Saturday, September 10, 2011

Watching Fall TV Shows Without Cable

Since we ditched our cable TV over the summer, we avoided what I call the "Watercooler Issue".
Some TV shows have gained a definite social aspect and are likely to be discussed amongst friends and co-workers soon after they air. You know the ones - "Survivor", "American Idol", those "Real Housewives of Timbuktu" shows.

But if you haven't watched the show that night or at least the next night, you either hear all the spoilers or you just can't join the conversation.

This is a Big Deal for some people. I am one of them.

So with the fall TV season quickly approaching, I began to strategize. Since we have no DVR, I cannot simply record the shows I want to watch later, so I'm left with two choices:

  1. Watch the show live. Gasp! So 1950's!

  2. Leave it to the show's network to record the show, then watch it online later (via laptop hooked to TV with HDMI cable)

I will TRY to use option #1 when possible, but I know for a fact that I already have plans during the premiere of one of my favorite shows, "Dancing with the Stars". This is a show that will be talked about the next day. So I checked ABC's website for when the show will be available for watching online. Turns out ABC is a pretty responsive network, and has the show available online the next day. Score!

But, if you snooze, you lose. ABC takes the shows down after 4 weeks.

I wondered whether other networks had a similar timeframe for making shows available. As it turns out, they do not, and it's not always very easy to find this "timing" on their website. So, lucky you, I'm providing it to you in one place. Enjoy!

When: Shows are available the day after broadcast.
How Long: Shows are available for 4 weeks after broadcast.

When: Shows are available the day after broadcast.
How Long: Unknown (after the fall season starts, I'll figure this out).
Exceptions: There are some shows that are owned by other studios that have requested that they not be available online. So alas, you will not find "Two and a Half Men," "The Mentalist," "Cold Case," or "Without a Trace" online.

When: The majority of our primetime shows become available for viewing online at 4 AM Central time the night of the broadcast. Wow!
How Long: Unknown - but looks like the past 3-9 episodes are available for most shows.


When: Shows are available 3 days after broadcast.
How Long: Unknown - but looks like the past 5-6 episodes are available for most shows.

When: Fox has decided to get in bed with DISH Network (and "more TV Providers coming soon"!). For DISH Network subscribers ONLY, shows are available the day after broadcast. For the rest of us schmucks, they are available a whopping 8 days after broadcast! Epic FAIL, Fox. Give us non-cable folks another option, even if it's fee-based.
How Long: Unknown - but looks like the past 3-8 episodes are available, depending on the shows.

So, other than Fox, the networks have made it fairly easy to keep up with your favorite shows without cable and without DVR.

Now bring on the fall shows!

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