How to Get Free Cable TV Channels Legally

1) Through Illegal IPTV Subscription Services

Various illegal IPTV subscription services providers offer Streaming services after they intercept the Cable TV channels. The illegal IPTV provider taps all the cable TV services, and they can broadcast the services over the internet. Though cable TV offers its service via optical cable connection, these illegal providers intercept the cable TV network and tap its signals. They will charge you a small fee of around $5 per month. If you want to use one, you can use a website like Theispinfo to find them.

However, remember that the services provider is doing this illegally, and if they are traced, they can even be prosecuted.

17. Using YouTube

Advancement in YouTube platforms has made it easy for someone to stream shows online. Although some episodes might not be full, sometimes the clips that are available from the show may be just as good.

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4. Purchase Roku TV

Roku TV is a small device that is easily installed on TV and allows one to be able to stream premium channels free of charge. Some of the premium channels that one can access through Roku TV include all 4, Netflix, HBO, Showtime BBC iPlayer, among others. The disadvantage of Roku TV is that its shows are usually interrupted by advertisements since the device is usually supported by advertising.

Wrapping Up

I get it, this trick won’t work for everyone or you may want/need more variety than what you can get.If you prefer something else, there are plenty of streaming options.

Some offer you original content, while others just curate content the way your cable service would.

Which one(s) should you use?

That’s totally up to you and you should always take advantage of free trials to see if you will get the most out of a paid subscription.

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Can you know if someone connected to your cable was unauthorized?

Yes. If you start receiving poor quality services like snowed screens, then it might be someone has tapped on your line?

The TV Channels I Get

Ok, so we talked about the equipment I use to get my cable television programming.

We talked about the process, too.

Now, let’s talk about the TV channels I get using this little trick.

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Local TV Stations

With my Limited Basic cable television subscription I get the normal local tv stations:

  • PBS
  • CBS
  • Univision
  • NBC
  • FOX
  • CW
  • Something Called My33
  • ABC

Using my TV’s scanning feature, I also get the same ones, but the HD versions on the in-between identifiers.

For example, if PBS in SD is channel 2, I get the PBSHD designation on channel 2-2 as well.

The same goes for each of the other local TV stations, all on the “-2” channel numbers.

Cable Channels

Similarly to the local TV stations, my specific plan comes with a few SD cable channels:

  • QVC
  • Mundo Fox
  • Ion
  • WGN Chicago
  • PBS/WXEL
  • PBS/WLRN
  • C-SPAN
  • Beacon
  • City Info
  • Jewelry TV
  • Telemundo
  • Univision
  • Weather Channel
  • Coral Springs TV
  • Mega TV
  • HSN
  • Cozi TV
  • METV
  • Justice Network
  • TeleXitos TV

QuboION LifeAntenna TVThisTVH&I (Heroes/Icons)Bounceget TVGritEscapeDecades

That’s it, that’s the extent of the cable channels I am supposed to get with my Limited Basic plan.

Just like the local tv stations above, I also get the first column of these cable channels in HD on the “-2” intervals, too!

Plus, living in South Florida, it’s good to get The Weather Channel during hurricane season, even with the local tv stations since it gives wider coverage.

When I used the scanner on the TV, I started getting the following cable channels:

  • FXM (Fox Movie Network)
  • BET
  • USA
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • FX
  • HGTV
  • Comedy Central
  • ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U
  • And a ton more of the “real” cable channels

I’m pretty sure I get at least 75% of the most popular stations out there.

It’s probably mostly all of the sub-100 numbered stations which are all of the most common ones.

Not Cooking, any of the FoxSports college stations, regionals like MSG or YES, HBO, Starz, etc. mind you.

There are some other obscure Spanish, shopping & local stations too but those are pretty irrelevant to me.

Do you care about watching sports?

Sports fans have an increasing number of streaming options that show live games, but depending on which sport(s) you follow, the local team(s) in your area and how many games you want to watch, it can get costly. Channels devoted to NBA basketball, NHL hockey and MLB baseball teams, known as regional sports networks, are available on most cable networks but are rare and expensive on streaming services. These are the channels you’ll need to watch most regular-season games for those sports (the playoffs are generally on national channels).

Live TV streaming service DirecTV Stream’s $90 plan is often the only option if you want to watch your local RSN via streaming, although in some parts of the country a somewhat cheaper service (namely YouTube TV or Fubo TV at $65 or $70, respectively) will carry your channel. Coverage varies widely by sport, team and city, so check out our dedicated guides for more details — including exactly which services carry your local team and how much they cost. 

