Maybe you don’t have a TV. Maybe you don’t want to pay for cable, or rent a satellite dish. Maybe you don’t like accommodating the odd and conflicting schedules of competing armies of shows, or maybe you just slip out of sync every once in a while. Sometimes you can’t watch what you want to watch, and it would be nice to just be able to catch up online, preferably for free. Here’s how to do that.
The Free Sites
Free, ad-supported, and sanctioned by NBC, ABC and Fox, Hulu hosts a tremendous range of mainstream comedy shows. Most content is hosted within a day; some, like Fox’s, is variously delayed. There’s also of massive back catalog of off-the-air shows, from NewsRadio to Arrested Development, and British Sitcoms, like Peep Show and Black Books. You’ll find:
ABC.com’s own content generally mirrors what they allow streamed on Hulu, albeit streamed through a different player and, often, a bit more catalog depth. You’ll find:
NBC’s website is altogether more ambitious that other networks’, with a stable of online-only content to supplement its broadcast shows. As far as the latter goes, though, you’ll find:
CBS wasn’t game for Hulu, and is generally fairly stingy in what it posts online, especially when it comes to sitcoms. That said, you can still (sometimes) watch full episodes of:
Often posted with a long delay, Fox’s full length streaming episodes include:
Their schedule isn’t sprawling, nor is their website. But the depth of available episodes is nice:
The Daily Show and Cobert Report, among others, were available on Hulu until recently, but Comedy Central reined in online distribution, electing to handle it (mostly) in-house. Most of the channel’s shows are chopped up and hosted in small pieces (see Tosh.0, Ugly Americans), but there are small but worthwhile handful of exclusive full eps:
A lot of Adult Swim’s programming seems tailor-made for the internet, and their streaming episode selection is appropriately generous:
-Tight Bros. (Coming soon)
Since this web service is only available to HBO subscribers with Verizon FIOS of Comcast internet connections, it’s a stretch to call it “free”. But it’s a great resource, and contains nearly every show in their current and past lineups.
It’s a meager sample of free full-length episodes, but it’s enough to get you started on current seasons of quasi-comedies like Weeds and Nurse Jackie.
It’s hard to beat iTunes’ selection and ease of use, not to mention price: As of September, a large selection of their shows are available for rental for a buck, which is half the price at which they were previously sold (only ABC and Fox are doing the $0.99 rentals at the moment). The episodes also play on your iWhatevers. You’ll find:
-IFC (Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town; The Whitest Kids U’Know)
-Comedy Central (Daily Show/Colbert; Tosh.0; Futurama)
-HBO (Eastbound and Down; Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Amazon’s VOD service isn’t compatible with as many devices as iTunes, but its catalog generally mirrors its larger counterpart. In response to iTunes’ new show rental prices, Amazon lowered a bunch of their show purchase prices down to a dollar. You’ll find:
Anything missing here? (Read: There are things missing here!) Post your favorite legal streaming sites in the comments. One good resource for finding streaming TV shows online is Clicker.com, if what you’re looking for isn’t in the above list.