Local stations often have their own transmitters, which means that there’s a good chance that your favorite local station is available for free over the air. Over-the-air TV may seem old-school, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the crisp HD streams that are the hallmark of modern OTA TV. The right antenna will get you HD feeds of local networks, including local affiliates of the four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), plus PBS and other local stations. An antenna is all you need to watch everything from NFL football to the local news.
If you only wanted to watch certain shows, you could double check on Hulu or one of the other Playon supported services (CBS streaming for example), and see if those shows are streamed through their online services. if they are, you should be able to use playon at no extra charge. I know for a fact that CSI shows up in Playon, as we watch that show quite regularly. I’m not sure about the other one.
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, AMC, FX, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, the CW, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, the Weather Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
YouTube is known for hosting thousands of viral videos. But it’s also a great place to learn. In the span of a few minutes, you can discover everything from how to fold a fitted sheet to how to make delicious dishes that won’t bust the budget. You can even watch many classic shows and movies there too! Are indie films and documentaries more your thing? Check out Vimeo.

If you’ve already signed up with a cable replacement service and you’re unhappy with its local TV coverage, you may want to consider adding OTA capture functionality to fill in the gaps. With a TV tuner and an antenna, you can watch local TV channels on just about every major entertainment platform. Once your system is able to access local TV, you can use the free or inexpensive software mentioned above to add DVR capabilities.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this: We pay for standalone high-speed cable Internet service. I connected a digital splitter so that one cable goes to the modem and the other to two TVs in our house. For the price of Internet service, we also get all the over-the air stations (cable quality). These include PBS (5 stations), CBS (2 stations), ABC (3 stations), NBC (3 stations), Fox (2 stations) plus an assortment of other over-the air stations in the 70-100 range–where the local access stations are also located.
Streaming quality increases with the amount of bandwidth you have. Some services list minimum requirements to stream video. Vudu, for example, suggests a connection speed of at least 1 megabit per second for standard-definition movies (480p), 2.25 Mbps for HD (720p) and 4.5 Mbps for HDX movies (1080p). Netflix automatically chooses the level of video quality you’ll stream based on your connection speed.
I was a loyal cable TV customer for all of my adult life, paying about $34/month for basic cable (which sounds ludicrously cheap now). Then I moved to a different city where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was just surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV. Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” ended and my cable bill went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but that was the last straw. After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable” and try broadcast digital TV. The first thing I tried was an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days… Read the rest of my story here.
For many people, the main reason to subscribe to cable or satellite is sports. (The huge licensing fees that sports leagues command, by the way, are a big reason you can’t watch sports without such a subscription—and why subscription fees are so high.) Watching live sports without cable used to be easier, but more and more sports programming has shifted from OTA broadcast to cable. For example, of 38 college-football bowl games in the 2015–2016 season, only four aired on OTA networks. Even the NCAA basketball tournament has moved its semifinal games onto cable networks. For the sports fan, watching all the important games without cable has become impossible.
As far as watching shows when they air, if it’s a show on one of the cable networks you may or may not get the show a day or two after it airs on a service like Hulu. Otherwise you might need to pay for that particular show on a service like Amazon – which in many cases is still cheaper than paying for cable. Or in some cases you can watch live shows on a service like Sling TV.

A lot of people pay a lot of money in order to be able to watch the TV shows that they want, when they want.  In the process they end up spending upwards of $500-1000 a year, mostly for programming that they don't watch.  If they would just look a little deeper they might find that there are a lot of free or low cost options out there, and they can get a lot of the same TV shows, movies and other video content for free.
For many people, the main reason to subscribe to cable or satellite is sports. (The huge licensing fees that sports leagues command, by the way, are a big reason you can’t watch sports without such a subscription—and why subscription fees are so high.) Watching live sports without cable used to be easier, but more and more sports programming has shifted from OTA broadcast to cable. For example, of 38 college-football bowl games in the 2015–2016 season, only four aired on OTA networks. Even the NCAA basketball tournament has moved its semifinal games onto cable networks. For the sports fan, watching all the important games without cable has become impossible.
CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4
There is also this thing called broadcast television, which anyone can watch as long as they have a TV that supports digital television (or a digital conversion box) and an over-the-air (OTA) HDTV antenna. The thing about broadcast television is that I couldn't watch it on Apple TV. I'd have to switch my TV input over, and then flip through the channels until I found something to watch. I rarely watched broadcast television because I tend to stick with Apple TV for my TV and movie watching activities.
For those who want something on a smaller level, lots of local news programs on broadcast networks (like Fox 5 News at 11 in New York City, for example) play for free online. Simply visit your local affiliate's website, find the news section and see if it offers a live stream. It probably does, although many of them function only on computers, rather than mobile devices or set-top boxes.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.

If you're one of the 10 people who still have a regular TV, you'll need to buy a digital converter box to watch TV in conjunction with your antenna, and once you get one, you will then get tons of crystal clear TV stations for free!  When we switched to watching Digital TV years back we instantly gained about 5-10 TV stations because some channels have the main channel, and then sub channels as well.
CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4
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