The Internet used to be a place where users could find an infinite amount of entertainment and information for free, but that world is disappearing fast.
Many sites that once let users download and listen to music for free like Napster, Kazaa and Audiogalaxy are now defunct or pay-only. Similarly, several of the biggest newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday have decided to charge users for access to much of their online content. Even YouTube, a site that mostly features videos created by users is gradually boosting the number of videos that users must pay to “rent.”
Yet, the definitive case may be that of Hulu, one of the most popular sites on the Web to watch TV shows and movies for free. Hulu has been both a dream and a curse for many users. The site was created by NBC and News Corp (Stock Quote: NWS) and had the blessing of the major networks to play shows for free, with a few ads stuck in for good measure. While other sites closed down or started charging for their content, Hulu appeared to be a brilliant safe haven for Internet users. But in recent months, there had been a lot of speculation about how long Hulu would continue to offer up the best of cable television for free before switching to a pay-only model.
Finally, the company recently announced that they would try to have it both ways. Users now have the option to pay $10 a month for a premium version of the site, which grant access to all of the episodes from past and current seasons of network shows from ABC, NBC, Fox and others. By comparison, the free site only allows users to watch the most recent few episodes from any given show (usually about five episodes). It may not be a pay-only site yet, but Hulu is definitely stretching its motto of “Watch your favorites. Anywhere. For Free.”
Now, at MainStreet, we write a lot about small businesses very often, so we obviously believe that companies have the right to set the price point for their content and, perhaps more importantly, the people who create that content should be compensated for it. But as consumers, it is still a bit unnerving to see the Internet move away from a free model. So we’ve collected a few of the sites out there where you can still get something for nothing.
Here are five of the best sites where you can enjoy many of your favorite TV shows, sporting events and movies for free.