Free and cheap alternatives to cable and satellite TV

Frequently Asked Questions About Broadcast and Internet TV
March 17th, 2017 By Brian Shim

I get a ton of comments on this site from folks all around the country asking me about how to cut cable TV and get free and cheap TV instead, and I answer each comment. I've finally compiled the most common ones and put them here.

Q: Which antenna should I get?

A: Go here to start. Basically, you should first check to make sure that broadcast signals are in your area by entering your zip code in the Station Finder before purchasing any antenna.

Q: How can I get more broadcast TV channels?

A: You'll get the most channels with a rooftop or attic antenna. If you are not able to set up a rooftop or attic antenna, try these tips with your indoor antenna.

Q: How so I use one antenna with multiple TVs?

A: Yes, see the options for multiple TVs in this article.

Q: Does a Roku replace cable TV?

A: No. This is a big point of misunderstanding. A Roku is not an exact replacement for cable TV. It allows you to watch free and paid content from the Internet such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and many others, on your TV. You can watch, say, ESPN or The Walking Dead but you'll have to pay for a service such as Sling TV or Playstation Vue. And, you don't get the network stations on your Roku for free either. You have to pay for a service such as CBS All Access (or use an antenna connected directly to your TV). At the end of the day, many people can find content they are happy with using a Roku or other Internet-connected device, for much less than the cost of cable TV, but some there may be some shows that can only be seen live on cable/satellite.

Q: I heard about a box that gives you all of the latest TV shows and movies for free. Is that for real?

A: Yes, there are services that provide the latest movies and TV shows for free, but if it sounds too good to be true, it's probably illegal. For various reasons, I don't recommending using those services.

Q: Where can I get Fox News besides cable/satellite?

A: There are two ways that I know of for sure. You can get it on the Sony Playstation Vue service. You don't need a Playstation to use this service. You can use a Roku or other devices to watch it. You will need Internet access, and the cheapest plan is currently $39.99 per month. But, you get other channels in that package as well.

If you don't want to pay, you can get some video clips for free on the Fox News website, as well as the Fox News Youtube channel.

Q: How can I watch sports without cable or satellite TV?

A: If you are in or near a major city, you should be able to get free broadcast TV to see sports on the networks and local channels. ESPN (along with other channels) is available on Sling TV for $20/month. Here's more info on how to get sports without cable TV.

Q: How can I watch (insert your channel here) without cable or satellite TV?

A: See if your channel is either on Sling TV or Playstation Vue. These streaming services have a monthly fee, but they are cheaper than cable TV. Also, check the channel's website to see what free content they offer there.

Q: Can I record broadcast TV?

A: Yes, there are several options! See my recommended solutions for recording broadcast TV.

Q: Can I record video from the Internet?

A: Yes! Check out a service called Playon.

Q: How do I use an antenna with an old tube TV?

A: If you have an older TV, you'll need a digital receiver box to get digital broadcast signals.

Q: Does a Roku replace cable TV?

A: No, a Roku alone will not get you all of the same channels as cable TV. A Roku will let you watch content from the Internet on your TV. Some of the content is free (like YouTube, Crackle, Vimeo), but much of it has a fee. You can get a lot of good content for less than the cost of cable, but it's not an exact replacement for cable, and much of the content is recorded and not live-streaming. For more information on Roku, go here.

Q: Where can I get free Internet access?

A: This is more difficult than getting free TV. See my suggestions to lower the cost of your Internet service.

Q: Can I use my satellite dish to receive free broadcast TV signals?

A: Unfortunately, no. The satellite dish is not the correct shape, and has special electronics that make it not usable for receiving free broadcast TV. However, you can still use the coax cabling from the dish to your TV if you want to install a broadcast TV antenna where your dish was. That would save the step of running new cable from your roof to your TV.

Q: How can I get someone to install a rooftop antenna for me?

Amazon now offers TV antenna installation! Check out their service here.

Note, this is a professional review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer when you purchase through the affiliate links such as the ones below. I test and/or research each product or service thoroughly before endorsing it. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.


For more technical info, check out some of these sites.

Technical Sites About Broadcast TV/Antennas/Reception

Set-Top Boxes

Internet TV


Become a Cable Disabler

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