Now anyone with a high-speed Internet connection can find out what's on TV, watch a favorite show online, and read about the stars that make it great. In this guide, you'll learn about the history of television, how to find reviews, and how to keep your kids safe while watching cable. You can even learn about the pixels and wires that make the whole thing work.
Although there's a wealth of entertaining and informative content on TV, there is also no shortage of bad programming. With so much available, and an ever-rotating lineup of new favorites, it can be hard to keep track. Never fear: we've compiled a list of resources-including valuable advice from major media sources, blogs, and more-to help you figure it out.
- A great place to go for reviews and advice on what to watch is the arts section of your favorite paper. The "Television" section of the New York Times offers TV news, reviews and recaps, as well as a guide to weekly programming. The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times (to name a few), offer similar resources.
- Awards like the Emmys and the Golden Globes are given to the best shows and actors on television. Review the lists of nominees and winners to watch the best of the best-at least according Hollywood insiders.
- Bloggers are on top of the latest shows and tend to be quite opinionated. Visit blogs for enthusiastic, humorous and sometimes sarcastic reviews of the latest shows. Yes, tastes differ, but as you begin to read a few blogs regularly, you'll figure out which author's opinions align mostly closely with your own.
For reviews ..
brings original perspective to the entertainment industry by covering the latest television news, reviewing new shows, and supplying photography. The "Best Bets" section is similar to the Times' "What's On Tonight?" as it gives an overview of the evening's programming with advice about what to watch. The "Ratings" section has weekly and seasonal Nielsen ratings, commentary, program listings, and more.
is part of the massive TV show information portal presented by CNET Networks Entertainment. Although the site focuses on program rankings generated by user reviews, each show has a page with links to summaries, cast information, related news stories, episode lists, videos, pictures, and more.
rates and ranks shows by compiling reviews from other sources in a fashion similar to that of the popular film criticism Web site RottenTomatoes.com
. Use the table of contents on the left side of the page to locate shows and reviews.
For awards ...
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
has an "Awards" link at the top of the page that allows you to peruse the Emmy Award's nominees and winners across all categories. The Emmys honor excellence in television, and are the equivalent to Oscars in film. Download a PDF of last season's winners
here to find out what's worth watching.
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
is the creator and organizer of the Golden Globe Awards, given for television and film. On the left side of this page are categories in which you'll find information on winners and nominees, the history of the awards, video clips, and more. Some fun, interactive portions of the site include photo and video galleries as well as a "Trivia" link
, which explains the history of the award show.
Screen Actors Guild Awards
is an awards ceremony created by one of the major acting unions, wherein only actors vote. Thus film and TV actors are awarded based on the opinions of their colleagues. The most interesting and useful section of the site is the "Nominations" section
, which contains the details of past winners across the different categories
For blogs ...
is a blog developed by Time magazine's television and media critic. It covers developments from TV and online video blogs with humor, wit, and genuine insight. Discussions include reviews of new shows, previews of upcoming series, commentary on the news, and more. You'll also find hyperlinks to other valuable articles published by reputable media sources.
From Inside the Box
is Zap2it's blog. Like all blogs it covers news, rumors, and the Hollywood buzz, and it tends to be snarky in its commentary. While here, you'll also find links to the other blogs hosted by Zap2it: "It Happened Last Night," "TV Gal," "Gossip Girl" and "Blogger Central" are all featured on the top navigation bar and offer different perspectives of TV culture and news.
The New York Times
"Screens" blog covers the realm where the Internet and television collide. Use it to stay current on developments related to the booming world of online video.
For a directory of TV blogs ...
aggregates the best TV blog posts from around the Web and hosts them in one place. Not only is this a good place to find an entertaining article, but it is also a great resource for discovering new and entertaining blogs. Visit the "Cool Stuff" section for interactive blogging: you can join a live discussion, watch the news ticker, visit the RSS feed, recommend a great TV blog, or add your own blog to the site.
With so much to choose from, it's easy to forget when a show is airing. This section of the guide helps you figure out what's on when, so you can schedule your downtime around the shows you don't want to miss-use this to catch your favorite comedies, to plan your party on the night of the big game, or to find out when you can see a rerun of a broadcast you missed.
- If you find that you've missed your favorite shows, or won't be able to watch them when they air initially, visit the "Watch TV Online" section of this guide to learn about catching broadcasts on your own time via the Web.
- If you want to find out what's happening on a specific channel, visit its Web site online for a comprehensive list of programming. For example, visit abc.com for specific show times.
- Most digital television providers, like Comcast and RCN, offer on-demand services, which allow you to watch movies and shows at your convenience. If you're not sure whether or not you are equipped for this, call your cable provider for more information on how to access it, or to sign up for the service.
