Why pay for cable television when you can stream or download hours of content without a fee? Thank heavens there’s free cable TV!
Advancing technology has provided us with more options for accessing and watching our favorite TV programs or classic movies. Just as traditional television had been bumped off by subscription-based cable TV or streaming platforms, the latter also faces steep competition from free online streaming sites and apps.
Who can blame the average media consumer? If it means savings and convenience, who would indeed choose to continue paying for content? Fortunately, the rise of internet-based free streaming apps also came with more diverse content that can be customized or selectively chosen, unlike the surfeit of cable TV channels you pay for whether you watch them or not.
Free cable TV is out there, and it’s just a matter of selecting which platforms or sites to patronize. This article will discuss how to get free cable TV, from hardware specifics to platform features, to create an inexpensive and personalized online watching experience. Ready? Lights, camera, action.
Best Ways To Set Up Free Cable TV
1. Buy an HDTV Antenna
First on our list is an HDTV antenna – a simple yet powerful device. It captures free, over-the-air (OTA) broadcast signals from numerous TV stations in your local area. Remember those rabbit-ear antennas from back in the day? Well, the modern HDTV antenna is their supercharged descendant.
You might wonder where to purchase one of these magical devices. They’re readily available on e-commerce platforms like Amazon or your local electronics store. Once you’ve secured your antenna, setting it up is a breeze. Connect it to your TV, mount it at a suitable location, and scan for channels.
What makes an HDTV antenna remarkable is the sheer variety of content it brings to your fingertips. With access to local channels like NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, you can enjoy your favorite news, sports, and entertainment shows, all in high definition.
2. Watch TV Online
Several network websites offer access to a portion of their content for free. For example, on their official websites, you can tune into NBC, ABC, Fox, The Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, and Food Network.
All you need to do is sign up on these platforms. You have free TV shows, movies, and exclusive online content. While the scope might be limited, it’s still a great way to catch some of your favorite shows without spending a dime.
3. Watch via Online Streaming Platforms
Going online can lead to unexpected treasures, such as free cable TV. Various online streaming platforms offer this very opportunity, and what’s needed is simply an internet connection and a device to watch on. Now, let’s dive into some examples.
- Crackle: Crackle, which is owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, provides a free streaming platform featuring a variety of TV shows, films, and exclusive content. Be aware that you’ll encounter advertisements since this is how they support their no-cost service.
- TubiTV: TubiTV flaunts a massive library of films and TV shows, all at no cost! The catch? A few ads here and there. But with a plethora of content, ranging from old classics to new hits, it’s worth the occasional interruption.
- Popcornflix: Popcornflix is an online movie streaming platform that offers free access to movies and TV shows, all without the need for a subscription. On this platform, you’ll discover a diverse range of content, including exclusive documentaries and independent films.
- GoStream and Pluto TV: Looking for an extensive range of channels for free? GoStream and Pluto TV have got you covered. They boast a massive range of categories to suit everyone’s tastes. They do offer ad-supported content, so a little patience is required.
- Pluto TV: Pluto TV has a unique setup – live TV channels dedicated to specific content, from news to sports, comedy to cartoons. Imagine flipping through channels in the traditional sense but on your device!
- Netflix and Amazon Prime Video: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are subscription-based but offer a free one-month trial. You can enjoy a month-long binge of top-notch, original content and classics.
You can also explore these free TV apps that enable you to watch content of your choice anytime and from anywhere without incurring any charges.
4. Watch TV Shows on YouTube
Did you know YouTube isn’t just about funny cat videos or makeup tutorials? A whole universe of free cable TV content is waiting to be discovered. Many TV networks have their own YouTube channels that frequently post full episodes or clips of their shows.
Head over to YouTube, search for your favorite network’s channel, hit subscribe, and voila! You’re in for a treat. From late-night comedy sketches to captivating documentaries, it’s free entertainment.
One Less Cable in the Neighborhood = Less Bills
Cutting your home’s cable TV subscription might seem drastic at first glance. However, this decision could translate to more freedom and fewer bills. Gone are the days when cable TV held a monopoly on our screens.
In today’s digital age, free cable TV and various other viewing options are at your fingertips. The article further explores the financial implications of cable TV, the rise of alternatives, and practical ways to set up free cable TV in your home.
The Cost of Cable TV
- Cable TV subscriptions in the United States can be a significant monthly expense, ranging from $50 to $125 per month. This translates to an annual expenditure of approximately $1,080.
- While cable TV offers a wide range of channels, it’s essential to consider whether this expense is justified, especially if you only use it sporadically or as background noise.
- Cable TV providers often boast about their extensive channel lineups, but the reality is that many viewers only watch a small fraction of these channels.
- It’s common for cable packages to include niche channels catering to specific interests, which may not be of value to all subscribers.
The Rise of Alternatives
- With the increasing costs of cable TV subscriptions, many viewers are seeking alternatives to traditional cable and satellite TV providers.
