In this guide we are going to review all the FREE TV options available for cord cutters in 2019. There has never been a better time than now to untether from your cable or satellite subscriptions. With the plethora of online streaming services and free-to-air broadcasts available, why wouldn’t you consider this option!
Governments and ISPs across the world monitor their users’ online activities. If found streaming copyright content, you could get into serious legal trouble. Currently, your IP 22.214.171.124 is visible to everyone. I strongly recommend that you get the best VPN for streaming and hide your identity so that your entertainment doesn’t take a turn for the worst.
In this FREE TV – The Ultimate Cord Cutters Guide, we are going to review these online and free-to-air options in excruciating detail. As well, we’ll likely throw in a few of the paid online options too. We’ll include these paid options because, well frankly, they’re the perfect complement to the free ones.
FREE TV – HDTV Antenna vs. The Cable Company
Without question the best way to get FREE TV is by purchasing and installing an over-the-air (OTA) HDTV antenna. That’s what we’re all about here at AntennaJunkies.com. By setting up an HDTV antenna, you’ll be able to pull in all of those digital broadcasts that are all around us.
It’s really quite fascinating isn’t it, all of these “radio” waves that we can’t see or touch are buzzing around us. By simply putting up what amounts to a piece of metal connected to a wire, we have the ability to pull those high quality signal in and connect them to our television. Of course I’m oversimplifying things a little and I don’t know, maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I find it fascinating.
Couple this with the fact that your cable and satellite companies are doing pretty much the exact same things (granted with bigger antennas and wider infrastructure) to deliver the signal to you. That’s right, your cable company is essentially picking up those free digital signals, compressing them (squeezing the quality) and re-transmitting them to you for a fee.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you already that this is absolutely crazy! Why are you paying for something that you can get for FREE! Well, the biggest reason most of us stay with these cable and satellite subscriptions is the sports offerings.
FREE TV – What About Live Sports?
Sports is the only thing keeping people paying and the cable and satellite companies know this. They have exclusive deals with the specialty sports networks like ESPN, Fox Sports, TSN and Sportsnet (Canada).
I’m hear to tell you now, there are ways to get sports using your HDTV antenna through your local television broadcasts. For these specialty sports networks, there are options for those too. Keep reading to find out how!
FREE TV – Let’s Talk Gear!
Okay, so you want to unplug from the cable and satellite companies and give free-to-air HDTV antenna signals a go…GREAT! Believe me, you wont’ look back, in fact, you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it years ago.
I’ve done many articles here on AntennaJunkies.com that talk about all kinds of different antennas, network tuners and streaming boxes. I’ll include links to all those different articles at the end of this one. That way, if you want more detailed explanations and reviews on all these devices you can do so.
Since we have a lot to cover off here, I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you exactly what you need. Full disclosure, the devices I’m listing below are the best-of-the-best at the time of writing this article. Of course, this means it’s going to cost a little more to get the hardware listed below.
If you’re on a tight budget then please check out some of the articles listed at the end of this one so you can find the hardware that best matches what you can afford to spend.
In my opinion, if you’re serious about cutting the cord, there are 3 key (major) pieces of hardware you are going to need to get your antenna setup up and running. They are, an HDTV Antenna, a Network Tuner Box, and an Android TV Streaming Box. Of course, there is mounting hardware, coax cable and the like, however, let’s focus on these three.
For an HDTV Antenna, I’m going to narrow your choices down to three. These three, without question, are capable of delivering crystal clear HDTV content spanning ranges of 80+ miles. This means that provided you live in an area that’s within 80 miles of the broadcast tower(s), then you will have no trouble pulling in the major networks such as, FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC.
If you’re not sure what channels are available to you over-the-air or where you’re broadcast towers are located, be sure check out my TV Station Locator Tool page. To get you started, I’ve put together a short YouTube video that shows the TV station locator tool in action.
Top Rated HDTV Antenna’s
Okay, back to the best three Outdoor HDTV Antennas on the market right now. Listed in order of my personal preference.
You stick to one of these three HDTV antennas and you won’t be disappointed with the FREE TV you’ll pulling in, with crystal-clear, uncompressed HDTV reception.
