21 Ways to Get Free Premium Cable Channels (2021 Guide)

1. Getting Over The Air HDTV Antenna

Do you know how to get free satellite tv with a dish? Yes, the HDTV antenna will work for both. Over the air (OTA) high definition antenna offer both free cable TV for life for both basic and premium channels. This antenna offers better signals especially to the people living broadcast towers approximately 35 miles from the tower. You can save on the OTA antenna investment by using the leftover cables that might have been left by your cable TV providers. The HDTV antenna also offers free local channels.

Video

TV shows from FOX and NBC through Hulu

If you just want local channels to watch a favorite show on FOX or NBC, Hulu on-demand is a cheap alternative to a TV antenna. At $6.99 per month, you get some coverage of the latest comedies, dramas and reality TV shows. 

Hulu is also an inexpensive way to catch up on past seasons from cable channels such as A&E, History and Science Channel. 

Can You Watch Rogers Cable Without a Box?

Rogers does not offer any kind of cable service without their cable box.

Even their basic cable package requires you to install a digital TV box, so you will want to consider upgrading. If you don’t want to install a cable TV box, you will not be able to subscribe to and watch Rogers Cable.

How to DVR Shows and Movies

Cable companies love to use DVRs to keep you under contract. This tactic worked on me. I loved our DVR from DIRECTV and thought I couldn’t live without it.

It’s possible to watch free basic cable channels and record them with a standalone DVR. The Fire TV Recast is a fantastic option. It works with a Fire TV.

Like other standalone DVRs, the Fire TV Recast only records content from over-the-air networks. It won’t record content on streaming platforms.

Read our Fire TV Recast review to learn how the DVR works.

14. Popcornflix

This another alternative that one can use to stream premium channel shows online without any fees. Like the Tubi TV, the site doesn’t require any registration.

Watch TV and Movies on Your Computer for FREE

My links to free movies, TV, and video online
My links to free movies, TV, and video online

People have asked me for an easy way to watch their favorite TV shows on the Internet. Here it is: your Free Internet Video Links! I’ve assembled the best sources of free TV on the Internet and put them on one easy-to-use page – you Internet “Remote Control”! Note, these sites mostly work on desktop and laptop computers, not phones or tablets. Free Online Video

How Do You Get Basic Cable Channels Without a Box? Will a TV Work Without a Cable Box? Do You Need a Cable Box If You Have a Smart TV?

Basic cable channels are available through an antenna, or you can download the app for your cable provider if one is available.

A TV will absolutely work without a cable box, but you will need to download streaming apps or connect a streaming app to view content.

If you have a smart TV, you might not need a cable box, especially if you only watch content on streaming platforms such as Netflix.

Do you care about watching sports?

Sports fans have an increasing number of streaming options that show live games, but depending on which sport(s) you follow, the local team(s) in your area and how many games you want to watch, it can get costly. Channels devoted to NBA basketball, NHL hockey and MLB baseball teams, known as regional sports networks, are available on most cable networks but are rare and expensive on streaming services. These are the channels you’ll need to watch most regular-season games for those sports (the playoffs are generally on national channels).

Live TV streaming service DirecTV Stream’s $90 plan is often the only option if you want to watch your local RSN via streaming, although in some parts of the country a somewhat cheaper service (namely YouTube TV or Fubo TV at $65 or $70, respectively) will carry your channel. Coverage varies widely by sport, team and city, so check out our dedicated guides for more details — including exactly which services carry your local team and how much they cost. 

Read more: MLB Streaming 2022: How to Watch Your Baseball Team Live This Season

NFL pro football is a different beast. Those games are usually carried on local CBS, Fox and NBC networks, but you’ll typically need an antenna, a live TV streaming service, or watch select games on Paramount Plus, Peacock or Amazon Prime Video — the latter will host Thursday Night Football exclusively in 2022. And of course you’ll need ESPN, available on most live streaming services, to watch Monday Night Football.

If you like to chat with friends in real-time during the game, or follow live games on Twitter or social media, be aware that streaming sports are often delayed compared to the “live” game on cable or elsewhere. The Super Bowl, for example, lags 30 seconds to a minute behind cable.

How to DVR Stuff Without Cable

Okay, so one of the pitfalls of canceling the cable subscription is that you can’t record stuff, and many people miss recording their favorite shows and movies.

Fortunately, just because you’ve cut the cord, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out.

All you need to do is invest in a device that records TV.

Here are a few to consider:

Wrapping Up

I get it, this trick won’t work for everyone or you may want/need more variety than what you can get.If you prefer something else, try out Hulu which has a large selection of broadcast-type television shows, as well as originals.If that doesn’t work for you, then maybe Amazon Prime will be more to your liking. Not only do you get the free 2-day delivery on eligible purchases, but you get the Prime Video included which I’ve actually been loving lately (more for the movies than tv shows).Or, if you want cable television networks without the high cost, you can get 7 days of Sling for Free to try. Then if you like it pay as little as $20/mo with other plans available to add even more channels.

How to Record Broadcast TV Shows

Many people ask me if they can record the shows from free broadcast TV.  The answer is a resounding “yes”!

If you love the Amazon family of products like the  Echo and Fire TV, I recommend the Fire TV Recast. If you don’t use Amazon products, I would recommend Tablo

More Information on DVRs

Bottom Line

It’s easy to cut the cord on cable and save money. Start by purchasing a digital antenna to get local channels. In most cases, a digital antenna is also the perfect option to get basic cable channels at no cost.

