Disclosure: Grounded Reason is supported by a small commission for purchases made through some product links on this website. I do not accept compensation from companies attempting to sway my review of products.

How to Watch Local Channels Without Cable

This guide covers watching broadcast networks without a pay TV subscription. For information on watching cable shows as well, check out my complete cord cutting guide.

When it comes to watching TV without cable, the majority of TV shows people watch are on broadcast TV networks like CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, etc. TV shows on those networks are consistently in the Nielsen ratings top 10.

I looked at the top 25 Network and Cable TV viewership numbers for last week on TVbytheNumbers. Aside from sporting events (like the NCAA Final Four), only one cable TV show was in the top 25, and that was the season finale of The Walking Dead.

Ultimately, when it comes to saying goodbye to cable, getting access to your local networks and the prime time shows are a priority for many. Today, I’m going to let you know to get those local network channels over the air (OTA TV), and a few ways to stream them over the internet.

Watch Local TV Online

You no longer need a cable or satellite TV subscription to watch your local TV channels. You can now watch your local networks through the internet through streaming services that now stream local broadcast affiliates in several markets. You can even get a device like a Roku and watch them on your TV set. If you live in on near a major metro area, you can likely receive all of you local channels online. Here are some of those services:


Direct Now currently stream live ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and The CW in several markets. Try this free trial to DIRECTV NOW to see which local channels are available in your area. You can get FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC live in the following cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, St. Paul.

In addition, they also stream just about every channel you can find on pay TV.  There is no contract, so there is no risk to try it out. Read our DirecTV Now Review for more information.

Local TV on FuboTV

FuboTV offers live local Fox, NBC, and CBS is select markets. This service also includes networks known for sports like FS1, FS2, beIN Sports, NBCSN, BTN,  and more. You can see what’s available at FuboTV through this 1-week free trial. We cover this streaming service in depth in out Review of FuboTV.

Other Local TV Options

Hulu now streams several live pay TV and local broadcast channels in various markets. Be sure to check out the local broadcast channels on Hulu to see if they are in your area.

ABC on Sling TV – Sling TV offers a Broadcast Extra package that delivers ABC in select markets. Check the Sling TV link for details.

FOX and NBC on SlingTV – Sling TV offers live local FOX and NBC broadcasts to Sling TV, albeit in select markets. If interested in Sling TV, you can get a free trial to check it out.

PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV have also negotiated the live local affiliate broadcast for ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX in select markets.

CBS All Access – This service provides the local live CBS broadcast in a number of markets across the U.S. Check the link to see if the live local feed is available in your area. If interested you can check out this free trial to CBS All Access.

Watch Prime Time Network TV Online

If you aren’t in a market where the streaming services listed above offer live local channels, they still may stream content on demand. While you won’t have local news, it will cover a lot of prime time network TV. They all provide free trials and no contract so there is no risk to try them.

Another way catch to prime-time network television is the combination of Hulu On-Demand and CBS All Access. This combination will provide several hit prime-time shows on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW. You can try a one-week free trial from Hulu to see if you like the service. If you’re looking for PBS shows, they can be accessed through the PBS app. It is available on almost any device.

While CBS All Access, Hulu, and the PBS app is supported on most browsers, tablets, and smartphones, you probably want to watch these shows on a television. To do that, all you need is an over the top streaming device. My personal favorite and the one I use is the Roku.

These devices connect to various video services over the internet using apps (also known as channels.) They then stream the video directly to your TV.

You may not require a streaming device if you are content watching on your Mac, PC, or laptop. In that case, the following websites will allow you to stream recent episodes from your favorite network TV shows.

NBC – Click to watch full-length episodes of NBC TV shows such as “The Blacklist”, “Grimm”, “Hannibal”, and more. They are all free and available without a cable TV subscription.
ABC – Catch hit ABC shows like “Marvel’s Agents of Shield”, “Castle”, “Modern Family” and more for free and without a cable or satellite subscription. They make you wait about a week before watching the most current episode, but the full-length episodes are available for the current season of shows.
CBS – Want to watch “Big Bang Theory”, “Mike and Molly”, “The Good Wife”, and more hit CBS shows online. Then check out their website.
FOX – Fox does have a lot of programming online for free, but it appears they delay current episodes if you don’t have a valid cable or satellite TV account. Some shows seem that they are on more of a delay than others. However, if you don’t mind waiting, you can watch FOX broadcast shows on their website.
The CW – The CW is great when it comes to watching broadcast TV online. They have up to date full-length episodes of “Arrow”, “iZombie”, “The Flash”, and more. All their shows seem to be available very soon after airing.
PBS – PBS also does a great job of providing online content. Full-length episodes of every PBS show I’m interested in watching seems to be available for free without a cable TV subscription.

Local Channels Over the Air (OTA)

Cable TV doesn’t want you to know this, but local broadcast TV networks are available over the air simply using a TV antenna. In fact, today’s antenna TV has a better picture than cable. TV signals these days are digital, so you need a TV that was made after 2007 with a digital tuner.

Typically, you can find out if your television is equipped with a digital tuner in the user manual or on the TV manufacturer’s website. However, an easy way to see if your TV is digital is to look at the antenna coaxial port. It looks like a fat threaded screw somewhere on the back of the TV.

If your TV is digital, then there will be a label with the letters “HD”, “ATSC”, “HDTV”, or other words indicating the TV has a digital tuner.  If your TV is not digital, you can convert it using a digital converter box.

Once you have a TV that is “digital ready”, all you need to do is install a TV antenna. I installed the Mohu Sky 60 outdoor antenna on my roof and now I receive all the major local broadcast networks. Mohu also makes quality indoor antennas like The Mohu Curve and Mohu Leaf. If you are interested in purchasing a Mohu antenna, check my Mohu promo page for a big discount.