- Digital viewing options like Hulu, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime Video offer more affordable alternatives with diverse content libraries.
- Streaming platforms have gained immense popularity, offering high-definition content at a fraction of the cost of cable TV.
- These services provide the convenience of on-demand movies and shows, allowing you to watch your favorite content whenever and wherever you want.
The Bonus Of Free Cable
- Free cable TV options are available through antennas or internet-based services, granting access to local channels and basic cable content.
- Free cable TV lets you stay informed with local news and enjoy popular network shows without needing a costly cable subscription.
Hidden Costs of Cable Service
- In addition to the subscription fee, cable TV service often comes with hidden costs, including charges for DVR services, fees for extra set-top boxes, and premiums for HD channels or specific networks like HBO or Showtime.
- Subscribers may also experience frustrations related to service outages or interactions with cable companies’ customer service.
Broadband Speed and Cable Bundles
- Cable companies frequently offer bundled services, combining TV, internet, and phone services at a reduced rate.
- It’s important to assess whether you genuinely need all the services in a bundle, especially considering the decreasing relevance of landline phones and the increasing importance of high-speed broadband internet for various aspects of modern life, such as work, school, and entertainment.
New Ways To Set Up Free Cable TV
- Bring the Antenna Back
Gone are the days when antennas were a staple stop on every television. However, you’d be surprised at what modern antennas can do.
One such gadget is the Gesobyte Amplified TV Antenna. For a mere $30, this device allows you to tap into 40-150 channels, boasts a range of 250 miles, and ensures a clear HD picture. Talk about value for money.
If that sounds too expensive, the 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna offers a $12 discount. It’s an economical alternative with a 200-mile range and 15-80 channels.
- Get a Smart TV With Streaming Services
Numerous modern smart TVs offer effortless access to free basic cable TV. They seamlessly integrate with over-the-air antennas and provide direct access to a wide range of streaming platforms from your television.
- Download Specific Channel Apps
Channel-specific apps are another way to keep up with your favorite shows. Many come with a free tier or offer affordable subscriptions under $10/month.
Take Paramount+, for instance. This platform streams live TV, hosts a vast array of on-demand shows and movies, and produces original content. Likewise, NBCUniversal’s Peacock app is a haven for news and sports junkies, offering live streams, more than 50 custom channels, and a whopping 60,000-80,000+ hours of on-demand content.
Other options include Fox Now, The CW, ABC, and PBS. Remember, though, you’ll need internet access for this approach.
- Try Live TV Streaming Services
Live TV streaming services can sometimes be a bargain compared to cable packages. Let’s talk about Sling TV. This platform, particularly its Sling Blue tier, brings local FOX and NBC channels and others to your screen. It’s one of the cheapest out there.
Alternatively, if you are okay with shelling out more, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV pack quite a punch. Both offer over 85 channels, including local ones, making the price worthwhile.
- Stream Local News Online
Local news is crucial, and many stations understand this. That’s why they offer free live streams directly from their websites. So, with just a few clicks, you can stay up-to-date on your local happenings without spending a dime.
- Watch Free Content on the Internet
There’s a lot of TV you can watch for free online. You can go to websites like YouTube to watch full episodes of TV shows and movies legally.
- Dive into Pluto TV
Lastly, let’s talk about Pluto TV. It’s a free live TV streaming service offering over 320 channels. Not too shabby for a free service. With Pluto TV, you can add variety to your TV-watching experience without denting your wallet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Free Cable TV
What Is a Free TV Channel?
A free TV channel is a channel you can watch without paying a subscription fee. Advertisements typically support them, with examples ranging from local broadcast networks to online channels on platforms like YouTube. These free TV channels provide various content, from news and sports to movies and TV shows. No wallet is needed; tune in and enjoy!
Can I Get Free TV on My Smart TV?
Yes, your Smart TV is more than capable of accessing free TV content. The possibilities are extensive, from HD antennas to free or low-cost channel apps. Add live streaming services, YouTube, and local news websites, and you have a buffet of free TV at your fingertips.
How Can I Get Free TV on My Smart TV?
You can use an HD antenna like the Gesobyte or 1byone to catch broadcast channels. Alternatively, explore the world of channel apps such as Paramount+ and NBCUniversal Peacock, which often offer free content.
You can also subscribe to free live streaming services like Sling TV or use platforms like YouTube, where networks post free content. Lastly, check out local news station websites for free live streams.
Conclusion – Free Cable TV
Why switch to free cable TV? Aside from savings of around $1,000 a year in cable TV subscription, you get to watch a variety of content and even supposedly exclusive, subscribers-only content via the internet for free, with the tolerable downside of watching some ads in some cases. It’s legal and convenient; besides, who can resist freebies?
So, with the above list, choose your preferred platform/s, purchase the necessary equipment, and get ready for hours of free and fun online entertainment.
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.