When it comes viewing movies or TV shows, other than sophitiscated cinemas, no devices can offer better viewing experience than the TV.
If you already determined to set up your TV with apps like Kodi, make sure your TV is capable of installing the apps (see Which Smart TV is an Android TV?). Otherwise, get an Android TV Box HERE, which is relatively affordable these days.
The followings are guide for alternatives to access a wide variety of movies and TV shows.
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/etc. 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 main 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 craps 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 can provide (cable broadcasts are compressed, that’s why). The best part is the channels are available 24/7 and totally free.
Another reason to hook up the HDTV Antenna is because online sources offer very little quality TV programming, I mean fixes like news. While there are plenty of TV shows online, I am yet to come across one that offer realtime news, particularly local news.
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 live HDTV channels with the help of an antenna (advisable but not a must), 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 alternatives out there to meet with all kind of audio visual cravings, mostly free of charge. But first thing first, before you start exploring your options, make sure you got the right TV because this will determine basically what kind of gadget or 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 movies or TV shows. Honestly, none of us visit any these sites to watch video, because there are numerous problems associated with this particular online 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 movies/TV shows 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 not 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 in relatively easier. It is nevertheless still not exatly that smooth and in most cases, the airmouse is totally helpless if you have to rely on a third party gadget to stream the online content eg, Android TV Box – usually comes with cheap and not very responsive remote controller/keyboard.
Do you have a high end LG TV (7 series upwards) equipped with a Magic Remote? If not, may be you should forget about watching shows using the TV browser.
Problem 3 – Unreliable Mediocre Video
Video feeds from the video streaming sites are highly unreliable. The links are broken most of times, and the video quality is mostly mediocre … Fancy wathing shadow of someone walking in the middle of the screen? They call this “HDCAM” quality.
But you absolutely gotta to watch more movies and TV shows. What now?
Relax, there are plenty of options still.
Another option is Torrent.
Free Alternative 3 – Torrent Downloads
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, ebooks 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 not 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 users are advised to use VPN (virtual Private Network) service to entirely hidetheir 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 easier and a whole lot more enjoyable. There are many apps especifically 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 probably won’t need anything else, as you can install the app directly on the TV.
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 (via a HDMI cable).
And if you are going to get a brand new TV, we suggest you get a TV running on Android TV such as Sony, Sharp, and Philips. Theorectically, anything runiing on Android OS should be able to accesss the Play Store to get the necessary apps to stream video from various sources of all kind.
Technically, Android as an open source OS will allow you 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 supposedly all Sharp and all Philips realeased after June 2015 … These are are the “smarter” Android TVs.
Theorectically, anything that runs Android should be okay. However, we learned recently basically only Sony is a true Android TV, they rest may be running Android OS, they do not faciliate apps installation except a selected few. And as such, if you going to get a non-Sony TV, make sure you know the TV can install apps like Kodi or get it from a store where you may return it in case it doesn’t work eg. Amazon and Best Buy.
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 sample 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 a free and open source (GPL) software 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 movies and TV shows on Kodi, be it paid or for free, you need to install Add-ons (packages that add features and functions not included with Kodi). Most of the add-ons are designed to stream online content like YouTube, Hulu, Pandora Radio, as well as skins (themes) catering for all king taste buds. Which you can get from a variety of repositories (mostly free).
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 very affordable these days. They are usually generic boxes originated from China.
Here are some related links for you to make an informed decision on the 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.
And more related references: –
While we are compiling the best answers for for you, check this out …
- Android TV and Android TV Box
- How to Install Kodi on Sony Android TV
- Android TV Box
- Shop Movies & TV Shows
Any other question? Leave a comment, we will try to get back to you ASAP.