Update: If you want to hear my account of what using a TV antenna entails, check out our TV Antenna episode of the Grounded Reason Podcast. It’s free! Click this link to listen on iTunes. If you don’t have an iOS device or iTunes installed on your PC check this show notes page for other options.

If you want to learn more about using an antenna for free local TV, then check out the following instructional guides.

How To Get Free TV

With so many local affiliates in the U.S., it’s difficult to negotiate all of them into one streaming service. Therefore, a TV Antenna is the best legal solution for free TV. I’ve had many ask in the comments about getting free TV through jailbroken streaming devices or getting a jailbroken Fire Stick. I’d advise against it.

While there isn’t an explicit law against it, it is a legal gray area that I feel will make an example out of some in the future. Furthermore, it violates the terms of service of many streaming services, and some are starting to deny services on these devices.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter. It goes out every Thursday and keeps you up to date on information relevant to cord cutters. Subscribing will also inform you on the latest deals out there for internet, streaming, and more.

Check Out An Internet Only Deal for Cordcutters (sponsored)

If this article did not answer your specific question, check out the Cord Cutting Guide. It provides links to the most important articles in our over 200 pages of content to help you ditch pay TV.

For tips and tricks on cutting the cord and other tech topics be sure to join our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter

Categories: Guides
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (231)

  • I mounted a $40 GE ANTENNA from Walmart in my attic, I feed 3 tvs from it and have TiVo on 2 of them, lifetime sub to TiVo was on sale for $250 TiVo is great! And the reconditioned box was on sale for $50 the TiVo piece for the second was I think around $150 so for 450, that's less than $40 per month for year then 0. Sure beats the $170 we were paying, of course we still have $55 for net and Netflix Amazon Sling which I really could do with out, but it was useful to watch the republican debates (?) . Amazing that we can't watch debates without paying isn't it! Oh, TiVo even has a feature called skip where you just hit a button and resume the show, no more fast forwarding through commercials!

  • Hi, Thank you for your website. I just joined and I am so glad I did. I see you mention the Mohu sky 60. Looks like a great antenna! I find the only problem with it is,I have cable in my house. The house is wired for cable. I did a Google search on the Mohu Sky and found out that I would need to install different cable in order to use the Mohu Sky 60. That is a huge project. Is there any other antennas that I can just hook it up from my cable lines? Or,should I just go with the Mohu indoor antenna?
    Thank you, Lou

    • If the cable is coaxial then any antenna should hook up to it, including the Sky. The issue had to do with signal degradation. If there are a lot of splitters between the antenna and TV it will impact the signal. This is true regardless of which antenna you use or whether it's indoor or outdoor.

  • Is there an antenna that plugs into the HDMI port? The place where the cable screws on is broken off this tv I have and I would like live local channels.

    • No, that Coaxial screw is connected to a digital Tuner in the TV, so you will need to get a TV tuner that has an HDMI out for that to work.

  • Last year twc gave me an analog box to hook up to my TV now since I don't have cable anymore is that box what I use to get my local channels or do I have to ho out and buy something else? Also I live in an aparyment

  • Thank you for your posts. I have dish network right now. Which one of the antennas you mentioned will work the best with dish cables? Since all the cables are inside the wall, it will be very hard to change them!

    • The dish should be using coaxial cable which is the same used by TV antennas. The problem is that you have no idea how many splitters are involved in the install. Each spit cuts the signal in half. It may work, but if it doesn't you may need to troubleshoot the coaxial installation.

  • I am unfortunately in an area where I cannot pick up any channels with an antenna. As football season is this weekend I am freaking out trying to scan this antenna in different positions around the house and on my roof. No success. How can I watch live football without getting cable?
    Kris, Shamokin,PA 17872

  • This morning all the local channels I could get were scrambled. Here to find out the FCC ruled that cable companies can scramble my local channels. I don't have cable but I have internet through Cox cable. They say I have to subscribe to cable and get a box to unscramble. Is there anything I can buy to avoid subscribing to cable? All I care about is local channels because I have Roku.


    • Want to cut your cable or Satellite Monthly cost? See movies, series and Live Channel in HD on Demand for half the price !! Or less. More TV and 100% Legal

  • I live in Springfield VA, their cable went digital and I cannot get any local channels to watch the local news anymore (ABC/NBC/CBS). What is a good indoor antenna that would work? I live in an apartment, not sure which direction I face, but my window faces other apartments so not sure if I could get reception.

    • CBSN is a free 24hr 7days a week channel on the Internet which I get on Roku device also On news is also a channel to get local news which I get on the Roku device which buy the way is a very inexpensive device you connect to you tv. I bought mine at Best Buy.

    • I would need to see your TV fool report to get an idea. The information in this post should point you in the right direction. :)

  • Don't have cable and yesterday and today wasn't able to get signal for CBS. Do you know why? Other stations work just fine.

    • It really depends on your location. I need more specifics. What are you using to obtain CBS?

  • Wow! I'm thankful for people who take the time to research and figure out this "stuff" and pass it along to others!
    I have many gifts, but technology is NOT one of them. Can you help me get set up?
    I guess I don't have to state I'm not the one who has a desire to research it, etc. I'd rather just be told to buy "this" list and go by "these" steps!
    Can you help me figure this out? (It's actually for my son in a small southern town.)

  • Can i use audience acoustics to

    watch internet cable on my tv with out ordering cable

  • Living in Lancaster, CA where an antenna doesn't pick up over the air channels from Los Angeles, CA (we are behind Mt Wilson where channel signals are transmitted). How can I avoid paying cable or satellite? Is there an app for Smart TVs that I can download and watch free LIVE OTA channels? Don't mind the commercials or site online that would allow that?

    • A combination of Sling TV and CBS All Access may work. They both offer free trials, try and see if they offer the local affiliate in your area.

