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Frequently Asked Questions About Broadcast and Internet TV

Jul 12, 2020

I get a ton of questions from folks around the country asking me about how to cut cable and get free and cheap TV. I’ve compiled the most common questions and answered them here.

Q: Which indoor antenna should I get?

A: Go here to start. Basically, you should first check to make sure that broadcast signals are in your area by entering your zip code in the Station Finder before purchasing any antenna.

Q: Which outdoor antenna should I get?

A: I’d recommend getting a professional opinion from your local TV antenna installer if you want to put up an outdoor antenna. They will make sure it is grounded properly for lightning strikes.

Having said that, I do like the outdoor antennas from Antennas Direct, Channel Master, and Solid Signal.

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.

Q: How can I get more broadcast TV channels?

A: You’ll get the most channels with an attic antenna or outdoor rooftop antenna. If you are not able to set up a rooftop or attic antenna, try these tips with your indoor antenna.

Q: Why did I lose channels?

A: This is a very common question now with the “FCC Repack” going on. Basically, the FCC is re-arrange TV frequency spectrum to make more room for wireless carriers. The effect is that many stations are weaker (and some are completely gone). Here are some things you can do.

Q: How do I use one antenna with multiple TVs?

A: Yes, see the options for multiple TVs in this article.

Q: Does a Roku replace cable TV?

A: No. A Roku is not an exact replacement for cable TV. It allows you to watch free and paid content from the Internet such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and many others, on your TV. You can watch, say, ESPN or The Walking Dead but you’ll have to pay for a service such as Sling TV or YouTube TV. And, you don’t get the network stations on your Roku for free either. You have to pay for a service such as CBS All Access (or use an antenna connected directly to your TV). At the end of the day, many people can find content they are happy with using a Roku or other Internet-connected device, for much less than the cost of cable TV, but there may be some shows that can only be seen live on cable/satellite.

Q: Does a Roku require an antennna?

A: No, Roku gets its content from your home Internet connection, not an antenna. You can use either one without the other.

Q: I heard about a box that gives you all of the latest TV shows and movies for free. Is that for real?

A: There are services that provide the latest movies and TV shows for free or some low cost, but if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably illegal. For various reasons, I don’t recommend using those services.

Q: How can I watch sports without cable or satellite TV?

A: If you are in or near a major city, you should be able to get free broadcast TV to see sports on the networks and local channels. ESPN (along with other channels) is available on Sling TV for $30/month. Here’s more info on how to get sports without cable TV.

Q: How can I watch (insert your channel here) without cable or satellite TV?

A: My Streaming Service Finder will show you which streaming services you should get based on the channels you want.

Q: Can I record broadcast TV?

A: Yes, there are several options! See my recommended solutions for recording broadcast TV.

Q: Can I record video from the Internet?

A: Yes! Check out a service called Playon.

Q: How do I use an antenna with an old tube TV?

A: If you have an older TV, you’ll need a digital receiver box to get digital broadcast signals.

Q: Where can I get free Internet access?

A: This is more difficult than getting free TV. See my suggestions to lower the cost of your Internet service.

Q: Can I use my satellite dish to receive free broadcast TV signals?

A: Unfortunately, no. The satellite dish is not the correct shape and has special electronics that make it not usable for receiving free broadcast TV. However, you can still use the coax cabling from the dish to your TV if you want to install a broadcast TV antenna where your dish was. That would save the step of running new cable from your roof to your TV.

Links

For more technical info, check out some of these sites.

Technical Sites About Broadcast TV/Antennas/Reception

  • Antennas Direct’s Transmitter Locator – See exactly what direction your TV signals are coming from. Helpful to position your antenna.
  • AntennaWeb is a definitive source for antenna information with a tool that shows available channels in your area, as well as what direction they are coming from. Click on “Choose an antenna”.
  • Over-the-Air Digital TV Site – has some great information on TV signals, terrain masking, and attenuation of TV signals through various materials.
  • FTAList.com – information on free satellite TV (not Dish or DirecTV, but free satellite channels from around the world).
  • Titan TV – free online TV channel guide, including broadcast TV guides for your area! (In the “Channel Lineup” area, click “ADD”, then click “Broadcast” and enter your zip code).
  • tvfool.com – has great TV reception maps and signal locators, and a very good but highly technical forum. If you want an attic or roof antenna, check out their reviews.

Set-Top Boxes

Streaming TV

  • I’ve assembled all of the websites with free movies and TV on my free Internet Remote Control. Check it out!
  • Kylo.tv – this is an open-source browser that runs on your computer, but is optimized for viewing on a TV screen. Fonts are bigger and there is on on-screen keyboard.

