There's more to 21st-century TV than the shows in your cable guide. The Internet is full of entertaining, informative and educational programming, some paid and much of it free, if you know where to look.
See Also: Stream video throughout your home.
Netflix is a good place to start. While the company's DVD-by-mail subscription service is still available (starting at $7.99/month), the video streaming service has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Netflix offers an impressive selection of movies and TV shows, though there are still many choices available on DVD that aren't available for online viewing. The service's popularity has led to widespread availability: you can tap into the Netflix library through your computer as well as most smart TVs and Blu-ray players, video streaming devices, iPads, gaming consoles and even some phones. Netflix online access costs $7.99/month; you can try it free for one month by visiting www.netflix.com.
There are also several pay-per-program services available, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and CinemaNow. Each of these offers the option to rent or purchase movies, and buy TV shows. You'll find more recent releases compared to the Netflix library, though you will pay for each individually versus a pay-one-price Netflix subscription. By and large, movie rentals run $3.99 each, purchases $12.99-$14.99, and TV shows $1.99-$2.99, with older releases at lower prices. Viewing options vary from service to service. All work with your computer, but you'll also find compatibility with various smart TVs and streaming devices, iPads and other tablets.
Does watching high-quality movies and TV shows for free sound appealing? Sony has created a site called Crackle that offers nearly 300 uncut movies and over 100 TV series at no cost. The selection is a mixed bag, and certainly the films aren't brand new releases, but there are some interesting choices, such as Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction, Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, and plenty of Seinfeld, Bewitched and All in the Family episodes.