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How to Watch Television for Free (or Nearly Free)

Posted By melissa On 07/12/2012 @ 2:06 pm In Frugal Living | 16 Comments

Cable television can cost $50 or $60 for a basic list of channels up to $150 to $175 a month for a deluxe package with many of the premier movie channels. You can’t even watch the free broadcast channels without a basic cable subscription unless you have purchased a digital converter box or have a newer television. However, there are many ways you can watch television for free, without having to spend $600 to $2,100 a year to do so.

Use a digital converter box

If your television viewing wants and needs are simpler, consider getting a digital converter box if your t.v. is an older model. (Newer models already have the converter built in.) These devices run about $50 and allow you to get all of the network stations as well as their substations.

Wait to watch your favorite shows until they come out on DVD

If you don’t have an urgent need to see your favorite show during the broadcast season, you can simply wait to watch the entire season when it comes out on DVD.  If you are very patient, you can rent these for free at the local library. Otherwise, consider a Netflix subscription. Netflix charges $7.99 a month to stream to your computer (or your networked media device, if you have one), and then you can choose to add on a one DVD out at a time subscription for an additional $7.99.

Watch your favorite shows on the Internet

Many television shows are shown in their entirety on the Internet.

  • Use a service like Hulu.com to see many of your shows for free over the Internet. (Hulu.com usually offers the most recent 5 episodes of a show for free.)
  • Some shows such as Star Trek have also made their content available in its entirety for free on YouTube.
  • Go to your favorite channel’s website to see if they show your favorite program in its entirety. Fans of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show can go to thedailyshow.com to see episodes of his show in their entirety.

Stream your favorite shows to your own T.V.

Do you want to have the full television viewing experience and watch your favorite shows on your television? You can with a networked media device and a basic subscription to a viewing service.

  • There are many networked media devices you can choose from: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii, to name just a few.
  • There are even more streaming services to choose from including Hulu.com (the premier version that allows you to see more than the most recent 5 episodes in a current season is $7.99 a month), Netflix and Amazon.com Instant, to name a few.

Although subscription prices to streaming services vary, once you have the networked media device, you should start to recoup your investment quickly because cable television is so expensive.

There are many options available now to watch your favorite television shows. You can find the majority of your shows through one of the options listed above; the only caveat is that you may not be able to watch your favorite sports programming. However, there is always a sports bar or your friend’s couch, right?


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