For listings ...
is one of the most well known sources for program listings. Fortunately, it now offers all of its information for free online. Simply enter your location and specify your cable provider, and TV Guide will produce an easy-to-browse list of shows and air-times.
has a program schedule powered by the Web site Zap2it. Listings can be gathered by selecting location and service provider, and results can be filtered by show type, date, and time. The schedule appears in a chart with color-coded boxes differentiating family shows, news, sports, and movies.
Ever watch a show and say to yourself, "I know that actor, but where have I seen him?" The Web makes watching TV a richer experience, allowing you to do some background research into your favorite shows, actors, directors, scriptwriters and more. Research all of the Hollywood resumes that interest you, or read a recap of a show you missed. Use some of the sites provided to research the origins and history of television-including how it works and what early TV sets looked like, for example.
- If you want to learn about a show that's still running, and know which station it airs on, visit the show's official homepage. To do this, either enter the show's name into a traditional search engine, or go to the network homepage for a link to the show.
- If you miss an episode and can't catch it online, visit the episode guides provided by most show homepages. These guides summarize recent plot developments, and are a good way to keep up with a series if you've missed a show or two.
To research shows and actors ...
Internet Movie Database TV
offers encyclopedic coverage of any TV series. Although best known for reviewing films
, the TV coverage here is just as thorough as the original IMDB film site. Each show's page has an overview, cast details (with comprehensive bios for all actors), and nearly all the facts and figures you'd want, such as release date, user reviews and ratings information. You can contribute your own reviews or write on a message board to keep the information flowing.
, previously mentioned as part of the CNET Network, is a massive portal of information on TV-covering history as well as reviews and schedules. While the site focuses on program rankings (which are generated by user reviews), you can get lots of background information on each show by visiting its individual page. You'll find links to summaries, cast information, related news stories, episode lists, videos, pictures, and more.
For episode recaps ...
Television Without Pity
offers full episode recaps for a long list of both active and canceled shows. The recaps are detailed, multi-page summaries that read with an informal tone typical of blogs.
For how the television works ...
How Stuff Works
is the perfect place to go for a layman's introduction to the science and technology that make television sets one of the most influential inventions of the 20th century. This multi-part guide covers the details of cathode ray tubes, TV pixels, phosphors, black and white signals, color TV, satellite TV, digital TV, and much more.
For television history ...
The Early Television Museum
chronicles the progress of early television sets from the mechanical television systems of the 1920s to the first color sets. The TV History section has links to sites with further reading on the history of television.
The Museum of Television
offers this Web site, full of flash animation for viewers of all ages. The site is divided into five sections: "Television in Quotes," "Television in the World of Tomorrow," "The Pioneers of Television," "Timeline of Television History," and "3D Interactive Gallery."
The days of scrambling home from school, cutting dinners short, or not making plans on the night of your favorite show are a thing of the past. With nothing more than a standard Internet browser (that's right, no annoying plug-ins to download) you can surf your way to quality programming using your mouse as the remote.
- ABC, NBC, and CBS all have high-quality video players showing each station's top shows. And don't miss, of course, the ever-expanding YouTube universe. As you download a show to watch, however, press pause and let the video load fully before you watch it; otherwise, you'll have to deal with choppy streaming and slow-moving images.
- The shows you watch will likely be interrupted by advertising spots about three times per episode. You'll notice upon opening the player that you can watch individual episodes only until the next commercial. To combat this, try fast-forwarding from commercial to commercial or watching all of them first, and then returning to the beginning to view the whole episode.
- If you're a video-blogger, budding director, pod-caster, or producer, you should explore independent television as a way to broadcast your work.
For network programming ...
has a recently upgraded, high-quality video player on which you can watch full-screen clips and episodes from your favorite ABC shows. Episodes from hit shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy, along with reality series like Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor, air online the day after their TV debuts. You can generally watch the five or six most recent episodes of each series, which allows you to get up to speed on shows you didn't catch from the beginning. Click on the "full episodes" tab at the top of the homepage.
provides viewers with full-length episodes of the network's prime-time shows, and extras and expanded coverage from other NBC shows. For example, the antics of Late Night host Conan O'Brien are captured via a number of video clips, a message board, blog, and more. New shows are posted at 5 PM ET following their network debut.
's Innertube not only offers complete episodes of top shows like CSI (in all its alterations), NUMB3RS, and Survivor, but it brings you episodes of CBS News, a limited selection of movies, specials (like the Grammys), daytime soaps, and much more. CBS.com has the largest range of online programming of any major network.
