Fun fact about me: I crave live TV. I love watching shows as soon as I can. If I have to wait an even hour, there’d better be a real good reason, because I feel actual physical pain from waiting for a show. I’ve invested so much of my being into TV shows that waiting any more than the minimum is just unacceptable.
Last year, I went to this crazy new place called university. Among the normal transition that my peers and I went through, I was faced with an odd and daunting problem: I didn’t have a TV. Yes, there was a TV in the common room of my residence building, but I couldn’t guarantee that it’d be free for me for several hours several times a week.
I was forced to learn how to watch live TV without a TV.
Considering I talk about TV a lot here, I thought it’d be nice to ensure that everyone is watching TV, no matter what! There are so many shows out there just waiting for you to feast your eyes on!
But, before we go on, I’m going to warn you: not all these methods are….ethical. If I had consistent access to a TV or a wider budget, then I’d never even think of using them. But alas, things don’t always go my way and I’ve made do with what I have. I’m just here to share the information.
1. Obviously, the most known TV substitute is Netflix. And more recently, there’s been some alternative streaming sites like Shomi and CraveTV. These services have a small monthly fee, but they’re reliable. The major downside is that they’re no good for live TV. Or even next-day TV. Some shows don’t get added to these services until months after the season ends, if you’re lucky. But for binge-watching, they’re great! On a related note, there’s Hulu for any Americans. It’s paid as well, but it updates the day after! As a Canadian, I can’t personally vouch for this site.
2. Then there are livestreams! They are as they seem: live TV streams online. I personally used Time4TV and TV Toss the most. These were a big help to me in school. I had access to many channels (far more than I ever needed) and they were as live as it gets! Of course the major downside was that sometimes it got glitchy or laggy, and that got frustrating. Not to mention that there were many ads and pop-ups that got annoying. That’s why I, a humble Internet Explorer user (yes, seriously), cranked up those internet settings so no tabs opened without my permission. Or, you can download ad blockers to achieve the same protection.
3. You can also stream non-live shows from an archive. Like Netflix, but, y’know….no money. A lot of people watch movies online, but there are also a lot of TV shows to watch. My favourite website to watch non-live TV is Dare TV because it’s fast. I’m talking full, good quality videos available to be watched around fifteen minutes after the episode finishes on live TV. That speed for that quality is just…magical. It was extra special for me when I had double show overlaps and no PVR. Another archive site that doesn’t update as fast but has more links is WatchFree. Most streams are available mobile, which is great for iPhone/iPad users, where there are restrictions on what can be viewed otherwise.
4. Livestream right from the channel’s website. This option is completely legal, but not all channels offer it. Plus, you need to log in to use it, with a paid TV service account. I was able to watch by using my family’s Rogers account. Because this was supported by the channel, the video quality was better and more reliable than other livestreams, but still not always perfect. Most large network channels offer this. I believe the apps for these channels allow you to do this on mobile too.
5. Watch online from the channels’ website archive. This option is always reliable and always good quality, but WAITING! Most channels don’t upload the newest episode for hours (shoutout to Canada’s own CBC for doing it right away though!). Another downside is that only a certain number of episodes are available to be viewed before they’re deleted, so catching up on more than three or four is not an option (again, CBC, you’re different and I love you.)
6. Buy the DVDs/Blu-Rays (or digital downloads on iTunes). This is, of course, super reliable because DVDs don’t even need internet (and you can watch them on a laptop, so no TV needed!). The downside? Paying between 30-60 bucks for one season of TV.
See if the desired discs are on eBay for a quarter of the price, or free to borrow at a local library!
There are so many good shows out there, and in this day and age, not having a TV is a weak excuse to miss them. Though I had to get clever and do some research, I managed to keep up with all my shows as well as start new ones last year, and I intend to do the same for the rest of my life. Who needs a social life when I have just given you access to more TV shows than you can imagine?
There are many more options and websites than the ones I listed, but those are the ones that worked for me. Have you used any of them before? If you know of any other methods to watch TV, leave a comment and let me know! I need backup methods for my backup methods, sometimes!
P.S. If for some reason you’ve read this exact post before on the internet, I actually wrote it for a blogging course I took last semester in university, so it’s all my own words, I’m just reposting it on my real blog!