Written by Carly Burdova
Published on January 6, 2021

Discover the best places to watch TV online for free (or with a subscription), and learn what you can use to stream series or even live content. Are you traveling? We'll also teach you how to watch TV from another country and let you know which streaming services are available internationally.

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    Can I watch TV online for free?

    Watching free TV online without downloading anything is one of the greatest joys of modern life. You can, and should, watch TV online free of charge, because TV shows and other digital content is sometimes exclusive to the internet and can't be found on normal cable TV. 

    There are tons of free streaming sites, free on-demand streaming services, and live network TV streams. We've got them all covered here. Keep reading to learn how to watch TV series online with free streaming.

    Free streaming sites

    Popular, completely legal, and packed with good options, these are the best free online streaming TV sites.

    It's also worth mentioning that YouTube (not to be confused with YouTube TV) has some noteworthy content creators. Some TV series even start off as web series, streamed for free online. And as part of a launch campaign, several TV shows post pilot or series premiere episodes for free on YouTube. 

    If you're looking for nostalgia, the dedicated throwback YouTube channel Shout!Factory features some classics. And if you're looking for investigative journalism on often random but super interesting topics, check out Vice's YouTube channel.

    On-demand streaming services

    If you can't kick your cable habit and want to watch cable TV online free of charge, many of the major networks offer free on-demand content directly from their websites. Not all your favorite shows will be available on-demand for free, but if you hunt around you'll find some good unblocked content. 

    When visiting on-demand streaming services, don't be surprised if a message like the one below pops up for some shows. It's a request to log in to your cable TV provider to gain full access. An easy way to navigate around this and not waste time is to look for shows that don’t have a padlock icon.

    Login prompt from on-demand streaming services for gated content, only accessible with a paid cable TV subscription.Popular on-demand streaming services.

    So what TV channels are free on the internet? And which streaming services are available internationally? Here are some of the best options.

    In the US, popular on-demand streaming services with free TV shows include: 

    In the UK, free on-demand content can be found here:

    And here are some of the best streaming services available internationally:

    Live network TV streams

    Watching live TV online for free is also possible. Some cable TV channels let you stream their content online for free by going directly to their website. Watching network TV online gives you that comfortable cable TV feeling without having to pay for a monthly subscription.

    Simply go to the website of your favorite TV network and view their live streaming options. Without having TV provider login details, the available content may be limited. Start by checking out some of the popular US-based live network TV streams, such as HGTV, The CW Network, Fox, ABC, and CBS.

    You can also opt for a live network streaming service like TVplayer that offers dozens of network channels on-demand under one monthly subscription. Or go for PlutoTV, which lets you drop in on tons of live TV channels for free.

    Paid streaming site free trials

    A really good work around to paying for streaming services is to rotate your free trials. An insider tip: If you cancel within the free trial period, and confirm this cancelation, some sites will offer to extend your free trial for a bit longer, and other sites may offer multiple free trials if they’re spaced out enough. 

    Rotating your free trials enables you to watch free TV for a short period of time and not stress about a big bill at the end. Just be sure to cancel on time.

    HBOMax offers a free 7 day streaming service trial, and then charges $14.99 per month.Many streaming services, like HBO Max, offer free trials.

    The best places to stream series and shows

    No longer the new kids on the block, sites like Netflix, Apple TV, Disney+, and Amazon Prime have become extremely popular for streaming shows and series online. These streaming services are so popular they now charge quite a bit for access. 

    Unfortunately, subscribing to just one streaming site is usually not enough, because each service lures you in with exclusive content and blockbuster names. And boy does it add up.

    Here are the best places to watch TV shows online, along with the monthly price (at the time of this writing) for the basic subscription level. Note that prices and availability may change depending on your location. 

    Streaming service Monthly subscription fee
    Pluto TV Free
    Apple TV $4.99
    Hulu $5.99
    Disney Plus $6.99
    Netflix $8.99
    Amazon Prime (video) $8.99
    HBO Max $14.99
    YouTube TV $64.99


    Besides the massive dent in your wallet, there are other downsides to using paid streaming services. You can’t hop around different streaming sites under one simple monthly plan, and the basic streaming versions often offer limited features or are inundated with ads. Exposure to unwanted ads also puts you at risk of accidentally downloading adware.

    There's also an annoying time lag before new shows become available. If it's not an original production, the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows might not appear on your streaming service for months after they first air on cable TV. 

    And, most annoyingly, there are geo-restrictions on streaming services that block you from accessing content while traveling. Unless you have a VPN (virtual private network) to unblock access, you'll be paying for a monthly subscription that you can't fully use. 

