Watch TV online legally

Oct 15, 2008
Updated • Dec 22, 2012
Music and Video

The Internet is often a place where unlicensed television shows are easy to watch, albeit through websites offering streaming, torrents or USENET.

Recently, many websites have started to show shows free online but do so in a legal fashion, paying for the shows using advertisements.

Different websites seem to work in different jurisdiction but it is fair to say that a large amount is available to viewers from the United States only. Here are a few resources to watch tv shows online.

South Park Studios famously provided their shows online free of charge because the show's creators were annoyed of people watching their shows illegally. Unfortunately, South Park Studios is not available in Great Britain; I suspect it is North America only.

Joost, the much hyped IPTV service which recently has recently made the transition from software to web-based, boasts a number of titles, both mainstream and online-only. In the UK, and possibly other countries, titles such as Babylon 5, Peep Show, Shameless and Robot Chicken.

YouTube has recently announced it will start 'serving full-length TV dinners' including shows like Star Trek: The Original Series, MacGyver and Beverly Hills 90210. Unfortunately, this is unavailable in Europe.

Hulu is a site which offers free, ad-supported streaming video of TV shows and films from NBC and FOX, amongst others. This includes shows like The Simpsons, The Daily Show, Family Guy and even The Office! Predictably, this is also only for Americans.

BBC iPlayer is a free streaming video service kindly provided to people in the United Kingdom. iPlayer allows Brits to watch most shows broadcasted on a BBC channel in the past week on-demand. The BBC even admits that iPlayer technically does not require a licence fee, a type of tax which any British person with a TV set pays to help support the non-commercial BBC.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source –

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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