Disclaimer: These options range from borderline questionable to strictly illegal, hence I am not recommending or advising anyone to use them, just providing information to educate the masses. Don’t kill the messenger. And as for my review – let’s call it research.
Watch TV Live
With USTVNOW, one can watch 6 US channels for free all the time: ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC & PBS. If you wish, you can also pay to watch many of the other stations available – which will work out to a lot less than what you’re paying for Cable TV now.
When signing up, they ask if you’re a US resident, since this site is designed for US expatriates. This checkbox needs to be ticked in order to get access.
UFREETV may be the most annoying site in existence, but when you’re desperate, anything will do. The Good: You can get live access to most of the major cable channels here for free. The Bad: You will be subjected to a lot of ads. The Ugly: I mean A LOT. And sometimes the channels don’t work. And sometimes they freeze in the middle of your favorite show.
I don’t quite know if this site is legal but it has managed to stay alive for a long time and it’s talked about quite a bit around the Web.
Watch Immediately After Airing
Hulu (& VPN)
Now Hulu is very, very legal. It’s beautifully made, works like a dream and offers numerous TV shows almost immediately after they air. Some are available for free, with a bit of ads thrown in (like regular TV) but you can pay a monthly subscription fee (again, a lot cheaper than cable) to access everything ad-free. Only one problem: It’s blocked outside of the US.
In a completely unrelated thought (wink, wink), a VPN or Virtual Private Network, allows anyone to look like they are browsing from a different country (like being in Jamaica but looking like you’re in the US, for example). This can be useful if you want to protect your identity online or not disclose your location. The best VPNs I recommend are TunnelBear (desktop or mobile app – up to 1.5GB free, paid options) or Hola Better Internet (Chrome extension and Android app – free unlimited).
This is how people download movies and TV shows and watch in their spare time…and how those street guys get the movie they sell on the road side. Since I’m on good terms with Uncle Sam, I won’t go into exactly how torrents work on this site nor will I say that discovering it will change your life. I will just say, if the prospect of having free access to every show, movie, book, etc. ever made interests you, you can go Google it yourself (you unethical scoundrel).
This one certainly isn’t legal but it’s freely available and can rescue you in times of extreme boredom (and/or desperation), so I’ll include it anyway. Goojara.ch is basically a full catalog of all seasons of every popular TV show, movie and anime there is. So whether you want to cure a dose of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air nostalgia, catch on the most recent episode of Game of Thrones (yaaasss!) or just immerse yourself in the world of Naruto, they’ve got you covered (I assume Naruto’s a popular anime series? I’m the Jon Snow of anime, I know nothing.)
Netflix is often compared to Hulu but I can’t quite figure out why. They both offer the ability to watch TV shows and movies online and that’s pretty much where the similarities end. You have to pay for a subscription to watch anything on Netflix (still cheaper than cable), they only offer shows and movies that are pretty old (about a year or more) and their own original series (most popular being Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards), and no ads. They are available in Jamaica, though, so that’s a plus.
YouTube (and sometimes a VPN)
Some TV shows that only air once, like talk shows, will upload the fun segments of their show on YouTube, usually a few hours after airing. These are typically available anywhere. My guilty pleasures are the Wendy Williams Show and Tonight with Jimmy Fallon. (Update: I don’t watch these anymore, for various reasons, mostly related to my blackness.)
There are other shows that only allow viewing in the US. For those, you have the trusted VPN I mentioned earlier.
Now go forth and prosper in your newfound Internet TV wisdom. (And if you have any additional recommendations, tell me about it, duh!)