Where Can I Stream TV Shows for Free?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Sep 3, 2020 10:33:25 AM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Image Source/Getty Images

In our current age of cord-cutting, it’s normal to forego traditional cable, and doing so can save you a pretty penny. But sometimes you might miss sitting down and watching some good old-fashioned TV programming — and maybe even a commercial or two — like you used to do. Whether you’re looking to indulge in a TV experience that’s vaguely nostalgic or catch up on some of your favorite shows without taking a hit to your wallet, you can still watch TV online for free (and legally!). To settle in for some traditional TV programming without spending your hard-earned cash, check out these sites and services.

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Peacock

Get ready to binge. This streaming service from beloved TV network and media conglomerate NBCUniversal may be new on the scene, but it’s already a top player thanks to the thousands of show episodes and hundreds of movies it offers. If you’re looking for one of the most authentic TV-watching experiences without the need for cable, this might be it; Peacock streams content live on different “channels” within the program, so you can switch up what you’re watching just like you did in the old days with your cable box.

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Photo Courtesy: Peacock

Many of NBC’s classic shows like The Office appear on this service, which includes about 15,000 hours of free programming. However, Peacock also offers several other paid tiers you can opt for if you decide you can’t live without certain shows or want to access additional features and remove ads from what you’re viewing. To get started watching for free and see for yourself what Peacock is about, sign up with your email address.

IMDb TV

Yes, it’s that IMDb — the same one you visit when you can’t remember that one actor’s name even though you’ve seen them in dozens of movies. This famous digital database made the decision to branch out with its services, and streaming TV shows and movies couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. With a free subscription, you can watch the entire catalogue of available programming, which includes TV shows spanning the last several decades and both newer and older films.

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Photo Courtesy: IMDb TV

IMDb TV is supported by non-skippable ads, and you don’t have the option to upgrade to an ad-free tier, so keep that in mind as you’re watching. Despite this, the library is extensive, and it’s easy to access. You can create an IMDb profile to watch shows, but you can also sign in using your existing Facebook, Amazon, Google or Apple account. Once you sign in and watch a few episodes, IMDb populates a “personalized recommendations” list with new shows for you, and you can also create a watchlist of programs you want to binge on later.

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PlutoTV

Here’s a heavy-hitter you’ll want to check out. With over 100,000 hours of programming and 250 different channels to browse, PlutoTV is perhaps the most robust option on this list. It’s also the one that’s mostly likely to give you that traditional TV experience; it’s ad-supported, but it plays advertisements in structured commercial breaks similar to classic cable. Channels are organized into groupings like “News + Opinion” and “Sports” so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for, and the service also has a library of thousands of movies you can stream.

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Photo Courtesy: PlutoTV

PlutoTV works with most devices and through other TV services, whether you prefer to watch it using TiVo or your Android-equipped tablet. As an added bonus, you don’t even need to sign up to start watching anything on PlutoTV — you can simply visit the website or open the app and start your binge whenever you feel the need.

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Tubi

Looking for something universal that you can watch your way? No matter how you want to watch or where you are, as long as you have an internet connection, you can catch a few episodes on Tubi. This service from Fox is ad-supported, so, again, you’ll need to sit through a few commercials here and there, but it offers tons of programming from some of the top providers: There’s Fox Entertainment, naturally, but you’ll also find content from NBCUniversal, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate — yes, there are movies, too.

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Photo Courtesy: Tubi

Tubi works on most popular internet browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Safari, and you can also watch on most devices by downloading the Tubi app — available for iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon Fire — and signing into your account. One of the best things about Tubi, however, is that it’s supported on such a wide (and potentially unexpected) range of other devices. You can watch on your Xbox One. You can watch using your PlayStation 4. You can even download the player to your smart TV. And with genres ranging from martial arts to telenovelas and curated collections that compile fun favorites all in one spot, you’re not likely to run out of great programming anytime soon.

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Plex

Plex is a bit different than the other offerings on this list, but it’s still one to consider. Instead of functioning as a sign-in streaming service, Plex is a media-player client that you can download to your computer. This desktop application also runs on a variety of other devices — you can put it on your Amazon Fire TV Stick to watch programming on a large screen, for example — and allows you to manage various media like photos, songs and other audio if you prefer to use it as a sort of media hub, or “Mediaverse” as Plex calls it.

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Photo Courtesy: Plex

Although it seems like Plex’s focus might be on organizing your digital media, it’s quite generous in terms of its TV offerings. You can watch over 80 channels live, although they’re mostly niche and lesser-known stations, and you can also stream TV shows and movies on demand when you see something appealing. There’s also a subscription option that runs around $5 a month, and it provides some bonus features like the ability to skip show intros, 4K support and the option to download shows to your device for offline viewing.

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