Watching Classic Television Online

Over the past few years, the legal streaming of television programs online has become big business. New episodes of current shows like Lost, CSI and even 60 Minutes are typically made available online shortly after they’re broadcast on television (although some programs have restrictions of over a week). But episodes of new shows aren’t the only ones available for watching online. Dozens of shows from the 1950s through the 1990s can also be viewed online.

One of the most popular sites for streaming television is Hulu, but there are several others, including websites for each of the networks. I’ve written about some obscure shows available at Hulu in the past, as well as my thoughts on how internet streaming may be the best chance of making other obscure shows available to the viewing public.

I’ve put together the following list of “classic” television programs you can watch online at TheWB.com, Hulu, NBC.com and CBS.com. Unfortunately, I believe all of these sites have restrictions on streaming video that means only those in the United States can watch. For the purposes of this post, I’m calling any show that premiered prior to 1980 a classic show. There’s some overlap between the sites.

TheWB.com
CHiPs
Eight is Enough
Gilligan’s Island
The Jetsons
Welcome Back, Kotter
Wonder Woman
Space Ghost and Dino Boy

Hulu
The Abbott & Costello Show
Adam-12
The Addams Family
Alias Smith and Jones
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Archie Bunker’s Place
Barney Miller
Benson
Bat Masterson
Battlestar Galactica
The Big Valley
The Bionic Woman
Bewitched
The Bob Newhart Show
The Donna Reed Show
Charlie’s Angels
The Cisco Kid
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Emergency!
The Facts of Life
Fantasy Island
Father Knows Best
Flipper
Green Acres
Highway Patrol
I Dream of Jeannie
I Spy
Land of the Giants
The Lone Ranger
Lost in Space
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
McHale’s Navy
My Mother, The Car
One Day at a Time
The Partridge Family
Rhoda
The Rifleman
Return to the Planet of the Apes
The Rockford Files
Sea Hunt
Starsky and Hutch
S.W.A.T.
The Time Tunnel
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Welcome Back, Kotter
What’s Happening!
The White Shadow
WKRP in Cincinnati

NBC.com
The A-Team
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Battlestar Galactica
Bionic Woman
Charles in Charge
Emergency

CBS.com
Hawaii Five-O
The Love Boat
Perry Mason
Star Trek
The Twilight Zone


3 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    I would hardly call “CHARLES IN CHARGE” a “classic” show; in my opinion, it’s “junk”. The only reason it lasted as long as it did was because MCA/Universal was short of new “off-network” sitcoms for syndication in the mid-’80s, and decided to revive the series- even though it lasted just ONE season on CBS during the 1984-’85 season because they didn’t know how to schedule or exploit it correctly- as a first-run weekly “syndie” in 1987, lasting just long enough [through 1990] to add enough episodes in the “package” to syndicate it, and make a decent profit from it. Let’s face it, there’s nothing memorable about the entire series…and what’s so great about Scott Baio, anyway?

    Hulu is a partnership between NBC/Universal and News Corp.’s 20th Century-Fox division. They feature several “evergreen” series from the Fox, MTM (Fox owns that library), and Universal TV libraries, as well as several SONY properties, including the Screen Gems/Columbia, Filmways and MGM/UA inventory: that also includes several ZIV Television series: “BAT MASTERSON”, “SEA HUNT” and”HIGHWAY PATROL”. They have some good choices…

  • RGJ says:

    Regardless of its merits as a television show, I shouldn’t have included Charles in Charge in this list because it premiered after 1980, which is generally the cut-off date I use to define “classic” television, and that’s just because I needed a year and 1980 seemed like a good one, given the changes that occurred during the 1980s (cable, the rise of FOX, home video).

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Yes, I agree with you about “1980” as the “boundary line”. But the sad fact is, there were kids and teens who watched “CHARLES IN CHARGE” over 20 years ago when it first aired, and are now of the age where THEY consider it to be “classic television” (same with those who grew up with “FULL HOUSE”, “PUNKY BREWSTER”, “SILVER SPOONS”, “MY TWO DADS”, “SAVED BY THE BELL”, etc.).

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