How to Watch TV Without Cable

Updated: Feb 16, 2024 6:39 PM
Difficulty Medium
Steps 5
Time Required 10-30 minutes
Tools Needed Antenna, Streaming Service, TV

You can easily ditch your cable and use VOD (Video On Demand) services and live streaming with a top-rated TV that can stream content or even watch over-the-air channels with an antenna. Below we will explain what these options are, as well as a few choices you can look into to see which is right for you.

Watching TV Without A Cable Subscription

When it comes to cable-free TV, you’ll be surprised at the number of options you have for free television. Whether you are trying to reduce your bills, the service in your area isn’t reliable, you prefer streaming devices, or you just want to watch your local channels, there are many options available. The best options for cable-free TV will require an 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 these options, you will need to connect your TV to the internet. This is easiest to do with a smart TV. Thankfully, most households with a TV in the US have a smart TV. However, you can check out this article to learn more about what a smart TV is if you are curious.

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)

For a more stable connection, use an ethernet cable to connect your TV to the internet. That said, Wi-Fi is easy to connect and should work just fine if you can’t use an ethernet cable. There are two main options for getting shows and movies using your internet-connected TV. These are with On Demand services and live streaming.

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, Max, 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.

Video on demand services offer plenty of viewing options.

In addition, most of these services provide original content that you can’t see anywhere else. Also, some of these providers, like Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, have options to buy or rent new movies, and you are much more likely to enjoy this content if you have a 4k TV.

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, and that is sure to continue with more and more people leaving cable behind. Services like Amazon Freevee, Crackle, Tubi, and Pluto TV are generally seen as the best options. They are ad-supported, but the ads are not very frequent in the case of Tubi. In addition, most free VOD services don’t require an account to use. However, creating an account on these services may give you extra features like creating a watchlist or using parental controls.

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, 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, with some including add-on packages for the NFL, NBA, and MLB or other sports. The premier services are Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live.

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

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 up that cable box feature.

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.

An antenna can get you you free over-the-air channels.

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. Additionally, thanks to the digital transition, the quality of these channels won’t be drastically different than if you were streaming or watching cable.

Cutting Cable Q&A

The video below helps break down what is required to cut cable as well as answers some of the most common questions people will ask when interested in cutting cable, like, “How much money can you save?”. “What equipment do I need?” etc. The video focuses mainly on free options, but as we mentioned earlier in the article, there are premium options available as well.

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