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What is a Digital Tuner for TV?

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When the switch to digital broadcasting happened in 2009, many people probably wondered about what is a digital tuner for TV. However, to understand what it is, you have to understand what digital TV is and why it became some of the top-rated TVs. Additionally, it can be helpful to know whether a TV has a digital tuner.


  • Digital tuners allow the TV to receive digital television signals broadcast over the air.
  • TVs often include labels that indicate whether a digital tuner is present.
  • Many digital tuners still require an antenna to be used.

What Does a Digital TV Tuner Do?

Because of this, many TV manufacturers exclusively make a digital tuner that enables the TV to receive television broadcast over-the-air by local stations in the digital television format. You should now know what a digital TV is and if your TV is one. As of June 12, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all full-power broadcast stations to transmit their content digitally. You can read our article about when TV went digital to learn more about this. In addition, as of July 13, 2021, low-power broadcast stations now must follow digital TVs (DTVs.) Many channels can be watched using a TV with a digital tuner and an antenna. Additionally, these DTVs can be used with a streaming device, such as a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. Furthermore, set-top boxes that connect to streaming services should also work with a digital TV. Finally, all smart TVs are capable of processing digital signals. However, digital TVs do not always have digital tuners. If you do not have a smart TV but want the functionality of one, you can check out the LG Smart TV Upgrader.

How Do I Know If My TV Has a Digital Tuner?

If you purchased your TV after March 2007, it’s likely that it contains a built-in digital tuner; however, because some stores sold older TVs from existing inventory after that date, it’s not a guarantee. However, there are some additional ways you can determine whether your TV has a digital tuner.

When you buy a TV, some labels indicate that the TV has a digital tuner. Owners may find these labels on their TV or in the owner’s manual. These labels include:

  • Integrated digital tuner.
  • Digital receiver.
  • Digital tuner.
  • DTV.
  • HDTV.
  • ATSC.

If the TV displays specific labels, the TV does not have a digital tuner. These TVs would need an additional digital converter and antenna to receive the broadcasts from local channels. Retailers also sell external digital tuners that can be used with an antenna and TVs that do not have an internal one. Some of these external tuners have an antenna included, but make sure this is the case for the one you are looking at if you do not have an antenna. These indicators include:

  • Digital-ready.
  • Digital monitor.
  • HDTV monitor.
  • HDTV ready.

What Requires a Digital TV Tuner?

Viewers wishing to watch over-the-air broadcast channels need a digital TV tuner, as well as an antenna, to receive the signal. However, many local stations broadcast over the air, and owners with an indoor or outdoor antenna can tune in to these stations for free. However, many cable or satellite services include these channels in their subscriptions. The FCC has an option for searching by location for digital signals broadcast over the air. Channels sometimes change their frequency, requiring users to rescan for the signal.

Digital TV tuners interpret the digital signals received by an antenna. So, TV users who want to watch digital over-the-air broadcasts require a built-in tuner, external tuner, or converter box, as well as an antenna. The user also may need to connect their antenna with the device that distinguishes channels to use these items. For some external scanners, users simply plug them into the USB port because they include an antenna. An additional antenna is unnecessary if you have cable or satellite since these stations are typically available through your service provider. It should be noted, however, that this may cause your TV to appear fuzzy, and you can learn more about why this is in our article on why is my TV fuzzy. You may not need a digital TV tuner if you know what a smart TV is and you have one.


How do I use my digital tuner with my TV?

To use the digital tuner, you will need an antenna that can receive digital signals. Furthermore, you will need a coax cable to connect the antenna and your TV or the antenna and the external digital tuner or converter box.

Do I need an antenna if my TV has a built-in digital tuner?

Yes, because the TV still needs something to receive the over-the-air signal. If you do not want to watch local over-the-air channels and only want to stream or watch something using a different device, you do not need an antenna.

Do smart TVs have built-in digital antennas?

Many smart TVs have digital tuners, but they do not have antennas. TospecificIn order to watch over-the-air TV, you will need an antenna.

STAT: If you purchased your TV after March 2007, it’s likely that it contains a built-in digital tuner; however, because some stores sold older TVs from existing inventory after that date, it’s not a guarantee. (source)

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