One of the first articles I wrote on this blog was, Satellite TV on PC Scams. It has been one of the most popular posts to date, and some readers asked me for more information.
So, I have compiled a list of websites that should cover ALL your TV cravings. To be clear, this is an article about free websites and programs, and no website or any online service listed here can replace your TV completely. TV stations have the distribution rights in their respective geographical area; therefore, if you want to watch the latest episode of Entourage in HD when it airs, you need to pay. But if you can wait a day or two, you can survive without a TV.
First, let’s cover websites and programs that will enable you to watch live streaming videos on your computer.
1A. Live Streaming – Watch live broadcasts (websites)
Veetle.com – You need to install their program to make it work, but once you set it up, you’ll get the best quality possible live streaming on the net. Depending on the streamer’s quality, you ca get HD live streaming.
When available, Veetle has the best NBA basketball streaming. Some nice movie channels, too. Highly recommended.
Justin.tv – Place where users broadcast in an interactive atmosphere. You’ll find movie channels, cartoons, animals, lifecasting, and even celebrity channels.
Celebrities have decided to chat with their fans via webcams expanding their social networking reach beyond Twitter. It gets ugly in there sometimes…
There’s Bow Wow and Demi Lovato to name a few.*Justin.tv started charging non-US viewers for popular channels during peak times. MORE INFO
Ustream.tv -Very similar to Justin.tv. It has less movies and other entertainment channels, but has way more celebrity channels.To name a few, P. diddy, Soulja Boy, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dog, and Ashley Tisdale.
Personally I don’t find celebrities in a video chat room all that interesting.
Freetubetv.net – Found this one recently, and it’s really good. It’s only a listing site with external links, but it’s kept relatively clean and updated. Some channels are live feeds and some are bunch of clips on a loop. Also, many channels link to Justin.tv and won’t be online if the channel is offline at that time. In that case, it’s better to go to Justin.tv and watch the channel when online.
wwiTV – An old but still reliable listing of all online network channels around the world. If a TV network’s channel is broadcasting live online, you’ll find it here.
You may find it interesting to see what other countries’ TV channels look like.
U.S. has the most channels listed there. Italy seems to have the second most number of channels.
Livestream.com – Same deal as Justin.tv and Ustream.tv. I personally can’t find anything interesting there, but YOU might. The three sites are competing for viewership with exclusive celebrity channels, so it may be worthwhile to keep your eyes on all three. Justin.tv is the most popular at the moment probably because they’re a little more liberal on copyright issues.
1B. Live Streaming – Watch live broadcasts (programs)
These are slowly taking a backseat to the website counterparts. Because of their ease of access and use, live streaming websites are taking viewers from the installation-required programs. Below programs do have one advantage though. Due to its decentralized P2P model, there’s more content and more freedom as to what content is being broadcast.
TVU Player – Easy installation. Just install and start watching. Now, you can also watch on their website. Lots of soccer (football) channels. There are lots of network channels as well as news channels, so this alone may satisfy many people’s live TV needs. Quality-wise, some are good, some aren’t. This thing’s getting commercialized a bit now :P with more ads than before.
TV Ants, PP Stream, PP Live – In the past I’ve depended on them to watch some sports, but they are not english friendly, and I don’t recommend them if you don’t want headaches.
2. VOD (Video on Demand)
If you want to catch up on TV shows, VOD is your answer. This area of internet industry has exploded over the last few years with so many budding websites. During that time, some websites have become bigger and more user-friendly than others. Here are some of those flowered websites.
IceFilms (NEW) – I use this one a lot. You need to install DIVX Web Player (download link is at the bottom) and a Grease Monkey (Firefox addon) script — of course you’ll need to install Grease Monkey first if you don’t have it already. Detailed explanation – Follow the instruction there and you’ll be set to go.
NinjaVideo(NEW) – Similar to Icefilms, it uses DIVX player. Ninjavideo is the best place for documentaries. They have links for HD content as well. If you have a decent internet connection, you’ll be able to enjoy HD programs. Ninjavideo has been around for a while. Just don’t forget to launch the helper applet (link is at the top of Ninjavideo pages). Wait about a minute for it to load and for most of the time, you’ll get smooth streaming.* Ninjavideo is currently shut down. In the meantime, visit Nijavideo Forum and their Facebook Page for updates and see what the community is up to. You can also contribute to their legal fund.
TV Shack- Clean interface and good organization. All the video sources are embedded into their own pages, so there is no need to browse away from their website. Virtually all the TV shows and movies are constantly added. You can select an alternate link in the upper right box if the default source isn’t working.* TVShack is also shut down along with Ninja. No worries. Just visit tvshack.cc Well .cc is also take over by ICE. People need to let USG know this kind of illegal domain-theft will not be tolerated. If TVshack pops up again, I’ll be sure to post an update here.
Surf The Channel – Perhaps not as user-friendly as TV Shack, but this one is more popular and has more sources of videos. What I do is go to TV Shack first, then if I don’t find something there, I go to SurfTheChannel.
As with many of these sites, you’ll see a lot of Megavideo links. Megavideo has a limited viewing period of 72 minutes at which point you need to take an hour break or something. But if you’re only going to watch one TV episode at a time, it shouldn’t be a problem.
HULU – is only listed here due to its popularity. It’s a network-owned (NBC, FOX, ABC) website and only lets US users have access to its content. HULU definitely has all the shows, but they don’t seem to keep an archive of older episodes. Plus, several ads appear during a show.
In this internet era, the archaic geographical distribution rights are big obstacles.
3. Download and Watch
Downloading is by far the most flexible and can offer you the highest quality videos. You can download and watch on your big screen TV via burning to DVD, using a media sharing network devices, or XBOX/PS3. The only downside is that you have to wait for it to download.
EZTV – The only place you need to know is EZTV. This torrent site has all the TV shows available. Some are SD quality while some are HD. Of course, you’ll have to download longer for an HD video. If you’re looking for more than TV shows, try Torrentz.eu – a search engine that indexes all the major torrent sites.
For instruction on how to use BitTorrent using uTorrent, click here.
4. Necessary Plug-ins and Programs
Flash Player – You’ll definitely need this as all the streaming sites use Flash.
DivX Web Player – When you browse around the VOD websites like TV Shack, you’ll find that some sources use DivX format. DivX format videos are usually the best quality you will see. So, make sure you install this one. For Windows – This is the official download link. It will install the latest version of DIVX player, which won’t work with some streaming sites.
Download version 1.5 instead. For Mac – Also for Mac, download this one instead.
µTorrent - The most popular BitTorrent client. Download and follow this guide to set it up if you need help.
K-lite Codec Pack – The video files you download are encoded with various codecs (mostly xvid, divx, and increasingly h264). You need to install these codecs to play your downloaded files. K-lite codec pack is a well-compiled set of codecs. I have been using it for many years without issues.
CCCP – Another codec pack. This one is much smaller in size and has a very helpful community. You may prefer this if you want a simpler solution.
If you have questions about any of this, feel free to ask questions in the forum or leave a comment. Also, do make suggestions.
This article is probably going to be edited quite a few times. There will be more information here in the near future, so stay tuned.