  • I just wanna say that i am excite about the regular programming schedueled shows that are on now and coming in JANUARY,2017!! GOOD JOB TO THE PEOPLE TO PREPARED THIS TO HAPPEN. ALSO I HOPE I CONTINUE TO HAVE THIS TYPE OF HAPPY WHEN I LOOK AT REG TV WITHOUT CABLE..ALL s.

  • I have read some articles about "sideloading" streaming devices such as the amazon fire stick. What are your thoughts about doing this in order to access network channels via your internet service.

    • Most sideload a media server called Kodi. Kodi is perfectly legal. However, if you are watching licensed content, that is a legally grey area. Check out my post Is Kodi Legal for more info.

  • Has anyone used the indoor TV broadcast antenna? We have a broadcast station within 10 miles of the house, and am going to drop cable, and use the Amazon Firestick, but want LOCAL NEWS, more so than the shows. I've seen these CLEAR VIEW HD antennas at a local store for around $15 each (per tv) and was curious how well they worked.

    • Yes the Antennas work if you are close enough to the tv stations in your area. We got one for Christmas last year and it was around 60, and it worked, so I decided to get one for my tv in the bedroom, and I only paid 10 dollars for it, and it works just as well or better. the cheaper one looks like rabbit ears, and I got it at Walmart. The only down fall is in the summer if you have a lot of trees it will block your reception, so the best time for us to get all the stations is in the winter when the leaves have fallen. Hope this helps!

      • Yes, If you are close enough to the towers I've seen rabbit ears work. I recommend starting with those to just see what's available.

  • why doesn't the FCC mandate the major network providers like NBC, CBS, ABC etc to require them to have good signal in all metro areas of cities. These network should be fined hefty penalties for not providing adequate signal strength. They get highly discounted rates for spectrum allocation and intentionally dont provide coverage and make money by selling their rights to cable providers to make money,

  • In order to access the basic cable channel apps on my Roku television I had to set up a link to my Brighthouse/Spectrum user account and type in a code online for each and every basic cable station app. I am under the impression that if I get rid of my cable package with Spectrum those apps like PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, Syfy, History etc will not run because they will not be associated with a cable provider account. Is this how it works or have I got it wrong?

    • To watch network without an antenna you will need CBS All Access, Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, or Vue. Furthermore network channels will only be available in certain markets. The best bet for network is an antenna. Streaming cable channels you will need Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, or Vue. Check out this post on cable tv alternatives for more information.

  • i am noting that recently the major networks have fewer and fewer of their shows available to watch at their website after the air date. not being a cable subscriber i get the message "sorry, this video is not available from your location."

    getting past the disturbing ramifications of my 'location' now being defined by my 'purchase status' rather than my geographical locus, i find myself grinding my teeth over the fact that i am now being charged to watch a show that is free (over the airwaves), just because i missed it on the designated night and must now visit the network website -- at a family event and missed Blacklist? want to catch it at NBC? nay-nay. no longer possible.

    is EVERYTHING going to be available at network websites only if one pays? if so, how long do you think before there will be a basic charge to 'access' (read: unscramble) the digital signal that now still comes to our t.v.s in our home?

    the day that the government took away my analog signal is the day i stopped trusting my government; the day they begin charging for the airwaves is truly 'the day the music died' for our country.

    please respond-- the name of your website shows evidence of an intellect.


    • You can still get the digital signals over the airwaves for free using an antenna. More at that in this post. That's what I do. As for shows that I like on cable I just buy them from Amazon. It's really only about 5-6 shows a year. I get the complete current seasons for about $30 each. That's less than $200 per year which is 10 times cheaper than cable. I even get to watch them 1 day after they air on their respective network.

  • Any suggestions for some of us who want to cut the cable but still want access to CNN and BBC news as well as HBO?

  • Can I get all this stations you mentioned, CBS, NBC, ABC?? on my Smart tv WITHOUT cable?

    • Yes, using an antenna or one of the streaming services mentioned in this article.

  • I have invested hundreds of dollars in a variety of amplified antennas, and a variety of receivers. I used to get clear analog television signals from Chicago, South Bend, and fuzzy signals from Ft Wayne. I used to have to use a variable attenuator to prevent ghosting (double and triple images, slightly out of phase with each other, due to strong overlapping reflected signals). My directional television antenna on the roof of my house was aimed at the local water tower, which reflected signals from all stations. However, reflected signals are filtered by digital receivers, and that's all I ever had, due to local terrain. I only live 20 minutes from one of the South Bend stations and only 45 minutes from the farthest South Bend station. Now, however, I have only been able to get one station at a time, and only for a limited period of time, because each station has its own sweet spot where the signal comes in, and that sweet spot changes with subtle weather changes. I'm disabled due to a brain injury, and I have extreme vertigo that makes walking difficult, and repositioning an antenna is not a possibility for me. No one is able to adjust antenna positions for me frequently enough to use digital television. I loved digital television when it first came out, and signal strength was apparently much greater, but when the FCC cut back power, I suddenly had no stations at all. On disability income, which is about 25% of what I used to earn, I cannot afford to pay for anything more than an internet connection. I lost all access to emergency weather warnings. Now I just hear the siren when a tornado is coming. I have written repeated complaints to the FCC about this problem, but all they do is send letters back asking me questions that were already answered by the letter. I have difficulty filling out forms (also due to the brain injury), and I have not been able to respond to their automated responses.

    • An antenna rotor sounds like it would solve your problems. It makes it easy to rotate your antenna and you can program it to rotate to each TV station's best reception direction. It's very simple to use once it's installed.

  • HI there, so glad I found your site. We have a place in Mountain near Newport , Tenn and am having internet turned on there but do not want to pay for cable etc. since it is mostly a vacation home for right now. With all the mountains around us, I don't think we r very near any major towers either. What would you recommend getting for the two tvs in the bedrooms. They will be smart tvs because we already have a subscription to Netflix, but my mother inlaw likes to watch the cable shows like golden girls etc. in her room. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I am not that technically fluent , and a little backwards when it comes to all this signal stuff. Thanks

    • Hulu will give you a ton of content to stream. In fact, they just inked a deal to carry the entire run of Golden Girls.

