Stream free TV without a cable television subscription on mobile apps or a computer. Most of the major broadcast networks, and several popular cable networks have free TV apps with full episodes. There are also several ways to watch TV on mobile devices for a small fee (compared to a cable TV bill anyway.)
Apple has a slight leg up on Android when it comes to selection of free TV apps, but Android is catching up fast. Every app mentioned below has an iPhone and iPad version, while some lack Android versions. There are also lots of options to stream free TV from PC’s. See the most popular free shows currently available here.
Stream free TV with broadcast network apps:
The ABC app for iPhone, iPad, and Android features streaming full-length episodes from all of ABC’s primetime, daytime, and late-night shows like Dancing With The Stars, The Bachelor, Grey’s Anatomy, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, and many many more. Shows are generally available to stream the day after they air. You can also stream shows from a PC at the ABC site.
CBS has an app for iPhone/iPad and Android. The app has access to all of the primetime and late night CBS shows like Survivor, The Good Wife, NCIS, Letterman, and daytime shows also. Primetime shows are available a week after they air (8 days to be exact), while daytime and late night shows are available the day after they air. There are also lots of CBS shows to watch on your PC.
FOX now allows streaming of recent episodes from a few shows on their iPhone/iPad and Android apps. Additional episodes can be accessed after signing in with a cable TV login. Additional shows are available on Hulu or on the Fox site from a PC.
NBC has an app for iPad/iPhone and Android. Again, lots of full episodes are available from shows like Leno, Parks & Recreation, SNL, The Office, etc. Episodes seem to be available the day after they air, which gives NBC a nice leg up on their competitors. Watch NBC on your PC here.
PBS has a ton of great educational and dramatic programming streaming free on its iPhone and iPad apps and its mobile website. At the time of this writing full episodes from great shows like Antiques Roadshow, Masterpiece, Frontline, and PBS NewsHour were available on the app. The Smithsonian app for iPhone/iPad and Android also has a ton of great educational programming. PBS also has lots of video on their desktop site.
Stream free TV with cable network apps:
A&E has several popular cable shows that are available through its iPad, iPhone, and Android app. The network is known for both reality and scripted series like Duck Dynasty, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Hoarders, Storage Wars, and more. Some shows have current episodes available, but others only have full episodes from past seasons. You can also watch A&E from a PC at the desktop site.
Comedy Central has an iPhone/iPad app that includes free episodes from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, South Park, and @midnight and mobile sites with full episodes for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. The Tosh.0 app for iPhone/iPad and Android also features ‘episode highlights’ which are essentially full episodes with lots of commercials. Full episodes from Tosh.0, South Park, and @midnight are also available for free from a PC.
Discovery Channel has an iPhone/iPad and Android app that streams a select number of episodes for free. At the time of this writing, free full episodes were available from the following shows: Weed Country, Bering Sea Gold, and Dual Survival. They also have several shows and clips on their desktop website.
The History Channel‘s app for iPhone, iPad, and Android features full streaming episodes from reality shows like Pawn Stars, Swamp People, Top Gear, and the new original series Vikings, plus many more. Some shows have current episodes available, but others only have full episodes from past seasons. Watch from a PC here.
Showtime doesn’t stream any free shows on apps. But they do have a desktop website where you can watch the current series premieres of all their shows.
TBS airs the nightly Conan O’Brien show, and you can watch full episodes free with the Team Coco app for iPhone/iPad or Android or from a PC on the desktop site. The official TBS app requires a cable subscription to watch other full shows.
The TLC app for iPhone, iPad, and Android has access to a limited number of free streaming episodes. At the moment, episodes are available for Four Weddings, Starter Wives Confidential, and Gypsy Sisters. You can also watch from a PC at the desktop site.
For the kids, there are several family-friendly networks that stream free TV shows on their apps:
- ABC Family | iPhone | iPad | Android | PC | more
- Disney | iPhone | iPad | PC | more
- Disney XD | iPhone | iPad | PC | more
- Disney Junior | iPhone | iPad | PC
- Nickelodeon | iPhone | iPad | Android | PC
Some of the other popular networks require you to log in with your cable subscription info to watch full episodes (AMC, MTV, TBS, TNT, USA, VH1.)
Other ways to watch TV on mobile devices without cable:
Crackle is probably better known for free movies, but you can also stream free TV episodes from older shows like: Seinfeld, The Shield, Rescue Me, Married With Children, News Radio, and classic shows and animated series. The Crackle app is available for iPhone/iPad and Android.
Apple, Amazon, and Google have some free TV episodes for download on their respective stores that change weekly. You can also buy TV episodes from them. Most shows are $2-3 per episode. Timing of availability depends on the network. For example, AMC shows like Walking Dead and Mad Men are available to download within a few hours of airing, but HBO and Showtime shows aren’t available to download for several months after they air.
There are three big subscription streaming TV services with mobile apps: Hulu+, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. Hulu may be of limited use, since you can stream free TV shows from many of the networks on Hulu with the mobile apps above (although you won’t get full seasons for free). The other notable networks included in Hulu+ that you can’t find free anywhere are Fox/FX, Comedy Central, and USA (although not all Comedy Central shows are on Hulu). Netflix and Amazon Prime both have large libraries of older shows to stream and both have their own original series and exclusive content.