Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation
Television broadcasting goes all-digital as of June 12, 2009, but if you don't yet have the right equipment for the switch, never fear. Thanks to some snappy young websites, you can watch many of your favorite shows whenever you want—all you need is a computer.
Site-Specific: Since launching last year, Hulu.com, a joint venture of NBC and Fox, has built a deep library from some 140 providers (including Comedy Central, PBS, and the Food Network). It's also gained competitors, including TV.com (from CBS), Fancast.com (Comcast), and Joost.com (CBS and Viacom). Not only are all these sites free, but the ad breaks are shorter (typically about 15 seconds) and less frequent than on the tube.
Help Wanted? If you're bewildered by the sheer volume of online TV offerings, the pop-culture-obsessed editors at Joost can narrow the field with their staff picks and memory-jogging clip roundups (like favorite sitcom dads for Father's Day). Or other viewers can be your guides: TV.com posts a daily list of its top 10 most-streamed shows as well as real-time polling data (FYI, 63 percent of Bones fans are female).
Appointment Viewing: If you forget to set your TV's DVR, no worries: Both CBS.com and ABC.com post episodes 24 hours after they first air. Alongside brand-new shows, CBS also features vintage fare like Twin Peaks, Family Ties, and Melrose Place.
Now You're Hooked: Watching TV via your computer doesn't mean you have to be stuck with a smaller screen. If you have a Netflix membership, you can spring for a Roku player ($99; Roku.com): It looks like a mini cable box, and once it's connected to your TV, any of the thousands of shows and movies available on Netflix and Amazon for instant online viewing can also light up your TV set. The Apple TV box ($229; Apple.com) will work the same magic for content from iTunes.
From the June 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!