The Best Ways to Watch TV Without Satellite, Cable, or Antenna

1. Set up Your TV for Streaming

If you bought a TV in the past few years, there’s a good chance it came with streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu built right in. Unfortunately, it might not have the ability to download some of the newest apps you need to rely on streaming completely. If your TV falls into this camp, your best bet is to purchase a TV streaming device like Amazon’s Fire TV or Roku. They run for about $50, plug right into your TV’s HDMI port, and typically have more user-friendly interfaces than smart TVs. With rare exceptions — see Amazon’s ongoing feud with Google — you’ll be able to access just about every streaming app through these devices.

3. Watch Free TV Online

A lot of channels, including major networks, actually post full episodes of their shows online.

Really!

You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but a lot of networks post their programs on their websites, and you can watch them for free!

Often, the content the networks post online will only be available to watch for a limited time, but it’s still free TV!

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Local News Channels on NewsOn

The NewsOn app is the best resource for people who ditched cable TV, but still want local newscasts. It doesn’t matter if you live in Houston, Texas or Bangor, Maine. You can find your local newscasts just like you still had cable, but without footing the bill. 

Pretty impressive. NewsOn is available on most streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Streaming Devices

What is a streaming device?

A device that streams is a way to gain access to countless channels and shows without TV signals, satellite TV, cable, or an antenna. A device that streams can have many different apps preloaded, but you will need to log into your accounts, like Hulu, Disney+, or Netflix. A streaming service offers quality reception with reliable internet. A streaming service allows you to stream major networks and channels without the hassle of dealing with a cable company.

What is the best streaming device?

The best device that streams content depends on your personal preference. If you prefer to use Alexa with your television, the Amazon TV Firestick may be the best choice for you. If you prefer to use Android products, a Chromecast TV would be the best choice. If you use Siri and prefer to use only Apple products, consider using Apple TV to stream. There are many choices, each with its pros and cons.

How do streaming devices work?

A device that streams content only works with the internet, and they usually work best with reliable internet. Streaming devices use the internet to give you access to movies, shows, and apps like Youtube or Apple music. Usually, you will need to have an account to use certain apps, like Disney+ or Hulu.

Do I need a streaming device with a SmartTV?

Many SmartTVs come loaded with apps, websites, and streaming services. If you have a SmartTV, you may not need to invest in a streaming service, like an AppleTV or Firestick. Whether you go with a device that streams using the internet or a SmartTV, you will need to log in to any services you want to use. Both streaming devices and SmartTVs should save your login information so you won’t need to log in often.

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.

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? 

6. Share Passwords

Just about every TV streaming service out there allows you to have at least two simultaneous streams going at once, and some, such as PlayStation Vue, go all the way up to five. And if someone you know subscribes to cable TV, you can usually use their account to log in to that company’s mobile TV service. Most cable channels also have standalone apps that can be accessed via a cable account.

While this practice is widespread — one study estimates that 26 percent of millennials use the password from someone else’s TV streaming account — it’s not explicitly allowed by streaming services. Netflix, for example, states in its terms of service that passwords “may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.” That said, no one seems to be particularly concerned about it. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in 2016: “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with, because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids …. so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is.”

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:

  • TV.com: 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.

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 Watch TV Networks for Free

Whether you’re on the train or a treadmill, downloading apps of your preferred stations means you can watch your favorites anywhere, anytime. You can stream television shows for free on your tablet or phone, and stream episodes of your must-watch series to your TV with a Chromecast.

ABC App

You can watch all the latest episodes of your favorite ABC shows with “watch on-the-go.” Download the ABC app and stream your favorite programs live.

All you need to do is set up a free account, the rest is easy. Save your favorites, continue watching where you left off and even sync your preferences across multiple devices. If you have younger children, you will love the range of ABC Kids apps available.

NBC App

You can watch television and stream episodes of current NBC TV shows and classic hits by downloading the app for TV or mobile devices. The app allows you to live stream national and local news — anywhere, anytime! Enjoy your favorite series from more networks, including Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SYFY, USA, Telemundo and others. With the NBC app, you can also stream episodes of classic series and hit shows from beginning to end.

Fox App

The FOX app has everything you love from FOX and FOX Premium. Watch everything from television shows and movies, to documentaries and live sports. If you already have FOX on your TV, you can also enjoy shows, movies, and sports on your tablet or smartphone by downloading the app.

If you are a sports fanatic, you can watch live sports on FOX Sports, including NFL, basketball, MLB, soccer and many more.

The CW

The CW App is the only way to stream the latest episodes of shows for free. There is no subscription or password needed. Just install the app and stream the hit series you like. You can set reminders for when your favorite shows air and when they’re available to watch in the app.

Keep in mind that their coverage is limited to certain parts of the country. This app also features Nielsen’s measurement software to contribute to market research, like Nielsen’s TV Ratings.

CBS App

When you download the CBS app, you get CBS All Access. The app gives you access to live television channels, on-demand TV shows, movies and CBS original content. You will also be able to watch your local CBS station, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live 24/7. Keep in mind CBS All Access Live TV is only available in 206 markets, so just make sure you’re in one of those markets to enjoy your local news channel and CBS evening news.

PBS

PBS Video features thousands of full-length episodes of shows plus live TV from your local PBS station. Enjoy award-winning documentaries and iconic series from PBS and member stations. With the PBS app, you can stream popular shows anytime, anywhere, and create a custom watchlist for easy viewing later.

