long ago and haven’t looked back. You don’t actually watch the sites through them but instead of having to check out 10 different places to find which movie to watch, I just head there. Just a pro-tip from an avid online streamer.

  29. Heidi124

    First of all, thanks a lot for all the site listing. I tried them all, but somehow fancast never had one movie I asked for available. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I live outside of the us ( like Hulu, not internationaly available ), would you happen to know any international legal sites?
    But anyways, thank you for taking the time to list so neatly these sites =)

  30. What a new idea. List sites that you can actually feel safe looking for tv shows online. Most sites that claims to offer free tv feel like they are going to blow up my spyware. Thanks for the safe list.

  31. Thanks for the great list of sites. My wife and I are watching more an more shows online. We ended our cable TV subscription two years back and have been renting a lot of movies since.

    Recently we have been watching a lot on http://video.pbs.org/. We like the mystery shows and I like the documentaries.

  32. Maggie Mae

    I canceled cable a long time ago and my favorite site for video viewing is http://www.sidereel.com. This sight rounds up all the links online that it can find for each show/episode. Some of the links are sketchy so watch out for junk but mostly you start to recognize which links are the best. It will include links for network sites, Amazon, Fancast and Hulu too. I especially like the variety if I can’t get a link to work properly, (have that problem with Fancast sometimes) I can switch to another link. Also, I have an older Mac so some sites don’t work as well for me.

    Side note: Love your site!

    To use the site, you sign up for a free account. (FYI, it’s totally free and I’ve never had any problem with them spamming me or anything.) Then you can watch anything they list but I like to mark my favorite shows that I want to regularly watch/follow. It will remember the favorites and mark them on a weekly calendar indicating when the show airs. Then I can see when there’s a new episode on, for example tomorrow, then I can watch it the day after when links are posted. You can mark which episodes you have seen and haven’t seen to keep track of where you are in a series too. It’s very organized. And it also works for network shows that you might have missed! I almost never watch television anymore because this way also has little/no commercials and I can pause it anytime or return to watch the rest later!

  33. Thanks for all the great info. What do you recommend for low price internet? I appreciate all your efforts!

  34. Bill Ishman

    Heres a site that I like to use for watching family movies and it also has some pretty good Christian movies.
    http://www.legalmoviesonline.org

  35. thank you

  36. Brittany

    Hai, I have a few sites that I use that have tons of movies music videos tv shows and more that are free here is one site that is very good. http://www.moviewatch.in/index.php?sort=featured
    http://www.surfthechannel.com
    Those sites I have come across and have tons of great movies and everything. They help me out every now and then when I wanna sit back and watch a show or a movie they are really good sites and dont let you down. :)

  37. This one’s nice too! http://freedocumentaries.org/

  38. Thanks for bringing this list of legal movie sites to our attention. We got rid of our TV cable and started watching online.

  39. This is about the only fun thing to do now that school is out!

  40. Do you know anything about tehcake.com? I’ve seen that McAfee lists it as a “safe” site (i.e., no malware, spyware), but is it *legal*?

  41. KELLY BERTL

    FANCAST does not offer free movies, you must have an account with comcast to watch any of the movies.

  42. I am familiar with Hulu but the other are new to me, there are many sites in the net that offers movie watching and it is hard to determine which is a good site and this post did help me know what are the sites to visit.

  43. No one mentioned how to actually hook up tv to computer without using x- box or other game gadgets. I bought an HDMI cable (not cheap but less than game boxes which we would never use) and hooked it to my laptop, then the tv. I actually couldn’t believe I did it myself since I am technical-gadget challenged. You do have to have a newer tv that has the HDMI capability. I use Netflix streaming, but will check out these other sites. No cable for me! Now if I could figure out how to delete the bad language. My vcr player will do that but I haven’t found anywhere online that offers that service for streaming. Anyone else found anything like that? Some movies are good except for the token bad words.

