A magazine devoted to free and cheap TV

You Might Already Own What You Need for Free TV

By Brian
Published 02/02/2013
 | Updated 07/16/2020

What if I were to say that you might already have everything you need to get free and cheap TV in your home, condo, or apartment? Why buy anything when you might have what you need? Take this inventory and find out!

Your Current TV

If you have a modern Hi-Def television, you can probably plug an antenna right into it and start getting free broadcast TV.  Most modern TV's can take either cable TV or broadcast TV input.  They both plug into the same coax jack.  No external box needed to try an antenna.

If you have a smart TV, it will be able to connect to the Internet and get low-cost video services like Hulu or Sling TV, eliminating the need for a Roku or Apple TV.  Check your TV's manual.

If you have an old tube type of TV, all is not lost, but you'll have to buy a converter box to get free broadcast TV.

Your Old TV Antenna Is Still Good

Remember the old days before cable TV when we used an antenna to get analog TV?  Well, digital broadcast TV will work with that same antenna.  Check your basement, closet, or garage to see if you have an old "rabbit ear" antenna lying around.  Or, even better, check your attic or roof to see if you have an antenna installed in your home or condo.  That's even better than an indoor antenna, and you can use it to get modern digital TV!

If you don't have an antenna, and don't want to spend $40 for one, you can improvise one.  A length of wire or any metal object can serve as a temporary primitive antenna.  While it might not bring in as many channels as a real antenna, it's enough to test with.

Your Game Console

Do you have an Xbox 360, Wii, or Playstation 3?  You can use any of these devices to watch Netflix and Hulu Plus on your TV.  Check for other services that work with your particular gaming device.  You might not need to buy a Roku or Apple TV if you have one of these gaming boxes.

Your Old Computer

Do you have an old unused computer lying around?  Why not use it to watch Internet video on your TV?  Most modern TVs have a monitor input.  Simply connect your computer to it using a monitor cable and you're ready to go!  Unlike Apple TV, Roku, and other set-top boxes, a real computer will have access to completely free video on the Internet like Hulu (which is free, as opposed to Hulu Plus, which you have to pay for), the network websites, and more.  So, recycle that old computer!  Personally, I love doing this because the selection of free TV on the Internet is huge.

Your DVD/Blue Ray Player

In the age of instant video, it's easy to forget about DVDs.  Did you know that your public library probably stocks a wide range of DVDs that you can borrow for free?  How about swapping DVDs with your friends and family?

Your Unused Dish Cabling

Although you can't use a satellite dish to receive regular broadcast TV, you can use the cabling that goes from your roof to your TV.  This would involve disconnecting the coax cable at the dish and instead connecting an outdoor digital TV antenna.  This would save you the hassle of running new cable and could significantly improve reception over an indoor antenna.

Well, I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to get free and cheap TV using the equipment that you already own.  You shouldn't have to pay a lot to watch TV!  Please share your questions or ideas below.  - Brian

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
If you did, please share it and sign up for my email updates. I'll send you my new articles, no more than once a month.

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. 

When you comment, you'll automatically receive replies by email. Your email address will not be displayed.

I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story!  Thanks! - Brian
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Scott
Scott
5 years ago

On a friend's advice I put a rabbit ears antenna at my roofline about 9 feet up and got more than 60 channels. Granted, a lot of other languages besides English, yet still a lot of English too. Later my landlord was removing an old style roof top antenna from the house in front of mine. I asked for it and he and I put up a pole and mounted it next to the house. My channel count has jumped to well over a hundred. Hint: point antenna toward tv tower area where you live. In L.A., so I directed it toward Mt. Wilson.

Brian
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Hi Scott,

Thanks for sharing and congrats! Your observations exactly match what I have found: https://www.disablemycable.com/antenna-tips/

Best,
Brian

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mary mullarkey
mary mullarkey
7 years ago

I used a r6 coaxial cable with a small metal piece that slides right onto the small wire in the cable, just stuff I found around the house and I have tvwithout paying for an antenna. I live way out in the sticks and was surprised I didnt have to work at trying to get reception. Just using a better cable worked for me.

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

Hi. Just found your site and am loving all your research and info...thank you!!! I am stuck in comcast land in northern nj. If I get chromecast, will I b able to watch HBO go? I am shut out on Roku. I hate comcast but they are my only choice. Thanks

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8 years ago

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Dolores
Dolores
8 years ago

I have a question..I have a few options since getting rid of my high priced cable and lower down to my 30.00 pkg which I see is not worth keeping really so that is going soon.
But...I was own a converter box, the bad thing about this box is example, I can get qubo in my bedrooom but not in the living room. I have since done research and found out where my towers are, for antennas and boosters by going to:
http://antennasearch.com/ and also http://www.tvfool.com/ this last one gave me a list of tv stations I can get, so what Im wanting to know is this:
Is there an option or is it best to use my converster, where I have to keep moving my rabbit ears...or do I install an outdoor antenna and point it in the direction of the towers? I hate that if I want a certain station, I have to get up and move the rabbit ears and turn the antenna to get that station. I just cant sit and flip stations on my remote control.
Any ideas?

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