Congratulations on taking your first step toward getting free and cheap TV entertainment!
I’d like to help you save money by replacing cable TV, satellite, and expensive streaming services with free broadcast TV and affordable and free streaming services tailored specifically to your needs. The techniques I present on this site are completely legal, and I don’t do paid promotions on this site (though some of my links are affiliate links).
Many consumers spend over $100 per month on cable, satellite, or streaming services. That’s $1,200 per year for the rest of your life or about $60,000 in your lifetime! Why pay when you can watch great shows for much less or for free?
The first part of the solution to the ridiculous cost of cable, satellite, and some streaming TV services is to use FREE broadcast digital TV using an antenna like one of the ones below. If you live near or in a decent-sized metropolitan area, you should be able to get most of the network channels (ABC, CBS, NBS, Fox) plus PBS and local stations with an inexpensive indoor antenna.
The next step part of the solution is to utilize free streaming TV services that you can access on your smart TV or an inexpensive streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV. I explain all of this on DisableMyCable™.
Finally, for the remaining channels, you can use low-cost streaming services like Sling or Philo TV. I occasionally splurge for a movie on Amazon Video.
Are you ready to begin? Keep reading!
Step 1: See If You Can Get Free Broadcast Digital TV
If you live near a major metropolitan area in the United States, you should be able to receive most of the network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), plus PBS and local stations in hi-def using an antenna. It’s called broadcast digital TV. I was able to get thirty channels total in Providence, RI, and now over 100 in Los Angeles, CA. It takes a little work to set up, but I’ll guide you through it.
To see which channels you can get using an antenna, click the big Station Finder button below and enter your zip code.
You will see a map of your area like this one. Wait a few seconds for the colored list of stations to appear on the left. You should be able to pick up the green and yellow channels with a good indoor flat antenna. The ones in orange will probably require an outdoor antenna. The list is not exact but will give you a ballpark idea of the number of channels you should be able to get.
Test Your TV’s Reception Now – No Antenna Required!
If you have a modern flat-panel TV (the kind that you can hang on a wall), most likely all you need is an antenna to get these channels, and you’ll be getting most of them in high-definition, with better picture quality than you got with cable!
If you don’t have an antenna right now, here is a quick-and-dirty way to test your TV to see if it will work:
For detailed instructions on how to hook up your antenna and configure your TV, go to the antenna setup page on this site!
My Favorite Indoor TV Antenna
A rooftop outdoor antenna will get you the most channels. For those of you who are not able to install a rooftop antenna, I’ve done extensive testing of indoor antennas to come up with the one which brings in the most channels. Read more about the indoor TV antenna I chose!
Help with TV Reception and Lost Channels
One of the biggest problems people ask me about is why they lost TV channels and what they can do about it. Read what to do if lost channels after re-scanning, or if you lost channels for no apparent reason.
If you have flaky channels, check out my comprehensive list of fixes in this article:
If You Have an Old Analog Tube TV
If you have an old analog tube TV like the one above, you can still get free TV using an antenna. You’ll need to get a converter box to do it.
Step 2: Try These Free Streaming Services
There are so many great FREE streaming TV services now like Pluto TV. Even YouTube has great content, totally free. Everyone who is looking for TV and movie content should check out my recommended free streaming services.
I’ve assembled the best streaming TV services on the Internet and put them on one easy-to-use page – your Internet “Remote Control”!
My Favorite Streaming TV Devices
Unless you own a smart TV, you’ll need a streaming media player to watch services like Netflix, Hulu, Sling on your TV. These require an Internet connection.
There are many streaming devices available, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. But the one that I am recommending for most people is Roku. It offers the most channels, voice search across many content providers, and headphone output, all at a reasonable price. Read my full Roku review here, or more about all of the streaming devices I’ve reviewed:
Step 3: If You Need Cable Channels, Try These Affordable Streaming TV Services
Using an antenna is great for getting your local stations plus the major networks and PBS. But what if you need certain cable TV channels like AMC, ESPN, or HGTV?
Happily, there are now many streaming TV services offering cable channels. Cost can be a lot less than cable or satellite, and you can watch the shows on your computer, tablet, or phone, or on your smart TV or regular TV using a streaming device.
One of my recommended streaming services is Sling TV, which has plans starting at $30 per month. You can get all of the channels below for $45 per month:
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
So, by using an antenna to get the networks and local channels for free, combined with a low-cost streaming service like Sling TV or Philo TV, you have an impressive package of channels for a fraction of the cost of cable! And there is no contract, and no dealing with the cable company!
If you can’t get the networks using an antenna, don’t fret, there are services that offer live TV channels for you. For more information on all of the options, check out my page on streaming services.
How to Record Broadcast (Over-the-Air) TV Shows
If you want to record shows that you watching using your antenna, you’ll need a broadcast TV DVR. There are many on the market. Read my DVR guide for the one that is best for you!
