DisableMyCable.com
Free and cheap TV without Cable or Satellite

Frequently Asked Questions About Broadcast and Internet TV

By Brian Shim | Updated 
11/24/2021

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

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
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

23 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
C.Robinson
C.Robinson
11 days 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?

tim
tim
1 year ago

Hi brain - i live in philly area code 19046 - i had previouly been using an antenna tv which worked fine - switched to cabel and switched back but now i cant get the stations i used to - iv tried to but long range antenna - an antenna signal; booster scanned the channels - but nothing seems to work - i used to get all the regular channels but now i get two - any ideas ? -

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  tim

Hi Tim,

Check out this article:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/broadcast-tv-channels-disappear/

Best,
Brian

marvellous
marvellous
1 year ago

I have been searching for good tv set that I can buy but I can't find any not till now. And when I arrive on your site, I saw a post that talks about tv's, with the review that you have provided here I know what tv to go for.
Thanks for sharing.

Micah
Micah
2 years ago

Hi Brian, thanks for all the info on here. it is very helpful. i had a question about building a new house. how/what wiring would you run to facilitate using a digital antenna for tvs in the house? we have a lot of options but these antennas seem to all be for coax. are there HDMI versions and if so would you run HDMI in the house instead of coax cable?

thanks in advance.

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Micah

Hi Micah,

Great question! There are no HDMI antennas. Digital TV's use the same antennas as old analog TVs. They all use coax.

So, if you want to run your HD antenna signal throughout your home to multiple TVs, use coax, preferably RG6 coax.

That way, each TV can be tuned into a different channel. With HDMI, each TV would have to be showing the same channel. Maybe fine for a restaurant or bar, but not a home!

You'll probably need a distribution amplifier near the antenna. Here's one example:
https://amzn.to/2KBdWhU

Hope this helps,
Brian

Alex Vanisenberg
Alex Vanisenberg
2 years ago

Hi Brian!

I currently live in an apartment, and to be able to install a antenna near a window or outside would be an ugly process with exposed wiring. I have 2 coax connections in the apartment. One in the living room, and one in the bedroom. Will it be possible for me to connect an antenna to the port in the bedroom, and run a coax cable from the port in the living room to the tv? I dont know if the signal will travel through to the other port.
I'm trying to prevent ugly wires from running all over the place.

Thanks!

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Alex,

Maybe. The answer depends on whether that coax is connected to anything else in the building, such as a cable TV box. If a cable TV box is driving that line, it won't work for an antenna.

So, it might not work, but it's worth a try. If you don't have an antenna to try, you can improvise one. Almost any metal object will do if you can touch the center conductor of the coax cable to it.

Another option to avoid cables is to use a wireless solution like the Tablo or Amazon Fire Recast:
https://www.disablemycable.com/dvr/

Then, you can put the antenna and DVR anywhere you want; you just need a streaming player connected to your TV.

Best,
Brian

Beth Tierney Radick
Beth Tierney Radick
2 years ago

I have three TV's with three different antennas throughout my house. All three TV's have lost five channels. I have ran search for channels on all three sets and can no longer get them. Do channels disappear?

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Beth,

The FCC and TV stations are in the process of re-arranging TV channel frequencies. So, right now, there is a lot of disruption of TV channels. In some cases, signal strength might get weaker temporarily (weeks or months) before the final transmitters are set up.

You can keep checking from time to time, or try some of these tips to improve reception:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/antenna-tips/

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

stephanie
stephanie
2 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

Cord Cutter Central
2 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 ;-) )

Robert Miller
Robert Miller
2 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
2 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
2 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 ...

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

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

Related Articles

My Favorite Indoor Antennas

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. This is an independent review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer (at no extra cost to you) when you purchase through the affiliate links on this site. I personally test and/or research each product or service before endorsing it.

Search This Site

23
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram