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How to Set Up a TV Without Cable

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While you may want to ditch your cable company, you probably don’t want to give up TV altogether. Some people think cable is the only option for compelling premium content, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to save some money and still watch the TV shows you love, you should know how to set up a TV without cable television. If you find a top-rated TV that can stream content then you can easily ditch your cable.


  • Cable TV is not required to watch a Smart TV.
  • The best alternatives are streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
  • There are multiple ad-supported free options for streaming television without cable.

How to Watch TV Without Cable

When it comes to cable-free TV, you’ll be surprised at the number of options you have for free television. The best options for cable-free TV require internet service, but even internet-free homes can cut the cord. Take a look at these ways to watch cable-free TV and see which one is best for you.

Internet Options for Cable-Free TV

For the options below, you will need to connect your smart TV to the internet. If your TV connects to the internet, chances are you have a smart TV. You can check out these articles on how to know if you have a smart TV and learn more about what a smart TV is if you are curious. For a more stable connection, use an ethernet cable to connect your TV to the internet. That said, Wi-Fi should work just fine if you can’t use an ethernet cable. Additionally, if you are in the market for a smart TV you can check out this Sharp 4K TV.

Insider Tip

For a more stable connection, use an ethernet cable to connect your TV to the internet.

Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD)

Subscription video on demand is an internet-based streaming service that grants users access to a library of TV shows, movies, and documentaries for a monthly fee. This is easily the most popular option for cable-free TV. With options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus, there’s no shortage of premium streaming shows to watch. If you don’t have a smart TV with apps already installed but you have a laptop with an internet connection, you can learn how to project a laptop to the TV.

In addition, most of these services provide original content that you can’t see anywhere else. You are much more likely to enjoy TV if you have a 4k TV so it is imperative for you to know if your TV is 4k.

Free Video On Demand

Free video-on-demand streaming services work similarly to subscription services, but all content is free to watch. While free video-on-demand services initially lacked quality content, they are starting to make an impact. Services like Crackle, Tubi, and IMDBtv are the best options. They are ad-supported, but they are not very frequent in the case of Tubi. In addition, most free VOD services don’t require an account to use.

Live TV Streaming

Maybe you’re not interested in video-on-demand services and you just like surfing channels. While many people associate channel surfing with a cable subscription, many online services offer an equivalent experience. You can also stream some stuff from your phone. To learn how to do this check out the article on how to mirror my phone to my TV.

Subscription Live TV Streaming

For a television experience identical to cable for a fraction of the price, subscription live streaming television is here to help you go cable-TV free. Subscription TV is a streaming service that is identical to cable services, including sports channels. The premier services are Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live. These services have multiple packages that vary by price and the number of channels on offer. In addition, most of these services offer some form of DVR, so you don’t have to give that cable box feature up.

Free Live TV Streaming

For a similar experience to channel surfing for absolutely free, there are free live streaming TV options. Free live TV streaming services do not have major networks, but they have many channels about specific subjects. For example, you’ll find a channel that shows nothing but Kitchen Nightmares or Laff Tracks movie parodies. Popular services include Pluto TV, DistroTV, and Plex Live TV. These free services don’t include live rewind or DVR, but they are free and have many non-cable channels to choose from.

Set Up Over-the-Air Free TV

If you don’t have an internet connection, you can still have access to free over-the-air television. Some TVs have a built-in antenna, but most require an antenna to receive broadcast frequencies. Once you connect your antenna, use your remote to get to the TV settings menu. Next, find the option that says “Channel Scan.” Start the process and wait for it to complete. Once the scan finishes, your TV should have access to all available over-the-air TV broadcasts. Now, you can watch local news and network television and forget about your old cable provider. In the event that you experience signal issues then you can find out how to improve your TV signal. Thanks to the digital transition, the quality of these channels won’t be drastically different than if you were streaming or watching cable. If you are asking yourself, when did TV go digital, we have a great breakdown of this you can read.

Insider Tip

Some TVs have a built-in antenna, but most require an antenna to receive broadcast frequencies.


What do I need to watch TV without cable or satellite?

You will need an indoor or outdoor antenna and a digital converter box if you don’t have an HDTV.

Will Cutting Cable Actually Save Me Money?

Certainly, but if you sign up for many streaming services, you will not save as much.

Will My Smart TV Work Without Cable?

Yes, a Smart TV will work without a cable provider.

STAT: It is estimated that 90 percent of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox are available online. (source)

STAT: According to the FCC, you’ll need about 3 to 4 Mbps to stream in standard definition, 5 to 8 Mbps for HD, and 25 Mbps for 4K video. (source)

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