Learn how to receive free digital HD channels without cable or satellite TV service — no cable box needed!
Getting HD channels without a cable box is easy if you have the right equipment and decent reception in your home or office. To get HD channels, you simply need an antenna and TV with digital tuner. Read on for more details!
How To Get Free HD Channels
Using Built-In Digital Tuners
Most 4k TVs and HD TVs these days have built-in digital tuners, so you probably don’t need a DTV converter box (see below for more info). You just plug-in your antenna using a coaxial cable into the back of your TV and start scanning for channels. Your TV might ask you to automatically scan, or you may need to go into the settings and choose auto or manual scan for channels. Keep in mind, the input on the TV must be set to antenna or TV (most TVs have multiple input sources such as HDMI1, HDMI2, USB, etc). Once the input is selected, your TV should ask you to automatically scan for channels.
Using Digital Converter (if needed)
If you are using an older analog tube TV, rear-projection, or flat panel monitor without a built-in digital tuner you’ll need a DTV (Digital TV) converter to translate the digital signals for your television. (See example DTV converter.) This box usually costs about $30-$40 and doesn’t require a monthly service fee like a cable provider. You can find a list of available DTV Converters and Antennas at Amazon. The DTV converter will let you watch both standard and high-definition (HD) programming from local networks.
Scanning for Channels
Once your antenna is hooked up to the back of your TV or converter box, you can start scanning for available local networks. If you’re not having much luck try repositioning your antenna and scan again. Obstacles, weather, and distance from broadcast facilities can all play a factor in the quality (and quantity) if the digital signals you can receive. You can also use the FCC’s DTV Reception map to final local broadcast facilities by entering your zip code. Your built-in digital tuner should allow you to save the channels with good reception.
That’s it! Remember, you won’t get cable and premium channels like ESPN, HBO, or Discovery Channel over-the-air, but major networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC are usually available if close enough to a broadcast station (and in HD!), as well as local channels such as PBS, The CW, and Telemundo.
View more articles about over-the-air digital reception, DTV, and getting free HD channels under our DTV category.