Top Rated Network Tuners
This is another of the must-haves in my opinion. Detach yourself and your antenna from any specific television in your home. Instead, connect your new HDTV antenna to one of the network tuners below, and you’ll have the ability to not only stream your antenna signal to every television in your house. But also, any PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet that you own…I know…awesome! I’ve been doing this long before the cable and satellite companies added that functionality!
I’m not even going to bother recommending any tuner I’ve not personally used. This is why I’m only listing those from SiliconDust. They are, without question, the best network tuners on the market. The only choice you have to make is how many tuners will you need.
Two devices I’m listing here, first, HDHomeRun EXTEND HDTV (2-Tuner), this tuner will give you effectively 2 tuners in one box. This means you supply one antenna signal, and with little to no signal loss that antenna signal becomes two antenna signals. This will allow you to watch two different channels simultaneously on different devices, or alternatively, watch one station while you’re recording the other.
The HDHomeRun EXTEND HDTV (2-Tuner) above also has built-in hardware transcoding. Which takes on some of the heavy lifting tasks of delivering your free TV signals over Wifi to those smart devices.
The other tuner I’m going to list is the big brother to this one, HDHomeRun Connect Quatro 4-Tuner (HDHR5-4US). This gives you the power of 4 tuners in one box, effectively splitting your single antenna signal into four different signals. This will allow you to watch, stream, record, four different channels at the same time!
There are others on the market, however, if you want the best…look no further!
Top Rated Android TV Media Streamers
I’m going to make this choice really easy for you. Again, I am assuming in this article you have a little bit of money to spend. If you don’t, please see the articles at the end of this one if you’re on a budget. If you really want to do this right, I assure you, the money you spend on the hardware listed here will more than pay for themselves in less than 6 months on what you’re paying for cable or satellite.
There are many Android streaming devices on the market, however, be advised they are not all created equal. Nor do they all run the same Android Operating System under the hood. Because, we’re talking cord-cutting and getting “full wife approval” then you want to look at only those boxes that boast the certified Android TV OS. This is not to be confused with some of the, what I like to call “open-Android” type systems.
Now, the Android TV OS variety of boxes are slightly limited in their Google Playstore selections, however, they are designed for televisions. This means, there interface is extremely easy to use and designed exclusively for using traditional style TV remote controls and cater to everything we are talking about here. And the limitation regarding Google Playstore apps can easily be worked-around by side-loading any Android app you like.
Truthfully, there is only one Android box I recommend here…Nvidia Shield TV! This box is without question the best Android box every built. It comes in two flavors, the standard and pro versions.
Now to add some FREE must-have apps to your Android box. Here I will list the perfect companion apps you should install. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however, a few of my personal favorites you should definitely take a look at.
GOOGLE LIVE CHANNELS
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The Google Live Channels app is for watching Live TV. Watch your favorite news, sports, movies and TV shows from various channel sources such as built-in tuner, IP-based tuners, and more and show them instantly on your Android TV, such as the Sony 55″ 4K Android TV, or on your Nvidia Shield TV box.
This killer app does a great job of blending both your OTA HDTV antenna signals with free app-based channels such as those offered by Pluto TV and Haystack TV (more on these later). And it organizes all of these into a beautiful grid-based guide. A must have app for cord-cutters and over-the-air antenna signals. Again, you must have either a television or and Android box, such as the Nvidia Shield TV box, that supports the Android TV Operating System, otherwise, Live Channels will not be available.
Plex TV is a great addition to your living room and smart devices. Plex brings your favorite media together in one place, making it beautiful and easy to enjoy. Plex organizes your personal video, music, and photo collections and streams them to all of your devices.
With Plex Live TV & DVR and a growing catalog of great online content, including Plex News and podcasts, Plex makes it easier to find and enjoy all the media you love on all of your devices, no matter where you happen to be.
Kodi is another great piece of FREE open source software that will allow you to stream content from both the Internet and your home library. Kodi truly can do it all and is a great addition to any cord-cutters app line-up.
You can expand the functionality of Kodi by installing third-party “repos” that will unlock a world full of content. Now I should warn you that some of these third-party repositories are not entirely “above-board” in terms of legality. This is why Kodi has gotten a bad wrap in recent years. That said, if you are going to opt to install the “not-so-legal” repos, then I highly recommend you use a Virtual Private Network or VPN to do so.
I’ve reviewed several VPNs on this site, but you’ll find none better than the three I’ve listed below.
