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How to Stream Live TV – Can You Really Watch Live TV on the Internet for Free?

by John Moore on January 28, 2013

stream live TV over InternetWith all of the online video choices at our disposal, we still haven’t reached the promised land of being able to watch live television anywhere on any device. Nonetheless, the situation is improving, and streaming live TV programming to your computer or mobile device is no longer a pipe dream.

Whether you’ve cut the cable cord or simply want to stream live TV on the go, your options have improved. You shouldn’t expect to access every channel you’d get at home — at least not for free — but it’s easier than ever to watch live TV streams of news, sports, and entertainment.


News programming represents your best option to watch live TV online for free. CNN Live and ABC News Live stream coverage of breaking news and live events, such as President Obama’s Inauguration, congressional hearings, White House briefings, and the upcoming State of the Union address scheduled for February 12, 2013. CBS News and the PBS NewsHour provide similar coverage through their channels (PBS also offers live streaming simulcasts of its NewsHour program). Additionally, C-SPAN Live delivers its full schedule of House and Senate hearings, as well as its Book TV program.

For international news, Al Jazeera English delivers a streaming simulcast of its TV news channel, while those who like to keep track of business news can turn to Bloomberg TV’s live stream online.

RealPlayer can help you stay on top of all the latest news. Just check out the Web Channels feature to see the latest videos from the Associated Press, Reuters, and more delivered right to your computer.


Missing out on live sports is often a deal breaker for those considering cutting the cord, but that no longer has to be the case. Provided that ESPN is part of your cable package, WatchESPN offers free access to featured games in all major professional and college sports, including live international soccer streams. If the network isn’t included in your cable subscription, you can still stream live programming from the ESPN3 channel for free. You can access WatchESPN to watch live sports online via your web browser or mobile device. One caveat: some streaming events are subject to blackouts in certain areas.

The major sports leagues — Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League — all offer subscription options for streaming live games to your computer, mobile device, or even your HDTV through a set-top device such as Roku or Apple TV. You also get extra features like DVR functionality, home and away broadcasts, in-game highlights, and multigame views.


Streaming all live TV programming is a bit trickier — and costlier. A “place shifting” device like the SlingBox, which connects to your home video source (such as a DVR or cable set-top box) and transmits the signal over the Internet to your computer or mobile device, lets you watch all the channels you get at home from any location.

Aereo charges customers a monthly fee to watch over-the-air broadcast channels on a web browser, iPhone, or iPad via a small HD antenna that you access from the Internet. You can also record up to two shows at once and access DVR functionality while streaming live TV. This service is currently only available in New York City.

Cable providers also offer their subscribers the ability to watch live programming on mobile devices, albeit with strings attached. Comcast customers can use its Xfinity AnyPlay service to watch live TV on an Apple or Android mobile device. The company charges $10 a month for the AnyPlay kit. But you’re limited to using your home Wi-Fi network to watch most of the channels included in your subscription. When you’re away from home, you only have access to Comcast’s On Demand content. Although you can register up to 10 different devices, Comcast only lets you view content on one device at a time. Time Warner Cable’s TWC TV app offers similar features, though without the monthly subscription.

One option that’s free even if you don’t have a cable subscription: the Home Shopping Network live streams its never-ending parade of product offers on its website and mobile apps.

How often do you stream live TV to your computer or mobile device? Do you see yourself streaming all your TV over the Internet any time soon? Let us know in the comments section below.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert Miller February 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I would like to know how this type of TV stack up against Cable like Charter, DirecTV etc. What type of programing can I get with this package liken to Cable and or directv.

2 John Moore February 7, 2013 at 7:10 am

A placeshifting device like the Slingbox will let you remotely view whatever shows you get at home. With the other live streaming options, you won’t get the level of programming that you would receive through a cable or satellite subscription. But live streaming is a convenient option to watch certain types of programming when you’re away from home.

3 Noah March 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I wish you’d write more articles like this, partner! It’s great.

4 Darren March 20, 2013 at 4:12 am

You forgot the main ‘negative’ aspect that is alluding so many people, the fact that you need fast internet! I live in the sticks so it’s years away.

5 lori March 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I have no cable and I stream Hulu, Amazon prime, play on, red box videos, check out visits from library, I try to do as much free add possible. I also own a Roku box and a leaf antenna. Cable can go take a flying leap!

6 ek thi daayan full movie download April 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Admiring the time and effort you put into your site and in depth
information you present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed
information. Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m
including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

7 donna hurt June 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm

In my case it would be nice to watch a program that would stay tuned in. WE live in a apartment so we cannot put an antenna outside. All the stations are south; we face the north. And then to top it off we are in a bowl with trees all around us. We have the Mohu Leaf and a Roku but sometimes it would be nice to just watch TV. If the are free anyway why not stream them to the computer for free also.

8 VCheney July 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I hate cable and dish. Looking to stream. I am sure once streaming gets popular someone will figure out a way to charge us way to much

9 Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I am playing around with this and cannot stream anything to my PC unless I choose the internet provider!! In some cases the internet provider is not shown on the list??? Thus no live streaming!

10 RealPlayer Team July 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

Please provide us some more information to assist you further.

11 ted July 28, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Can’t stream unless provider of internet not cable (TV) is selected. No options!!

12 RealPlayer July 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm

What are you trying to do? Stream Internet video on a TV?

13 Hal Kufahl September 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

Here is where you can save alot of money on cable, satellite or u-verse, all you need is a high speed internet, which most people now have. There are 3 really good services available, Netflix, Hulu Plus and now Amazon Prime.
Netflix has the most movies, Hulu has the most TV series and Prime has both and continues to get more along with purchase and rent options. They all have their pluses and minuses. I know that Hulu and Prime offer a 30 day free trial, not sure that Netflix has any trial period. Netflix cost $7.99 a month, Hulu is $7.99 a month and Prime is $79 a year. Prime includes 2 day shipping on all items they sell that are marked as Prime, which are almost all items sold directly from the Amazon marketplace, not their partners, they also offer a free Kindle book each month (a $10 value).
All stream very well (I am locate in Vietnam for work and need a VPN to allow access), even through a VPN. Hulu has an ever increasing amount of commercial ads, but it has the most ABC, NBC, CBC and FOX network shows, while Netflix and Amazon have none. Netflix and Hulu and many of their own shows, that can only be seen on their stream. All 3 offer many TV series from England and Europe. you will need an over the air antenna to get local sports. I get the NFL package for outside North America, it is $200, in NA you can get a complete replay for $69. If you are currently paying $150+ a month $ you can get 80% of everything that is offered for your $1800, for far less than $500 for the year.
When I return to the US, my U-verse will be going away. (Not yet, as my Daughter and Son in Law are not yet ready for the change.
Signup for the free trials and see what you think.
PS the new smart TVs offer streaming and no need for a computer, Song Blu-Ray palyers have the most Intenet stream, Roku allows Netflix, Hulu, You Tube and others in a streater that is about 3″x3″x1-1/2″.

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