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 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 LG CX is the best TV for bright room viewing with an OLED panel that we've tested. It delivers stunning picture quality and is packed with amazing features. It has impressive viewing angles to maintain image accuracy when viewing off-center, which is great for wide seating arrangements and those who like to walk around while watching. It handles reflections exceptionally well and gets bright enough for most lighting conditions, but due to its rather aggressive Automatic Brightness Limiter, it might not be able to overcome intense glare, like direct sunlight.
If you mostly watch cable TV, it upscales lower resolution well without any artifacts. The response time is near-instantaneous, resulting in clear images in fast-moving scenes, and it has a Black Frame Insertion feature to further improve clarity. On top of that, it can interpolate low frame content up to 120fps to make motion appear smoother, otherwise known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. LG's WebOS has tons of apps available for download, and there's even voice control to help you find the content that you want.
Unfortunately, there are risks of permanent burn-in with OLED panels. This happens when static elements remain on the screen for extended periods, like a channel logo. That said, it shouldn't be an issue for most people who watch varied content, and there are features built-in to help prevent burn-in. The internal speakers deliver dialogue clearly and get very loud, but don't expect a thumping, rumbling sound because it lacks low-bass extension. Nonetheless, it's an excellent TV that most people should be happy with.
The LED TV for watching TV shows that we've tested is the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It's a premium model and delivers impressive all-around performance. The main advantage of getting an LED TV over OLED is that it won't suffer the risk of permanent burn-in, so you can easily leave it on your favorite news channel all day and not worry about damaging it.
If you tend to watch your favorite shows during the day or in a well-lit room, then this TV is a good choice. It gets bright enough to combat glare and has outstanding reflection handling. Despite having a VA panel, it still has fairly wide viewing angles thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so you can easily watch content with your family in a wide seating arrangement. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, and the built-in Tizen OS has a ton of apps that you can download, so you can easily stream a ton of content.
Unfortunately, we received reports that there's obvious stuttering when watching cable sports, but we don't think this should be an issue if you're just watching shows. Also, the 49 and 50 inch models don't have the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so you'll need to get the 55 inch and larger models if you want wide viewing angles. On the plus side, it has a high contrast ratio and decent local dimming to produce deep blacks if you plan to use it in a dark room. All in all, this is the best TV for bright room viewing that we've tested.
If you don't have much space and prefer something smaller, then check out the Sony XBR43X800H. It has a much lower contrast ratio than the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED, but that's because its IPS panel has wider viewing angles. Like the Samsung, the Sony gets bright enough to combat glare, and reflection handling is decent; it should be good enough for most well-lit rooms, but it's not the best idea to place it opposite a window with direct sunlight. The built-in Android TV has a massive selection of apps available through the Google Play Store, but it may not be the easiest to use at times. It has a good response time for fast-moving content, and that means lower-frame rate content doesn't stutter that much either.
If you want the best TV for bright rooms, then go for the Samsung, but if you need something smaller, look into the Sony.
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. However, some of the models have VA panels, so make sure you get one with an IPS panel. Its semi-gloss finish handles reflections very well; however, it doesn't get very bright, so it isn't ideal for well-lit rooms.
It upscales lower resolution content well, with 720p and 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. 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.
Unfortunately, it doesn't perform all that well in dark rooms, as it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look closer to gray. It has an exceptionally low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, but sadly, there's no variable refresh rate support to minimize screen tearing. 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, but it has worse viewing angles. It also has a full-array local dimming feature and decent black uniformity. It has a 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.
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'.
Aug 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.
Jun 10, 2020: Replaced the Sony X900F with the X950G.
Apr 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.