There are plenty of ways to get television content without paying significant money. If those don’t provide enough shows, you can supplement them with a streaming provider.

Even if you choose a streaming service, you’ll save $50+ per month vs. paying for cable. That can be life-changing money if you manage it wisely.

What do you do to watch your favorite shows? How much do you spend on content each month? 

Install a TV antenna for local channels

One way to get around the high cost of local networks on streaming is to use an antenna. To qualify as a television, and not a monitor, a display needs to have an over-the-air tuner built-in, so you can plug in an antenna and watch broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS. Reception varies widely depending on where you live, however, and unless you buy an antenna DVR like the Fire TV RecastAirTV or TiVo Bolt OTA, you’re restricted to live-only viewing.

Read more: Cut the Cord for $10: Best Indoor TV Antenna



Over-the-air antennas are affordable and easy to

Over-the-air antennas are affordable and easy to install.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Watching Local Channels on Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku

If you are using a Roku or Amazon Fire TV, there are a few different ways you can watch free local channels using a TV antenna. 

With a Roku TV, you can simply plug your TV antenna into the coaxial port in the back of the television and scan for channels. Roku TVs have a built in channel guide that services free over-the-air channels and free streaming channels offered by Roku.

Otherwise, you can use a HDHomeRun DVR or a Tablo to stream free over-the-air channels through their respective apps on Roku and Fire TV. 

The TV Channels I Get

Ok, so we talked about the equipment I use to get my cable television programming.

We talked about the process, too.

Now, let’s talk about the TV channels I get using this little trick.

Local TV Stations

With my Limited Basic cable television subscription I get the normal local tv stations:

  • PBS
  • CBS
  • Univision
  • NBC
  • FOX
  • CW
  • Something Called My33
  • ABC

Using my TV’s scanning feature, I also get the same ones, but the HD versions on the in-between identifiers.

For example, if PBS in SD is channel 2, I get the PBSHD designation on channel 2-2 as well.

The same goes for each of the other local TV stations, all on the “-2” channel numbers.

Cable Channels

Similarly to the local TV stations, my specific plan comes with a few SD cable channels:

  • QVC
  • Mundo Fox
  • Ion
  • WGN Chicago
  • PBS/WXEL
  • PBS/WLRN
  • C-SPAN
  • Beacon
  • City Info
  • Jewelry TV
  • Telemundo
  • Univision
  • Weather Channel
  • Coral Springs TV
  • Mega TV
  • HSN
  • Cozi TV
  • METV
  • Justice Network
  • TeleXitos TV

QuboION LifeAntenna TVThisTVH&I (Heroes/Icons)Bounceget TVGritEscapeDecades

That’s it, that’s the extent of the cable channels I am supposed to get with my Limited Basic plan.

Just like the local tv stations above, I also get the first column of these cable channels in HD on the “-2” intervals, too!

Plus, living in South Florida, it’s good to get The Weather Channel during hurricane season, even with the local tv stations since it gives wider coverage.

When I used the scanner on the TV, I started getting the following cable channels:

  • FXM (Fox Movie Network)
  • BET
  • USA
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • FX
  • HGTV
  • Comedy Central
  • ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U
  • And a ton more of the “real” cable channels

I’m pretty sure I get at least 75% of the most popular stations out there.

It’s probably mostly all of the sub-100 numbered stations which are all of the most common ones.

Not Cooking, any of the FoxSports college stations, regionals like MSG or YES, HBO, Starz, etc. mind you.

There are some other obscure Spanish, shopping & local stations too but those are pretty irrelevant to me.

Option 3: Get What You Need From Video Streaming Services

This is a growing option for accessing content from local channels.

If you’re not keen on buying an antenna or paying for one of the live TV streaming services, you may be able to get what you need from a video streaming service.

ViacomCBS service Paramount+ (starting at $4.99 per month) and NBC’s Peacock ($4.99 per month) are two relatively new players in this field. And they both offer local channel content at a fraction of the cost of a live streaming subscription.

Paramount+ includes a live stream of your local CBS affiliate with its Premium subscription package ($9.99 per month). But you can get on-demand streams of CBS content with the Essential package ($4.99) as well as some live content like NFL on CBS broadcasts. For many shows, such as 60 Minutes or NCIS, new content is often available for streaming within 24 hours of its live TV airing.

Peacock offers on-demand streaming of NBC shows, including Saturday Night Live, shortly after they air. It has a live streaming section for NBC content, but it’s not the local channel.

In 2022, Peacock streamed big events, including the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, live alongside traditional television broadcasts, which made it a great cost-saving option for viewing these events.

Hulu’s on-demand service ($6.99) also makes network TV content available for on-demand consumption shortly after broadcast airing.

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Final Thoughts

Many streamers have been in search of new sources for their local channels since Locast ceased operations in 2021. The good news is that there are several viable alternatives.

For many people, the only way to fully recreate the local channel experience that you get from cable is to sign up for a live TV streaming service.

However, the most cost-effective way to get this done is with an antenna.

If it’s just the content that you’re after and you don’t care when or how you come by it, you may be able to save some money and stress by sticking to the free content offered on apps.

How do you watch local channels for free? Let us know in our Clark.com Community!

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