Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Free online TV in Canada.

So I promised a post earlier last week about free online TV for Canadians. Most of the free online TV channels that gets mentioned a lot are, sadly, for Americans only, which means that even though Canada gets American stations, we can't watch them for free online.

I can see some degree of sense in that. After all, most of the free channels a person can get are local anyway, and another country's stations don't count as local. We'd pay to get access to them. So I can see why official sites and the like wouldn't give free online TV to Canada.

But there are plenty of unofficial sites that host TV shows that don't have a TV station that one would pay for anyway, and yet will only broadcast if it detects that you have an American IP address. Meaning that great sites like Hulu are out if you happen to live in the frigid north.

We do have our options, though, limited though they may be. And I'm not just talking about sites like YouTube or GoogleVideo or other such sites. They're great, and I use them all the time, but for those concerned about doing things the legal way, the TV shows you watch on those sites are often uploaded illegally, without copyright holder consent. It's a risk you have to take when watching shows on sites like that.

(For those that don't mind dubious legality, though, you can always use SurfTheChannel to find TV shows, movies, documentaries, and so on, that have been uploaded to free video sites.)

But as for the legal stuff...

Global has videos for a lot of the most recent primetime shows. Downside is that if you happen to be interested in a show but haven't seen it from the beginning, you're out of luck, since they don't keep man back episodes on hand to watch.

The Comedy Network is great... if you're into comedy and/or watch every single episode of South Park. (For some shows, you'll have to install SilverLight, a new Microsoft media product. It's not harmful or annoying in itself, but I hate having to download programs that I'll only use to watch one of two things on one site.)

CTV isn't bad, but it's much like Global in that you'd better only want the most recent episodes, or at best the most recent season.

The Discovery Channel seems to, thankfully, have a few more options for back episodes, and is great if your tastes tend towards educational as well as entertaining. Even if you can't access entire back seasons, though, you're not likely to start watching halfway through a story arc of some kind, which makes this a bit more tolerable than on other stations.

Really, aside from news channels, that pretty much cover the big-name stations that give us some online show access. But still, considering it's free and actually accessible in Canada, I can't complain too much. I don't watch much TV as it is, but it's nice to know that if the mood takes me, I can watch a little without paying extra for it, even if my choices are limited if I don't want to come into something halfway through Season 4.

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