Sunday, January 11, 2009

TV on the Web

A few months ago my TV died and, taking my cue from Susan's example (she and her husband only watch series on DVD), I decided not to purchase a new one. Sure I missed some of the shows I watched regularly, but there were other things I could do with the time. And I haven't come to regret my decision yet.

DVD watching is something else I missed, but that was more easily remedied than the lack of television programming. After all, I have a computer with a DVD drive and a decent screen. Windows Media player will handle DVDs just fine. So on holidays I pull out one of my favorites and sit back in my reasonably comfortable desk chair to enjoy it. I've even had a neighbor in to watch one with me while we shared pizza.

Knowing that I was a regular watcher of some of her favorite shows, Sandi decided to come to my rescue and suggested I look for TV shows on the web. It seemed reasonable. I'd heard that there were full episodes online, so I started doing some research and, sure enough, you can indeed watch TV on the web, free and totally lacking any kind of advertisement. Finding the shows you like to watch, however, is a bit dicey as not all broadcasting corporations make their hottest shows available on their websites. Plus you have to do some research to find good pages, which can take a bit of time as you do trial and error on each page you discover. There are some pluses, but more about those in a bit.

My research started with four USA broadcasting corporations: ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. ABC readily puts full episodes on its website and you can keep up to date on their fare easily. That's great, except I don't watch much of what they offer. They were the first major US broadcasting corporation to do it though, so kudos to them. CBS I watch regularly and I was eager to catch up on Ghost Whisperer. Oops, seems CBS doesn't put the latest episodes of its premier shows on it's website, although that may change as recently they've started putting up a very few of their more popular series in HD. Mostly though it's small clips, not enough to call it TV. They do have a chat and watch page, CBS social room. There they let you watch a show with other people, chat, and answer trivia questions at the same time. Sometimes there are current episodes of popular shows, but you can only watch what they are offering that night. NBC is better than CBS and may be as good as ABC. They have HD episodes online too. And a page that is classy looking and easy to navigate. Then I got around to Fox. With Fox on Demand, they may be better then NBC and CBS. The shows are current, but I don't watch many of their shows either. If you want to see what the major networks offer, the links I've provided are direct to their video pages. Still no Ghost Whisperer though, so I kept looking. Three weeks ago, I came across a blog, Free Online Episodes, that had taken the time to address the problem of staying up to date your your favorite series and gave you several urls to watch most of the favorite popular shows. It was a good place to start.

For the next week or so I hung out on that blog and would click through to some of my favorite shows. Not all of the links worked, but usually there was one that did. Like any good blog, they update things as necessary. Their latest offering, posted Jan. 11th, has links to Knight Rider. But still, no Ghost Whisperer. And that was Sandi's big thing. She really wanted me up to date on that, for which I'm grateful. Her support and encouragement were unending. In the mean time, I kept doing searches using the keywords "full episodes" and finally came across a really great website, Surf the Channel.

From Surf the Channel's website you can find most of the shows you know and tons that you don't know. New episodes are put up daily. You can search by genre, title, or cagetory. There's both TV and movies. Many of the links are to Asian web pages so there will be subtitles in the language of that area. You can also find lots of links to Megavideo which is another website offering lots of free online TV and lots of current movies. Megavideo lets you watch for 72 minutes and then asks you to join or wait 54 minutes before watching again. I haven't signed up for their paid service because I don't mind waiting to finish the episode I was interrupted in the middle of. There's tons of other stuff to watch. Since discovering Surf the Channel (StC), I've found episodes of Sanctuary, an exciting SciFi offering that started as HD webisodes, and in addition to seeing all 8 of those I've caught up on most of the rest of the season. There seems to be a 1 to 4 week delay in an episode being broadcast before it shows up on the web. I've also caught up on NCIS and of course, Ghost Whisperer.

When there isn't a new episode to watch among my favorites, I explore the other offerings StC has. So far I've discovered Fallen, a 3 episode miniseries which presents us with a war between angels and nephilim, half breeds bearing both angel powers and human souls. There is also The Tudors, a wonderful series put on by Showtime which takes place in the early years of King Henry's reign complete with court intrigue, lots of mistresses and dalliances, and all the political intensity of the era. I haven't had cable or satellite in several years so I've got a lot of catching up to do and I'm delighted with what I'm finding. That's one of the biggest perks of watching TV online. Another great perk of internet TV is that with no advertising going on the show finishes in about 42 minutes for an hour long show. Yay, you've got time to do other things, like watch more shows than you could fit into an evening of TV watching.

