When September hit, we hit back with our Everything Guide to the Fall 2011 TV Schedule.
This week, we're catering to those of you without cable subscriptions and DVRs. That's right—the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free... from cable bills. Cord-cutters, we've heard your cries for some pointers on which fall shows will be available to watch online—and when. We're answering.
What TV Networks Post and When: The BasicsWe've spent countless hours creepily stalking the web habits of all the major TV networks, and discovered some key patterns to which shows they post and when they post them. Here are some general rules of thumb.
Networks that Offer Next-Day Free Full Episodes:
ABCWhere: Full episodes of nearly all of ABC's primetime shows are available to stream next-day on Hulu or ABC.go.com.
Exceptions: The Middle has never been available for free streaming online. Maybe this year? Doubtful.
CBSWhere: Most CBS shows are available to stream next-day on CBS.com or right here on TV.com (thanks, corporate parent company!).
Exceptions: Mike & Molly, Criminal Minds, and The Mentalist were not available for free streaming last year. The network's late-night talk shows (Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) tend to appear online three days after air, sometimes inconsistently.
NBCWhere: NBC's primetime shows are available to stream next-day on Hulu or NBC.com. Yes, even Law & Order: SVU, which wasn't available last year..
Exceptions: None at this time.
MTVWhere: MTV's primetime shows are available to stream next-day on MTV.com. (Daytime filler programming like 10 on Top rarely, if ever, makes it to the web.)
Exceptions: None at this time.
Comedy CentralWhere: A few Comedy Central shows are available next-day on Hulu and ComedyCentral.com. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the most consistent. South Park is available for next-day streaming at SouthParkStudios.com.
Exceptions: Everything beyond the three shows listed above; though you might occasionally find full episodes of the network's other properties, they're too inconsistent to rely on.
Networks that Offer Delayed Free Full Episodes
The CWWhere: All CW shows are available to stream online at CWtv.com 2-3 days after they air on TV. Posting habits are not entirely consistent, but all episodes do get posted online within that 2-3 day window.
FOXFOX used to be a next-day streaming network, but it's a next-day streaming network no longer. Sad face.
Where: All FOX shows are available to stream 8 days after airing on TV via Hulu or FOX.com.
Exceptions: American Idol has never been available for online streaming. Similarly, The X-Factor will not be made available for online streaming. I Hate My Teenage Daughter is not expected to post online, either.
FXFX is a particularly frustrating network to follow online. Just about all of its shows are available 30 days after air. 30 DAYS! Who wants to catch It's Always Sunny one-month after everyone's done talking about it? So lame.
Where: Hulu and FXnetworks.com.
Exceptions: New episodes of Wilfred are available 8 days after airing on TV. Archer is posted 30 days after air, but the episodes aren't necessarily released in sequential order. American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck are not available for online streaming.
SyFySyFy is a mixed bag, which makes it difficult to follow online while it's airing on TV. Of the shows that do make it to the web, most aren't available to stream until after the on-air season ends. At that time, episodes are released on a rolling basis.
Where: On Hulu and SyFy.com.
Exceptions: Warehouse 13 offered up its first two episodes day after air, but the following episodes won't be available until after the on-air season is over. Merlin Season 3 is not yet available to stream, even though the season is over. No explanation there. Ghost Hunters Academy gets special treatment and is available just 30 days after air (suddenly that seems like no time at all).
For our ultimate guide to the