Free and Cheap TV: So Many Options to Choose From

Photo (cc) by MattHurst

Want “Charles in Charge” of your days and your nights but don’t want to spring for cable? Don’t want to feel left out during the water-cooler discussion of the last castoff from “The Voice” while at the same time avoiding a hefty satellite bill?

Many options are out there for you to see your favorite shows from the past and present for free or a small fee. New ones seem to be popping up each day as well.

Netflix and Hulu are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cheap television viewing on your television, iPad or computer. Here are the possibilities:

Network websites (free)

All major networks offer full episodes of many shows. If your laptop screen isn’t cutting it, you can always connect your computer directly to your TV.

Among its many selections, NBC has your “Charles in Charge” fix, boasting 21 episodes of the Scott Baio classic. Other nostalgic treats available include 94 “A-Team” adventures. See CBS for the latest developments for hits such as “How I Met Your Mother” and “Big Bang Theory.”

  • Drawback: The sites don’t offer every show aired and are ad-supported, but the interruptions are generally minimal.

HDTV over the air (free)

Gone are the days of foil-adorned rabbit ears. If you bought an HDTV in about the last decade, the set should have a built-in tuner for receiving digital over-the-air broadcasts.

Most major networks along with an array of public television stations are available with a small antenna, which you can purchase for anywhere between $13 and $100 depending on the features you want.

Although the widest selection of digital TV broadcasts is found in big cities, more than 99 percent of U.S. TV households have access to at least one local digital station; 89 percent can get five or more stations, according to Crutchfield.

This option offers local programming that isn’t always available via satellite TV, with awesome HD picture quality.

  • Drawback: This option does not include cable-only channels.

Crackle (free)

This Sony-owned site has syndicated classics like “Seinfeld” and “Married with Children” and newer content such as “Rescue Me.” In addition, it offers original series — “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” for example.

Crackle also exhibits one of the snazzier layouts.

  • Drawback: Once again, the content is limited and scattered with commercials.

TVPC (free)

“TVPC is hands down my favorite of the bunch. It has just about every TV channel you can think of, both from here and abroad. Want to watch Danish news? Check. Puerto Rican telenovelas? Check,” says ZeroPaid.

Add to that list German sports and a Jamaican music channel, alongside Cartoon Network, HBO and History Channel shows.

  • Drawback: This site streams live television, so you have to time your watching accordingly. It’s also another site that is saturated with advertisements.

WiziWig (free)

If live sporting events are more your bag, this is the site for you. NFL games are available as well as tennis, NASCAR, soccer and horse racing.

  • Drawback: Like the other live programming, you have to catch it while it’s streaming.

HitBliss (free)

With this site, you can purchase shows with credit earned by watching commercials. For two minutes of subjecting yourself to ads, you can earn about enough to pay for an episode.

Once you view your commercials, you can continue “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or catch up on the newest psychosis on “Bates Motel.”

  • Drawback: It might be because it’s new, but it offers very few television shows.

Hulu (free)

How much do we really need to say about Hulu? It offers programming like “The Voice” and “Family Guy.”

  • Drawback: Only available on the computer and you must sit through ads, but at least it’ll give you a choice of one of two ads to view.

This brings us to the pay options:

Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month)

If you’re a fan of the free Hulu site but want more shows, such as anything starring Gordon Ramsay, this may be for you.

Hulu Plus offers the latest episodes alongside impressive catalogs of previous seasons.

With payment, your viewing options expand to connected televisions and Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and mobile phones.

New episodes are available soon after airing.

  • Drawback: Like regular Hulu, it still contains ads.

Netflix ($7.99 per month)

New “Arrested Development” episodes. Need I say more?

With a subscription, you can watch ad-free shows through your computer, TV, gaming consoles or phone. A quick download of the free iPad app will add your tablet to the list.

While the list of available movies and television shows in the instant streaming library isn’t as deep as the DVD selection, it’s growing, says PCMag.

  • Drawback: Netflix does not carry episode-by-episode releases of television shows. It typically releases an entire season of something at once, often following the competition.

Amazon Prime ($79 per year)

This gives you access to Amazon’s full catalog for viewing on tablets and via gaming consoles, among other options. Programs include “Downton Abbey” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

After subscribing, you also get free shipping from Amazon.

  • Drawback: While the episodes are ever expanding, the offerings have been called limited.

Aereo ($8 a month)

Live television via an antenna that can fit on the tip of your finger — that’s the promise of this new technology. The live and recorded shows are then ready for viewing on any compatible TV, computer or mobile device. Currently only available in New York and Boston, this option is set to expand in the East and South.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
6 Ways to Guarantee Yourself a Steady Retirement Income
6 Ways to Guarantee Yourself a Steady Retirement Income

Saving is just one part of the retirement equation. Do this now to guarantee income in your golden years.

7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales
7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales

Here’s what an experienced estate sale shopper considers a great find.

3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone
3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone

Counting on Medicare to cover health care costs can jeopardize your retirement plans.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2020
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2020

Follow these tips to save — so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500
How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500

If stock market volatility has you looking for other investment options, here’s a way to diversify — even if you don’t have tons of money.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.