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How to Watch Free TV Shows Online in Canada (or at Least Pay a Lot Less)

How to Watch Free TV Shows Online in Canada (or at Least Pay a Lot Less)

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to pay for TV channels I don’t watch. In fact, I remember having to pay for an extra “package” all because I wanted to watch one channel in particular. Considering the average household pays hundreds of dollars in cable bills, that can quickly add up.

However, all is not lost. If you’re sick of paying hundreds of dollars on cable, there are cheaper options. You can take advantage of online streaming options to watch free TV shows and movies online. It doesn’t require that you give up watching your favourite shows or the local news. Before you can do that though, you’ll need to make sure your TV is set up properly as well as have the right equipment to do so.

How to Set Up Your TV

First, you’ll need to have a high-speed internet connection. Otherwise, you may find that it’ll be hard to stream shows because load times will be slow and stream quality will suffer. Check to make sure you have at least a 5 Mbps connection or talk to your internet provider about upgrading your service. Yes, you may need to pay more, but this extra cost may offset what you’ll be saving on your cable bill.

Once that’s done, you’ll need to make sure your TV can actually stream these shows. If you have a Smart TV, most of the work is done for you. These devices help you connect to the internet and may even apps installed to stream free shows. Also, your TV can mirror content on your smartphone or tablet. What this means is you can access free streaming options on your device and broadcast it on your TV.

If your TV doesn’t offer these options, don’t worry. You can purchase a small device called Roku. This will plug into your TV (as long as you have HDMI capability) and offers streaming apps. It also comes with its own remote to help you search for free content. There’s also Shield TV, which is an Android TV digital media player. You can stream shows from apps and also comes with a remote control.

You could also use your existing computer, smartphone or tablet to stream to your TV. The Google Chromecast is a great device you can plug into your TV to help you wirelessly stream shows so it’s another great option.

Free TV Options

Did you know that more than 30 Canadian networks actually stream full episodes online? If you think about it, these networks make their money from advertisements, not necessarily access to the shows themselves.

Below is a list of Canadian networks that stream shows for free online:

Use an OTA (Over the air) HD Antenna

An OTA antenna is a great option for those who want to watch shows like the local news. You purchase this once, plug one end into your TV and stick the antenna near the window. For most people, an indoor antenna is more than enough. However, not all areas may have good enough reception to receive TV transmissions.

To find out if this option is feasible for you, do a quick search for OTA signal locator to see what it looks like in your area. You can always purchase an OTA HD antenna with a generous refund policy just in case it doesn’t work. Make sure to follow the directions that come with the antenna, which should be relatively straightforward. Best case scenario, it works and you can watch channels you normally do, but now for free.

Cheap, But Not Free Options

There may be shows you can’t find on the free options. If that’s the case, here are some inexpensive options to try out:

Netflix – Stream movies, popular TV shows and Netflix only content for $10.99 a month. You get a free one month trial to see if you like it. There is no contract, so you can cancel anytime you wish.

Crave TV – Find Canadian shows as well as popular American ones, such as HBO shows. Try it out for 30 days, then it’s $79 a year after that.

Prime Video – Owned by Amazon, it’s similar to Netflix in that you get access to thousands of movies and network shows. You get a one month trial, then it’s $7.99 a month.

Plex – This app is free, but buying the PlexPass enables a lot of extra options. You can help you stream on demand as well as live TV options. You can also load DVDs and CDs you’ve converted to digital files onto the app. If you choose to watch live TV, Plex acts as a DVR for any shows you want to watch later. If you want to watch on your mobile, it’ll syncs your content so you can watch shows offline.

Questionable (NOT Recommended) Options

I’m adding this in because some of you may already be using these options to stream free TV shows or movies. That’s cool, but keep in mind that these aren’t recommended because of piracy laws and it’s questionable from a legal standpoint. If you ask around, you may be able to find torrent downloads, where you can grab shows onto your computer.

