How to Get Free Cable TV

1. Get an HDTV Antenna

A TV antenna might sound outdated – after all, today’s TVs don’t really need or use antennas. However, swapping your cable TV package for a simple antenna can give you a selection of channels for free.

And TV antennas are really becoming a popular alternative to cable. Research shows that 20 percent of broadband homes in the U.S. have installed digital antennas since 2017.

These new antennas are actually HDTV antennas, which offer excellent broadcast signals and give you access to a number of local channels. If you live in a pretty populated area or city, you could get over 100 channels for free with one of these antennas.

To make an HDTV antenna work for you, you just need to figure out which type of antenna will work best for your home and location. You can search online to figure out which type of antenna is best, and which will get you the highest number of channels for free.

There is a small cost involved in purchasing an HDTV antenna. But once your antenna is installed, you won’t have to pay anything at all to access local channels.


Haystack News: Local news, weather channels

Haystack News is a really elegant way to get news feeds from local ABC and CBS channels along with international news feeds. It’s a quick way to look at the local weather in your area, and find out what’s happening across the world. 

To get the most out of Haystack, you should sign-in either with a Facebook or Google profile. Make sure you pick your local town or city you live in, and what local stations you want to see in your live stream. 

Haystack has more than 300 local, national and international news streams, and it’s all free.  

8. Using Google Chromecast

This device provides access to free premium channels such as Netflix, Hulu, among others. You can also install the device to your TV provided you have the required hardware, and your TV has HDMI port.

11. Purchasing Sling TV

Sling TV allows one to be able to stream videos through television sets, smartphones, and digital media players. The TV set is compatible with other devices such as Roku, Google chromecast, Amazon fire TV cube, among others.

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:

How *I* Get Free Cable Television

Again, this isn’t a trick.

I’m not using a black box cable television descrambler.

There’s no hacking or illegal tech either.

All I have is my television which had a built-in HD tuner and a cable connected to the wall jack:

I get cable television using no provider equipment
I get cable television using no provider equipment: just my tv plugged into the wall jack.

This is the best part!

I’m using nothing at all.

As you can see above, there isn’t a cable box.

And I swear that I didn’t conveniently remove or photoshop an HD antenna or anything just for this article.

So how did I get this to work?

Oh, you’re going to love this:

It’s so simple it’s disgusting.

I scanned for it!

Yes, that’s all I did to get cable television beyond what my Limited Basic plan calls for.

All I had to do was go to my television’s setup, and tell it to scan for available stations.

When it finished after an hour, it had found all of the standard stations which are included with the Limited Basic cable package my HOA dues cover, plus about 32 or so “digital stations”.

The best part was the tv’s built-in tuner also pulled in the in-between HD versions!

After the scanning was done, all I had to do was go through the channels one at a time and when I came across one that was in standard definition, I simply removed it from my available channels.

Now, I know what you are thinking…this must be some sort of fluke, like when you were a kid and set the tv to channel 2 and the cable box to the porn channel and you could see it semi-clearly.

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical too.

So I went to my parents’ house and conducted a little experiment.

You see, they have a completely different cable television provider than I have, and they have newer tv sets.

The results were the same as mine, except better.

On their television, the digital music stations came in with the sound and picture, where I didn’t get anything.

So that told me all I needed to know–this wasn’t something relegated to only my television or my cable television provider.

You can try it for yourself one evening or weekend when you have a little spare time.

Who knows, maybe you will even have better results.

5. Free Streaming Services

In addition to the Netflixes and Hulus of the world, we found 11 free streaming services that let you watch movies and TV without paying a dime. Most rely on ads to keep the lights on, but others, like Kanopy and Hoopla, work with your local library to bring you an impressive streaming catalogue of movies. Others, such as Yahoo View and Pluto TV, let you watch live TV channels and on-demand shows from ABC, NBC, and Fox.

7. TV Network Apps

Almost every TV channel has an app with on-demand content these days, and a lot of them don’t require a cable account to access. You’ll usually just have to wait a little bit to access the most recent episodes. On ABC’s app, for example, you’re able to watch popular shows such as “The Bachelor,” “The Good Doctor,” and “Modern Family” one week after they initially air.

