Unless you live in a cave, it shouldn’t come as surprise that all smart TVs nowadays are pre-installed with entertainment apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc, offering all kind of online media streaming that is capable of replacing your traditional cable TV.
While emergence of these streaming services may serve as viable alternatives for you to “cut the cord”, and say goodbye to the cable company, no one streaming services is capable of offering a complete package that may truly satisfy the TV entertainment need of a typical family – TV/Movies/Sport/Games. Of course, neither can cable TV.
Another fact is most of the online streaming services do require a subscription, albeit much more affordable then cable TV. But it really depends on how many streaming services do you subscribe to get all your fixes, chances are you may end up paying more than what you used to pay for the cable service.
Obviously the reason why you are here is because you are interested to find out How to Watch your favorite TV shows, movies, and live sporting events for Free? That said, we shall cut the crap and go straight to the free alternatives, instead of going through the long and winding story on watching TV/Movies with mainstream streaming services.
However, some the best streaming services worthy of mentioning are actually free. YouTube is understandably the best place to watch everything under the sun except maybe for porn. Listed below are some of the Best Streaming Video Services 2016 to help you to get the most out of your smart TV, game console, set-top box, tablet, smartphone or computer: –
Online Streaming Media Services
|YouTube||Everything except Porn||Free|
|Netflix||Overall||$9 per month|
|Hulu||Network TV||$8 per month|
|Amazon Instant Video||Families||$99 per year or $7.99 per month|
|Sling Orange||Cable TV Replacement||$20 per month|
|Playstation Vue||Playstation Owner||$50 per month|
|Funny or Die||Comedy Fans||Free|
Now after setting up your TV with some essential mainstream apps, YouTube is obviously a must-have, the next thing you may want to do is to bring in some Live TV channels, which may not be the most straight forward thing to do because you will need an antenna to start off. However, rest assured the exercise is totally worth your efforts. And it is highly recommended.
Free Alternative 1 – The Tried-and-True Antenna
Most people don’t realize just how many high quality FREE HDTV stations they can get with just an antenna. Yes, you didn’t read it wrong, it’s real 1080p HDTV (1920×1080 px; also known as Full HD or FHD and BT.709).
Connect your TV to a quality HDTV Antenna, your will have access to dozens crystal clear stations. Chances are that you’re in range of dozens of great over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels. I got over 70 in my viewing area including NBC, ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, PBS, ION, and a host of other smaller regional stations. Many of the most popular TV shows, local sports games, and local news come on OTA TV in crystal-clear High Definition. It’s highly recommended you get the TV hooked up with an HD antenna because the broadcasts you can pick up are HIGHER QUALITY than what cable provides (cable broadcasts are compressed, that’s why). The best part is the channels are available 24/7 and totally free.
There are tons of cheap and good antennas out there, just make sure you get one that fits you locales best. My advise is get one from a reputable source whereby you can return it should the antenna fails work with topography of your place.
Now you got some free TV streaming apps and also some live HDTV channels with the help of an antenna (advisable but not necessary), complement these by subscribing to any of the streaming services, or perhaps pay-per-view, you should be good.
In the event you wanted more, there are always more free alternatives out there to meet with all kind of audio visual cravings. But first thing first, before you start exploring your option, make sure you got the right TV because this will determine basically what kind of gizmos you may need for the rest of the free alternatives.
Free Alternative 2 – Online Video Streaming Sites
Your smart TV got an Internet browser, use it to visit some of the online video streaming sites, there are like dozens of them. It doesn’t make sense for us list any of them here because their service is usually unpredictable, just Google using keyword like “best free video steaming sites”.
You will be surprised what is in store for you at the online video streaming sites. However, we wouldn’t recommend you to rely on video streaming sites to watch TV. Honestly, none of us visit any these sites to watch video, because there are numerous problems associated with this alternative: –
Problem 1 – Awkward TV Browser/Remote Controller
Unless you have a very responsive airmouse like LG’s Magic Remote (only comes with very high end LG models), watching TV/movies at most of the video streaming sites can be an awful experience. One the main reasons is that most of these sites are not designed for Android gadget and gizmos. They are traditional websites meant for computer, which require you to type, click, and move around with a cursor all the times. And doing these tasks with a typical remote controller will bring you more suffering than enjoyment.