    • I checked my vcr booklet and it is an RCA DVD Recorder+VCR Combo. The unit number is DRC832ON. It is several years old, but it does bleep bad language on VCR tapes or DVD’s. It will play both those, and one can even put a VCR tape onto a DVD with it. Make sure you don’t violate any copyrights, natch. You can set it to delete what language you want, using what they call TV Guardian mode. The categories are off, tolerant, moderate, and strict, with a short explanation of each. A little chuckle, when I watch a Christian movie it will bleep them praying because they use GOD’s name. In that case I just shut off the guardian. It sure was a good investment for me. I just wish there was a way to bleep language when watching a streaming program or movie. I tried to find such a thing and could not.

  44. Why are there so many sites you have to live in the USA, to be able to see them? I have a good internet connection but all good internet tv options are for the US. Is it always going to be this way? Julle from Sweden

  45. Hi there,
    thanks for all those links :)
    I became an avid viewer of one online channel (well, they’re on satellite too), maybe u’ll like it too: http://www.SupremeMasterTV.com
    They don’t really have movies (or sometimes documentaries), but I found a lot of interesting shows and one in particuliar, about holy scriptures (not Christian only)
    VoilĂ 
    PS : Do you know any link to watch (legally) Christian movies? (So far, I saw some on Youtube)

  46. Hey Bob,

    that’s a great list – it’s really hard to find legal websites that provide movies & shows in the internet, so your list is really helpful!
    And here is another (new) service for your list: http://www.viewster.com – they offer free movies globally.

  47. The time and effort you put into gathering and testing these sites as well as the cautions that come with them, I already appreciate tremendously. Reading all the various comments from others tells me there are many other people who just want to be able to find movies, tv, documentaries, that are family-friendly as well as family-enriching. Thank you so much.

  48. I have watched 25 — mostly S. Korean, a few Taiwanese, Japanese, and Chinese — Asian Dramas (which are 15 – 20 episode Novellas) and Movies with subtitles in English. Ninety percent of those have been quite good to excellent. I have had no trouble keeping up with the subtitles, though there has been annoying “buffering” on occasion. The following are some of the safe- to-use websites for such: dramafever.com; dramacrazy.net; crunchyroll.com; mysoju.com; and kshownow.net (for reality shows). Also, Asian pop music has very pretty ballads. Try googling “Yukinohana on Youtube.com”, for example.

  49. I was so excited to find this, then found out its all in the states. Can anyone give me some good sites avaliable in Canada?

  50. Hi!
    I just found you through Pinterest! I’m loving everything I’ve read on your site so far. Thanks for being a soldier for Christ as that is my main reason for investigating your site. I love this list you made for free TV viewing. Thank you for putting it all together. Now , the ‘but’, I don’t want to be negative or drag down all the good you are doing, but I thought it was odd that you listed some shows like the Family Guy as shows you could view. As you probably know, being an informed Christian, a lot of christian organizations have asked sponsors to boycott shows like ‘Family Guy’ because of the content which is immoral and sometimes anti-christian dialogue. Simpsons is a show our family would never waste time watching for some of the same reasons and I really don’t know about some of the others that you listed. Could see a secular site listing these shows, but was just surprised to find them listed on a christian site. Like I said, this doesn’t negate the good things I’ve seen so far, but does put up a little warning sign. Thanks for all your efforts for Christ, Lisa

  51. Pete A.

    Don’t forget about the ROKU box, it streams movies and shows downloadable channels. It has Hulu Plus, Netflix, EPIX, Pub-D-Hub(Free Public Domain Movies), Pandora, etc. Its a great alternative to cable.

  52. TidalTV doesn’t exist anymore–link goes to some Web service vendor I couldn’t figure out.
    Fancast doesn’t exist either. It gives a link to Comcast’s *paid* online viewing service

Add a comment

*

Name: Your best email address: 5 subscribers No spamming ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Email Marketingby GetResponse