There are also Kodi streaming addons out there that can be installed on an Android TV box. Although there are official ones that stream paid options, there are many third-party ones that aren’t endorsed by anyone. Sure you can get free shows, but there is the potential for hackers to hijack your device and spy on your streaming activities.

Whichever option you choose, try out the (legal) free options first to see what’s out there before checking out the paid options. You never know, you could find your favourite series or fun new options to watch, saving you hundreds of dollars in the process.


  1. Mélanie S

    I love the CBC website. CTV and Discovery Canada also have a very good lineup of shows available online.

    • Dianne Shaw

      I clicked on a few links and they all want you to sign in. Global wants you to connect with your cable company. CTV the same. The ONLY one I can watch for free is, of course, CBC TV. The CBC is awesome, however, I would certainly like some variety. I guess I should look into an antenna, as I want to only stream legally. My conscious bothers me too much. However, I DO NOT want to sign up with either of the Big Three corporations. We all know who they are. Yes, they ARE a ripoff. That’s why I opted for an android box instead. I was dishonest when I was stealing. I am now looking at other options to SET TV and Terrarium TV. I guess if I have to, I will have to buy separate apps.

      • Scott

        Most of these networks, such as Global and CTV allow you to watch TV for free for new episodes. To watch past and older ones, then you need to sign in with a subscribed to provider.

      • Chris Laws

        Dianne Shaw said, “The ONLY one I can watch for free is, of course, CBC TV. The CBC is awesome…” No Dianne, you are wrong. The CBC is not free. It should be given it takes tax dollars away to broadcast left wing propaganda for news and current affairs programming. The only people who can receive the CBC for free are the people who live close to a CBC transmitter. People who live in places like Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver. The rest of us either have to purchase a cable service or broadband internet. If you live in Thunder Bay, good luck trying to get your “free” CBC. It ain’t gonna happen baby. Even Shaw has given up their free Canadian channel satellite service. In Thunder Bay the only free OTA channels I can get are CTV, Global and TVO and from what I understand I should consider myself lucky. Years ago you could get signals free from the U.S, but the CRTC fought to have the U.S. stations limit their signals in our region. In my opinion it is time for the CBC to close and save taxpayers $$$$$.

        • Linda

          I live in the USA and I love watching Heartland and the only TV station I can get it on is Netflix and that’s only to season 10. I have seen little clips from some of the newer seasons. CBC is blocked here in the u.s.

  2. Marina

    I watch Global, Showcase, CityTV and Space online as well as CTV and CBC. I haven’t watch “real TV” in ages.

  3. cheapo

    i have cable internet so i thought one day i would hook up my incoming line to a splitter and one line out to tv and the other to computer and hey presto it worked!!

  4. 2cheep4words

    BUNDLES!!! Don’t get me started on these money pits! Sign up for a bundle and save on your Internet…for 6 months, then poof your bundle bill goes from $100 to $175 month!

    • Lorie

      I agree with 2cheep4words. I have a bundle and my bill for just internet and tv, my bill is about $175. This is insane and the additional bundles are a rip off because you can’t get just what you want so you would end up paying for the entire bundle even if you only want one channel. So, for me bundling is not saving me any money and hasn’t after the first few months.
      So, I am looking for completely free tv alternatives with new programming.

  5. CndKlassic

    In canada, we seem to always get the short end of stick.
    Online television, is fine but you really need to jerry-rig a hybrid system to get all the content you would with regular cable subscriptions.

    Finally on my own, cable’s not an option. I tried a DIY antenna but only got a few channels. Next step – I’m gonna pickup a NorthVu HD Antenna, Canadian hi-tech company out of Ottawa, I’ve heard good things

    • dave

      VPN server for under $5/month,you just moved from canada to 95 countries in the world with a couple mouse clicks

    • Shannon

      I bought my LG smart tv in the United States but not knowing I wouldn’t have access to all the channel plus streaming features. Does anyone know a way around it? I guess if my tv was Canadian it would work , so I’ve been told. I appreciate any feedback.