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.  

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.

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.

Check Out the Free Streaming Content Available

Before you go wild signing up for new subscription streaming services, I recommend that you take a little time to research some of the free options available to you.

The free streaming market has thousands of hours of TV shows and movies available, and you can jump in and out of these services without signing up for accounts or handing over your credit card.

After watching these services for a few weeks, you might be surprised at just how little you miss the hundreds of channels you were paying for — but not actually watching — with your cable subscription.

Team Clark has done extensive research on the free streaming market, so be sure to check out our guide to the best free streaming services.

But if you’re in a hurry to get started, here are a few free services that I recommend you try first:

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Also, don’t be afraid to check out non-traditional free streaming TV options such as YouTube and Twitch. They have growing libraries of original content that may catch your eye.

Why Is Cable So Expensive?

Bundling is one of the big reasons cable TV prices have become so high in recent years. For instance, the average monthly cable bill for consumers ranges from $70 to $100 per month in most homes. Many people believe the cable providers are to blame for bundling and price hikes.

Sure, they do make some good money from the bundling of channels. However, it is the large networks that are actually behind higher prices. They force cable providers to bundle unwanted channels along with the popular ones.

Those big networks have all the power. If the providers refuse to bundle channels, the networks will respond by simply finding a different provider who will.

Therefore, the providers keep agreeing to the demands of the networks and customers keep paying high bills because many are locked into a long-term contract. Nevertheless, dissatisfied customers are looking for—and finding—alternatives.

Smart TV vs. Streaming Device: Make Your Choice

Once you’re sure that your home internet service is sufficient, your next big decision is how you’ll consume the streaming content once you cut the cord.

If you’re looking to replicate the cable experience on your living room television, then you’ll need a way to connect that TV to your streaming subscriptions. Think of it as needing access to a cable box without paying that pesky monthly fee to get one.

There generally are two options for this: You can either use a smart TV that has streaming apps built into the menu, or you can make a one-time purchase of a streaming device to connect to your TV.

Though many of you may be perfectly happy with the way your smart TV performs, we generally suggest that streamers pick a streaming device (such as Roku or Amazon Fire TV).

There are a few reasons having a streaming device could be advantageous:

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  • User-friendly interfaces: Our experience with smart TVs is that the user experience can vary greatly by model. Some can be clunky and slow. When you have a Roku or Amazon Fire device, you’re typically getting a top-of-the-line experience in custom-built and well-maintained ecosystems.
  • Most apps live here: With a few notable exceptions, Roku and Amazon Fire typically have access to the major streaming apps for live, on-demand consumption — for free. Smart TVs sometimes are limited in their content selections and can be slower to adapt when new services come along.
  • They’re portable: Streaming devices plug into your TV’s HDMI port, which means you can simply unplug it to move from room to room as needed. You also can take this to a friend’s house or on vacation. Your smart TV can be moved as well, obviously, but who wants to lug a 60-inch TV around?
  • You can connect your content between devices: If you have three or four different brands of smart TVs in your home, the experience may vary. But purchasing a Roku stick for each and connecting the same Roku account to all of them lets you keep all of your apps, favorites, etc., at your fingertips no matter which television you’re using.

How To Get Cable Tv Without Paying For It?

9 Ways to Watch TV Without a Cable Bill is a guide to cord-cutting. ….Use a Live Streaming Service…..Check out Locast…..Sign up for an On-Demand Service Like Netflix or Hulu…..Free Streaming Services…..Share Passwords…..TV Network Apps.

How Can I Legally Get Free Cable? People are getting free cable TV channels in four legal ways. Invest in a high-definition television antenna. A TV antenna may appear to be obsolete; after all, today’s televisions do not require or use antennas…. Sign Up for a Free Video Streaming Service…. Stream Cable TV Online….. Share a Video Streaming Service Account.

How Can I Get Tv Channels Without Paying For Cable? Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV are the finest ways to watch local ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS programming. In practically every market in the United States, they both provide a way to live stream major broadcast networks. DIRECTV Stream and FuboTV are two other options for watching local channels.

How Can I Get Basic Cable Without Paying? There are several ways to get basic cable for free or at a low cost. Antenna for HDTV. With a quality HDTV antenna, you may access a surprising number of cable and other channels:…. Amazon Prime….. Hulu….. Netflix….. TV.com….. Free Online Viewing.

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.

Ready? It’s time to cancel your cable service

After you’ve lived with streaming for a while and have grown comfortable with the process of clicking on an app rather than firing up your cable box, it’s time to make the fateful call. Your cable provider might offer you incentives to stick around and you’ll have to weigh those against the benefits of cutting the cord, but do so carefully. Especially if the offer is contingent on signing a two-year contract. A lot can change in two years and with the freedom of streaming, it’s simply a lot easier to save money than with cable.

In the end, cutting cable TV isn’t for everyone. No single device or service has as many channels as a premium cable package. Juggling different services to find the shows you want to watch can be more effort than some people are willing to put in.

On the other hand, cutting cable is getting easier with every new option that hits the market. Beyond the savings, you get the freedom of being able to pick and choose the service you want — and drop it like a hot potato if you don’t like it anymore, your favorite show ends or something new comes along. Cutting cable is all about choice and if you do it right, you’ll never miss that old cable box.

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