Use a streaming device: smart TV, game console, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast or Apple TV

You won’t need that cable box anymore, but you will need some kind of streaming device to watch services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max. Maybe the app is built into your smart TV, maybe into your game console, or maybe you have to buy a new streaming device like a Roku or Apple TV. In any case you’ll also need to connect such a device to each TV that’s currently connected to a cable box.

Streaming devices are relatively cheap ($25 and up), and you don’t have to pay the cable company every month to rent one. And with most services you can also watch on your phone, tablet or computer.

Read more: Best Streaming Device in 2022

Sports fans can cut the cord too, but it can get

Sports fans can cut the cord too, but it can get expensive to see your team’s regular season MLB, NBA or NHL games.

David Katzmaier/CNET

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? 

PBS Video app

The PBS app has a robust lineup of news and shows, and you can get access to local programming through the app. No cable sign-in is needed. There is a simple sign-up process that you can complete on a smartphone, tablet or PC. 

Once the app knows your nearby PBS station, you will get access to whatever programming appears on the local PBS channel. 

For access to the full library of shows on PBS, then you’ll need to subscribe to PBS Passport. But if you’re watching shows a day or two after airing, then the free content is as just as good as having a local channel without paying for a cable TV subscription.

3. Stream Cable TV Online Yourself

If you’re hesitant to give up your favorite cable TV channels and shows, you aren’t alone. But thanks to the popularity of streaming and watching TV online, there are ways to actually watch cable TV online. 

Most people are already paying for high-speed internet. So, why not take advantage of your internet and use it to watch cable TV for free?

You just need to search for free TV services online. There are plenty available today, including:

  • A website dedicated to TV programming, where you can watch your favorite TV shows for free. 
  • Network Websites: The popular cable networks (like ABC, NBC, and FOX) have their own websites. And they actually let you watch their programs the same day their air. You can also watch previous seasons and old episodes.
  • Classic Television Online: This website lets you watch classic TV shows for free. You can watch daytime TV shows, old prime-time specials, and even late-night shows.
  • Roku Devices: For a small investment, you can buy a Roku device and tune in to plenty of TV for free. Roku offers past and current TV show episodes from many different channels.
  • YouTube TV: A newcomer online, YouTube TV gives you the opportunity to watch TV shows from popular cable networks right online.

What is the Best App for Free TV?

Pluto is the best overall platform to stream free TV. The app provides access to over 100 networks, from lifestyle to news.

If you like to watch movies for free, Crackle is a good choice, but Pluto is the closest to the cable experience without paying a dime.

Try to replace your DVR’d shows with streaming options

Do you use your cable box’s DVR a lot? Live TV streaming services offer a “cloud DVR,” but they do have some limitations compared to TiVo or the DVR from your cable company. They often have storage limits, shows that expire after a certain time, limitations on which channels can be recorded, and some even force you to watch commercials. YouTube TV has the best cloud DVR we’ve tested, and in most ways it’s as good as TiVo, and most other services’ cloud DVRs are solid too.

Thanks to on-demand, however, you might not miss your DVR much at all. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others let you watch shows on-demand — often the same shows you’re using your DVR to record. And live TV services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV offer a lot of on-demand shows, and you can often pause or even skip commercials. On the other hand, every episode of every show might not be available.

Cut the cord: Premium channels

By cutting the cord, you’re also losing your access to premium channels, which often have some of the most daring content on TV. Networks like HBO Max, Showtime and Starz are the prime destination for edgy dramas like Game of Thrones, Homeland and Outlander, respectively. You can also get raunchy comedy specials, niche documentaries and newly released movies. The good news is that premium channels have begun cutting out the middleman. The three aforementioned networks all exist in stand-alone formats. HBO Max contains the entire HBO library for $14.99 or $9.99 with ads. Showtime Anytime costs $14 per month and Starz costs $9 per month; both can be access through standalone apps or via Amazon or Apple channels. Subscribing to these channels allows you to stream shows, either as soon as they air or on-demand after the fact. You can also stream movies, comedy specials, documentaries and even specialty sports events, just like what you get on the cable channel. The price tags are not for the faint of heart, since each one is just as expensive (if not more so) than a comprehensive streaming service. All three apps are widely available, so you should be covered whether you use a smart TV, streaming player, game console, mobile device or computer.

Your Turn

Have you tried this simple technique? What have been your results? Let us know and please include your city/state too. Even though this will vary based on televisions and cable television providers, maybe someone from your area can get it to work narrowing the problem down to your TV or provider!


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