How to Watch Regular TV on a Computer

By James Clark

Television programming is increasingly available via streaming video over the Internet. While few programs stream live online,you can watch archived episodes of after they initially appear on television. You'll need the fastest broadband Internet connection available in your area. A good-size computer monitor is also an advantage.

Step 1

Get the fastest Internet connection you can afford to enjoy the best quality streaming video. Fiber optic is the fastest consumer connection, followed by cable and DSL. Dial-up connections will not deliver enough data speed for you to watch video.

Step 2

Find a Web site featuring the show you wish to watch. Dozens of sites stream video of programs from the regular broadcast networks, such as NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and Public Television. Go to CastTV (see Resources) for an alphabetical list of hundreds of shows you can view on your computer. Episodes of different shows are archived for easy features hundreds of TV programs, including many shows aired on premium cable channels. The site also offers cartoons, documentary programs and news shows.

Step 3

Search for a specific program by entering specific keywords. For example, if you want to watch the complete series of The Sopranos, which ran for six seasons on HBO, type "Sopranos," "online" and "free" into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. Your search will return Web sites that offer free streaming video of The Sopranos, organized by season and episode.

Tips & Warnings

  • Streaming video requires a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Slower connections or unreliable service can result in twitchy video, sound that cuts on and off and images freezing on your computer monitor.Close all other computer applications while watching streaming video online to free up the processing resources of your computer. This will improve image and sound quality.You can expect to endure a short advertisement, which is an unavoidable part of most Web sites featuring streaming TV shows.
  • Pay attention to the terms of use on a Web site offering free streaming video of TV shows. Some sites may ask you to register with a credit card for a free trial period, after which you will be charged a monthly fee. Understand what you are getting into before signing up for any online service.Be aware that some sites may require you to download and install software on your computer. Look for websites such as Graboid (see Resources) that are guaranteed to be free of spyware, adware and viruses.