    Thankfully, AVG Secure VPN lets you easily navigate around pesky content blocks while providing blazing-fast connection speeds.

    What if a show isn't available in my country?

    The first question you’ll have while traveling abroad is often, Can I watch Amazon Prime in another country? Or, How can I watch British TV in the US? Almost all streaming sites have some form of local restrictions, meaning Netflix options in one country are not the same as those in another. This is because of geo-restrictions and licensing agreements. 

    Even if a site promises to stream TV from different locations, the quality is often questionable and your security may be compromised. The safest way to keep up with the shows you love while traveling or visiting a foriegn country is to use a VPN.

    Try watching TV online with a VPN

    A VPN is like your own private tunnel that securely connects you to the shows you know and love from home. When you travel abroad, you need to keep paying for your streaming services, but often you won't be able to access many of your shows due to licensing restrictions. That's where a VPN comes into play.

    A VPN is like a private tunnel that gives you safe and fast access to watching TV on any device, which is helpful when you're traveling.With a VPN, you can securely connect to websites to watch your favorite TV shows, which is especially convenient when you’re traveling abroad.

    It is not illegal to use a VPN to watch TV online. Using a VPN to watch TV shows, movies, and other online content is not the same as torrenting, which is illegal and a clear violation of copyright laws. 

    Avoid content blocking and take advantage of your digital subscriptions with the security of a VPN. VPNs are especially handy if you want to unblock websites and get around other content restrictions associated with work or school devices or while you’re traveling. 

    AVG Secure VPN is a fantastic — and super simple — way to safely connect to the TV shows you love from anywhere in the world. With a long list of anonymous international servers, you can connect and stream from any number of countries around the world. 

    A VPN makes watching TV online easy and safe, while providing unrestricted access worldwide. Get AVG Secure VPN today and enjoy easy, smooth access to the most popular online streaming services available.

    The problem with watching TV online

    Watching television shows online will be a whole lot easier with this guide. But we know there are still some roadblocks to accessing your favorite TV series or TV shows. Copyright issues and location restrictions are some of the most common headaches related to watching TV online. 

    Copyrighting is an important part of intellectual property law and creative incentives. Without copyrights, TV show creators wouldn’t have an effective means of getting credit (money) for their work. Copyright laws exist for a reason, and ultimately they underpin a lot of the diversity and creativity we see in TV shows. 

    There are also legitimate concerns when it comes to feeling like your TV is watching you, or if you’re worried about online tracking. A VPN is a good step toward easing those concerns and even avoiding those problems altogether.

    Is it legal to watch TV online?

    Yes, it's usually perfectly legal to watch TV online. All of the websites and networks mentioned in this article are legal ways of watching TV online. Things get a little cloudy when discussing streaming services and their location restrictions.

    In some countries like Iran, China, Russia, the UAE, and Oman, VPNs are regulated or banned. But in most countries, it is not illegal to use a VPN to watch Netflix or any other streaming service, even if it may be against their terms and conditions.

    The key distinction (and line of legality) is that using a VPN to watch TV online is not a form of piracy, and it is not the same as torrenting copyrighted material online. You'll be breaking your contract — not the law — if you use a VPN to stream TV online. What you need to avoid is illegal torrenting and breaking copyright law

    It's worth noting that Netflix has never pursued anyone in violation of their VPN policy, and the company is not actively against the use of VPNs. Netflix even published a statement back in 2016 to express their aim of offering all Netflix content everywhere.

    Had enough of buffering?

    Buffering is the last thing you want to deal with after navigating all the issues associated with streaming TV online. There are a number of reasons why you might experience buffering problems. Check out our guide to learn more about how to stop buffering when streaming.

    Watch TV online on different devices

    You can watch TV online on any device with an internet connection. Whether you’re using a home PC, a Macbook, a smartphone, or a smart TV, the important component is not the screen, but the connection itself. 

    If you do choose to use a VPN to watch TV, AVG Secure VPN makes it easy to use any device. You can start a free VPN trial on your Mac, PC, Android, or iPhone or iPad and start watching TV online immediately.

    Access your favorite shows without restrictions

    Online TV should just work, period. It should work as you want, where you want, and when you want. AVG Secure VPN delivers a lightning-fast internet connection so you can access streaming services smoothly, no matter where you are. 

    AVG Secure VPN is a safe, legitimate way to watch TV online without restrictions. It's also the smartest way to access public Wif-Fi and prevent any snoops from seeing what you’re streaming, or anything else you’re doing online.

    Watch TV online on your Android phone with AVG Secure VPN

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    Watch TV online on your iPhone with AVG Secure VPN

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    Carly Burdova