  • This is an awesome resource and Dennis is my hero. I am an engineer and knew a lot of what Dennis has presented, but he has done so in a very understandable way and in one place. This site has given me the info I hoped to find to cut the cable.

    Thanks Dennis.

  • Good information, Dennis! Some of it I already knew, but a lot of it I didn't. I'm in a marginal area (45 miles away) for broadcast antenna. I'm also in a townhome, so I can't use an outdoor antenna. I just tried the RCA indoor HDTV amplified antenna, and it doesn't seem to work that great for my situation. As I am starting to fear not having a good solution for an antenna, my situation is this: I'm looking to use broadcast tv basically for local news as well as NFL games that may be broadcast OTA on Sundays. That's really all I need local for. Any tips?

    • Charter Spectrum took over from Time Warner here. I asked for their locals package, both to their 800 line, and in local office, both said Spectrum doesn't offer one!

    • Your local TV cable provider is required to offer a limited basic cable package for local channels which is usually $20 or less. That is all I have ever had as OTA reception was poor, but am considering just getting Hulu instead now for $8 as I can pick up NBC, CBS, and PBS channels OTA very clear now with a Mohu Leaf 50 Ultimate, but our ABC tower went out and apparently they are too cheap to replace it as they said they have no plans to do so as they figure most people have cable.

  • I would like to try the 7 day free trial for DirectTV Now. BUT! If I don't like it, I don't want them to go ahead and order it without my consent. And, if I do like it, is it a month by month deal, or do I have to keep it for a year like Pure Flix, (really not happy with them!). I'm retired, and I like certain channels, and Direct TV Now has the ones I like. I can't get some of the channels because of Spetrum, they will not let me through to even buy them.

    • You need to make sure you cancel before the trial is up or they will charge you. Also, there is no contract. It's a month to month deal. However, they do auto renew every month so you need to cancel before the next payment comes out.

  • What is required to have the internal antenna work on my 55in Samsung smart tv? Coax cable in to the wall? Will that pick up local channels free? And if I have a kodi box is there anyway to get free live local channels on that?

    • There is no way to legally stream network TV for free. The only way to get channels for free is with an antenna. I cover TV Antennas in this article: choosing the best TV Antenna.

  • We are trying to cut cable. We currently have wifi and cable provided by the same company. If we cut the cable portion will we be able to use the same coaxial cable that is currently in place for an outdoor antenna? AND, will it effect our wifi negatively? We have 6 TV's that will be connected to the outdoor antenna and we have Apple TV on each of the 6.

    • You will need a separate coaxial run for your Antenna. You can run it on the same one your internet uses.

  • Same here had 4 cable boxes I returned 3 yesterday...still have 1 box and wifi. Live in new York I want to eliminate the cable service altogether but want broadcast channels. How do I do this and I have firesticks on 4 tvs and they r smart tvs.. please help! Ty in advance.

    • An antenna will get you local channels. If you don't want to deal with an an antenna, living in New York you should be able to get broadcast TV through VUE, Sling TV, or Direct TV now. Check out this guide to cable tv alternatives for more information.

  • As far as an indoor antenna I'm 11-14 miles from tower...in new York on 6th floor....do u recommend the Mohu leaf or the Curve and do I need to put one on each tv? Thanks again in advance Dennis

    • Bill, I will run the TVFool signal report for you. You don't have to give me your address; Just give me a street corner that's within a few blocks of your house-will be good enough. That far from the tower sounds like Queens or Staten Island or maybe Brooklyn. I have 37 years in Cable TV including 27 of that with Time Warner Cable of New York City (Manhattan). Worked with antennas including the Satellite dish on the top of 120 E. 23rd St. near Park Ave. South.

  • Ok. We have Dish and don't have ABC fora conflict between Dish and ABC. This is the channel I watch most! Is there a way to hook up an antenna for ABC along with the cable? Very frustrated! !

    • Yes, you would need to hook your cable up over composite or HDMI, and run the antenna to the tv antenna coaxial port. Then you would switch inputs between cable and antenna TV.

  • Hello, I am now 44 years old, way back in the day when I was like 6 or 7 years old my dad hooked up two on the roof antennas and some how he was able to hook both of the wires into one. (he passed away 4 years ago, so I can't ask him ,) I do remember he said that both wires from the roof antenna need to be exactly the same length, but I do not remember how he connected the 2 cables into one. (sort of like a " Y ") What is interesting is if I physically hold both wires (one in each hand from the roof antennas) and have the one wire (that hooks into tv) in my mouth, yes in my mouth, I am able to receive 26 channels, when I hook up all three together I get only 4 channels. Also cell phone internet " 4G " without WiFi , do you know if there is something I can connect to a Dell "tower" PC to receive the same " 4G "? Thank you

    • You seem to be a better antenna than your antenna. I'd try another antenna and see your result. As for the four G. You could use your phone as a hot sport. However, remember that any data you transmit will go against your monthly allowance.

  • My question is I am purchasing a T.V. with a full web browser, will I need a streaming device for Netflix, CBS all access, sling tv and pureflix. If so what do recommend as the best one. Thank you so much for this blog and answering everyone's questions that is totally awesome. Are the links on your site affiliate links if so I will make sure to use it for sling, I already have the others unless you become an affiliate for Pure Flix which is available

    • Yes, I do run affiliates. Any link that has a /recommends. Thank you for supporting the blog. As for Smart TV's I'd go for one with a RokuOS. Personally I prefer devices separate from the TV, but RokuOS is like having a built in Roku.

