How to watch the CW online for free

The CW

Here’s how to get your Supernatural or Supergirl fix.

Don’t wait until it’s almost time for The Flash or The 100 to find a CW live stream.

The CW has been home to some of pop culture’s longest-running dramas, but it’s also managed to evolve alongside tastes with superhero and supernatural serials. Whether you’re a Black Lightning fanboy or a Supernatural devotee, here’s everything you need to know to watch the CW online.

What is the CW?

The CW is the child of the channels formerly known as the WB (long live the frog) and UPN. Founded in 2006, it made waves with general audience programs like America’s Next Top Model, Veronica Mars, and 7th Heaven. Since those days, it’s gradually leaped into science fiction and alternative drama territories, like the gothic Vampire Diaries and the monolithic Supernatural, which has one of pop culture’s strongest fan followings around. The CW has leaped headfirst into DC Comics television series like Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl.


how to watch the cw online 2 The CW

The CW live stream: 4 ways to watch online

Only two of the major live TV streaming services guarantee you’ll have access to a CW live stream. Here’s a complete rundown of your options.

1) YouTube TV

the cw live stream youtube tv channels YouTube TV

YouTube TV is on the mid-to-high price range for most folks, but it does offer a good selection of entertainment channels alongside a CW live stream. If you really dig your prime time drama, you’ll also get CBS, ABC, NBC, AMC, FX, and plenty more. After you’re done with your favorite series, you can catch up on the real world with a solid selection of news channels like Fox News, CNN, and even BBC and BBC America. There’s not really a major movie channel option, but you can always watch free movies on YouTube. (Here’s a complete guide to YouTube TV channels.)

Game-changing feature: You can add up to six accounts per household, and each one of those accounts gets unlimited cloud DVR. Even better: You can fast-forward through ads in recorded programs.

2) DirecTV Now

the cw live stream directv now channels live a little DirecTV Now

With the CW being a basic cable channel already, you’re probably pretty used to DirecTV being an option to get it on your TV. DirecTV’s streaming platform will run you at least $40 a month, but you’re getting some bang for your buck. CW live streaming is available on the entry-level “Live a Little” package for $40 a month, and you’ll get a strong lineup of news, sports, and entertainment channels to boot, with CBS, ABC, NBC, AMC, FXand others. DirecTV does offer three other plans (and a Spanish one) if you want to commit even further. If you really want to commit to drama programming, DirecTV Now offers HBO as an ala carte add-on for a stunning $5 a month, making it the cheapest option out there for HBO.  (Here’s a complete guide to DirecTV Now channels.)

Game-changing feature: AT&T Unlimited customers can save $25 a month off every DirecTV Now package.

3) The CW website

The CW live stream The CW

Cost: Free

For some of the CW’s biggest shows, like Supernatural, Riverdale, and The Flash, you can stream the last five episodes or so for free with ads from the official website—no sign-in required. The earliest of those five episodes expires after a few weeks, though, so don’t delay. For what it’s worth, the CW site includes a few behind-the-scenes videos, and the videos that are about to leave the service are marked accordingly. 

4) The CW app

watch cw free The CW

Cost: Free

Devices: Roku, Chromecast, Airplay, Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, iOS and Android devices

Don’t think of the CW app as something that’s just for your phone. It works with nearly every major streaming device, meaning it’s easy to live stream CW shows on your big screen. The same restrictions apply as the CW’s website: The five latest episodes, only a few of the major shows, and ads. On the plus side, the app doesn’t ask for a cable provider log-in, and it’s completely free. 

New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, Sundance TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, Willow, AMC, FX, Fox News, Freeform, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.

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Joseph Knoop

Joseph Knoop

Joseph Knoop is a gaming writer for Daily Dot, a native Chicagoan, and a slave to all things Overwatch. He co-founded the college geek culture outlet ByteBSU, then interned at Game Informer, and now writes for a bunch websites his parents have never heard of.