Ways To Watch TV Without Paying An Arm And A Leg For Cable Or Satellite

Television Can Be Expensive (It Doesn’t Have To Be)

One way that my wife and I have saved money over the years is that while most of our friends have cable or satellite TV, we’ve never paid subscription costs to receive TV programming.  That means that we are saving ourselves a good chunk of money every year.  If you’re in debt, you probably shouldn’t be paying for TV either!

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Rates for cable in our area range anywhere from around $12/month for the basic package with only local channels to well over $100/month for upgraded offerings with premium channels and shows. We probably would have ended up going for a middle of the road package, somewhere between $50-60/month. How much have we saved every year by not paying subscription costs for our TV entertainment? Probably between $600-720! That’s a lot of money!  The good news is,  TV doesn’t have to be that expensive! In fact, TV can be cheap or free!

While we haven’t paid for cable TV, we haven’t exactly been deprived, or had to watch only the shows offered by the over the air networks.  There are tons of free video options out there! In fact, we actually still watch a lot of the same shows that our friends do. How do we do it you ask? Through a combination of free over-the-air digital TV,  free online video services (the legal kind), a video streaming software, super low-cost internet service from FreedomPop, and a Xbox 360FreedomPop is a low cost alternative to larger Internet Service Providers. Right now their plans might be too small for heavy video streaming users, but they’re definitely on their way to bigger and better offerings – and they’re definitely good enough if you only stream shows a few times a month. You can read more about them on their site.

Our Low Cost Home TV Setup

Here’s how we watch TV at our house.  Keep in mind that this package isn’t free, but it is lower in cost than the above mentioned $720/year package.   Things we needed:

  • TV:  A TV to watch your shows on!  -  Cost:  Free (you probably already have one)
  • Playon Software:  This software that can be found at http://www.playon.tv and allows you to stream online video from popular services like Hulu.com, straight to your TV through a networked media device (see below).  -  Cost:  One time fee of $39.99 (on sale), or for $69.99 and you get a Roku LT media device included. You can get a Roku HD for $79.99.  There is a 14 day free trial on the software.
  • Networked Media Device – Like Our Xbox 360 (list of Playon supported DLNA-compliant networked media devices):  You can get a brand new Xbox 360 for around $200 nowadays, sometimes cheaper if you buy used or refurbished.  We just got our second one for $75 from a friend. Tons of other networked media devices are compatible as well including Ipad, Iphone, Google Chromecast,  Playstation 3, HP Mediasmart TVs, and Nintendo Wii and Roku devices. Check the link above to see if your device is supported. -  Cost:  Free-$200 (depends on if you have one of these already. If you don’t have one already, I recommend the uber-cheap $35 Google Chromecast)
  • Affordable Home Internet PlansFreedomPop offers 100% free home broadband.  There is a one time cost of $99 for their home wireless hub (act as a both a modem and rougher in one), and you get 1GB of data a month completely free. You’ll need a little more data if you’re into streaming videos a few times a month, but you could easily get by with their 10GB/mo plan for only $18.99 if you only watch shows a few times a month like me. Check them out here.
  • Video Streaming Services:  There are tons of online video streaming services like Hulu.com, NetflixAmazon.com Instant, CBS.com, Youtube,  Comedy Central, HGTV, and ESPN that support the Playon software!  The software also now supports plugins, so additional channels are appearing all the time including the Food Network, NBA/NFL content, and others! -  Cost:  Free

playon setup
In our case, we already had everything at our house, except for the Playon software.  So for this setup we paid $29.99 (you can currently get the software for a one time fee of $39.99), plus the $8.99/month for the basic Netflix streaming package (get it, it’s worth it!). We were also already paying for Amazon Prime, so we got free streaming TV shows and movies with that membership.  That’s $138 for the first year, and $108 for every year after. That is a lot cheaper than if we were paying for cable!  Here’s a video showing how easy it is to install PlayOn.

For a more detailed look at installing playon, check out this post on Installing Playon.

So here’s how the above cited items are setup at our house in order to stream video from the web, to our TV

  1. The Playon software is installed on our home computer connected to the network.
  2. Once installed Playon has a media server running in the background that pulls in RSS feeds from major video content providers, which allows the PC to pull in the video streams in the same way that a web browser does.
  3. Video is sent over our home network, and played full screen through the Xbox 360 on our 50″ Plasma TV.   Much better than trying to watch shows on our tiny 19″ computer monitor!

Here’s  an explanation of how Playon works from the software’s website:

MediaMall’s PlayOn software is a UPnP digital media server and browser that pulls RSS feeds from content providers, and presents them to DLNA-compliant networked media devices. In plain English, this means you can use your game console or networked television to access content from providers like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. The PC software pulls in the media streams, in the same way as your web browser, and then sends them directly over your home network to your device, even converting their formats on the fly to make sure the devices can play them. Simple as that.

MyLifeROI.com talks about how he setup the same Playon to Xbox 360 streaming at his house.


Watch Free Over-The-Air HDTV

tvThe setup I talked about above is only one way to get free or low cost TV content.   Another way we get free content at home is through the free over-the-air HDTV channels that are now available to everyone who has a HDTV tuner and an antenna.   If you have a TV with a built in digital tuner and a simple antenna, you should be able to just turn your TV on, and get all the network TV stations in their full HD glory! Check for your local digital stations here.

If you have a regular TV, you’ll need to buy a digital converter box to continue watching TV by this summer anyway, and once you get one, you will then get tons of crystal clear TV stations for free!  When we started watching Digital TV we instantly gained about 5-10 TV stations because some channels have the main channel, and then sub channels as well.

Honestly we could probably survive on our over the air channels alone, although my wife likes to have our cable TV fix every once in a while – which is why we have PlayOn.

Watch Free TV Online

watch-hulu

In addition to the options above, you can also watch TV for free through a variety of websites online.  While it isn’t as fun to watch the shows on a small computer monitor, it is still a good option I think.   Many of these online options may be available for streaming through the PlayOn software in the future as well.

  • Hulu.com: probably the best one out there in my opinion, already works through PlayOn, but you can watch it on your computer as well if you’d like.
  • TV Network Websites: ABC, NBC, CBS all have good full episode streaming options available.
  • Crackle.com: Watch tons of movies and TV shows.
  • Joost.com:  Full episodes from a wide variety of shows.
  • Tioti.com: Tape It Off The Internet is a social media site for TV shows – allowing you to view episode information, and then see where you can find the show online.
  • Veoh.com: Tons of content, including TV shows!
  • FreeTVOnline.com: Haven’t used this site much, but was recommended to me.
  • Sidereel.com: I’m new to this one, but it looks to have lots of good free TV options.
  • AOL Video: Both short and long video clips and full shows.

There are a ton of other free video sites out there, this list only lists some of the ones I found to be the best.  Have some free online video options that you use?  Let us know about them in the comments and maybe I’ll add them to the list.

Rent Movies And TV Shows – And Use The Library

Another low cost option to get your TV and movie fix is to either rent your TV shows and movies, or to get them from your local library. My favorite options are:

  • Redbox:  Redbox allows you to rent a new release movie for $1 a night,  which is an extremely low cost movie rental option. Search for coupon codes online for free redbox rentals, and it can be even cheaper!
  • Netflix.com:  Slightly more, but the added convenience of keeping the movies and TV shows as long as you want, and being able to stream a selection of movies and TV shows over the computer, or networked media device.  Netflix is getting better all the time, now with great original series like House of Cards. Find all plans and how to maximize your return on this post:  How Much Netflix Costs.
  • Amazon Instant Streaming: Amazon Prime members can stream hundreds of movies and TV shows included in their $79 yearly Amazon Prime membership.  Other premium or recent movies and TV shows may have a purchase or rental cost.  Amazon Instant streaming is now integrated with Xbox 360 and a variety of other media players.
  • Vudu.com: Watch hundreds of TV shows and movies for a low cost.
  • Your Local Library: Your local library will most likely have  a decent selection of DVD movies that you can check out for a week or more.  My local library tends to be a bit picked over, but if you get on a waiting list you can usually find movies or TV shows you’d enjoy watching.
  • Borrow From Friends: Borrow movies and TV shows from friends and family.  They already own a ton of DVDs, they may as well get some use out of them!

Conclusion

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.

My suggestion?  Read this article, do some research, and find your own low cost option for watching the TV shows that you love.  If you put a few of these tips above into practice, you can save thousands of dollars, just like we have.

Do you have other suggestions for low cost or free options for watching TV?  What setup do you have at your house, or do  you still pay for cable or satellite TV? Are there shows that you think you can’t get by using these free video options?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

UPDATED POST: Cutting The Cord And Getting Your TV On The Cheap

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Last Edited: 24th March 2014

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  1. says

    Boxee is another option.
    We had a sweet setup for awhile with Boxee and Apple TV, but then Hulu took the content away. :( We returned the Apple TV and then learned about this workaround.
    Seems slightly unethical and complicated to me.

    We actually enjoy snuggling in to bed once our children are in their beds. It’ss nice to sit in bed and watch TV together instead of being in separate chairs or on the couch all smooshed.

    • says

      I’ve heard of Boxee, although I think you’re right, they blocked that one for Hulu.

      I don’t follow your second point, what seems unethical – and difficult? If you mean Playon – I’m not sure why it would be unethical. You still have to watch all the ads that Hulu/other services put in the content, as watching TV through playon is basically the same as watching it through your web browser. So you’re not really stealing content or anything like that. Just watching it with Playon instead of IE or Firefox.

      As far as setting up Playon, it’s as simple as installing the software, and then turning on the TV/Set top box, and selecting to watch video through playon. (some setups may need a couple more steps due to anti-virus software, etc)

  2. Tom Bacon says

    Another way to watch TV for free is FTA (Free To Air) satellite. Receivers can be bought for as little as $50.00 on Ebay and if you have a bid C band dish or a Ku system 36″ dish you’re in business. Companies like Galaxy marketing, Sadoun Satellite Sales,and Satellite AV sell complete systems. I watch ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX.CW, This, AMG, White Springs, RFD, and many religious stations in English and Spanish. All For Free.

    • Jay says

      Hi,
      This is a question about the very short mention on F.T.A. TV. What stations can I expect to see? I used the C band & K for sports like NFL etc. years ago. It is still sitting out back, all 10′ of it. I don’t mind getting a decent HD F.T.A. box, but how many will I need, one for each TV? Will programs like NATGEO still be there? History & HGTV & especially ESPN?

    • says

      For me, it means i don’t have to have the computer hooked up to my TV, i can stream the shows over the network and have my computer in another room. It also means I can watch the shows full screen, using my remote and/or Xbox controller, to pause, skip, select shows, etc. It’s also more convenient for me than having to navigate to a website, and surf around using the keyboard/mouse, and having all that computer hardware sitting on my coffee table.

      Playon may not be for everyone, and if you have a computer right there next to the TV, that might be a viable option as well – especially if you can hook up the audio from the computer to your stereo.

      • David W says

        I used to have my computer hooked up to my TV and stereo, but that drove me crazy because in addition to the sound from what ever program or video i was enjoying at the time I would also get every system sound blaring through the room. Every time an email came, “ding”; every instant message, “ding”. I am much happier watching the same stuff through my xbox 360.

  3. says

    Another one to add is boxee.com basically the central place where you can stream from multiple sources. I think if this continues and it becomes easier for users to watch TV from computers on TV this will increase.

    Craigs last blog post..The Ways to Combat Whooping Interest Rates

  4. says

    Great explaination of things you can do. You can use the PS3, Xbox 360, or even XBMC on the Original Xbox to connect to PlayOn. Also check out Tversity. It offers a lot of the same functions as PlayOn and some more. Handles local file better too. Both products are great and I run both. Each one has advantages.

    The Fuzzs last blog post..Spastic Clip of the Moment (#1 Fan)

  5. Cemnei says

    Does Playon take the place of Xbox Live? I was about to pull the trigger on getting my 360 set up with Xbox Live, not so much for the online gaming, but for the streaming video through Netflix. Playon sounds like it is cheaper, but I’m not sure if it is the same vehicle as Xbox Live to get to streaming video for TV & movies.

    • says

      Xbox Live and Playon would be separate. Xbox live allows you to stream netflix movies/tv shows without playon (obviously you still have to pay for netflix). You can also rent tv shows and movies through xbox live marketplace and download them to your hard drive. That isn’t cheap though.

      Playon works separately from this stuff. It also streams netflix (although native xbox netflix streaming works much better in my opinion) and also streams a ton of other video services like hulu from your computer – to the xbox. Again, to get netflix you still have to pay for the $8.99 streaming package.

      Basically, when you go to your xbox and select to view video, you can view video from the xbox’s hard drive (stuff you download from xbox live), or from one of the connected media servers. Playon would be one of the connected media servers (in addition to the built in media server in windows vista -which only has limited streaming capabilities). Does that make sense or did I just muddy the water even more?

      • Cemnei says

        Thanks, Peter! Makes sense.

        I’m still wondering, though, which source I need. What I want to do is watch full episodes from CBS (CSI, Criminal Minds), so do I need Playon, or would Xbox Live do the trick? (I think I may have to get Xbox Live regardless to download the program to make it possible to play the old Xbox games on the 360.)

        Also, in saying the Xbox Live streams better, what do you mean by this? Does it down load faster? Less interruptions during viewing?

        • says

          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.

          As far as the xbox streaming netflix better – i think it is better because the shows stream with fewer/no interruptions through the xbox netflix interface – although it seems to work fine through playon too – it just has a few more interruptions and the interface isn’t as slick.

          On Xbox live to download TV shows (unless they are netflix and you’re already paying) it would cost for each show you download – kinda like renting a movie.

          • Cemnei says

            A’ight, so bottom line is I would not be able to watch CBS.com (current episodes) without playon?

          • says

            The TV content is free supported by ads, and streamed from sites that have paid for the content. Granted some of the movies might be torrents. Sorry, not to many free movies sites out there.

            Great article by the way. Well written and great research.

            Brad

          • says

            If you don’t mind old movies, you can legally download public domain films. Google public domain movies to get a list of sites.

          • Ron Hammond says

            Thanks Peter, I’ll keep struggling till we get more services or something is invented to conquer their strangle-hold on the country folks! Thinking about moving to Columbia Mo. though, and they are much more advanced there!

  6. fghjfghj says

    You forgot to mention “You still need to keep at least one (wire/cable) for Internet access”

    One way or another, you are going to have to pay either the local monopoly cable company, or the local monopoly telephone company, for broadband Internet access. And they tend to often charge *more* for Internet only, or refuse to sell it, mandating you pay for a bundle that includes either TV or phone service.

    • says

      I do pay for internet service, you are correct -but I have extremely fast broadband for $36.99/month – which isn’t too bad. I would be paying for that Internet access either way -with our without all the TV services – so i didn’t count that.

          • Cherie says

            Hi,
            I just changed my home phone line setup and discovered my 36.99/mo Internet plan is now 19.99/mo for 12 months, then up 1o bucks after that….still cheaper than what I was paying. Call Qwest and find out if they have same deal for you!

            PS – I had called to cancel. So, perhaps that was their incentive to offer it cheaper, plus I kept one phone line bundled with Internet to get that price. THe phone went to 35 per month with all free national and Canada calls from US. Plus other features….not a bad deal. Prob. offering because everyone is cancelling to cut back on expenses.

  7. says

    I really want to set this up, but my question about this revolves around quality. I watch things on Hulu from time to time, and for the most part it’s okay, but there are times that it just HANGS and then after a minute or so it goes for another 4 seconds and hangs again. Obviously it’s buffering too slowly. When it gets like that it’s almost unwatchable for me. Drives me nuts.

    That’s one problem. The other problem is that there is a marked degradation in video quality when I go from native size to full screen on my computer (not as bad as on YouTube, but still) AND the buffering is worse. If it’s having that much trouble filling a 19″ monitor, how bad is it going to be on a 30″ TV screen? Not sure I can take that kind of degradation.

    What does it look like compared to watching a DVD, for example?
    Jeff´s last post ..SyFy shows reviews: SGU and Sanctuary

    • says

      I can only speak for the setup that I’m running at my house. As far as buffering – we never seem to have any issues with that. We’re running on a pretty fast DSL connection, not sure what you’re running on – could that be part of the issue? The biggest problem we run into with buffering is when the show is just starting to play on the xbox. It sometimes takes longer than others to buffer – but once it starts playing we usually don’t have any issues.

      As far as the quality – sometimes it isn’t that great, it’s not DVD quality or anything, but it’s more than acceptable. HD it’s not – but we think it’s pretty good.

  8. says

    Great post! There have been some rumors that Hulu is going to start charging for the content in 2010…so it’s always nice that the shows are also on the network pages!

    I’m a huge fan on Netflix. I have the basic package (~$9/month) and watch a ton of TV shows and movies through the streaming online option.
    SavingDiva´s last post ..Drowning!

    • says

      I’ve heard that rumor about Hulu starting to charge for content. If they do start charging i certainly hope they keep it cheap – or have a two tiered system – one with ads for free, one without.

  9. Mike says

    This may not be for everyone, but if are in the US, and you already have a somewhat fast PC with a large enough hard drive, a home network, and an Xbox 360 on a TV, you can get an HD TV card with 2 tuners and record up to two TV programs at a time. I am using an HDHomerun, because I like the fact that it’s not physically in my computer, but there are cheaper alternatives. The Windows7 version of Windows Media Center has greater HD quality than most HD recorders offered by cable/satellite/ and others that cost over $400.00 per box if you were to buy one! Some cable companies deliver QAM signals also, so even if you only have the most basic cable signal, you may be getting free unencrypted digital signals over that line (check with your cable company), or you can also use an antenna for free, like me.

  10. natasha says

    hi
    we watch shows online using the laptop connected to tv thru hdmi, we have dsl connection.
    i was thinking about getting another laptop, keep it just for that purpose, is that a good idea. what is the min. speed for the laptop in your opinion?
    also with that i was thinking to get a presentation wireless mouse, to navigate thru the different websites.
    we don’t have xbox or wii or ps3, not interested in games, so is having a dedicated laptop better solution for me or getting a gaming system?
    thanks.

    • says

      It really depends on your personal preference I think. I can’t tell you how powerful of a laptop you’ll need, but it should probably be powerful enough that it can allow you to watch streaming video/etc. Because of that many netbooks probably won’t fit the bill. Most other entry level laptops probably would work fine.

      I also have an old computer hooked up to our tv, which we can use in a pinch for this type of thing. We use a wireless mouse and keyboard to control it. It works just fine.

      Personally I prefer having a game system as it just works well for watching TV/movies/etc with the remote. I’m sure, however you could probably find a similar option for a remote to use with the laptop – it would just probably cost a bit more than an xbox.

  11. Dan says

    I have 2 PS3, can I use one playon in one PC to control 2 different TV? Can I use one Playon license for more than one PC? Can I have 2 PCs with playon seperatly control two TV2 at the same time?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  12. Dan says

    How can you integrate the signal between online and antenna into the TV?
    If I buy a TV with a RJ45 port, can I connect to the internet cable and start to pull free on-line contents to watch ?

    Thanks,
    Dan

    • says

      The TV will have a tuner built in, and you can use your antenna to pull in over the air content. The online things will be streaming from your connected computer to your Xbox or other network media player. Or you can just hook the computer up directly to the TV.

  13. Al says

    Can I utilize the Playon software to stream MLB tv.com games over my wireless network to a tv using a Wii? Netflix just added the Wii as a viewing device; it requires a CD from Netlix but it now appears a choice on the Wii Menu and works just fine. Would it be possible to stream games from MLB,com in the same manner?