  • I read through this to make sure my question wasn't already covered, and so far it hasn't been. We are ready to make the switch and drop cable. I've researched some antennas to add to the streaming services we use.
    So-on the digital OTA stations, NBC for instance will have 3 or 4 different channels. How do you access those? For NBC, the TV will be on channel 5 (here in the St Louis Area). That would be 5.1. How do I get 5.2 or 5.3? Do I tune that through the TV itself, or is than an onscreen selector for the antenna? How does that magic happen?

    • The TV tuner will pick them up when you run an antenna scan. They should show up. You can access them through Channel up/down once you get to the primary channel.

  • I can reach WXLV-TV (ABC), WFMY-TV (CBS), WGHP-TV (FOX), WCWG-TV (CW), WUNC (PBS) and WMYV (MNT).

    But I am unable to reach WXII-TV (NBC) with my indoor antenna.
    I cannot afford cable or satellite, but I want to get the local NBC affiliate for my area. What should I do?
    I want to see NBC's daytime, primetime and late night programming; but I also want to see all the syndicated programming that is on WXII-TV (including "Live with Kelly", "The Dr. Oz Show", and "Steve Harvey.")

    I live in Southeastern Randolph County, NC. But their DTV tower is located near the Pilot Mountain area.


    • I fell for the TV Antenna idea they sold me tuners for each TV cost over 400. Told me I could get 250 miles big lie I get junk channels hardly anything when I called the guy told me 250 miles not true just great ! He said only 50 miles

    • we live by foothills in san Bernardino by del rosa and highland... also does the tv antenna get you the freeform channel??

  • we don't have a big antenna up on our roof... it cost 900 or more now to put one b ecause it has to be really high... but do you think an indoor antenna would work for us...since with live by the foothills in san Bernardino by delrosa and highland... please advise

  • Still not one of you are telling me why my TV flat screen, has to cable hook-ups, both have threds no color's one says ant the other says cable

  • I live in Philly, northeast, bottom floor apartment, 21 miles away from everything, pretty much the same direction. I get a great picture one every local channel exept 6 WPVI. This is because their RF signal is, wait for it... 6! Somehow, they never changed the actual signal to a UHF channel. It's 6, like if you have rabbit-ears straight out. Now, I bought a Terk directional antenna with the old-fashioned telescoping antenna along with the UHF, so it should pick up everything. But, no. No matter what I do with the rabbit-ears, I still can't get WPVI, even though they are in the exact position as everything else, and they supposedly have one of the strongest signals. So, what can I do?

    • You're not alone. So many people are having an issue with WPVI, the station has a page about it. Rabbit ears are usually the best bet for indoor VHF. Do you have a TV Fool report?

  • Thank you. I live in San Tan Valley, Az. I cut the cord with a fire stick and it's great for movies. But sports sucks. Needed the best indoor antenna because or tv fool report looked good. http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3de6a41b6dae67ce
    So I went cheap and must say the
    TV Antenna, Vansky Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna 50 Mile Range with Detachable Amplif... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FUB4ZG8/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apip_TdyG9fidtzHnd
    Did what we needed. Thank you for this website. Truely appreciate!

  • I have an old tv without a digital tuner , is it worth trying to use a converter and digital antenna or just dont bother?

    • Agree, I had old tv antenna from the old big sat days when you could order only the channels you wanted. We hooked it back up to our flat screen digital when they first came out, it gets all the channels with no problems.
      We did have to change the antenna booster frequency coverage though since the new tv tuners are so

    • The Digital antenna is a bit of a misnomer. Any old antenna will work, even one from the 50's. Some are better suited then others, but it's the tuner that translates the signal.

  • I bought a Roku Premiere Plus because I was told that model has a built-in antenna so that I wouldn't have to get any other antenna for free access to local network channels. Is that true and correct? I haven't opened the Roku yet.

    • No, that isn't true. Roku is for streaming. You will need an antenna for broadcast TV.

  • Hi I live in a apartment in West Palm beach Florida zip 33401 I did the report you suggested I'm not certain what it means if you can please give me any suggestions of the antenna I need or if I also need a converter box because I cant put the tv by the window I would really appreciate it thanks.

  • I appreciate the article. I have 2 Smart Samsung TVs and already cut TV service some months back from ATT Uverse. I have 24 mbs internet service and currently subscribe to Netflix. We use NF and YouTube for entertainment, but I really miss the news. I contacted UVERSE about getting locals but there wasn't a cheap option. So they talked to me about Direct TV Now app but it's not on my tv yet. So the man said HULU might be an option for me. My question to you is what't the cheapest way for me to get my locals without a contract with anyone? Thanks.

  • One thing never told about the network and other apps from TBS, TNT, SPIKE, etc have shows that are locked unless you have a subscription to some form of cable service or sat service..otherwise you not going to be viewing certain seasons or complete shows altogether.
    I have Charter Spectrum cable internet..which allowed me to open some of the Roku apps because they listed Charter as a supporting company..but found many apps that have Time Warner Spectrum and Bright House Spectrum (Which Charter bought) BUT no Charter Spectrum support.
    So no shows to complete full seasons.
    Sounds a little anal if you ask me..Why cut the cord if you have to be so crippled?
    CSB all access at least is a pay app like Hulu..so no limitations..and watch LIVE tv also..the rest of the network apps never offer that..sounds like CBS is way ahead of the rest of the networks.

  • Hi,
    So I'm moving tomorrow to Pompano Beach and I know I need internet at home but I really don't want to pay for cable tv anymore but really like local Tv and prime time tv and I'm clueless how to get it without doing a pay service like comcast or uverse etc. I did the signal report but it's gibberish to me. Can you just tell me what I need to do to get theses channels and maybe some extended basic channels like Bravo, HGTV etc and maybe even SHO and STRZ etc without breaking the bank. Thanks so much in advance. BTW I still don't understand how the cloud works so put it all in simple terms please. lol.

    • You have strong signals in your area, so just about any antenna you buy will get you your local stations. You can get a number of other channels you would normally see on cable with a service like Sling TV. I recommend you check out our guide to Cable TV Alternatives to get an idea of everything that is out there.

