A product of Mindspark Interactive, Inc., based out of White Plains, New York, Television Fanatic is a toolbar that you can download for your browser, which allows you to watch episodes of TV shows for free.

The concept is to be able to stream free TV from major cable networks and web-based video sources like CBS, NBC, TNT, USA, ABC, Hulu, Netflix, You Tube, Vudu and others.

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Television Fanatic claims they have compiled 4,000 shows and 30,000 episodes from these sources that are accessible from one place.

Exactly How Television Fanatic Works

First off, you download and install the Television Fanatic toolbar from the www.televisionfanatic.com website. It’s available for Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Once it’s downloaded and installed, your browser will restart and it will be ready to use.

You can use the toolbar to open a browsing window and browse through networks, view recently added shows and view all free episodes.

While you can find virtually any show on Television Fanatic, there are some key limitations to keep in mind. You will not be able to watch complete seasons of shows for free. You can only watch about 3-4 episodes of a show for free. Also, you will not be able to watch any episodes of major hit cable network shows like Mad Men, Walking Dead or Sons of Anarchy for free.

Another point to note is that the free episodes are likely to be several months old and not the most recent ones that have aired.

If you do find a free episode that you want to watch, you simply select it and Television Fanatic redirects you to the actual network website where you can watch the episode on the network’s video player.

The majority of the episodes that are not free are available for purchase using television fanatic through services such as iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity, Amazon and others starting at $1.99 per episode.

The Bottom Line on Television Fanatic – Do you Actually Need it?

While the concept of free TV seems promising, that is not what Television Fanatic delivers. The fact that Television Fanatic can only redirect you to a website to watch a free episode means that it does not contain any players, servers or content itself and is therefore simply a middle man between you and the services where you can watch the free episodes or purchase the pay-to-watch episodes.

And, as stated above, the free episodes that Television Fanatic has are simply available on the network websites or using the free version of Hulu and you can easily find them without having to install a toolbar.

After testing the Television Fanatic toolbar, we’ve come to the conclusion that it basically acts like a search engine for TV episodes, showing you where you can watch them either for free or purchase them. Obviously, Television Fanatic earns major commissions from each purchase made through the toolbar.

Since Television Fanatic is a toolbar, it can slow down your browser and tamper with your browser settings by automatically setting a new default search engine and home page.

There have also been numerous reports that this particular toolbar may contain a key logger integrated inside, which is a security risk. While we had Television Fanatic installed on our testing computer, it was apparent that the computer developed a significant delay between typing a sentence with the keyboard and having it appear on the screen. This continued even after we uninstalled the toolbar the standard way. We also had to clean our registry in order to fully remove any hint of Television Fanatic. Only after we did this was the computer’s performance back to normal.

Bottom Line – you are better off using Netflix and Hulu to watch shows on your computer, TV or mobile devices. It may cost a few extra dollars per month, but it’s definitely worth it, as they have good quality content and it’s much safer.