  6. J Hindle

    It’s the Canadian government that bothers me when it comes to what media content we have as Canadians. Why not get after the government to stop being over supportive of the protectionist policies of Canadian media providers. Whether it’s books, movies, tv shows or even sports, Canadian corporate providers of those programs and services dictate whether direct provision of those products infringes on their right to make a profit off the Canadian public. So, in the interest of Canadian protectionism, we pay. And we pay. And we pay. Or we don’t receive the product, even though the American company would gladly ship it to us. Sometimes through local providers, sometimes direct.
    I think Canadian business should be a little more inventive than hiding under the umbrella of government. Like most business’s, if they can’t compete directly, either find a new niche, a new approach, a new product, or a new business. Times change, call it progress or whatever, but don’t hold the Canadian public at ransom so private corporations and the like can make a profit.

  7. Gerry

    1. get yourself a asus RT-N16 router
    2. upgrade the firmware to DD-WRT
    3. Sign up with Strong VPN for your American IP address
    4. Once signed up you’ll be able to watch Netflix USA.
    5. Signup with Hulu Plus (by doing the following)
    6. Use your current canadian credit card to pay with. The only thing you have to do is make sure that when you signup you use part of your postal code as your Zip code. Take your Postal code & remove all of the letters. whatever is left (first 3 numbers) is what you use as the start of your zip code. search using google for american zip codes & when you find the one that starts with your first 3 digits look for one that has the last 2 digits. Once you know where that zip code is then find the city and use that city & state when registering with Hulu Plus along with your current street number & street name. All that matters is that your postal code used on your credit card matches up with your address. The software doesn’t recognize the letters in your postal code.
    Now who needs bell or any cable provider & all for $16.00 per month

    • Gerry

      One thing I forgot to mention was that you’ll need a device to connect up to your tv which will allow you to watch Netflix & Hulu Plus. Apple tv is one that will do the job.

    • Constance

      I tried this and HULU won’t let you watch using a proxy vpn. So much for that!

  8. The Satellite Doctor

    You forgot to list free legal satellite TV as an option. With a 36 inch dish and an HD FTA satellite receiver, you can receive about 85 English channels with over 10 of those in HD on Ku Band FTA satellite. If you have room for a bigger dish to receive C band FTA satellite, you can get even more with over 200 additional English channels and over 50 of them in HD.

    In addition to these full time channels, you may also receive temporary “wild feed” channels which don’t appear on the above list but carry many sporting & special events along with breaking news coverage. You may find these channels yourself by rescanning certain satellites on your receiver or by following a few feed hunting groups.

    These channels are unencrypted so they are legally available for free with no monthly subscription and complement nicely the channels you may already receive using an OTA antenna. However unlike OTA, FTA satellite offers near-nationwide coverage which is great for people who have a limited amount of OTA channels available in their area.

  9. Larry

    Enjoyed your clear and consise article. For snowbirds who go to the US for extended periods, you can also watch You Tube TV with excellent channels for about US$35/month. To access it back in Canada, use a VPN such as ExpressVPN for a few more dollars per month.

  10. Paul N

    From what I am told IP TV is not an illegal service. Please direct me to a document or source that refutes this if you know about it. This is offered at many places around. Just do do a web search. After buying your IP box – about $125.00… For $15/month give or take, you blow away practically any other channel lineup you have in Canada.

    I tell you what burned me personally. It was the “pay per channel” fiasco that came and went away quietly a few years ago. People waited years to be able to do this only to be duped by both the CRTC and the cable providers. In typical Canadian fashion, outrage was non existent because we are used to disappointments i guess? This was huge waste of taxpayer money and a great example of how wasteful and inefficient our government can really be.

  11. Sarah

    I had no idea there were so many channels that you could stream for free. I knew CBC and CTV offered that but not many of the others. I’ll be checking that out for sure!

  12. Troy Bombardia

    I’ve been gone from Canada for 3 years, and so much has happened. I’ve pretty much completely stopped watching TV and switched over to Netflix.