  • I have been working towards 'cutting the cord'. Have been paying $20/mo for basic TV thru U-verse and planned to cancel it and watch regular tv using an antenna. I also have HULU and Amazon. Here's the kicker. I am paying only $30 for internet thru an AT&T promotion, and if I cancel my basic tv I lose the internet promotion and that cost will jump to $60/month! So, that'll actually cost me more. Cox is similarly priced.

    Is there any way to get around this?

  • I've recently moved to Lancaster, Ca and I noticed that I don't receive any sort of signal in this area, even with a purchased TV antenna. Do I have to buy a on-top-roof antenna to receive channels?

    • You are going to need a high gain directional antenna. Even then you will only be able to get a few stations, unfortunately.

    • You shouldn't need an amplifier, but I don't think it would hurt. As for the streaming services. I have written articles on each one. They are all linked off this article for cable tv alternatives.

  • Question, if I have to pay for access to channels and movies then what is the difference? I got the Roku and I am not impressed that I still have to pay. So your free from cable but paying someone else. GAG.

  • Looking to cut the cord and ditch my $250+ per month cable bill. My local chanel should be fine with an antennae. I have Amazon prime and Netflix. I also have apple TV box on 1 TV. Would I need a device for each TV? Your favorite is Sling?

    Appreciate any help you can give.

    • I wouldn't go buy what I like. Each service is different. I recommend try a couple and sticking with the one you like. They all offer free trials with no commitment. You will need a way to stream the content. If you have a smart TV that has the services you like, you may not need a device. I recommend checking out the guide on cable TV alternatives to get you started.

  • Best device for OTA is HD Homerun also has program guide. You can run on 3 devices -TV's / Smartphone/Computer./iOS/Android . I live in Westchester County, NY and get approx 80 local channels. You will also need a wireless router that broad cast A/C. All you have to do is run your one antenna wire to the HD Homrun, conned ethernet cable to your wireless router, install software/app and you are read to go. If you want local channels on the go,install a Plex Server.
    Definitely worth every penny.

    • You are going to need a high gain directional antenna. Even then, you may not get many channels.

  • Hi Dennis, love the site......we live in the Boston area have Verizon fios and are seriously considering cutting the cord, we are tired of paying 200 a month for crap... my question or problem is that thereally are certain channels that are a must i.e. NESN, Disney, etc.,and I live in a townhouse so I can't put a antenna on the roof, I have Ben reading through the articles and was having a hard time finding something that had the channels I wanted and not the ones I don't any suggestions.
    Txs Chris

    • While you have strong signals, the way the signals bounce around can make it hard for an iron clod recommendation. Start with something inexpensive like the Mohu Leaf Metro. That should work just fine for you. You do have a few Hi-VHF, so if you are having trouble with a cheap antenna, try the ClearStream 2V or the new Mohu Leaf Glide.

  • Hi Dennis, it's Daniel again. I failed to mention I have a Tivo Bolt currently. Not sure if that affects antenna choice...

    Thanks again. This is a great site that you have! Just found it today!

    • Thanks for reading! The bolt does naturally split the signal 4 ways (one for each tuner), so you may need a pre-amplifier to compensate. However, try it without the amp first.

  • I'm rather confused. I've never had cable. I have a digital converter box and an antenna. Whenever I try to watch Saturday Night Live on NBC on Saturday night at 11:30PM, they are always showing the same episode. I've started to wonder whether I can still actually get live TV from the major channels or whether for everything except local news, it's all reruns.

    I thought the FTC promised that this would continue after the digital conversion. Right now I have lousy, lousy signal and I'm more and more dependent on radio to keep up with what's happening in the world. I feel like I was the big looser from this conversion to digital. I don't have a cell phone and I don't have cable TV. What did I get out of this whole thing?

    • I would contact the station and see what is happening. This seems very odd.

  • Question 1) Does Roku just work on 1 TV?

    Question 2) As of today local signals are Digital, I want to see local news, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc... Cabn you send some guidance my way. Thanks,

    p.s. I have 2 digital TVs

    • You need to connect the Roku to 1 TV, but you can move it to another. If you want to watch both at simultaneously you will need a Roku for each. As for the Antenna question. Here is a guide to choosing a TV Antenna that should answer your question.

  • I have cable in my living room, but also have a TV in bedroom. I bought an antenna and a cable cord. Which would work? I tried screwing both in and says no signal. Just want 2,4,7 in bedroom. Any suggestions?

    • I would need to see a TV fool report to see if it's possible to get those.

  • I actually have a question.. I currently have At&t/internet/DirecTV. I am paying about $119 a month but I don't have the basic but next step up from basic... My stepson just recently purchased the Roku Express and I am curious about it because I am tired of paying out so much just to watch TV.. Would I still be able to get the local channels like abc, cbs, nbc and other channels on DirecTV lineup? I have favorite shows I love to watch every week on lifetime, TLC, APLHD, DSCHD, HISTHD, A&EHD, FXM, AMCHD, LIFEHD, TNTHD, SyfyHD, & USAHD?

  • Today magically my TV says no signal. Did anything change out there in the world that I can no longer access the over the air channels? Or probably just user error.

    • That's odd. I would see if everything is connected properly. If they all went out, it's likely a technical problem with the antenna, the TV, or somewhere in between.

  • Hi, I would like to get rid of my cable. I have it linked with my internet so how would I go about getting internet for Apple TV and Netflix etc? Looking for information I don't know much about this and want the regular TV stations too

  • Hello,
    If I want to get channels such as abc etc. in the bedroom and living room will I need an antenna for each tv?

    • You could do that with indoor antennas, or possibly split the antenna signal using an outdoor antenna.

  • Hello I am so glad I found your weblog, I really found you by accident, while I was researching on Google for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I donít have time to browse it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.