  14. says

    When searching for video content on the web, I noticed a lot of sites don’t work on the PS3. The media sites either need a proprietary player or a new version of Flash. After trying Hulu (needed newer flash), ABC and NBC (both needed a proprietary player), I was having trouble finding any good sites with current TV shows that could play on the PS3. I decided to find some sites I could use. Here is a list of sites that work on the PS3.

    Read the full text at http://ps3mediaservers.com/2010/05/07/free-tv-and-movies-for-the-ps3/
    Brad Kelley´s last post ..Free TV and Movies for the PS3

  15. Surga says

    Hi Peter,

    A good samaritan gave me “Toshiba” satellite receiver box and the dish. He told me that I need to subscribe with either Dish Network or DirectTV to watch any TV program. However, I think that he is wrong after reading your advises. Could you help me to tell me what I need to do further, please?
    Thanks, SURGA.

  16. Surga says

    Hi Peter,

    I just want to let you know the model of Satellite Receiver ==> Toshiba TSR-101. Can I set up this system and the satellite disc to receive Free-To-Air TV program? Please advise.

    Thanks, Surga.

  17. Evan says

    Hey, i’m trying this Playon thing out but im from canada and most of the decent things are blocked to me. do you have any idea if there is an equivalent to these stations that i can access? Thanks.

  18. patricia says

    I read your post and I am ready to save 900 a year I do not want to keep spending that kind of money. I was thinking about buying a used wii on ebay and doing the set up do i still need the Playon software? or can I just use the wii to connect ?

    thank you

    • says

      It depends on what you want to do exactly.. If you only want to to watch netflix movies/etc and have a couple of other free streaming options, you don’t need playon. But if you want to get hulu and a ton of other things – you’ll need playon.

  19. Ana G says

    by watching tv this way, do you not get a big charge on your internet bill. does it not fall under the downloading category? i am looking to get it but i am afraid that my internet bill will be high. i am not certain of how the concept really works. can you please assist with this?

    thank you

  20. Jack Johnston says

    Is there any advantage to using the Playon software if you already have a computer with 2 or more video cards that can support more than one display at once?
    I can easily drag a blue-ray (or a stream from Hulu or whatever) over to my 60 inch TV and watch it there…and with the free VLC media player I can even be typing or whatever else over here on my regular computer monitor and what’s showing on TV will remain in full screen…
    Does the Playon software respond to the remote from the “player” device?

    • says

      What I love about using Playon is that it integrates very nicely with my xbox 360. I can use my regular remote to watch tv shows, movies/etc through playon, just like i would with a regular dvd player or network media player. i don’t have to have a keyboard and mouse sitting on our coffee table at all times, i can just navigate to the playon folder on the xbox, and start watching shows on the big screen. I also have an old media computer hooked up to our big tv, but i rarely turn it on anymore because of the nice setup with playon.

  21. scott says

    i use justin.tv as well as steam2watch.com for all my sporting events.felt the same way as others about dropping cable PRIOR to finding these sites. no brainer after that. also have free wi fi internet through open unsecured routers in the neighborhood. secure it on my end with an old linksys router(wrt54g) and free software from dd-wrt.com.you can pick these up cheap on ebay or craigslist( mine cost me a whole 15 bucks!).
    ROCK ON!!

  22. Robbie says

    Hardware question. We are renters and can’t cut holes or run wires. TV is upstairs (old TV but we want to get a 46″ flat panel on a black Friday special). Computer using comcast is downstairs. We currently have the $12 cable upstairs. Don’t want it any longer. How do I get the “network” to work without drilling holes and running wires. Do I have to get a wireless transmitter for my computer and a wireless receiver for my new TV in order to stream from the playon software to my TV? What external ports do I need to make sure to have on my new TV? Thank You So Much!!!!
    Robbie

    • says

      It kind of depends on what you’re using to watch Playon? Are you using a game console like xbox 360? If so, you’ll need to get a wireless router that is connected to your PC in some way to transmit to the xbox 360 – which will also need to have a usb wireless adapter (unless it is one of the new Xbox units that has wireless built in). Otherwise, if you buy one of the new TVs that have a media player built in that can play streaming media, you’ll just need to make sure it has wireless built in as well. I guess it really depends on what setup you’ll be using – and what you’ll be using to play the streaming media.

  23. says

    My wife and I made the decision recently to drop our premium cable service keeping basic cable and internet service. We are saving $100 a month and kick ourselves for not doing it earlier. Our kids watch their favorite shows on Netflix and PBS and I get ESPN on my Xbox 360. Why don’t more people do this?

  24. Gillian says

    Great article! Thanks! Question for you…I read threw most of the posts and maybe I missed this but what about other tvs in the home? My kids have tv’s in their rooms. Would we need separate “everything” for each tv?

  25. Lee says

    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.

    BTW, I am posting this on 12/19/10. Didn’t see dates on any posts.

  26. Nola says

    Hi Peter, I think I need your help…I am so glad I came across your article and as I believe it will save me a lot of money too. I just got express internet service at my new home and would like to be able to see at least basic TV stations (Fox, cbs so on) and I heard of this ‘free over the air’. I am not very good with regards to technical matters and I would like it to be as simple as possible for me to execute :). I have an old TV (won’t get a newer one any time soon) and would like to use the ‘free on air’ option everyone is talking about over the past few comments. So do i just walk into a electric store and get a digital to analog box with an antenna, connect it to my tv and i can just like that receive the channels? Or is there more? Thank you in advance!

    Nola – 2/9/2011

    • says

      Yup, that’s all there is to it. Get a digital to analog converter box/tuner and an antenna, and hook it up to your old tv. You should then be able to tune in your local over the air stations.

      • Nola says

        Thank you so much, that sounds great! But you said its not free so do I have to register it? I mean I just need the local stations no movies required really.

        • says

          When talking about registering, are you talking about Playon? If so, yes, you would need to register it after you trial period is up. If you’re talking about the converter box, all that would cost you is the price for the box itself, no registering for anything.

          • Nola says

            No I think Playon would be too difficult for me to master just yet lol. I start with the converter box and then I see. I am working quite a lot so I don’t have much time for TV just a little. Thank you so much for your help, much appreciated. Cross your fingers pls that it will work, I keep you updated.

          • Nola says

            Peter! It worked…the box searched for the channels itself and it worked just like that :)…well I got like 14 I think. Don’t really get the torrent part that you were talking about but maybe I won’t need that?? THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH because that made my room mate very happy today.