My Recommended Antenna Stores

  • Amazon has a good selection of antennas, streaming TV boxes, and accessories, with lots of reviews. They have a great, easy return policy. I order from them often.
  • Antennas Direct has a great selection of antennas, especially outdoor antennas that pick up pesky VHF stations. They are a great store; I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from there.
  • If you need cables (HDMI, coax, etc.) check out Deep Surplus. They have amazingly inexpensive cables, adapters, and a lot of other accessories for video, audio and your computer. Don’t pay the insane prices that retail stores charge for HDMI cables! How about a six foot HDMI cable for less than $4! Retail stores can charge as much as $50 for these!!!
  • A great online store specializing in HDTV antennas and converter boxes that I have found is Solid Signal. I ordered my new antenna from there and it arrived quickly and without any problems.

Let me know if you have any other links or online resources that have been useful to you! – Brian

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I try to answer every question. If you have a reception question, please leave your zip code.

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Beth Braverman
Beth Braverman
2 months ago

delete

Last edited 2 months ago by Beth Braverman
C.Robinson
C.Robinson
6 months ago

just canceled cable.Now in every room that had cable the built in wall antennas do not work.On all TV’s message (NO SIGNAL) Any suggestions?

AJPick
AJPick
3 years ago

Hi Brian,
What do you recommend antenna-wise when the house has a metal roof? Should we just try/use indoor antennae?
Thank you,
Amy

Brian
3 years ago
Reply to  AJPick

Hi,

Outdoor antenna would be best. But, please check the station finder first to make sure there are signals in your area:
https://www.disablemycable.com/station-finder/

Best,
Brian

Souhail Asfouri
Souhail Asfouri
3 years ago

Hi,
Thanks for your informative blog.
I have an old Dish satellite on my roof. I don’t subscribe any more to Dish and I want to use the cable on the dish and connect an outside air antenna to it. I actually did that and disconnected the dish and connected my air antenna to but there is no signal to the inside cable that connects to the TV. It must not be a direct connection from the outside end of the cable to the inside cable on the wall. Is there some intervening boxes between the two ends? Is there anything I can do to use that outside cable? It can save me from having to run a cable from outside the house to the inside and go through the roof and somewalls.
Thanks.
Sou A.

Brian
3 years ago

Hi Souhail,

As far as I understand, the cable from the satellite dish goes directly to the receiver box. Perhaps there is some separate cabling in your home for standard cable tv/internet, or a broadcast TV antenna? Here’s a tool that might help sort it out:
https://amzn.to/2PMLbnf

Best,
Brian

Robert Miller
Robert Miller
3 years ago

I have an antenna, scanned for channels in my area and found several. However, many of the channels have .1, .2, .3, etc. after the channel number. My remote (Logi Harmony) does not have a “.” on the keypad so the only way to get there is the up and down channel button. How can I get to the channel directly without scrolling up and down? Is there a way to program the “.” to another button or is it there some place on the remote and I just can’t find it?

Brian
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Miller

Hi Robert,

I did some Googling and found this article on the topic:
https://forums.logitech.com/s/question/0D55A00006wsJo5SAE/harmony-ultimate-one-no-dotdecimal-or-dash-for-digital-channels

I’m blown away (and rather outraged) that they would ship a remote with a decimal point button. Maybe keep pestering them to add it.

Best,
Brian

Robert Miller
Robert Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Thanks for the link but that was 2017 and did not see a solution. Good suggestion to pester Logitech. I have a tech support request in to them now (the auto response said ‘someone will be right with you’. That was 24 hours ago – still waiting …

Cord Cutter Central
3 years ago

I was wondering if your visitors might find http://www.cordcuttercentral.com to be a useful resource? It is designed with today’s cord cutters in mind (and, of course, it also includes a link to Disable My Cable ;-) )

stephanie
stephanie
3 years ago

I just hooked up a digital antenna in my townhouse and was pleased to get over 60 channels (many of them very clear). However, there is no sound and the mute is not on. I can get sound with my DVD player and if I stream netflix through the TV. Any suggestions?

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  stephanie

Hi Stephanie,

I would do a reset on your TV; you’d have to check your TV’s manual on how to do that. After that, hard to say. There could be some problem with the TV.

Best,
Brian

Aardvark
Aardvark
2 years ago

Great article. I was wondering if you have looked in to some of the newer (relatively unknown) streaming services? I am using one that is a no contract (month to month) service and I can’t believe how much it has (all the movie channels, kids channels, premium sports channels, on demand movies and series, 1500 total channels including the international channels, and even pay per view). In fact I can’t think of anything it doesn’t have, and it’s only $49.95 per month. On top of that, they pay customers $10 per month for each active referral so if you refer 5 people, your service is free. It does require a fast internet connection (35 mbps recommended), but I have been really happy with it.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Aardvark

Hi Aardvark,

I do not cover those services because they are illegal. Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not legit. More on that here:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/streaming-illegal-movies-and-tv/

Best,
Brian

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