For independent online television ...
is an indie media site cofounded by former U.S. vice president Al Gore. Instead of traditional shows, this site airs "pods," which are short, democratically selected, clip-based programs. At present, 30% of the pods on CurrentTV are user-submitted, in line with Gore's vision to create a channel that gives a voice to individuals. Join the movement and be one of many furthering this new form of broadcasting.
is another online television distribution site that draws content from all over the entertainment spectrum, covering broadcasting by major networks and independent film makers alike. By downloading the Veoh "Player," users can watch HD-quality Veoh programming on their own time.
lets viewers download or stream episodes from any of its programs. Content is extremely accessible, as it's available across a variety of platforms and formats.
For international television ...
is a directory of free international television stations. Azerbaijanis craving a taste of home will delight in knowing they can stream Gunaz TV directly to their desktop. Not to feel left out, Slovenian, Serbian, British, and Spanish folks alike will find home-cooked broadcasting only a click away.
is a directory of live TV Web casts from around the globe. Enter the site, and on the column on the left you'll see a running list of country names, followed by the number of stations available for viewing. Ignore the centrally placed Google ads and explore 92 British stations and nearly 600 American channels, organized by region. After selecting your desired country, click the station name to open a viewing window and watch away.
For streaming stations galore ...
is a free TV site that streams stations from around the world. Unlike the previous two directories, channelchooser's stations are arranged by genre, not country. News, entertainment, movies, reality, music, and more are at your disposal, and stations are arranged so that you can easily find the type of programming you seek.
For a directory of other resources ...
had a post in June 2007 detailing "33 Ways to Watch Free TV Online." This is your definitive guide to online video on the Web, as it includes video sharing sites, TV stations, and video hosting sites.
Questionable content and extended viewing hours have made television the subject of much debate, particularly with respect to how it impacts developing children. In this section, we'll point you to studies of the effects of television on children, and give you some advice on monitoring and controlling what your children watch.
- Because the Internet makes it easier to download and watch programs online, the computer is quickly becoming another medium you should monitor as your child develops. Be mindful of what your kids are watching both on the TV and on their computers.
- Having basic familiarity with what's on TV helps you decide what you want your child to watch. Reading the reviews listed earlier in this guide can help you to determine if material is appropriate.
For information on the effects of TV on kids ...
American Academy of Pediatrics
is one of the foremost authorities on the role of television in child development. This site has an overview of the subject, accompanied by a list of things parents can do to foster good television-watching practices for their children.
provides an overview of how television affects children. The article covers the correlation between childhood obesity and hours spent watching television. It also addresses the effect of watching violence on TV, and includes guidelines for healthy habits you can instill in your child.
University of Michigan Health System
published this article, which outlines the effects of television on children. The article is presented in a similar format as the discussion from KidsHealth.org, though it takes more of a medical perspective. The article is filled with statistics and complete citations, offering a cautionary view on the negative effects of too much TV on young viewers.
For parental controls ...
Cable in the Classroom
and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association present this site, designed to teach parents how to control the programming their children see on digital cable. In the "Controls" section
there's an introduction to parental controls and the ways in which you can program your cable to restrict certain types of shows. The "Choice" section
serves as a guide to family and kid-suitable programming, and the "Education" section
helps you to learn more about the issue.
The TV Parental Guidelines
provides a detailed breakdown of the television rating system. This site explains what type of content to expect.
For consumer information ...
(Federal Communications Commission) provides consumer facts about children's educational television. In addition to providing an overview of the Children's Television Act of 1990, the site addresses core programming, commercial time limits, and programming obligations.
Need a new cable provider and want to ensure that you're getting the service that's right for you? Use the following links to research the cable companies in your area. By scrutinizing each service, you can get the channel selection you want at the price that fits your budget.
- You can learn a lot by asking the people in your area what their experiences have been: ask your neighbors, landlord, or real estate agent for some advice-they may already know the ins and outs of local plans and the best rates in your area. Providers do not necessarily offer the same prices or quality of service nationwide.
- Here's a list of the nation's premier satellite and cable television providers. On their Web sites you can learn the details of these respective services and what they offer.
' "What to Consider When Selecting a Satellite TV Provider" does just what its title promises. At the bottom of the page there are related articles, such as "Direct TV vs. Dish Network-Which is better?" and "Satellite TV vs. Cable TV-Which is best?" Read up on which service fits best with your needs.
is a nonprofit organization that rates and reviews all sorts of products a consumer might need, including cable providers. Most of the site's content requires a subscription (about $6 monthly or $19 per year), but so much worthwhile information is provided that you might find the fee worthwhile-the savings you can incur from this site can more than make up for the subscription fee if you use it consistently.
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