Read more: MLB Streaming 2022: How to Watch Your Baseball Team Live This Season

NFL pro football is a different beast. Those games are usually carried on local CBS, Fox and NBC networks, but you’ll typically need an antenna, a live TV streaming service, or watch select games on Paramount Plus, Peacock or Amazon Prime Video — the latter will host Thursday Night Football exclusively in 2022. And of course you’ll need ESPN, available on most live streaming services, to watch Monday Night Football.

If you like to chat with friends in real-time during the game, or follow live games on Twitter or social media, be aware that streaming sports are often delayed compared to the “live” game on cable or elsewhere. The Super Bowl, for example, lags 30 seconds to a minute behind cable.

Try to replace your DVR’d shows with streaming options

Do you use your cable box’s DVR a lot? Live TV streaming services offer a “cloud DVR,” but they do have some limitations compared to TiVo or the DVR from your cable company. They often have storage limits, shows that expire after a certain time, limitations on which channels can be recorded, and some even force you to watch commercials. YouTube TV has the best cloud DVR we’ve tested, and in most ways it’s as good as TiVo, and most other services’ cloud DVRs are solid too.

Thanks to on-demand, however, you might not miss your DVR much at all. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others let you watch shows on-demand — often the same shows you’re using your DVR to record. And live TV services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV offer a lot of on-demand shows, and you can often pause or even skip commercials. On the other hand, every episode of every show might not be available.

3. Watch Free TV Online

A lot of channels, including major networks, actually post full episodes of their shows online.

Really!

You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but a lot of networks post their programs on their websites, and you can watch them for free!

Often, the content the networks post online will only be available to watch for a limited time, but it’s still free TV!

Your Current Subscription Might Include Live TV

People mainly subscribe to services like Hulu for their on-demand content. Still, you may already be paying for a subscription that includes some cable-like live TV. If not, those channels might be available for a low add-on fee, but since we’re looking for free options here, that’s off the menu.

Before trawling the net for free cable replacements, check the services you’ve currently subscribed to and see if they have cable content tucked away, such as free live news channels. One prime example is HGTV, which is included with numerous streaming services, of which one is almost certainly already on your subscription list.

Stream Cable TV Online Directly

Cable TV providers know that people are moving to streaming. Most streaming platforms are paid. For example, Paramount+ requires a paid subscription, but that’s not universally true for all platforms. Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, has a free tier with a heap of cable content.

Bottom Line

It’s easy to cut the cord on cable and save money. Start by purchasing a digital antenna to get local channels. In most cases, a digital antenna is also the perfect option to get basic cable channels at no cost.

There are plenty of ways to get television content without paying significant money. If those don’t provide enough shows, you can supplement them with a streaming provider.

Even if you choose a streaming service, you’ll save $50+ per month vs. paying for cable. That can be life-changing money if you manage it wisely.

What do you do to watch your favorite shows? How much do you spend on content each month? 

How to DVR Shows and Movies

Cable companies love to use DVRs to keep you under contract. This tactic worked on me. I loved our DVR from DIRECTV and thought I couldn’t live without it.

It’s possible to watch free basic cable channels and record them with a standalone DVR. The Fire TV Recast is a fantastic option. It works with a Fire TV.

Like other standalone DVRs, the Fire TV Recast only records content from over-the-air networks. It won’t record content on streaming platforms.

Read our Fire TV Recast review to learn how the DVR works.

2. Sign Up for a Free Video Streaming Service

You’ve likely heard of streaming services – services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ that allow you to stream your favorite TV shows and movies on demand, any time. Unfortunately, those streaming services charge monthly fees to access their content. But there are also alternatives available online that give you that same capability for free.

With the right video streaming service, you can watch all kinds of TV shows and plenty of movies without spending anything at all. You just need to look for 100 percent free video streaming services.

These services may or may not require an account to start streaming. But they’re all completely free – and completely legal. One great option is Crackle TV. You can watch both TV shows and movies for free any time, as long as you have an internet connection. There’s no catch – you’ll just have to watch a few ads while streaming.

Summary

Having been without cable TV for several years now, I estimate we’ve saved in the range of three to four thousand dollars just by cutting the cord and signing up for streaming services that happen to come with the bonus of free access to many popular cable show channels.

If you are big into saving money, you just can’t pass up that kind of extra cash in your bank account. If you’re still holding on to your cable pack, consider switching to a streaming service that offers free access to many of the cable channel shows.

Or consider watching online directly from your favorite cable TV channel web sites. I’m guessing you’ll find one or more of these cable alternatives more than sufficient for your TV viewing needs, and a nice way to add more cash to your bank account as well.

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