YouTube is probably best known for cheesy amateur content (videos of people’s cats, stupid human tricks, etc). If you’ve ever tried to search for the latest commercial movies and TV shows on YouTube, you were probably disappointed.
However, you can actually find certain types of really good mainstream commercial content on YouTube if you know what to look for. I’m talking professional, full-length, unedited, and free from commercial interruptions.
As a bonus, there is a YouTube app for all of the major set-top boxes (Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast), so you’ll be able to watch whatever you find on your TV.
So, in your quest for free TV, don’t forget about YouTube! Here are the best types of content to find:
Stand Up Comedy
YouTube is a great source of full-length free standup comedy concert shows. I mean, really good ones! These are full-length and professionally-produced, not bootlegs. Concerts like Robin William’s full “Weapons of Self Destruction” can be found, but they usually don’t last long.
Just search for your favorite comedian! (Warning, many of these concerts contain adult language; they are un-edited).
You can also find great comedy skits. Check out Comedy Central’s hilarious Key and Peele channel.
YouTube is a fantastic source for documentary movies and TV shows. And I’m not just talking about boring documentaries about potato farming or something. Check out NOVA: The Magic of Special Effects.
Just search for whatever documentary topic you’re interested in, or simply type in “documentaries” in the YouTube search bar. There is also a dedicated YouTube channel for the History Channel, which has some cool full episodes.
Discovery Channel also has a YouTube channel, but it’s mostly clips. For full Discovery Channel episodes, just search for the name of the show. I love the old Discovery Channel “Wings” documentaries and there are tons of full episodes available on YouTube! There are many other military documentaries to choose from.
YouTube has a ton of live concerts by professional mainstream artists. Just enter your favorite band in the search bar followed by “full concert” and see what comes up. Usually, a lot will. I just entered “Coldplay full concert” and got a ton of their shows.
If you are into classic rock, how about the Doors Live at the Bowl in 1968?
Music / Music Video
Speaking of concerts, YouTube has an amazing number of music videos. Just enter the name of the song, and most of the time you’ll find the audio track and the music video, if there was one. Here’s the official music video for Coldplay’s “The Scientist”. Often, if the music video isn’t there, at least the song audio is available, usually with a static display.
You might not have known, but there are also tons of karaoke videos on YouTube. Just enter the artist followed by “karaoke”. Here’s a karaoke version of 99 Luftbalons in German! And Don’t You Forget About Me. There is so much karaoke content that you could probably have a home karaoke party just by using YouTube videos! No need for a machine and a bunch of expensive CD-G’s.
Yes, you can find full-length commercial-free Hollywood movies on YouTube! Check out this Reddit page called Full Movies on YouTube.
Most of the movies are older, but as I check it today, I see Frozen from 2013! Modern movies like that won’t be there for long though, as they are quickly blocked. You are more likely to find older classics like Gladiator (2000). Sometimes, movies are blocked in the U.S., so you might have to browse and be patient. Usually there are one or two movies on the list that I want to see. Check back regularly as the list changes.
On the right sidebar, you can search by decade or genre, and there are links to other pages with TV shows, concerts, and other shows on YouTube. If you already know what you want to watch, and are feeling lucky, go to YouTube and enter the name of the movie followed by “full movie”. If it’s a recent movie, it probably won’t be on there, but if it’s an oldie, you never know.
Instead of watching TV just for entertainment, how about learning something? YouTube is an invaluable source for all sorts of how-to videos. There are free videos for fixing your car, making home improvements, and teaching you how to play guitar, for instance. Just enter what you want to learn in the search bar.
Okay, you are not going to find the latest episodes of “The Walking Dead” on YouTube. But, you can find some good older stuff. Check out this Reddit list of TV shows on YouTube.
The list starts out with a lot of military documentaries. If you’re not into that, keep scrolling and you’ll start to see shows mostly from the 70’s through the 90’s.
A while ago, I was close to purchasing the entire run of an old TV show called Space: 1999 on Amazon. I checked YouTube and found and found all of the episodes there for free!!
So, if you’re looking for slightly older content, do a quick check on YouTube before buying or renting! What types of mainstream content have you found on YouTube?
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If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I try to reply to all comments. I hope this article was helpful to you. - Brian