I was a loyal cable TV customer for all of my adult life, paying about $34/month for basic cable (which sounds ludicrously cheap now). Then I moved to a different city where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was just surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV. Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” ended and my cable bill went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but that was the last straw. After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable” and try broadcast digital TV. The first thing I tried was an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days… Read the rest of my story here.
What is your recommendation for my outdoor antenna that works good, except when I turn on my kitchen lights with led bulbs. Will new, better quality bulbs help? What are my least expensive options to change? I have unplugged my old VCR and newer DVD player.
Only experimentation can answer this question. Try buying just one new bulb and see if that causes interference with all others removed.
I don’t know what kind of cabling you are using for your outdoor antenna, but if that could be re-routed, it might influence things. Grounding the shield at different points can also influence things. This can be done by wrapping a bare wire around the coax connector and attaching it to a known ground like a metal pipe.
I am using the cabling that Dish installed when I had Dish. Using from outdoor antenna to the home and inside.
i have 2 choices on running coax to outdoor antenna. either thru a window with flat coax jumper and 30 feet total coax or connect to my coax on side of home. this will have about 100 feet of coax total with 2 junctions (f turnarounds). i prefer to use home’s existing wiring and use a channel master 1×4 distribution amplifier after first 50 ‘ of coax (in av box in laundry room), but will all that cable cause too much loss where using flat coax thru window is better? thanks for any advice!
I’m concerned about using the amplifier “after the first 50 feet of coax”. Ideally, the amplifier should be as close to the antenna as possible, so that it’s powering most of the cable length.
Therefore, I would go with the flat cable through the window. Here’s one that is recommended:
In the end though, only experimentation will give you a definite answer.
I would like to replace my $170.00+ monthly cable service with local OTA digital channels and supplement additional channels with Sling. My question is what would be the best outdoor antenna to support 4 TVs, and what type of amplification would be needed to tie into the existing cable coax system? I live in Denver so coverage is not a issue. Also can I tie the antenna directly into the main cable coax input? Thanks, Rick
In general, outdoor antennas from Antennas Direct, Channel Master, and Winegard are good. See some specific Winegard recommendations here:
If you have strong signals, almost any outdoor antenna from these reputable companies should work. Just make sure they can pick up VHF signals. If you have signals coming from opposite directions, avoid antennas with a reflector.
If you have 4 TVs, I would use a distribution amplifier, but I would try it without it at first. See some good distributions amplifiers at the end of this article:
I was wondering, I am thinking about switching to Sling, and was wanting to know if there is an external hard drive that will work with Slings cable-oriented channels? I am asking because I am a huge auto racing fan and would like to record and keep a whole season to watch in the off-season to tie me over till the next one. Thank you for your time and attention. Michael :)
Your best bet might be to just use Sling TV’s cloud recording feature. Sling TV comes with 50 hours of recording, but you can buy 200 hours for just $5/month.
If you really want to record to a hard drive, you could use one of those HDMI recording boxes that gamers use:
But, you’d need to somehow get an HDMI signal with Sling TV feeding into it. Not sure how to do that unless your TV has an HDMI out (most don’t as far as I know). Or, you could get Sling on a computer browser and go out HDMI that way.
There’s a recording service called PlayOn that records to your computer, but unfortunately that doesn’t work with Sling TV.
Hi please send me an disable cable box please thank you and have an bless day and it tv free send that to
You don’t need a cable box if you have a modern TV. Just plug an antenna directly into your TV!
I’m an high functioning autism 25 years old man, who are currently living with my parents house, and going to be move in an apartment soon. How do I watch TV without cable or satellite while living in an the apartment?
Thanks for writing! Start by entering your zip code into the Station Finder to see how many free channels you could get using an antenna:
If you get any green channels, those are the ones you should be able to pick up using an indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf (assuming you have a relatively modern TV made after 2006). More info here:
On top of that, if you have a smart TV and Internet at home, you can use apps like Pluto TV to watch free TV shows. If your TV isn’t “smart”, then you can buy a Roku to watch lots of free channels like Pluto TV:
Hope this helps!
I loved when you said that if you live near or in a decent-sized metropolitan area, you should be able to get most of the network channels (ABC, CBS, NBS, Fox) plus PBS and local stations with an inexpensive indoor antenna. We have had cable tv connections for five years. Just yesterday, we are noticed that our subscription has been terminated. Maybe it’s time to apply for a new cable tv provider. I will follow your advice.
Great! Enter your zip code into the FCC’s Station Finder to see how many channels are available in your area:
Hope it goes well!
I just had direct TV out in my home. I can afford only one box at this time, however, I really want to watch TV in my bedroom. What do you suggest I use to also get TV in my room? I watch HIST, TLC, DIScovery, Investigation Dis, Tru Tv…
With cable and satellite, you’re kind of stuck; you’ll have to pay for a separate receiver for each TV. Generally they are at least $100 to buy and even more to rent over the long run.
These Internet streaming services offer a lot of the same channels for less:
These require a streaming box such as a Roku, which starts at $29.95.