            Nola

  27. Julie Harper says

    Hi Peter,

    Posting Feb 2011,

    I am spending $190 per month, for High speed Internet service on 5 TV in 5 different rooms. I must bring this cost down. I barely watch TV and when I do watch 90% of it is either Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) or DVDs. I have 2 HD TVs with Digital DVR boxes, 2 wieless blu ray dvd players, and 3 older model TVs connected to digital cable boxes.

    I am taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course – an can no-longer be such a poor steward over the finances God has entrusted to me. I need help,,, making sure that I’m understanding in the SIMPLEST terms possible, what my best options are, to watch TV and not pay out the nose to do it.

    I think Netflix streaming is my answer for movies and a lot of the TV shows I enjoy, especially since I barely watch TV (my current wireless home network and blu rey players will allow me to do this right now) so the only cost I see is getting the Netflix streaming subscription and my two primary TV’s are covered

    For the older TV’s I think just getting the digital to analog converter box with an antenna is the answer for getting whatever local stations broadcast free over the air – This should be sufficient, as these rooms are empty 80% of the time.

    I believe then I can just discontinue the Cable TV service (must keep internet service – I work from home and will need it also for the Netflix video streaming)

    So I’m thinking I can return the 3 digital cable boxes, the 2 digital dvr boxes, and discontinue the Cable TV, without missing a beat.( I think I’ll lose the Trinity Broadcasting Network)

    This would leave me with just the the netflix subscription and the High Speed Internet subscription,,, combined they would be well under $90/mo

    When I’m ready I can purchase (one time investment) the digital to analog converter boxes for the 3 spare room TVs

    That’s how I’m understanding my options – based on your expertise is there a critical component that I am over looking? Any suggestions about how I can get Trinity Broadcasting Network (for free if possible)

  28. Tim says

    How would I do this with wii station? And I want to have TV in the living room and 3 maybe 4 bedrooms can I do this from one computer? Please explain to me how to hook this free TV system up to all my TVs.

    • says

      You can use Playon with the Wii. You would just need to have the Internet Channel activated, and then browse to http://wii.playon.tv. Of course you would have to have it installed on your computer as well to be able to view streaming media on your TV via the Wii.you could do it from one computer, and stream to multiple TVs, as long as they each have their own connected device (Wii, Xbox, etc).

  29. Julie says

    Hi Peter,

    I have 2 HD TV’s and I can’t find the owner manuels, for either TV. Can you tell me if there is a quick and easy way for me to tell if these TVs have a built in HD Tuner, by looking at the panel in the back of the TVs?

    • says

      Most HDTVs made these days have a built in digital tuner. If you bought it a few years ago before the new digital tuners were as common, and it was only advertised as an HDTV monitor, that could be the only caveat. Basically if it has a tuner built in usually it will have a video source on the unit called “TV” or something along those lines. Just plug in an antenna, go to the menu, and have it scan for channels. If you have a tuner those options should be there.

      Another thing to do would be to check your TV’s model number and then do a search for the brand and model on google. You can usually find a manual that way.

  30. DJ says

    You forgot to mention winamp’s “shoutcast TV” it has varios tv channels including music channels and movies….

    • says

      Yes, this should work, I don’t know why not! :) You just have to have Playon running on the laptop, and have it connected to that same network as the Xbox, and it should work just fine!

      • steph says

        HI Peter, i am not knowledgable about this, i am trying to learn. Could you help guide me? The xbox ‘hooks’ to the t.v. and i run Playon on my laptop… am i right to assume they communicate to each other ‘through the air waves’, to show the programing? i won’t have to run any ‘cables’ from my laptop to my t.v.? thank you for helping me out and to understand. steph.

  31. Robert says

    we have not had a pay tv service since 2009 it just kept going up it started at 45 dollars a month then went all the way up too 142.00 dollars a month for just 2 tv’s in the house it was insane one day I called up comcast and told them either they make me a deal on the tv service or I was cancelling they told me they could knock it down to 99 dollars a month for two years as long as I wanted to sign up for a 4 year service plan and I had to add on there Voip phone service and after 2 years it would go up to 199.00 a month

    I laughed and told then to cancel it that day, I went down to the radio shack picked up a VGA to s-video converter and a surround sound system for 45 dollars hooked the computer to the tv and bam there we had up until about a month ago when I picked up a couple roku boxes

    mixed it with netflix and playon and hulu plus for about 20 dollars a month I think I have more then I ever had with cable in the first place and I can pause and play as I want which is great with kids in the house and playon at 30 dollars a year is a steal deal

    we have never been happier im not really sure how the pay tv companies are still in business Ill bet they are sweating it right now and in the next few years were gonna see some major changes in the tv industry

  32. says

    The creation of web has added many benefits to the usage of computer and today people existing at any kind of corner in the world can certainly watch movies online.
    The best thing is that you can also use your laptop to watch online dramas and Shows without paying 1 penny ))

  33. James says

    Great article, very helpful. Too many comments for me to read them all, but we’ve looked at SkyAngel for TV as well, which used to be satellite but is now streamed over the internet. It’s still $25 a month, which I’m still too cheap to pay, but it would be a different option for those that want more specific channels.

    Also, our computer has an HDMI out port, so we just hook it up to our HDTV and get full screen for any website that streams videos. Cuts out the middle man. Something to think about next time you buy a laptop.

  34. Robert Gapen says

    we got 2 roku’s and after reading in a lot of forums and websites around the internet discovered Playon.tv it works great they have it for every thing from the Ipad to the roku to the android cell phone Ps3 and Xbox 360

    we found they have a section in the software for Plugins and include every thing from disney to starz and HBO CBS TNT FX I mean you name it we got it now

    for some one cutting the cord this is a good place to look, but the software depends entirely on your internet speed and and computers capability to handle and deliver video, but you get a 2 week free trial so its worth a shot to look and see how it handles for you, we get a good video picture so were happy

  35. matty says

    this is rediculous. Use your hdtv as your computer monitor. All you have to do is get an hdmi cable plug it from the computer to the hdtv. then watch hulu on the big screen ,.This is ehat I’ve been doing for years. Honestl;y if you find yourself a good private torrent tracker you can download any tv show you want in full hd without commercials… i don’t mind being unethical. the cable company is.

  36. says

    I agree… If you just be smart and find other ways to get the entertainment without going to cable TV, you would be saving a lot of money. I also agree that you shouldn’t be paying for TV if you are in debt. Use youtube to learn ways to get free tv.

  37. Claude Cassagne says

    Hi Pete
    I just canceled cable and now I will find out what’s available to me through hulu or similar sites and also with just an antenna Are you in Minneapolis? I’ll play CLUE with you!

