How Do You Stream TV Online?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Sep 19, 2020 10:24:32 PM ET
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More and more people are unenrolling from expensive cable packages to instead enjoy streaming online. However, if you’re only just now making the jump, you may be at a loss as to how to get started. With everything from Netflix to Youtube to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

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Even so, that same range of options also means that there’s a way to stream TV online that’s right for you. Whether you plan on using a laptop, tablet, phone or other device, there are plenty of choices available, and in the long run, virtually all of them are cheaper than cable.

Pick Up a Streaming Device

If you’re looking to stream TV online while still using your television, you don’t need to buy an expensive new Smart TV. With the purchase of a streaming device, such as a Roku Fire TV Stick, or even many popular gaming consoles, such as an Xbox One, you can go online directly from your TV. Depending on the device in question, you can browse the web for videos to stream directly from websites or use free video services, such as Pluto, IMDB TV and more

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If you’re willing to pay for it, a streaming subscription can improve your available selection of shows to watch immensely. Big names like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are obvious choices, but there are also more niche options. CuriosityStream, for instance, is a streaming service that focuses on documentaries and costs significantly less than many of its competitors. Some services also offer live streaming, such as ESPN+.

Use Your Desktop, Laptop and More

If you don’t have access to an actual television, you can still stream TV using any device capable of running a web browser. While a tablet or laptop can give you a balance between screen size and portability, you can also stream your favorite shows on a desktop computer or even a smartphone.

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Apps for services both free and paid, such as YouTube, Netflix, Disney+ and more, make accessing shows easy and convenient. Even if you don’t have an app to do it, however, you can often use the internet to find the content you want. Local television channels often offer the ability to stream a number of their shows for free on their website, while businesses and other organizations in your area may share recordings of local sporting events and other community highlights. In some cases, even prominent, nationally-televised cable share some of their episodes for free online. For example, to watch the latest episode of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, you can head on over to Comedy Central’s website.

There Are Plenty of Free Options to Choose From

It may seem like you have to scrounge for good television if you’re not willing to pay for it, but that’s not actually the case — at least, if you know where to look. YouTube is a great example. This popular site isn’t just for cat videos and other kinds of entertaining but otherwise brief videos. By selecting the menu button in the top-left corner and selecting “Movies and Shows,” you can see a range of choices to not just buy or rent, but also watch for free with ads. Choices include everything from classic comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Emperor, a post-World War II historical drama starring Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan.

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Similarly, you may be surprised to learn that Facebook offers free streaming of more than just the videos its users post. From full episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to original programming, like Humans of New York: The Series, there’s a shockingly wide pool of shows to choose from. Just select “Watch” from your homepage followed by “Shows and Movies” to get started. The downside is that Facebook doesn’t make it easy to browse its full catalogue, but that’s a small price to pay for free streaming.