    • I want to know if you can tell me how does one record local network programs (abc, cbs, nbc) for watching later, and how many hours can I record? Is it possible to do this? I will have to give up my dvr if I cut my cable service and want to know what I would replace it with?

  • Hi just moved in apartment. Have a Toshiba 40RV 525U and got Leaf 50 antnna. Installed it but despite internet suggestions how to get channels without internet, the screen reverts to "cable" with a static screen. How do i pick up local channels..? I'm at the limit of my tech 'knowledge"!!

    • Once you hook the antenna to the TV, you need to switch the input button on your television. I found the manual to your TV online. Here on page 31 it shows that you need to go into the menu to configure the ANT/CABLE terminal to receive "Antenna". It also goes to explain how to do a channel scan.

    • You have strong signals. I'd go with something cheap like a Mohu Metro. It should be fine.

  • I have 2tvs with rokus on them but I can't get any of the local channels. How do I go about getting them. My TVs brands are insignia

    • I'd try to save a little Money and go with the ClearStream 2V, but mount it outside. The only channel that worries me is PBS being that it's a VHF.

  • I'm trying to find out if it's true that we can no longer acquire over the air tv with antennas or for free. You have to have a converter which can only be distributed through local cable and you still have to pay for it! Is this true?? I'm seeing you advise to get antennas but isn't it impossible without the converter? I'm sick and tired of being ripped off by cable I'm desperate for an alternative to cable and satellite.

  • I have an antenna and get a few things but wanted to get some movies and cable channels without spending the outrageous price of cable. So I purchased an Amazon fire stick. After installing it, found out none of the streaming devices work without an activation code which you can't get without a cable provider. Ruku, sling, hulu are all the same. Why would I pay for cable to use Ruku? Streaming divices all alike tell you one things, but lead you another.

    • Those are the TV Anywhere apps. You need to have one of the services I listed like DirecTV Now to actually stream the channels.

  • Dennis can you explain how to install an antenna or post video we will be cutting cord soon and just want channels cbs nbs,fox and abc to watch local news ,superbowl, world series awards shows tennis golf etc.

    We will keep internet so we cant use that coax wire for the antenna.

    Its too bad cable does not have a local tv plan with just channels 2 to 13 they do have a basic only plan but it has like 50 channels of stuff i dont want.

    • I'd talk to a local professional. Your signals are too low for me to confidently provide advice online.

    • This is one of the ones I was looking at? Sorry for the typos in the first question. Thanks


      UraLeyeon Outdoor/Indoor Antenna, 150 Miles Range Attic Antenna, Rooftop Antenna, Digital TV Antenna With Amplifier, 33ft Detachable Cable with Mount Kit,
      1080P 4K-Ready Extramely High Reception With UL Certificate

      Working Frequency: VHF47~240MHz,UHF 470~862MHz
      V.S.W.R.: ≤2
      Typical Antenna Gain:32dBi with amplifier
      RG6 Coax Cable: Cu 1.5C-2V L=10M
      Connector Type:F Male/IEC Male
      Reception Range: 150 miles

    • It's a Hi-VHF so it will be tough at that distance. You can try a Clearstream 2V, but I'm not sure if that will work. You may need a rood antenna like the Winegard HD7694P.

    • You can probably go with either the Clearstream 2V or the Mohu Glide.

  • Josh: I can't seem to find information about streaming in Mexico. I know some services will work there (Amazon just started there, no problem with Netflix, etc.) but I can't seem to locate a service that will stream local (Denver, in my case) television stations to our place in Mexico. Doe sthis exist??! Many thanks...

  • I want to install a Firestick but have no clue how to begin...technology challenged for sure!! Do I just plug it in the power strip and into one of the HDMI ports and I can get what they offer on the Firestick?

  • Dear Dennis: No options to cable or satellite tv exist for most of us 12-20 miles west of Seattle. We are in dead spots due to terrain. No antenna can work. The local stations don't care that 10-20K people can't watch. We aren't rich enough to warrant a translator so we have to choose between unreliable Comcast or expensive satellite tv that doesn't carry any second tier stations like PBS2, Retro, etc. Any place 40 miles from a major metro area is in the same position. So much for OTA "free" tv.

    • Sorry, to hear that Gordon. I'll definitely keep my ear to the ground for options.

  • Hi Dennis, graeat web site thank you!
    Getting ready to cut the cable. Have everything I need except like so many other cable cutters, local channels. Local channels I need are CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX. I know my location is not great to get OTA signals. I was wondering if the Mohu Sky 60 could do the trick to get those four local channels? Thank you very much.

  • Hello Dennis,

    Could you help indentify the best multi-directional HD Antenna for my situation? I'm in the middle of two major cities, and would like to take advantage of the signals from those opposing directions. Here is the TV Fool report for my address: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3de6a43b741cce9c.
    Attic installation would work. Current antenna, Spectrum Antenna Motorized Outdoor Long Range Digital TV Antenna SP715, borrowed and works fine when pointed to a city. I would like a omni or multi directional this time around.

  • I am a VERY senior citizen and I am tired of fighting with the cable company. I don't want them or their 'boxes' or their modems or their aggravation. I have a 'smart' TV and I need the internet. I live in a valley on O'ahu. I also use an iPhone (I think it's a 7). What is the best alternative to cable?

    A hui hou, Pua

    • You are going to have interference trying to get those channels to the North East. I'd get a more directional Clearstream 2V and point it westward.

  • I just cut the cord from cable about 6.months ago and now from satellite TV use WiFi with my Roku based tv, love the freedom but want to get my local Kansas City market I'm 80 miles away purchased a DTV box and a 70 mile antenna can I use the satellite coaxial to run from the antenna? Thanks great job!

    • You can try it, but I would run a clean install. While it should work in theory, who knows how good the installation was. Cable TV and Satellite are a lot more forgiving over coaxial.