  38. MikeR says

    Didn’t see this mentioned and didn’t pore through all of the comments, but –

    Why not just use your computer and plug the video card output into your TV? Most people already have at least one computer – if not a laptop at least some kind of desktop system. Many vid cards have HDMI outputs that will plug straight into a TV. Too easy.

    We just bought – and returned – what you refer to as a “networked media device,” an LG “wi-fi ready” blu-ray player. Turns out it wasn’t what I’d call “wifi ready” since you had to buy a proprietary wireless adapter from LG to get it connected to a wireless LAN. (To be fair, if you don’t mind 100′ of CAT6 cable running through your house or drilling a lot of holes and fishing cable, you could hook this thing up that way. But, that’s not what we had in mind.) Anyway, it was on sale for $300.

    I have a perfectly nice computer sitting downstairs that I bought and paid for quite a long time ago. That’s a “networked media device” that requires no special wi-fi adapter – just a regular ol’ wireless adapter that you can buy for less than $10.

    • says

      Yup, that is definitely an option. I think its just a good option to use a gaming console or other network device if you already have one. A connected laptop will work as well, but can be a pain if you have to hook it up every time you want to use it.

  39. Joe says

    I love the comment about telling someone they should not be paying for cable if they are in debt. How stereotypical, judgemental chrisitan of you.

    • says

      Not sure what saying those in debt shouldn’t pay for cable has to do with being a Christian? Do you really think it is a good idea for someone in debt to be paying for a premium cable package? People are obviously free to do what they want, but paying for a ton of extras while trying to get out of debt probably isn’t the best of ideas in my opinion.

  40. Ron Hammond says

    It’s too bad I live in Boon F—– Missouri, the speed I get here gives me yesterdays programs when it works,(seriously) I have what is called Century Tell (extended service) That of course mean’s I’m one step ahead of Fred Flintstone in the tech-world. It sucks to live just 13 miles out in the rural area and have to suck hind tit with no advantages! Our netflix speed is too slow to even stream any shows! I guess we’ll have to sell to the Clampits and move to a modern part of the world, think I’ll tear down the outhouse tomorrow and start building that inside bathroom everybody talks about! (just jokin) Any solutions for me???

  41. Ron Hammond says

    We’ll try anything Dan, but we have to learn as we go since we never had internet by phone til last year, we have a lot more to learn. We are also not young any more so learnin’ comes a bit slower! HaHa.

  42. Ron Hammond says

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled on you guys and your progress, and try to follow your lead! By the way you have all been most informative,and Peter, thanks for starting the subject you truly have helped my frame of mind. I know I threw in a bit of southern humor to keep you all entertained but buy God I am going to overcome this so-called generational gap and get in there with you all. I won’t be a tech. but perhaps I’ll learn how to better utilize my equipment…

  43. Rose kuenzer says

    I guess what I’m needing to know is (sorry for the stupidity)
    can I watch tv without any Internet connection or wifi
    or I still need to pay for Internet service for home
    also if it’s runs off my phone wifi, how much on an average data would I be using if I watch tv 2 hours or so a night. I ask because there is no unlimited data for iPhone. Thaks for your patiece

    also, how would it work with netflix?

    • says

      You would be limited as to what you could do if you didn’t have wi-fi or internet. You’d probably be limited to over the air TV stations. I don’t know how it would work for running on phone wi-fi, but my guess is your data bill would run up quickly.. Probably cheaper to pay for the internet.

  44. marcel says

    Is there a way to watch cable channels free on my TV, like oxygen, bravo, and E!? I know you covered watching them online thru you computer, but will those channels stream to my TV?

    • says

      I can’t speak to those channels specifically as I’m not really sure. Typically though if you use PlayOn, as long as the channel is available in the software or as a plugin you’ll be able to watch shows from that network. Not all networks make online streaming available, however, so it really depends. There is a link in the article above to the PlayOn site mentioning which channels are available.

  45. Vivek says

    I just bought Roku box ($99). I also have a dvd player that has the capability to browse netflix, hulu, etc. I have to say that I am dissappointed in Roku. there are hardly any free channels to stream through. Everything is a paid subscription. Also its not live streaming tv, you have to constatnly go through all the episode to select one, which in itself makes watching tv stressfull. I think most people want to watch whats on tv. they want to come home and just see whats on, and space out. Roku and netflix are cheap but certainly do not match up to cable or dish tv. I am very techincal, so finding channels and configuring the boxes was not at all an issue for me. Most of the channels on Roku are paid. There are some free, but that have garbage on it. The free movies are crap, and are rated 1 or 2 stars. I was not able to find any free shows on roku, and the ones i found were horrible, hence they were on roku. I also found some documentries on roku, but who the hell wants to watch that crap. there is also an hunting channel on roku! common, they could do a lot better then that. This weekend I was over a friend’s house and she had cable. Man I miss cable. Yes its more expensive then Roku and netflix, but its a lot better then them. Channels such as discover (the realy discovery), netgeo, hgtv, tnt, tbs, bravo, movie channel, etc are just not on any of these boxes or netflix. the search capability on netflix really sucks, and they keep on removing movies constantly. I have tried, dish, cable, netflix, hulu plus, roku, but i have to say nothing beats cable tv or dish.

    • Patti says

      I think you are right that nothing beats cable or dish when it comes to to the large amount of content that’s available from a single souces, so I guess it just boils down to how much you’re willing to pay for that convenience.

  46. don says

    OK, what about internet to stream all of this content? All of the internet in my area that’s not dialup is only to be had from the cable providors. kimd of defeats the purpose of going the other way when the internet access is $50.00+/ month anyway.

    • says

      I pay $35/month for my DSL high speed internet, and I would need that regardless of whether I had cable or satellite. I guess the post kind of assumes that others need or will have internet as well.

  47. Patti says

    I use a combo of Roku, a Mohu Leaf antenna (excellent picture quality) to get OTA signals and a Tivo Premiere box as I wanted the option of recording the OTA signals and the convenience of watching them when I wanted to. The Tivo service is $20 a month, but has lots of great features (season pass, Tivo Desktop, online programing to name a few) and is LESS than 1/3 the price of my FORMER dish bill :)

  48. Sherry says

    I have Comcast for internet but included the basic TV package since our OTA antenna does not pick up all local stations well in our area. PBS does not come in at all. Playon is a great addition to our Roku which we use with Hulu Plus to catch up on the TV shows we don’t have time to watch when they are on (I’m a Castle addict). I try to keep up with new private channels and plugins periodically. I also have a Touchpad and downloaded a wonderful app for $2 called Video Flood HD to stream other shows I can’t get elsewhere, including HGTV. Not sure if something like it is available for other platforms, but it would be great if a similar app was available to integrate into Roku or Playon.