LG’s Magic Remote (see cursor on screen)
Problem 2 – Annoying Pop-Up Ads
Guess no many people can stand pain of being bombarded with annoying pop-up ads all the times. And this is exactly what you should expect watching video at most of these sites. Pop-up ads are pests, they are a pain in the ass. That’s why you need a good airmouse to click them off very frequently. And you know what? As it is now, only high end LG models got the airmouse for you move around relatively easily.
Do you have a high end LG TV (7 series upwards) equipped with a Magic Remote? If not, may be you should forget about it.
Problem 3 – Unreliable Mediocre Video
Video feeds on these video streaming sites highly unreliable. They are dead most of times, and the video quality is mostly mediocre.
But you absolutely gotta to watch more TV/movies. What now?
Relax, there are plenty of options still.
Another option is Torrent.
Free Alternative 3 – Torrent Download
The truth is many folks are turning to a variety of alternative sources to fulfil their entertainment needs such as using open source torrent to download video, games, software, books etc.
Torrent is nothing new. Folks have been using it since time immemorial. But we must stress that unless you are using torrent to download something belongs to the public domain (see List of films in the public domain in the United States), using torrent to download copyrighted content is unsafe and may result in hefty fines or even criminal charges.
Downloading copyrighted stuffs from the Internet isn’t exactly legal (at least in the U.S) because you’re actually saving a copy onto your computer. And when you download from a torrent, you’re unknowingly also complicit in a process called reseeding; basically what it means is your computer is being used as a server to share the file with other users as you download. In another word, you are participating in the distribution of the copyrighted content. Now this aspect of the process would be illegal. And depending on the level of participation, fines of anything from $300 – $3000 are known to be given out regularly.
For this reason, torrent user are advised to use VPN service to entirely hide your identity when surfing the web. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly an option for those either unwilling to pay or simply do not have the resources to pay for VPN service eg. students.
Okay, torrent is no exatly a good idea. What else is available out there?
Next and before you explore any further, make sure you know if you need to get a streaming device for your TV, so that you can get zillion of apps from Google Play Store that will make your life a lot more enjoyable. And many apps are specifically designed to stream online media to your TV.
If you got an Android TV such as a Sony 2016 (basically after May 2015) models. You are good to go. You don’t need anything else.
Otherwise, you will need a gadget of some kind – typically a computer or a streaming device such as the ultra flexible Android TV box that is relatively inexpensive and widely available, in order to stream video to your TV.
And if you are going to get a brand new TV, we suggest you get a TV running Android TV such as Sony, Sharp, and Philips. With Android which is an open source OS in nature, you will be able to install practically any apps even the app is not available on Google Play Store. You can’t do this with TVs running on proprietary OS. For example, you won’t be able to install any apps we are going to recommend shortly on LG TV, which is running on WebOS. So is Samsung’s OS called Tizen. The only TV we know will work so far is all Sony released after May 2015, and all Sharp and all Philips realeased after June 2015 are the “smarter” Android TVs.
Technically, anything that runs Android should be okay.
Else, you will need a gadget of some kind – typically a computer or a streaming device such as the ultra flexible Android TV box that is relatively inexpensive and widely available, in order to stream video to your TV. But fret not, and depending on your budget and circumstances, there is always one out there that will work for you.
Free Alternative 4 – Kodi Media Center
For those whose main objective is to watch TV/movies for free, Android TV Box installed with Add-Ons is one of the best option available today. It’s relatively easy, inexpensive, and the video quality is as good as it can get.
An Android TV Box is just like a Windows computer with nothing else installed in it. The boxes are typically pre-installed with Kodi® (formerly known as XBMC™), which is free and open source (GPL) software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, etc, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet for streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc, or use it to browse the Internet on TV.
To watch TV/movies on Kodi, be it paid or free, you need to install Add-ons (packages that add features and functions not normally included with Kodi).Most of the add-ons are designed to stream online content like YouTube, Hulu, Pandora Radio, as well as skins (themes). Which you can get from a variety of repositories.
Installing Kodi/Add-Ons is a pretty simple process (see links below). And the good news is “Fully-Loaded” Android box (those with Kodi/Add-Ons pre-installed and ready to stream everything under the sun to your TV) are widely available and for a lot more less money. They are usually generic boxes originated from China.
Here are some related links for you to make an informed decision on hardware purchase,
And regardless whether your the box you got is empty or fully loaded, here are some “how-Tos” instructions you may find helpful.
Any other question? Post it under the Question & Answers section – Click “Ask” to ask a question.