Recently Sandi sent me another link, this one was FanCast which seems to be closely linked with Hulu, which is known for all it's free episodes. What Hulu offers is mostly older TV shows that are no longer broadcast and haven't been in reruns for awhile, but it does stay abreast of a few of the popular shows. You can catch up on Monk there. And it has just about every new movie trailer you could ask for. FanCast is different. They have links to quite a few of the popular shows although their offerings aren't quite as rich and varied as StC. Still, what you don't find on StC you can usually find on FanCast. Plus you don't have subtitles and the screen to watch is larger on your browser than many of the StC places.

Sometime soon, I plan on putting most of those online TV websites among the links on my sidebar. In the meantime, I hope you find the links I've provided useful and discover some new series that you'd didn't have access to before. Enjoy!


jsd said...

thanks for sharing - you might also try checking out hulu - I like the sci-fi offerings.

Lee said...

You're welcome, JS. Hadn't seen those at Hulu the one time I went. I'll give her another look, I know we like the same stuff.


Sandi McBride said...

I think you have more tenacity than anyone I know. I would have run screaming to Walmart for the new tv long 1/2 hour after the death of the other one, lol! I am so glad that you caught up on Ghost Whisperer because I was anxious for you to see the direction it had taken (spirit walk ins). Great post,and so informative! You need a job in marketing! You've got the talent for it!

Lee said...

Thanks Sandi! I actually got desensitized to TV when I was 17 backpacking in Colorado with my folks. Going without TV for a month does that quite nicely.

I think I'm actually about 2 weeks behind in Ghost Whisperer due to the delay in episode to web time. The last show I watched, two days ago, had him leaving to go meet the old girlfriend he'd planned on asking to marry him.

Last night I rewatched Pan's Labyrinth. It was just as good as I remembered it. Someday, I'll own the DVD.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hi Lee!

Thanks for visitig me today. You mentioned you saw me on David's Post of the Day. But I'm no sure who David is. I'd love to thank him for sharing my blog with others. It's been a rough time but all of the wonderful and caring visitors to me blog have made it a lot smoother by cheering me up and offering encouragement.
If you could direct me to his wbesite that would be great!

Also wanted to say this post is just what I needed. Wish I would have found you last week actually. After my surgery, I couldn't make it back upstairs, so I had to make camp in the downstairs guestroom which is small with only one window and no TV.
I was getting bored not being able to be entertained and distracted by the TV. And I had no idea you could watch shows and movies on computer.

My laptop is my lifeline to the outside world and now I'll be able to watch TV and movies on it, too.

And considering I'll be laid up for many more weeks, that's a very good thing.

Thank you for sharing such useful and interesting information!

New Mexico

Lee said...

Hi Lisa!

You are SO welcome! I'm glad I could be of help. Wish I'd read your blog last week too as I love solving problems for people.

I hope you'll come back to visit often as I plan on visiting your blog on a regular basis now that I've found it.

Peace! & Healing!

Anonymous said...

Tivo is another layer, and personally, I think it makes TV worthwhile; so you can watch what you want WHEN you want, which is so cool. It's so fun to turn it on and have choices of things YOU picked to watch.

Lee said...

Quirky, I so agree! Wish the networks would catch on to how inexpensive it is to show TV on the web and not have to put up expensive advertising to support it. I'll have to check Tivo out. I was under the mistaken impression that it was part of cable and not internet TV.


ifthisbeterror -- a Revolution of One said...

For decades, now, in our small family, we have lived without television by choice. Occasionally we will watch movies at home on a big flat screen computer monitor, but the habit of daily visual media fare is not ours.

Not only do we not miss television--though doing so renders us technically insane as we don't share the consensus reality of society--we wonder how it is (having talked about this from time to time) that people simply HAVE THE TIME for TV, hours of it.

How in the world does that work?

Lee said...

Hi ITBT, Remembering back when TV was first invented, it soon became a way for busy mothers to keep their children occupied while they handled their daily business. It still is that for very many folk. What your family is doing is something that another friend of mine is doing with her husband. They turned TV watching into a social event and invite friends over to watch episodes of a series they are all engaged by.

Thank you for visiting.