  13. Gary G.

    I mainly use a Roku box with paid subscriptions to Filmon UK TV and Netflix as well as dozens of other free Roku Channels.

    I also have an antenna in my 9th floor Toronto Apartment that picks up about 35 OTA channels.

    These are all perfectly legal options in Canada and I find that most of the other garbage I used to get with Expressvu was redundant anyway.

    I also ported my phone service over to Ooma and now I can take my number with me anyplace I might move to in the future.

    If you live anywhere near the GTA these options will end up saving you well over $100 a month if not $200.

    Cutting the cord was the best thing I ever did. Canada’s cable and telco companies are bloated cash whores who are too entitled to actually deal with competition or allow it into this country along with the complicit approval of the rubber stamp CRTC that approves every rate hike.

  14. Andrew Horsnell

    First of all thanks to all of the above for the great information.
    We are with one of the Big 3 (I guess) Satellite cable providers here in Saskatchewan and like everyone else our cable bill has crept up over time and we are getting tired of it.
    I love the idea of OTA but am terribly worried that since we are not in a large metropolitan area like TO or MTL, we may not have that many channels available to us.
    We would love to CUT the cord as they say but are scared to proceed. Oh and we love to watch the Rider games.
    So if anyone has any suggestions that might work for rural settings that would be fantastic.

  15. Bob

    As of Nov 2018 a lot of the channels listed are not available for various reasons. Missing from the list is Knowledge Network (you have to give a BC postal code) but good for docs and some UK TV shows. For news and documentaries with a different viewpoint try and Really good docs, professinal news, not amercentric though. (?) For streaming, I bought a Chrome Cast dongle for my not smart tv, about $50, works great. But today, I renewed my Shaw internet contract. (Last time, 2 years ago, I tried to cancel the tv part, they talked me into keeping basic for $10 a month with box.) This time, I told them I wanted to cancel and they just gave me the service (with a 2 year internet contract.) Ask to speak to the Loyalty Program department if you’re with Shaw. Not sure about the other BC guys.

  16. Lori

    Hi. I too would like to cut the cord, but there is so much information out there that I get too confused. Do Inuse Fire stick, Roku….? Also, I would like a couple of international channels that I pay for now on my satellite tv. Can I get them through streaming? If anyone knows, that would be great.

  17. Gil Ostler

    I have a smart tv and have cut the cable cord. I would like to know how to actually get the channels you mention above on my tv. How can I down load the correct App to my TV? I have an older laptop ( Mac) and have no way to transfer the App to my smart TV. Can you offer any suggestions?

  18. D-S

    I have the city tv app, but I don’t know how I can stream on my smart tv! I understand there are options for streaming free, I just can’t figure out how to do that on the TV, iPad and iPhone I can do. Just not smart tv. Help!

  19. Paul

    Unfortunately with the million dollar grants that Trudeau has given the Canadian networks for favorable coverage of himself and his criminal party, Canadians are subjected to more than a little left wing propaganda. In essence, the Canadian public pays for the privilege of Liberal party and globalist brain washing through domestic television channels (and news outlets). They don’t call it “programming” for nothing!

  20. Joseph

    CTV, CBC and CityTV suck. The shows always stop when certain ads come on when streaming. CityTV is the worse.

  21. Ryan

    I was hoping for more from this article..

    Here is a couple Links TO STREAM LIVE TV FREE:
    (Really free! Not free trial, or temp membership. No credit cards or login B.S.)

    Free US TV Stations (HBO, History, FX, Nat Geo, — All premium pay channels)

    Free World wide (many countries catalogued)

    This works for me in Canada. Now I’ve got access to the American network not offered in Canadain cable pkgs. I watch them on an old iPad2 (2011). I don’t have a special VPN or added pop up blockers and cast to TV.

    You can thank me later!! enjoy the links! ????

  22. Nancy

    Ryan does your advice allow for live streaming TV channels? Like perhaps ABC or cbc or ctv news at 6.

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