  49. Chickee says

    I pay for cable just to watch Christian and inspirational channels. I get Daystar, Impact, Word Network, Inspirational Channel, GMC, etc. If I could get them another way I would cancel my cable. Most of what I have read in the past were complicated or too teck for me to do. Does your plan work for these channels too? Please be specific. God Bless.

  50. Rose says

    I currently own a tv, computer, netflix, xbox 360, Iphone 3G, 3gs & 4g
    We have been teetering but it runs the phones down very fast. Currently we have unlimited data plans but they are becoming obsolete.
    I have NO services to my house (cable. wireless, tv package etc…)
    I am in an area that supports all options. but NOT satellite, dish etc.. because I live in a apartment complex that does not allow me to hace it.
    what is the very cheapest way to use tv?

  51. says

    I am Poor.
    have 2 iphones 3g, 4g

    Currently using them for netflix. (wi-fi) youtube
    Have no money for additional internet
    have xbox 360, play station Nintendo Wi
    Can someone please email me the best way to go
    as well as layman terms on how to do it?
    forever grateful, rosemcqueen@gmail.com

  52. will says

    those of you who are using your wireless phones for a lot of streaming video……thank you. you are the reason why grandfathered unlimited plans, etc are being stopped. we’ll all be on tiered plans.

  53. WHR says

    I’m a 39 yr old single father, custody of my 3 year old, pay child support from my first marriage, (excessive amount in my opinion but I grit my teeth and persevere). Two divorces, debt from first marriage, legal fees. I’ve been swimming in debt for 10 years now. I’m fortunate to have a company match savings plan, and I consolidated all my debt by borrowing against my own retirement savings at 3.75 simple interest. Even having a good paying job doesn’t fix the debt problem quickly however. So I have cut every reasonable corner. Cable TV was gone a long time ago. I started out with my laptop and an S Video cable to my TV. For months I would just browse the web for anything free and entertaining. Then a friend with Netflix let me “borrow” her account for a while and I got hooked on the children’s content alone. $7.99/mo is a steal for the endless videos for my son, and most educational! Later I added the Hulu Plus subscription. I’m still paying only $16 a month plus $38/mo for broadband for my video entertainment vs the $120/mo I was paying for cable and Internet before. I also recently got the Roku player, and just recently downloaded PlayOn. Now a tip for computer users. You can get a USB remote keyboard and mouse. That’s what I did for a year to act as my “remote control”. I still have my laptop going to my S video and use the TV screen as a big monitor. But the various devices like Roku and XBox etc are also great for practical purposes. It makes it much more like watching cable. Another tip. I have a smart phone with YouTube. During lulls at work, I comb the Internet for various websites like “Chockadoc.com” that have a library of Documenaries that they link to from YouTube. I will find a title that interests me, go to YouTube and search it, add it to my favorites, and then when I get home in the evening I access YouTube through PlayOn and watch it. If it weren’t for kids programming on Netflix I’d be tempted to drop my subscription. Oh, another tip. Roku supports developers who create “private channels” similar to the way jailbroken iPhones have some great non iStore apps. One you can get is JustIn.tv …. I’m not promoting this, it’s a perfectly legal streaming service for creating private streaming channels. I’ve seen people stream video of their pet goldfish all day. And If you are easily offended, there are other things you will see, so avoid children in the room if you are browsing the channels. But some people do stream television content. Not promoting this, but if you just HAVE to watch the Superbowl :-) oh and for some sports, Southeastern Conference football comes to mind, some networks like CBS Sports will stream live premium games. And there are always sports bars and grills that have TVs if missing a game would ruin your weekend. Cable TV would not have lost me if they’d modernize their business model to adapt to the digital age. It’s too easy for them to offer packages that allow you to pick the channels that interest you and no more. Last thought. My provider allowance is 50 gigs a month. This is something you should check into because some providers have smaller allowances. Ive yet to consume all 50 in a month but I’ve used 80% before.

    • says

      We don’t use the streaming video options very often, but even in the months that we do, I’ve never had any issues with our rates going up. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone, however.

  54. Toni says

    Although HULU+ is a paid site you can still watch many FREE movies and tv shows on the regular HULU. Also, another site my husband and I watch a lot is crackle.com which is a legit FREE site for movies and tv shows. The tv shows aren’t of much interest to us but crackle have many good movies and some of their own original shows. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can’t watch a lot of live sports, we would do away with our cable provider altogether. Maybe in time this will be an option?

  55. sarah taylor says

    hello i just wanted to say i do like everything that have been said here an will be checking into this soon but i do have an question ,i just brought an 40″tv with hd tv an i have digital box on it but still not able to get but 3 to 5 channel these or the one i get 7,1,2,3/ion ,38/
    an one channel wnct9 an thats all what is wrong please help me here ok

  56. Riley says

    Thank you for a well written article. I finally canceled the cable one night after scrolling through countless channels of infomercials and shopping garbage on TV. I realized that out of the hundreds of channels that were supposedly available, I only watched a handful, and I was paying a bunch of money for a bunch of empty “stuff”.

    My college age kid went into a bit of shock for the first few days and then found time to spend at a local bookstore (I see that as an improvement). I did invest in a regular ole’ antenna for the TV, so I can catch the local channels (which are about 50 here in TX), and after reading your article purchased a Roku 3. My kid has an Xbox, Wii, and PS3 so streaming online content was already possible, I got the Roku for the main television and not to cause another issue of “shell shock” by taking over the kid’s PS3.

    I supplement by watching Hulu, Netflix, and I also got a Chromecast so I can view other content from my computer on the main TV without having to hook it straight up to the TV. As long as the cable is a decent speed, watching content that I actually want to for FREE or paying very little to see it is awesome.

    I grew up in the time when cable TV was a luxury, a creative technology that consisted mostly of MTV, not something that folks saw as a necessity. Not having to fork over almost $100 a month to the cable TV company is a liberating feeling.

  57. Rob says

    Hi to everyone tuned into this conversation here. First off, Peter I have to thank you for sharing your advice and putting it out on here for all of us to benefit from. I’m just beginning to embrace this shift in the way TV is consumed. (I’ve admittedly but proudly been without TV and cable for the past 3 years). I just had a projector, a dvd player and a super nes.

    I plan to buy a new projector and want to run my apple computer through it to work and stream online movies and shows. In reading all of the advice about playon, I would probably resort to the open air/antenna option mentioned above because I know I wouldn’t watch enough of what playon offers to make it worth the subscription.

    That being said, I have a few questions for you Peter and anyone else that is in my shoes:

    What should I use to connect the projector to the computer and the open air channels? I have coaxial cable coming into the apartment. Could I potentially use that to connect to the open air channel?

