Complete Guide To Watch TV Online Almost Free and Saving Thousands

I was fed up!

Paying Rs. 600-700 every month on DTH subscription to only watch a few shows and movies felt expensive.

More so, when most of the videos that I watch are on YouTube.

But I didn’t want to miss out on the few TV shows I watch, and I definitely didn’t want to watch videos all the time on my mobile phone.

I figured that it is now possible to live without a cable connection and still not miss any of my favourite TV shows.

Basically, I can watch TV online completely free.

Almost all Indian TV channels are now streaming their shows online and anyone with a smartphone, good wifi connection and a streaming dongle can get all their shows on TV for free.

The requirements for free online TV are the following :

  1. Good internet connection
  2. Video streaming dongle or Smart TV
  3. Streaming apps

1. Good Internet Connection

For a good video streaming experience, the primary requirement is a fast and stable internet connection available through a Wifi router.
This can be either through a Wifi broadband connection (Airtel, Hathway, ACT) or a 4G mobile internet router (Jio, Airtel MiFI).

The first important factor when it comes to the internet connection is speed. Services like Netflix recommend minimum 1.5Mbps speed for streaming of video content. And For HD quality this goes up to 5 Mbps.

These are average speeds of some broadband networks in India in 2018:

  • Airtel – 6.64Mbps
  • ACT – 20.34Mbps
  • Hathaway – 19.94 Mbps

These are average speeds of some 4G mobile internet networks in India in 2018:

  • Jio – 21.3Mbps
  • Airtel – 8.8Mbps
  • Vodafone – 7.2 Mbps
  • Idea – 6.8 Mbps

As you can see above, almost every broadband or 4G network can give you the recommended speed for HD quality streaming.

The second important factor after speed is stability. Even if you have a fast internet connection, if you regularly have disconnections or drops then you will find it difficult to use any of the video streaming services.

Hence, it’s essential to use a good quality broadband router or a dedicated 4G hotspot device like Jio portable router in case you are using 4G (instead of using portable wifi hotspot of your smartphone).

Do remember that you might have to upgrade your data/broadband plan if you plan to watch a lot of content online.

2. Smart TV or Video-Streaming Dongle

In case you already have a Smart TV which lets you install apps on it or cast content from your smartphone skip to step 3.

If not, then you can easily convert your existing LCD/LED TV to a smart TV with a video streaming dongle.

The dongle is a device which acts as a setup box and connects your TV to the WiFI network.

The most popular streaming dongles in the market are the following :

Amazon Fire Stick (recommended)

Amazon Firestick

Firestick is an Amazon product available for ₹ 3900. It comes pre-loaded with a lot of streaming apps like Hotstar, TVF, AltBalaji (find a complete list of apps here).
The best feature about Firestick is the ability to install apps. This means that you can install almost any streaming app into the Firestick device and see content on TV without the need of your smartphone.

Firestick also comes with a voice-enabled remote which makes it much easier to switch between content and different streaming apps.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Firestick.

Buy Amazon Firestick here

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Slightly cheaper than Firestick at ₹ 2,999 but equally capable. If you have an Android smartphone, then Chromecast works seamlessly as an extension to your phone screen by helping your mirror your screen or ‘cast’ any photo or video through your smartphone apps. Both Firestick and Chromecast are quite capable of streaming video content to your TV. The main difference lies in the fact that you can install apps on Firestick but you cannot do the same in Chromecast.

You will have to install the streaming apps that you want to use on your smartphone and then ‘cast’ the video to your Chromecast.

This can get very annoying after a while if you have limited phone space or do not like installing too many apps on your phone.

The only reason you should buy a Chromecast is if you use Youtube a lot. Youtube has seamless support with Chromecast which is not available with Amazon Fire Stick.

Apart from the above two options, if you already have an Android Enabled smart TV, you can enjoy Streaming TV though I will not recommend selling your existing LCD/LED TV just to get this feature. The above options are good enough.

Buy Chromecast on Flipkart here.

3. Streaming Apps

Here is the list of streaming apps (both Free & Paid) which you can use for streaming content in India :

YouTube

The king of all streaming apps. You can find all sort of content here – Web series, Vlogs, Old Serials, Movies (some paid and some free).

  • Subscription Cost – Free
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

HotStar

Hotstar has the most exhaustive list of Indian movies and serials. You can find all the popular Star Network content available here for free viewing. About 70% of the content on this app is free. Only a few movies and international series (like Game of Thrones) are available as premium/paid content.

  • Subscription Cost – Basic pack free with Premium subscription at ₹ 999/per year
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has a decent mix of Indian and International movies and serials with a few exclusive series created for only Prime Video audience. Prime Video is a great option which comes practically free with Amazon Prime subscription.

  • Subscription Cost – Free with Amazon Prime Subscription (₹ 999/per year)
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – No
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Netflix

Netflix is the definitive app if you love watching international content. It has the most extensive library of movies, series, documentaries of all the apps. Netflix is also the only app on this list which provides multi-user support (upto 4 profiles). This is very useful in maintaining multiple viewing profiles for each member of the home (documentaries for dad, soap operas for mom and cartoon for kids).

  • Subscription Cost – From ₹ 500-800/month (1st month free)
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Sony LIV

Sony LIV gives you access to all Sony Network Content from channels like Sony, Colors, SAB TV. You can also find a good deal of Sporting content like cricket, football, basketball and more. Just like Hotstar, most of the content is free, but if you want to stream live channels in HD or watch a popular movie, you might have to take the premium subscription.

  • Subscription Cost – Basic pack free with ₹99/month for Premium
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Eros Now

If you are an Indian movie buff (Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood etc.) then this is the app for you. Eros Now has the largest library of Indian movies across multiple languages – Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam.

  • Subscription Cost – From ₹ 49-99/month
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Notable mentions

These two apps though very useful, do not make the main list as they do not support streaming to a TV.

Jio TV

If you have a JIO connection then you can use Jio TV on your phone to get live streaming of almost all Indian TV channels for free (550+ Channels)
Jio TV does not support Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick, but there is a workaround by which you can make it work on your Firestick or SmartTV.

Keep in mind that you will need an active Jio Mobile Connection for the app to work.

  • Subscription Cost – Free for Jio mobile network users
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes (with Android APK)
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – No
  • Downloadable content – No
  • Original Content – No

Airtel TV

Airtel TV is same as Jio TV but for Airtel Mobile Postpaid & V-Fiber Broadband plan. It fetches content from libraries of Eros Now, Sony LIV and HOOQ and has a fair amount of live streaming and catalogued content though nowhere close to Jio’s content library.

  • Subscription Cost – Free for Airtel Postpaid mobile users
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – No
  • Downloadable content – No
  • Original Content – No

Once you get used to the flexibility of watching online TV you can easily save more than 50% of your monthly DTH/cable cost per month. You will save thousands per year at the same time get total control of your entertainment.

Did I miss any app or any other way of watching TV?

Tell me in comments.

Soumitra Sengupta


Soumitra is a digital marketer who loves experimenting with money, fitness and tech hacks.