For a show with over two decades of history, fans have an awfully hard time accessing the Challenge archive. Many seasons are outright inaccessible (legally) while others require you pay to access content.
I’ve complied a list of what’s to access The Challenge. These are only legal methods, or methods that are technically not illegal. I’m not going to encourage piracy, but you all know The Challenge is out there in so capacity.
If you have cable, MTV.com has some Challenge seasons. Right now they have the current season and War of the Worlds 2, but MTV will remove seasons without notice. Believe it or not, MTV.com is not the most reliable way to watch old seasons of The Challenge.
To watch on MTV.com you need to have a cable subscription. Many providers allow access, but some do not (most notably, Xfinity). You can also use the 24-hour free trial.
If you’re looking to watch The Challenge and you’re main go is just The Challenge, I recommend Philo. It’s currently only $20/month, or you can get a 7-day trial, and has many Viacom channels like MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Plus, Nielsen Media monitors your viewing habits so it’s guaranteed to support your favorite show’s ratings. The down side, you won’t have access to local channels like NBC, CBS, or ABC. You can use your credentials to view MTV’s online catalogue which will give you some access to Challenges.
Sling TV is another option, though more expensive. You must subscribe to a Sling package ($30/month) and add on the Comedy Package, an extra $5/month. This will give you more options than Philo, but it is more expensive. However, a 2-month subscription will earn you a free AirTV, so that might be worth it.
The other streaming service featuring MTV is AT&T TV Now. Their packages are much more expensive than other packages. The least expensive at the moment is $65/month. You’ll get much more, including network channels and HBO. If you watch a lot of TV and want to cut cable, this could be a good option. Other services give you options to pick and choose channels.
In July, 2020 CBS All Access added The Challenge seasons 11-13; 15-31 on their service. You can get a 30-day free trial and this will give you access to Big Brother. It also has Fresh Meat 1, which seems not to be available on other platforms.
As of May 2020, YouTube TV has included MTV as part of their agreement with Viacom. This puts the cost of the package at $64.99, so it is competitive with AT&T, but you do get many channels with this package. There are also options for add-on, but MTV is included in the base package.
Amazon has a variety of ways to purchase and view old seasons. Amazon Prime allows you to stream TV content, but The Challenge is not included in the bundle. You will need to upgrade to MTV Hits to stream The Challenge on Amazon. MTV Hits has a 7 Day free trial and costs $5.99/month after that. Currently, season 20 (Cutthroat)- season 31 (Vendettas) are included in Amazon MTV Hits.
If you have an Apple TV, you can also subscribe to the MTV Live network. It costs $5.99/month but you get a little bit more. They have The Gauntlet 2, The Duel, then The Island- War of the Worlds 2. However, you can only access this with an Apple TV, it is not available through iTunes on other platforms.
Free Online Streaming
Season 23-30 (Battle of the Seasons 2012- Dirty Thirty) run on a repeated loop on Pluto TV Channel 298. There are commercials here, but it’s absolutely free. A couple of episodes are missing, such as one episode in Rivals 2 and the first few from Exes 2. Pluto TV has apps for most streaming boxes and is easily accessible for all viewers.
The only Challenge season available for purchase is Rivals 2. Amazon also has many seasons available for digital purchase. Starting with The Island up to the current season. You can buy individual episodes or entire seasons.
The Microsoft Store has The Gauntlet 2, then every season from The Island- current.
The Gray Zone
Of course, there are some sketchier ways to watch The Challenge. They’re not outright illegal, but they’re not recommended either.
To get caught up on the current season, you can use the free trial on MTV.com. If you activate the free trial in a private browser, MTV will not retain your information. So, you can make unlimited free accounts. You can also clear your browser history if you’d like to reset your trial.
International MTV websites have archives of The Challenge, such as MTV.ca. You will need to live in Canada or use a VPN like Hola that allows you to change your location. This allow you to unrestrict access on MTV.ca. Some other MTV sites have Challenge seasons on them. If you go to MTV Germany, you can watch Vendettas and the swearing is uncensored.
Bonus: The Challenge YouTube
While you can’t watch prior Challenge seasons on YouTube, MTV does have a free Challenge channel on YouTube. It has a lot of bonus content and countdown lists. This will give you clips from previous seasons in good quality. Many of the best challenge moments can be found here if you dig enough.
Feel free to let me know if there are other methods of accessing The Challenge. All of these methods are subject to change. If you notices a broken or incorrect link, I’d appreciate a heads up!