  • next month we are going to stream with set tv. what i am trying to figure out is what kind of antenna i need to just pull in my local stations not the major like abc ect. just looking to get like wftv in orlando for our local weather and local news. That would be my only reason for the antenna. Thanks Joanne

  • Thanks Dennis! I've checked the Moho Leaf Glide out and it looks promising. I'll give it a try.


  • Your info has been helpful. I just ordered the Leaf 50 from Mohu and the discount code worked perfectly. I bought my mom a smart TV but she is still using Direct TV through At&t and I can’t cut that service fast enough. We are in a major market but had to get Leaf 50 to get CBS. Do you think she will be able to naviagate local and Netflix or Hulu with one remote? She likes game shows etc on local tv and I just want to cut the bill

    • Hi Lori! Thank you so much for reading the blog!I just purchased a TCL Roku TV and there is an antenna channel (app) for the antenna port. There is also an "app" for a game console. This means you don't have to use a separate remote or even change inputs to watch locals from the antenna. You just of to the antenna "app" to watch locals just as you would got to Netflix. It's really made TV watching easier.

      • Hi Dennis. I have a Roku TV too, and there is an antenna channel (app). So my question is--do I need to buy an actual antenna to plug into the "antenna port" in the back of the tv or is the antenna built into the tv somehow? What antenna do you recommend for multiple tvs if I do need to buy one?

      • I am surprised how many people ask you questions that you have covered in detail in your blog. I found it very informative and used the online tools you feature to determine which antennae I would need. I am going to keep up with your blog. It's techy enough to interest me and also understandable to the average person, such as myself. I have a background in tech, but not from an IT standpoint. I have done a lot of digital editing for music and film as well as digital design work.Working in these areas requires just enough expertise to get me in trouble.

  • I live in the shadow of a mountain here in Boulder CO and I have tried all different types of antennas and unless the channel is in Spanish, talks about God a whole lot or is ION, is trying to sell you something, I am not getting them. I rent a Town-home, so an outside antenna is a no go for property tax reasons and have tried four different antennas (all along the price spectrum) I have internet, but no cable/satellite. How do I get the channels that are supposed to be free to me over the air......help

    • I would need to see a signal report to see what is going on at your location.

  • So I cut the cord and was satisfied for awhile. I couldn't get a couple channels but that was okay. All of a sudden one day I couldn't get any reception at all. Nobody wants to admit it but the cable company is scrambling the signals so that I have to get cable. So I got the very basic cable along with my internet and now I am paying $113 a month. I enjoy watching ME TV and ION and other Independent channels that Dish and Direct TV don't have, but cable does. I have Cox Cable and I live in San Tan Valley, AZ. There are these little boxes that the cable company rents to me so only two of my four TV's have cable. I have Roku on all the TV's. Luckily I am 67 years old and will not have to put up with this B.S. much longer. I remember trying to tune in the TV with rabbit ears and fuzzy television viewing. I paid a lot for my 3D Smart TV just to be told I have to hook it up to cable. Bummer.

    • Hi Sue. The cable company doesn't have the means to scramble channels coming from the station tower. I checked the signal power in your town and it should be fairly easy to pickup channels if you point the antenna to the west. I recommend checking this article on how to pick the best TV antenna. If you picked up an antenna like the ClearStream 2V, you should be able to get reception. If you aren't then there may be an issue with cable, the antenna, or the TV.

  • Want to run Coaxial from an antenna to the TV. The coaxial in your house is likely still connected to a cable TV source. With those signals in the report you should have no issues getting channels. A ClearStream 2V should work well. Honestly with those signals, any brand antenna should work well.

    • Hi Dennis,
      Are you saying I want to or don't want to use the coax? The cable is still not disconnected, but when I go directly into my tv without the cable box, I only get the those channels no one wants. I don't get cable, or digital cbs, fox, or obp (PBS). So, I will try to get the antenna and give it a shot, but are you thinking the coax will work once the cable is disconnected, because it isn't working now? It says those channels are encrypted. Thanks,

      • Sorry. I wasn't clear. You watch cable without the box. What I am saying is you can connect a coaxial cable between a TV antenna and your TV and watch local channels.

        • You got it! I got two different ones just in case and the cheaper GE proflatpanel hd antenna just saved me from wife’s imminent wrath. Now she can just turn on the tv and there’s her shows. We also get a lot of other good channels with old movies and ahows that we will actually watch. And there’s no lag from one channel to another like in my Comcast account. I am free! Thank you.

          • It’s a $20 antenna from Target. Sleek black flat panel that has two old school rabbit ears in case you need them. I don’t need the ears so it looks like a black flat panel that is about 8”x5”. I’ll buy anotherthis weekend.

  • I lived in Fort Lauderdale , an easy reception area. Bought the cheap Mohu and then expensive one they didn't work. Bought a big antennae like the old fashioned ones and picture was superb. I only had it up at 5' Height because of Townhome restrictions. Overall I urge you to try the reception

    • It is a violation of Federal law for homeowners' associations or even municipalities to attempt to restrict normal television antennas. This is an old rule by the FCC to promote television back when it was new.

  • I have an antenna but it rarely picks up anything. I use PlutoTV and VRV on PS4, which has some free TV viewing. But no luck in finding a free way to stream local TV channels. Although people on Youtube often stream some live TV channels.
    Last year I was able to watch every soccer match live on Youtube from people streaming the games from TV.

  • With the Live Streaming Services, everybody seems to focus on local channels. At best these services offer 5 channels. I get 48 overt-the-air channels with my rooftop antenna. At our lake house I get 36 channels with an amplified Mohu Leaf. I do not want the streaming services to carry local channels because the service will be charged carriage fees by the local channels. And those fees will then be passed along to me.

    • I agree. An Antenna is the best way to cut the cord and get local channels. However, not everyone can or wants to set up an antenna.