If you watch a lot of TV shows, you should purchase a TV that has excellent reflection handling, good brightness levels, and wide viewing angles to accommodate for multiple viewing positions. It should be able to display 1080p and 720p resolutions properly, which is what most cable TV shows are produced at.
We've tested more than 50 TVs in the last two years, and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy for watching TV shows. See also our recommendations for the best TVs for watching movies, the best TVs for watching sports, and the best outdoor TVs.
The best TV for cable shows is the LG CX. It's an excellent all-around model with stunning picture quality, and it should please most people. It's well-built with a sleek and modern design that fits nicely into any home environment.
It uses OLED technology that's able to individually turn off pixels, producing perfect blacks. Although this isn't important for watching shows, it also has very wide viewing angles, great for watching with the entire family. Even though it doesn't get very bright, it has outstanding reflection handling, so it performs well in most brightly-lit rooms. It upscales lower-resolution content, like from cable boxes, without any issues, and it has great out-of-the-box color accuracy, so you don't have to worry about getting the it calibrated. Lastly, LG's easy to use WebOS has a great selection of apps available to download.
Unfortunately, like any OLED, it has the risk of permanent burn-in, which could be an issue if you constantly watch content with static elements like the news. Otherwise, you shouldn't experience issues with varied content. Fortunately, this has good built-in speakers, so you hear dialogue properly without the need for a soundbar. All in all, this is the best TV for cable viewing we've tested so far, and it has good battery life.
If you prefer an LED TV to avoid the permanent burn-in risk, then check out the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. Its viewing angles aren't as wide as the LG CX OLED, but they're still decent if you have a fairly wide seating arrangement. The Samsung gets much brighter than the LG and has outstanding reflection handling, so it performs well even if you place it opposite a window. The out-of-the-box color accuracy is excellent, it upscales 720p content without any issues, and Samsung's Tizen smart interface has a ton of apps available at your disposal. Sadly, it has some uniformity issues, which could be noticeable while watching sports, but this also varies from unit to unit. Lastly, the speakers have a well-balanced sound profile, great for watching shows.
If you're looking for the best TV we've tested, you can't go wrong with the LG, but if you want the best TV for bright room viewing, check out the Samsung.
The best TV for bright room viewing with great color accuracy is the Sony X950H. It's a great all-around model with impressive performance for watching shows and has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy. It's Sony's flagship 4k model in their 2020 lineup, and you get the performance you expect from a high-end model.
This is a well-built model that gets extremely bright, enough to easily combat glare, and it has outstanding reflection handling. You won't have any problems using it during the day. Lower-resolution content looks great, and if you watch shows in HDR, it has a great wide color gamut and gets bright enough to make highlights pop. It comes with Android TV, which has an excellent selection of apps available to download. It can also remove judder from any source, such as native apps, and it interpolates lower-frame rate content up to 120fps, known as the 'Soap Opera Effect.'
Unfortunately, it has a VA panel, and even though Sony added its 'X-Wide Angle' technology to improve the viewing angles, they're still mediocre and not suggested for a wide seating arrangement. Also, the built-in speakers have noticeable total harmonic distortion at its max volume level, but if you listen at moderate listening levels, they sound clean and have a well-balanced sound profile. Overall, if color accuracy is important to you, this is the best TV for bright room viewing with accurate colors we've tested so far.
If you want a TV with wider viewing angles to enjoy shows with the entire family, then check out the Sony X800H. It uses an IPS panel, so even though it doesn't display deep blacks like the Sony X950H, the image remains accurate when viewing from the side. It also has excellent color accuracy, decent reflection handling, and it gets bright enough in SDR to combat glare. It can't remove judder from any source and has a lower 60Hz refresh rate, but it also comes with the fairly easy-to-use Android TV. Unfortunately, it doesn't display deep blacks, so watching movies in the dark isn't ideal, but on the upside, 720p content looks great without any upscaling artifacts.
All in all, if you want the best TV for bright room viewing with accuracy colors, check out the X950H, but if you have a wide seating arrangement, check out the X800H.
The best TV for watching TV shows in the budget category is the LG UN7300. It's a simple 4k model that's available in various sizes to suit your needs. It has an IPS panel with reasonably good viewing angles, great for those who like to walk around while watching. Its semi-gloss finish handles reflections very well; however, it doesn't get very bright, so it isn't ideal for well-lit rooms. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform all that well in dark rooms either, as it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look closer to gray.
It upscales lower resolution content well, with 1080p content looking nearly as good as 4k. Its response time is decent, resulting in only a short blur trail behind fast-moving objects. There's no Black Frame Insertion feature to improve clarity, though, and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz. It has exceptionally low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, but sadly, there's no variable refresh rate support to minimize screen tearing.
If you get most of your content through streaming, LG's WebOS has a large library of apps, and the most popular ones like Netflix and YouTube, are pre-installed. The remote has a built-in microphone for voice control, making it much easier to search for content. It's well-suited for large rooms or noisy environments, as its internal speakers can get pretty loud. Overall, although it isn't the most versatile, it performs well enough for watching TV shows and is easier on the wallet.
If you want a TV that performs better in dark rooms, then go with the Hisense H8G. Unlike the LG UN7300, its VA panel can produce much deeper blacks, allowing it to deliver a significantly better dark room viewing experience. It also has a full-array local dimming feature and decent black uniformity. It has faster response time, a Black Frame Insertion feature, and its backlight's high flickering frequency results in less motion duplication in fast-moving scenes. It can display a wide color gamut and gets bright enough to deliver a reasonably good HDR experience. It runs on Android TV, so you shouldn't have any issues finding what you need in the Google Play Store.
Overall, go with the LG if you need wider viewing angles and better reflection handling. However, if you mostly watch in a dark room, the Hisense is a better choice.
10/06/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
08/06/2020: Removed the LG B9, Samsung Q80R, Sony X950G, LG SM9500, LG UM7300, and the Hisense H8F; added the LG CX, Samsung Q80T, Sony X950H, Sony X800H, LG UN7300, and the Hisense H8G.
06/10/2020: Replaced the Sony X900F with the X950G, updated notable mentions to reflect the current market.
04/14/2020: Minor text and structure changes; replaced LG SM9000 with LG SM9500.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best TVs to watch shows for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of TVs. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.