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 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 best TV for bright room viewing with an OLED panel 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 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.
The best TV for bright room viewing that we've tested with an LED panel is the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It doesn't have the risk of permanent burn-in the way the LG CX OLED does, so you can easily watch shows or the news all day without potentially damaging your TV. It's impressive all-around, and most people should be pleased with it.
It has great peak brightness and outstanding reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue even in the brightest of rooms. It upscales 720p content without any problems and has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, so you may not need to get it calibrated to enjoy it to the fullest. The 55 inch and larger models have Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology to provide decent viewing angles, but the 49 and 50 inch models don't have it, so those aren't suggested for a wide seating arrangement. The built-in Tizen OS is easy-to-use, offers smooth navigation, and has a ton of apps you can download on the app store.
Sadly, it has some uniformity issues, which could be distracting when watching TV, but this may vary between units. It has an excellent response time to make fast-moving content look smooth, and there's a Black Frame Insertion feature to improve the appearance of motion. All things considered, if you're worried about permanent burn-in and want an LED option, then you should be pleased with this one.
If you prefer something smaller that still has wide viewing angles, then check out the Sony XBR43X800H. It doesn't have as good a reflection handling as the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED, but it's still decent, and combined with its high peak brightness, it's a good choice for bright-room viewing. Its IPS panel has very wide viewing angles, and the image remains accurate when viewing from the side, but that means it has a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark. It also upscales 720p content without any issues and has excellent color accuracy. The built-in Android TV has a massive selection of apps you can download, but it's not as easy-to-use as Samsung's Tizen. Note that the 43 inch and 49 inch models are edge-lit, but that shouldn't make much of a difference when watching TV.
If you want the best TV for watching TV shows, you can't go wrong with the Samsung, but if you want to save some space and have wide viewing angles, check out 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. 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 either, 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. 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.
12/04/2020: 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'.
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.
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.