What is that supposed to mean?
If the video is up there on the web, it must be free, right?
Well, no. Everything isn’t free.
Some videos are free to watch and free to download. Some are free, but have commercials interspersed. Some you can download for free, but can’t watch online. Then there’s another category of paid subscription or pay-per-view, premium class online video services. Don’t expect to find first-run Hollywood movies for free online anytime soon. It’s not in their nature to just give it away.
Let’s skip those for now, and just concentrate on what IS free to watch, and possibly free to download. There’s a lot of that available.
Some of those will be pornography sites, so be warned.
SEARCHING FOR THE BEST FREE ONLINE VIDEO SITES
Because there is so much video available on the Internet, zeroing in on what you want can seem daunting at first. We’ll try to smooth out that process by suggesting some of the more popular sites that let you watch videos for free online. From there, you’ll have a jumping off point to discover even more of what the Internet has to offer.
|It’s A Video World
Once you find free videos online, use RealPlayer to download them to your computer and watch them any time. Simply hover over the top right corner of the video as it’s playing and click on the Download This Video option.
One obvious technique is to type “free videos” into your search engine and see what comes up. You’ll literally get hundreds of millions of hits. Most search engines have a specific Videos category to refine the pursuit, but you’re still faced with an overwhelming amount of choices.
A streamlined version of that tactic is to look at aggregators of video resources. OVGuide, GigantiCo and MeFeedia are three of the more popular online video guides. They either break the content down to categories with links to specific websites, or actually play the videos on their website.
Although not quite the same aggregator model, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Google has their version of video search. Google Videos is a reasonable way to track down free videos on specific subjects from a variety of sources. Of course a good many of those leads point to a particular website.
THE EIGHT HUNDRED POUND GORILLA
That of course is YouTube, owned by Google. When the subject is watching free videos online, they simply can’t be avoided. It’s difficult to report up to the minute usage statistics, but without a doubt they are the largest online video website by a factor of three.
YouTube started by offering a simple way for individuals to upload their own homemade videos so anyone in the world can watch for free. The value of some of that content is sometimes questionable, but that’s the freedom the Internet offers, and it shouldn’t be any other way.
As a caution, you should also understand that some video content might not have all the legal rights and clearances required. This is especially important if your intent is to both watch and download.
YouTube has since grown to the point of developing its own channels for original productions, and has partnerships with several major Hollywood studios to provide streaming movies. Whether these will be free or some pay per view or subscription plan remains to be seen.
EVERY KIND OF VIDEO CONTENT IS AVAILABLE
The subject matter you’re looking for obviously has a bearing on the kind of website to search for. Luckily most of the top free video websites carry a wide range of topics, broken into categories that make is easy for you to find what you want.
Entertainment in the form of movies, television programs, music video is something we just can’t get enough of. Happy to oblige because user traffic is what advertisers want to see, several good sites provide this content for free viewing. Downloading is a different matter, and each has policies or technical barriers about that.
Before moving on with the more entertainment-oriented, general web sites, I want to mention Khan Academy. It’s definitely on the scholarly side, containing a truly vast array of academic and professional subject matter. All free to watch and download.
GENERAL-PURPOSE WEBSITES TO WATCH VIDEOS FOR FREE
I’m using the term general-purpose because these sites cover so much territory when it comes to content. Dailymotion is one. It carries what have become the standard set content categories: movie trailers, TV clips, music video, sports, games, news, celebrities, technology and even anime.
Dailymotion is also following the trend to link users to social sharing sites, especially Facebook and Twitter. They want you not only to watch their free videos, but registering with them allows you to upload and share your personal videos on the site, plus connects you into deeper layers social networking features. “Watch – Publish – Share” is their motto.
Metacafe is another popular site. I particularly like their easy access to free movie trailers. Metacafe is structured in a similar fashion to Dailymotion, with similar content. They also have the same desire to sign you up as a member, so sharing can be a two-way street.
No, I didn’t log in with Facebook.
I only emphasize this push for social networking because it seems to be so prevalent. Not only is sharing going on within a given social website like Facebook, but more and more websites of all types are asking you to connect with them through those social sites.
It really is becoming a ‘web.’
Yahoo Screen tries to crossover a bit from Dailymotion and Metacafe by offering much of the same fare of movie trailers, TV shows, sports, lifestyle, gaming, etc. But they also venture deeper into more serious news, world events and financial content. Yahoo gets some of its programming from Hulu, and displays ties to ABC News.
The number of websites and the quantity of free video content available online really is astounding. One thing that becomes apparent quickly is the overlap of the same content, and the interlinking connections sites have with each other to access movies, TV shows, news and even homemade content. Evidently there is a lot of cooperative competition on how content is made available.
It’s their version of sharing – big time.
SPECIALIZED VIDEO SITES
If you want to “See Music Play,” VEVO is the site for you. Not only is it a beautiful website, playing very high quality music videos from a huge catalog, it has simple and direct navigation to find what you want quickly. VEVO will even scan your iTunes library; “…to get a better sense of your music tastes and then we will create a custom video playlist for you.”
Again, the encouragement to participate in social sharing seems to go hand in hand with many of these free video websites.
Speaking of social sharing networks, Facebook itself is one of the largest sites to watch videos for free. Of course membership is mandatory here. This is definitely more of a personalized way of watching videos. It’s easy to upload videos or its link, and you can specify if you want this viewed publically or only certain individuals or groups.
Vimeo calls itself “A respectful community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the video they make.” They live up to that aspiration by offering some of the most beautiful, innovative and high quality content for you to watch free online today. You can upload and share your videos too. But there are strict guidelines for content, and free uploading has technical and storage limitations. Vimeo has paid Plus and Pro tiers where content creators have more services and fewer constraints.
LET’S ALL GO TO THE MOVIES
Yes, I know that’s what you’ve wanted to learn about all along. How can I watch free movies online? Hulu and Crackle are your two best bets. Everything on Crackle is free, while Hulu offers both free movies and a monthly subscription service for $7.99 called Hulu Plus. That gets you unlimited instant streaming and a larger and more recent selection of titles. Both Hulu and Crackle also offer an assortment of television programming. Some shows as recent as yesterday’s broadcast.
Be wary of websites that claim to offer the latest Hollywood movies to watch and download for free. There’s going to be a catch.
FREE TELEVISION ON THE INTERNET
Although several of the sites noted above do provide free viewing of TV shows, you should know that the broadcast and cable networks offer their programing online. I won’t go into the variations among all of them. Within their respective genre, they are more similar than different. Here’s some of the obvious names: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Bravo, CNN, History Channel and MSNBC.
A WORLD FULL OF FREE ONLINE VIDEOS TO WATCH
Sources for watching videos for free online are seemingly endless. True, there is a lot of pure dreck up on the web. But nobody is forcing you to watch. The Internet makes it possible for people to use video in unique ways to be entertained, keep informed and express their unique talents.
Let me know what sites are favorites to watch videos for free by leaving a comment below.