Free and cheap TV without Cable or Satellite

Save Thousands of Dollars While Watching the TV Shows You Love

By Brian Shim | Updated 

I’d like to help you save money by canceling cable TV and replacing it with free and cheap alternatives. It’s called “cord cutting” and the techniques I present in this site are completely legal!

The average cable customer spends $100 a month on cable. 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 many of the same shows for much less or free?

Part of the solution to the ridiculous cost of cable and satellite TV is to switch to 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.

Broadcast TV antennas that I have tested
Some of the TV antennas I have tested

You can also connect your TV to a device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV to get additional free and pay TV and movie services using your Internet connection. I explain all of this on DisableMyCable™.

Start with Free Broadcast Digital TV

Did you know that people in or near big cities can receive most of the major network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), plus PBS and local stations in hi-def for free? It’s called broadcast digital TV. I was able to get thirty channels total in Providence, RI, and 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 the one to the right. 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.

Finding TV Stations at DisableMyCable.com
The FCC's Station Finder

If the stations you want are available, then keep going! If not, skip down to other options.

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), 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!

If You Have an Old Analog Tube TV

If you have an old analog tube TV, you can still get free TV using an antenna.  You’ll need to get a converter box to do it.

Tube TV
Tube TV

My Two Favorite Indoor TV Antennas

I’ve done extensive testing and come up with my top two favorite indoor TV antennas – the ones which bring in the most channels reliably in my testing. Hint – they are both flat! Read more about the TV antennas I chose!

The Mohu Leaf and Cable Cutter Aerowave antenas
The Mohu Leaf and Cable Cutter Aerowave antenas

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

How to Get Cable TV Channels Without Cable/Satellite

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 more than a few companies offering live cable-TV-like streaming services over the Internet. Cost is a lot less than cable or satellite, and you can watch the shows on your computer, tablet, or phone, or on your TV using a streaming device.

One of my recommended streaming services is Sling TV (affiliate link), which has plans starting at $30 per month. You can get all of the channels below for $45 per month:

Sling TV Orange and Blue Plan Channels
Sling TV Orange and Blue Plan Channels (affiliate link)

So, by using an antenna to get the networks and local channels for free, combined with a low-cost streaming service like Sling TV (affiliate link), 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.

My Favorite Way to Watch Streaming Services on My TV

If you want to watch streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Sling TV on your TV, you’ll need to get a streaming media player. These connect to your TV and require an Internet connection.

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

There are many streaming devices available, including Amazon Fire TVApple 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.

Watch TV and Movies on Your Computer for FREE

The Internet Remote Control: Free TV and Movies 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.

My Story

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.

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! Note, I cannot answer individual email sent to me; please leave your questions here instead. - Brian

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