How I Met Your Mother is back, and with it Barney’s escapades, Lily and Marshall’s cuteness, Robin’s career, and Ted’s search for everlasting love. But the show’s network, CBS, doesn’t offer up episodes of its new series to Hulu like many of its competitors do. Where can you watch it online — streaming or as a download?
CBS has always been cautious about putting its shows on digital portals it can’t control — especially in the ad-supported, streaming model. CBS Interactive president Jim Lanzone told GigaOM that the network’s decision to stay out of Hulu was the right one, claiming that CBS’s own web portal is the most successful video portal for a network TV show. He even claims that ad yields on CBS’s digital content are comparable to those of network TV.
So, the obvious answer if you don’t want to pay up front is to go directly to CBS’s website, where the first episode of season eight (titled ”Farhampton”) is already streaming free with ads. CBS’s website doesn’t keep a library of all past How I Met Your Mother episodes, but you can catch up on previous seasons (except for season seven) on Netflix or on Amazon Instant Video.
Your alternative if you want to also watch on your phone, tablet, and connected TV is iTunes, where (as with almost every other show around) you can buy HD episodes for $2.99 or an HD season pass for $49.99. The show’s episodes don’t show up on the night of the premiere as they do at CBS but you can pick them up shortly afterwards.
Lanzone also told GigaOM that he doesn’t see online TV as competition to live, broadcast TV for CBS — only just another way to time-shift things, kind of like DVR. We’re not sure we completely buy that over the long term, but at least in the short term it seems to be working for CBS.