    Also, would I need to get a digital/analog converter for the projector, if so what kind should I buy?

    I don’t have an xbox or other gaming system. What would be a cheap alternative? Would Apple TV be sufficient? Or Roku? When it comes to all of these devices, I am completely in the dark. I just want to create a seamless connection between a projector, computer, antenna over a cheap but fast wifi connection (possibly FreedomPop). Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    ~Rob

    • says

      As far as what you need to connect your projector to the computer, I’m not sure, it’s hard to know exactly without knowing your exact setup. If your computer has a tuner built in you could plug in an antenna like this one to get your over the air signal, and then use some sort of wireless video streaming device to get the video source to your projector.

      If you need a cheap alternative to a gaming system I’d highly recommend the $35 Google Chromecast. I did a full review of it here: Google Chromecast review. Basically you can use it in conjunction with services like Netflix, Hulu, Google Play and others for cheap entertainment. It can also stream online shows in your Chrome web browser from your computer over the wi-fi connection. We’ve been using it a bunch lately and love it.

      • Rob says

        Thanks Peter,

        That does sound like a good idea. Great review again! I may opt for that instead of say the apple tv, since the projector is made already to mirror my laptop screen. I would be getting the best of both worlds for a fraction of the price. I could actually get by just keeping the laptop connected and mirror the screen for anything online. With that in mind, I’m curious to know if there exists wireless speakers that I can set up across the room which can stream audio coming from the laptop. Would there be a delay?

        Thanks again Peter.

        • says

          I’m pretty sure there are wireless speakers that you could use to stream audio. I know i was looking at some a couple of years ago that were pretty decent and didn’t have a delay. I haven’t looked recently, however, so I’m not sure what’s available or what would be a good option.

  58. Brian says

    Peter
    I don’t do video games, so I don’t have X-box or other. We do have a blue ray player that is wifi capable and can get netflix, hulu and many similar things on it. Is there some advantage to the playon software over the typical blu-ray player access?

    • says

      Playon allows you to stream a wide variety of video sources to your TV via a connected device. If you already pay for and you’re fine with Netflix, Hulu and a couple of others you get through your Blu-ray player, you’re probably fine without Playon. But Playon would allow you to stream TV shows from networks, some cable networks, and a bunch of other places that you might not be able to otherwise (unless you regularly hook your laptop up to the TV).

  59. John says

    I’m amazed that folks are willing to spend $100-$150/month on CATV.
    Cut our CATV cord about 2 yrs ago, but we don’t like the main sports shown here.

    Also put up 2 antennas in the attic – pointing in different directions to pick up 66 over the air broadcast stations. Almost half of those are religious, so not of any interest to our family, but I suppose folks on this site would like that. Also get 7 PBS subchannels, all the major networks, usually with 2-3 subchannels each, a number of Spanish, Vietnamese, Indian and a French news station. Some are extremely low quality (controlled by the broadcaster trying to have 12 subchannels on a single frequency), but the major channels are 1080i or 720p and fantastic. Visit tvfool.com to see which stations you should be able to get with different types of antennas and mounting difficulties. It also provides compass headings to point the antenna. For most people, the same antenna from 1970 works fine, so no added cost. There is no such thing as an HDTV antenna – only the digital change for signaling happened, nothing different on the RF side.

    Broadcast TV is NOT what we all remember. There are lots and lots of channels, stations, oldies, and new shows. In the Atlanta metro area – here’s a link http://www.atlantadigitaltv.com/AtlantaDigitalTVChannels.html to the broadcast stations available. We get almost all of them. Other metro areas should have a similar website – google is your friend.

    So – with OTA antenna, major networks and sports on those networks are handled. We are missing “other content” that can usually be found through 1 of the 3 most popular paid services. Each of these services run about $90/yr … that was less than 3 months of CATV costs here, so we are still much, much, much less. Plus, with these paid services, there aren’t any commercials, so an hour show is about 40 minutes, saving time.
    * Amazon Prime (also get free 2-day shipping from Amazon)
    * Hulu Plus – most streaming devices DO NOT WORK with plain, free, Hulu.
    * Netflix
    There is overlap, but streaming these during non-peak periods works very well if you have a good broadband connection. My work pays for a low-tier Cable business connection. No limits on the bandwidth this way, but if a home was normal and streamed 1 HiDef 2 hr movie every day of the month, the entire home should be under 250GB of use – no bandwidth cap issue for most DSL and Cable ISP connections in the USA. Forget this if you have cell data. It is too slow for hidef content.

    We’ve had Amazon Prime for 6 months now and are just finishing watching the TV and movies on it that we wanted to see. In a month or so, we’ll add Netflix streaming and use it for 6 months to catch up on the tv and movies on on that service.

    It needs to be stated clearly that antennas are extremely location specific. Your home receiption will be different from everyone elses – period. Anyone recommending any antenna without specific facts is not helping at all. Those $20 “leaf” antennas only work when you are close to the transmitters and all the stations are in about the same direction. If you have any antenna at all, connect it to a DTV and scan for channels. You could be surprised at what can be received. When it comes to difficult antenna reception – a few tips:
    * higher is better than lower.
    * attic mounts are better than lower.
    * outside mounts are better than attic.
    * any obstuction will reduce signal reception – including leaves, trees, hills, walls, shingles, house-wrap, A/C ducts, joists, clouds, and people standing in the way.
    * weather matters too, but much less than with analog TV signals. Heavy rains only matter for “fringe station” reception. Strong signals work perfectly regardless.
    * It is possible to build an antenna for less than $20 that can receive stations from over 50 miles away. Google for “M4 DB4 antenna DIY” for plans and instructions. A home-built antenna can be specificly tuned to the RF channels in your area. My area still has 5 very important stations in the Hi-VHF range – I suspect most metro areas are in a similar situation, though many stations are broadcasting on UHF now.

  60. Billy Frank says

    The ps3 already has netflix, hulu and youtube. What’s more- by enabling media file sharing on your pc and ps3- you can stream ANY stored video from your pc to your ps3. The Playon software seems completly useless *SCAM. I stream movies and tv shows from my pc to the ps3 every day and it’s completly free. Netflix is cheap as heck- you get a month free and then its like 12 bucks a month. Youtube is also free.

  61. TonyT says

    Is there any way to use PlayOn directly from the computer to the TV, instead of using an XBox or other device?

  62. says

    How about XBMC?
    I use XBMC as HTPC and use lihattv.com plugin to live tv streaming. it’s absolutely free. lihattv aslo support for other device such as Boxee, Plex, PlayOn, MAG250.

    i think this is the best choise to watch live tv streaming without pay anything

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