12 Sources for Free (and Cheap) Television Shows and Movies

I’ll be the first to admit, I love television. I have been watching television since I was a young boy, and I have continued to watch it up to this very day (I’m watching a show as I write this very article). It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed and will likely continue to enjoy as long as I live.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides of television. Besides the loss of time and decrease in attention span that comes from such television watching, there’s also the cost of keeping your source of television provided. That last part can be particularly tricky, as the cost of cable services has been increasing steadily, leading to hundreds of dollars in expenses over the course of a year.

Sometimes this remote can lead to some big expenses
Sometimes this remote can lead to some big expenses

With the rise of high speed internet and of websites that focus on television shows, it’s become increasingly possible to watch television shows using only the power of your computer (and to connect said computer to the modern TVs and be able to watch those shows on the large televisions currently available). Many of these sources of television shows are completely free (or cost a relatively small amount, compared to price of cable services). So, how can you watch all the TV you want without paying an arm and a leg? Use some of these websites and other resources:

Free Video Sources

Network Sites: There are several broadcast television networks that offer their shows online, including NBC, ABC, and CBS. (I’m a particular fan of the last option, as I’m still trying to keep up with How I Met Your Mother; I will learn who you marry yet, Ted Mosby!)

Cable Sites: If you are interested in cable, there are numerous options there, as well, with many cable networks offering their channel’s offerings online. I especially enjoy Cartoon Network, USA Network and Comedy Central, with the latter offering The Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes for the past several weeks (and archived segments from their entire runs).

Hulu: You can watch the most recent episodes (with limited commercials) of many network and cable shows. If you’re ready for an increased variety and more of an archive, you can opt for the paid Hulu Plus service. (Just make sure you actually use the service, as even at $7.99 per month, it’s too much money to waste.)

Veoh: I’ve only recently heard about this site, so I can’t speak much to its quality, but there appear to be numerous options here for watching shows. Look for shows you’d enjoy seeing, and you might be able to find something worth watching.

Your Local Library: Just in case you’ve forgotten that you don’t always need to go online to get free television or movies, you might want to check your local library and see if they offer much of a selection of TV shows and movies. While you’re there, you might even want to check out these ‘book’ things so many people talk about.

Cheap TV and Movie Sources

Redbox: You’re probably aware of the boxes set up at the entrance of just about every drug store, supermarket and gas station in existence. For about $1 a night, you can rent movies for as long as you like, enabling you to enjoy them for quite a while. Not a bad solution.

Netflix: It became famous for mailing DVDs of movies and TV shows to customers for a monthly fee, allowing said customers to keep them as long as they wished before returning them. If you are so inclined, you can also take advantage of their Internet site, allowing you to download and watch your favorite shows without ever leaving home.

Amazon Prime: Amazon is becoming one of the big sites on the internet, and far from simply shipping books across the country, you can now take advantage of their Prime service to watch hundreds of shows for only $79 a year (along with bonuses like free two day shipping on anything else they offer). If that’s not enough, you can purchase individual shows or seasons for a small fee and watch them when you wish, however many times you wish. Speaking of which…

Apple iTunes: What list of ways to watch TV online would be complete without including iTunes? This service of Apple allows you to pay a small amount to download TV shows or many other types of media (most famously music). Depending on your fondness for TV, the pay per show (or season) fee arrangement may prove more expensive than the monthly membership fees of Hulu Plus and Netflix, but the ability to keep watching the shows forever might be worth it.

Google Play: Similar to iTunes, you can pay per episode or per season and can continue watching the shows or movies as long as you wish. You can download the Google Play app onto any Android device, so depending on whether your computer (and cell phone, tablet, and similar devices) runs on Apple or Google based software, you should be able to find a service that meets your needs. (I’m more a Google man, myself, but I haven’t looked into Google Play in much depth.)

Blockbuster: I know, I thought they went bankrupt and ceased to exist too, but apparently they joined the online video service crew instead. Their Blockbuster Now service looks similar to the last three I’ve mentioned, except that you rent, rather than buy, the movie or TV show. You do get access to movies quicker than with other services, but whether that makes up for the lack of continuing to access the movie is up to you.

Vudu: A service owned by Wal-Mart (which may, depending on your opinion of Wal-Mart, cause you to reject it out of hand), it also allows you to rent movies and stream them directly to your computer, TV, or many other devices. As with most of the previous services, you pay per show or movie, although you are only renting them, so you aren’t able to watch them forever.

As you can see, there are many ways to watch television shows and movies online (legally, I might add; I’m not going to get into any illegal methods). Most of these methods require little if any money (and few of them even require a TV), so why would you need to pay for cable at all? (Well, except for sports; while ESPN offers its programming online, you need a cable username and password to take advantage of that service.)

What are your preferred means of watching television? Did I miss any great (and I stress again, legal) services to watch TV shows for free? Do you think cable will cease to exist (or be transformed into something nearly unrecognizable) in the next decade or so?

3 Responses to 12 Sources for Free (and Cheap) Television Shows and Movies

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