All of these VPN’s offer superior performance, keep no log records, and do not throttle your Internet connection speed. If you’re in the market for a good VPN consider checking out one of these!
Of course no list would be complete without YouTube. It is quickly becoming the central entertainment hub for most living rooms. And the reason is, because it’s great! In case you haven’t heard (and if you haven’t you’re likely not from the planet Earth), but YouTube is a video sharing service where users can watch, like, share, comment and upload their own videos.
In fact, YouTube has gained such wide-spread popularity that recent studies have suggested that more people now are watching YouTube throughout their day for longer periods than traditional television. The numbers are particularly high among teenagers.
Piper Jaffray released its semi-annual survey of 10,000 teens, and it showed YouTube inching over cable in daily use. 26% of teens said they watched YouTube every day, whereas only 25% said the same of cable TV.
YouTube has also launched it’s YouTube TV service which is a for-fee type service that you can check out. I won’t go into any detail about this here, as we’re looking at those free options right now. However, if you are looking at a paid type service, in addition to those I’ve listed below, be sure to check this one out as well.
Pluto TV is a free online and app-based television service. It give you the ability to watch free TV and movies on your Android Phone and Android TV. Pluto TV has over 100 live channels and 1000’s of movies from the biggest names like: NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. Plus get exclusive channels like the Pro Wrestling Channel, Anime All Day, Food TV, and the newest live college sports channel.
No Fees, No Subscriptions, No Credit Cards…..Yes, It’s Really Free.
Watch 1000’s of free hit movies On Demand in over 80 categories that watchers like you helped name. Pick from “Not on Netflix or Hulu”, “Something For the Whole Family”, and “Punch, Kick, Ka’Boom!”. Don’t miss out on new titles that are added everyday.
Haystack TV is another free online and app-based television service. This app is truly personalized to you. Get started by picking your favorite sources, categories and topics. As you favorite and follow more topics, Haystack TV gets smarter about what to include in your daily newscast. You’ll always have something new to watch that matches your interests and mood.
Haystack TV won Google Play Awards for Best TV Experience of 2017 and Google Play Editors’ Choice. Get the most trending news videos in a headline news channel personalized for you and watch it on your phone, tablet or TV.
PAID TV and IPTV APPS!
I think it’s equally important to cover off some of the paid options in this FREE TV – The Ultimate Cord Cutters Guide as well. What we don’t want to do is limit are content options and choices. And some of the paid options here will unlock all those specialty sports channels that we eluded to earlier in the article.
Live Sports has always been the bane of existence for cord-cutters like you and me. Thankfully, today this is no longer an issue. Not only can we pull in live local sports using our HDTV antenna, now we have the options to pay for some of those specialty sports channels as well! Keep reading to find out how!
These are what I consider to be the best paid Internet streaming services available right now!
SLING TV – $25/month
Sling TV is different than the previous two mentioned in that it is designed to effectively mimic your cable or satellite subscription. The channel line-up is pretty good and getting better all the time, and the nice thing is it can be A LOT cheaper than what you’re currently paying your cable or satellite provider. Try Sling TV free for 7 days.
Starting at $25/month there really isn’t any reason not to give it a try and see if it’s a good fit for you. Couple that with their free one week trial, what do you have to lose?
NETFLIX – $12.99/month
No cord-cutters setup would be complete without adding to it Netflix. Netflix is a streaming service that allows our customers to watch a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, documentaries, and more on thousands of internet-connected devices. With Netflix, you can enjoy unlimited viewing of our content without having to watch a single commercial. There’s always something new to discover, and more TV shows and movies are added every month!
HULU – $44.99/month
Hulu is another great streaming service that should be considered if you’re looking to cut the cable cord. Hulu gives unlimited access to the Hulu Streaming Library (Limited Commercials plan) with full seasons of exclusive series, hit movies, Hulu Originals, kids shows, and more.
In addition, Hulu has really up’d their game and now offer Live TV and Live Sporting options. However, to get the Live TV and Live Sports option it’s going to cost you a little more, at $44.99/month versus $5.99/month.
FREE TV – Final Words and Additional Reading
I hope you’ve found this article useful and I’ve provide you with everything you need to consider when cutting the cable cord.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some of our other articles today:
And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my Top 10 Antenna Picks for this year and leave me a comment!
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