A couple of weeks ago, I fessed up about my raging Netflix addiction, and now this week I’m writing about TV again. Clearly I have issues that I’ll need to confront with the help of Netflix Anonymous. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
I don’t have cable TV. I’m a girl on a budget and I just don’t channel surf enough to rationalize spending money on cable, especially when I spend my free time for Netflix. I’d rather throw those extra dollars into a faster internet connection. However, every so often a new season of a show I absolutely love is on, and I have to make a weekly effort to follow it.
Last night, for example, was the season three premiere of “The Walking Dead.” Fortunately, my boyfriend and I were able to tune in at my parents’ house, but that won’t always be the case.
So what do you do if you’re a cheapskate (like me) or a Dish Network subscriber but you still want to keep up with your shows?
Simple Answer: Streaming.
That’s right, stream that sh*t.
There’s a whole catelogged library of free TV episodes, both new and old, just waiting to be uncovered. One just needs to look in the right spots.
The Right Spots
Since this is my guide, I’m mostly going to talk about the sites and methods that have worked for me. I will concede that I’m definitely not an expert on the Internet, streaming, or even owning a computer, so if you have tips and tricks or know of better websites, please feel free to share in the comments! I’m always willing to learn! (Also: I like free stuff that works! Duh!)
That being said, my go to site for free-TV streaming purposes is:
This site has links for pretty much every show (within reason) and definitely anything on primetime TV. Although they don’t have “Adventure Time” on there, which is sad. *frowny face*
Another site I’ve used with relative success is Sidereel.com, although I prefer one-tv’s more user-friendly format. Other free sites are out there also; my sister really seems to like Hulu, but I think she has a subscription for it.
This stuff is kind of…compliKAITed!
Yes, it is! In fact, this entire post was inspired by a co-worker of mine, who asked for my help in streaming “The Walking Dead” for her family.
To start, I’ll assume you’ve already picked a website and searched for your favorite show. Find the right season and click on the episode you want to watch. This is where it gets tricky.
The site will provide you with an enormous list of links. Each of these links connects to a website with a media player that will stream the episode for you. NOT ALL OF THESE SITES ARE CREATED EQUAL!!!
Some of the links will require you to jump through hoops, such as forcing you to type in captchas or wait a certain abount of time (usually 30 seconds) before accessing their streaming stuff.
Some of them will demand that you download special software in order to view the episode you’re trying to stream. (I try to avoid downloading weird software at all costs. Sometimes this software isn’t even necessary to use their media player, and they’re just trying to find gullible people to download whatever program they’re offering.)
Some of the links just suck. (I’m looking at you, Novamov.com!)
Here are a few streaming sites that I like and trust:
I recommend playing around with all the different links and finding the ones that work best with your computer, internet connection, version of Flash, etc. etc.
Part of the reason streaming TV is so diffuclut is because you’re basically cheating cable companies and TV networks out of money. The streaming links are constantly evolving and changing because many of the sites get shut down. So much change in the world of streaming is bound to create problems, and here are a few issues I’ve dealt with on a regular basis.
Pop up Mania! – Some streaming sites, when clicked, also open a number of pop up windows, whether or not you have pop up blockers. A lot of these pop ups feature video ads with audio that will compete with show you’re trying to watch. If you’re a few minutes into the latest “Once Upon a Time” and you start hearing weird dialogue, minimize your main window and check for pop ups.
Time Limits- Some sites impose streaming time limits, and once you hit that limit (whether you’re in the middle of your show or not), they will require you to wait a certain amount of time until you can use their site for streaming again. The usual limit is somewhere around 70 minutes of streaming time, with a required 70 minute wait once you’ve hit your limit. The time limit is attached to your IP address, so it’s pretty impossible to get around without using an IP Shield (which I don’t recommend–they’re usually malware).
Skipping/Slow Buffering- Sometimes you just have to sit back and wait. Leave your show to load, go do some dishes or some sit ups, and then come back. Slow-loading is the price you pay for stealing TV off the interwebz. You get what you pay for, after all.
Much like the websites offering free music downloads, free streaming TV cuts the middlemen (big TV networks, cable providers, rich companies) out of the picture, and so the sites are continually being shut down. It’s not illegal to watch TV online like this, but it’s also not easy.
Keep playing around with different sites, media players, and streaming links, and eventually you will find what works best for you. I relied completely on streaming TV for the year I lived in Costa Rica, and I found it easy enough to continue that lifestyle when I came back to the states.
Hopefully this guide helps a few people catch some free TV! Let me know in the comments if you have site recommendations or questions!
My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.