If you’ve missed your favorite show because you lack a digital video recorder (DVR), or you forgot to turn on your DVR, take heart. Chances are you may be able to find the show online. Most networks are now offering opportunities for people to watch TV online, at least with their most popular shows. Sometimes, shows doing poorly in the ratings are also available, since they can establish a larger fan base if they’re watched online. You can also watch portions of programs online through sites like YouTube, though occasionally, watching TV on non-network sites actually violates copyright laws.
As Internet connections have become faster, the ability to watch TV online has become much more feasible. Yet at this point, you can’t pick up a TV guide and watch TV on the Internet according to the regular schedule, though some believe we’re not far from this advancement. Efforts to convert all TV to online viewing, as well as efforts to translate Internet services to the television, have been underway for years. In the near future, you might be able to watch the same shows that are airing on TV, on streaming video online.
You may not be able to watch TV online without paying. Very popular shows like Lost may charge you for podcast versions of the show. Programs showing up on premium channels like HBO are also not available for free. Yet the average sitcom may be available on the Internet, through the network’s Internet site, for no charge.
You do however, have to sit through commercial breaks, and usually can’t fast forward through them, as you can do with a DVR. The good news is that these breaks are often much shorter than those offered on regular television. Frequently, just one advertiser sponsors the show; so commercial breaks are far less intrusive than they are on “regular” television.
In these early stages of offering some shows online, many people wonder if the networks are attempting to figure out how to make this more profitable. Ultimately, there’s a good chance that networks will find a way to charge viewers of popular shows instead of offering the ability to watch TV online for free. There also may be some conflict to the networks if free TV becomes too popular. If you can watch TV on the Internet with fewer commercials, why sit down to watch regular TV at all?
Many theorize that Internet TV will not replace the home TV. Unless you have a huge computer screen, it’s simply not as comfortable to watch TV online. Small laptops won’t replace the latest enormous flat or plasma screen, and especially family programs would be hard to watch on many of the smaller computer monitors. Yet, for now, if you’re really kicking yourself that you missed your favorite show, do check with the network’s Internet site. You may need to pay for the privilege of catching up, but you also might get lucky and get to watch TV online free, with minimal commercial interruptions.