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 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 80 TVs under the latest test bench, 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 LG C1 is the best TV for cable shows with an OLED panel that we've tested. It's an excellent all-around TV that delivers stunning picture quality, and most people should be happy with it. Even though it performs best when watching movies in dark rooms, it's still a great choice for watching your favorite TV shows.
If you tend to watch TV in a well-lit room, it has fantastic reflection handling, but its peak brightness is just okay, so we don't suggest placing it opposite a window with direct sunlight on it. One advantage of OLEDs is that they have really wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate when viewing from the sides making it a great choice for watching TV with the entire family. It doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content, like from cable boxes, and the built-in webOS is easy-to-use with a ton of apps available to download. If you also want to watch movies, it has a near-infinite contrast ratio for perfect black levels.
Sadly, OLEDs have the risk of permanent burn-in, which could happen after constant exposure to static elements, like from a news broadcast. So we suggest using it to watch varied content and not always watch the same channel. Also, LG has included a few settings to help reduce the risk, like 'Screen Move' and 'Adjust Logo Brightness' options. If the burn-in risk doesn't worry you, then this is one of the best TVs we've tested.
Out of the TVs we've tested with an LED panel, the Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED is the best TV for cable boxes. Unlike OLED TVs, LEDs don't have the risk of permanent burn-in, so you can easily leave it on your favorite news channel all day without worrying about damaging the screen. It's a good overall TV that performs best in well-lit rooms.
It has an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles, so it's great for wide seating areas. It gets extremely bright and has good reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue even in the brightest of rooms. While it doesn't get as bright as the Samsung QN85A QLED, it's not worth the price increase for the QN85A if you're just going to use it for watching TV. If you want to use the Q80A for some gaming on the side, it has a ton of features like HDMI 2.1 and variable refresh rate (VRR) support, a 120Hz panel, low input lag, and a quick response time for smooth motion.
Unfortunately, it's not a good choice for watching movies in dark rooms. Its ADS panel has a low native contrast ratio, and the full-array local dimming feature isn't good at improving the picture quality in dark scenes. On the bright side, the built-in Tizen interface is excellent, and you can easily find your favorite streaming apps on the app store. Overall, this is the best TV for bright room environments that we've tested.
If you have limited space and need something smaller, then look into the Sony KD-43X80J. It doesn't get nearly as bright as the Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED, so it's best to avoid placing it opposite windows. However, it has much better out-of-the-box accuracy, so even though this can vary between units, Sony TVs are known for their exceptional color accuracy, and it's unlikely you'll need to get it calibrated. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content, and the built-in Google TV has a ton of apps available to download. Like the Samsung, the X80J has an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles, but that means it has a low contrast ratio and it doesn't have a local dimming feature.
If you want the best LED TV for watching shows, the Samsung is a great choice, but if you prefer a smaller screen, then look into the Sony. Note that we tested the 55 inch model, but we expect the 43 inch to perform the same.
The best TV for bright room viewing in the budget category that we've tested is the LG UP8000. It's okay overall and doesn't offer many extra features, but that's expected for a low-cost option. It's good enough for watching TV shows, especially in a wide site arrangement, because it has wide viewing angles. It's fairly well-built and has a simple design that should look nice in any room.
It's a good choice for dim-to-moderately lit rooms; it has good reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to fight a ton of glare. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content and displays a perfect 4k image. The out-of-the-box color accuracy is decent, so you likely won't need to get it calibrated unless you want the most accurate colors possible. It comes with the same excellent webOS interface as the LG C1 OLED. Keep in mind that some of the sizes use a different panel than the 65 inch we tested, which you can learn more about here.
Sadly, like any IPS-like TV, it has a low contrast ratio, so blacks look gray when viewed in the dark, and it lacks a local dimming feature. Even though it supports HDR10, it's not suggested for watching HDR content because of its low contrast ratio, poor HDR peak brightness, and because it can't display a wide color gamut. Regardless of these problems, it's still the best budget TV for watching TV shows.
If you tend to watch TV in a dark environment, then look into the Hisense U6G. It uses a different panel type than the LG UP8000, so it doesn't have wide viewing angles, but that means it has a higher contrast ratio that displays deep blacks when viewed in the dark. It even has a decent local dimming feature that improves the picture quality in dark scenes. In well-lit rooms, it has great peak brightness and excellent reflection handling, so glare shouldn't be an issue. You can cast anything you want from your phone through the built-in Chromecast, but the Android TV interface can take some time to get used to. Like most 4k TVs, it doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content from cable boxes.
If you're on a budget and want a TV with wide viewing angles, go for the LG, but if you prefer something with higher contrast, then check out the Hisense.
Jul 21, 2021: Replaced the Sony X800H and Hisense H8G with the newer Sony X80J and Hisense U6G; updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
May 26, 2021: Replaced the LG CX, Samsung Q80T, and LG UN7300 with the LG C1, Samsung Q80A, and LG UP8000; updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
Mar 30, 2021: Updated text for clarity; added the Vizio OLED, Hisense H9G, and LG NANO81 to Notable Mentions.
Feb 02, 2021: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
Dec 04, 2020: Renamed the LG CX to 'Best OLED, renamed the Samsung Q80T to 'Best LED', removed the Sony X950H, and moved the Sony X800H to 'Smaller Alternative'.
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.