How To Get Free Cable TV Channels Legally

When you disconnect your cable, you lose access to cable TV and its streaming services with movies and shows.

When you disconnect your cable, you lose access to cable TV and its streaming services with movies and shows. But there's still a lot of great content you can get for free. You just need to know where to find it. Cable TV channels like HGTV, Bravo, and VICELAND are available through an over-the-air digital signal with an antenna.

These high-definition broadcasts are free, which makes disconnecting services a little less painful. Once you see how easy it is, you'll want to disconnect sooner rather than later! Keep reading for more information on how to get free cable TV channels legally, how much it will cost you, and some helpful tips.

There are a few ways to get free cable TV channels legally. One way is to get a free trial with a cable or satellite TV provider. (Dish or DirectTV) This will give you access to the channels for a set time, usually 7-30 days.

Another way is to take advantage of special promotions that cable and satellite TV providers offer from time to time.

For example, they may offer a free month of service if you sign up for a year-long contract. Or they may offer a discounted rate for the first few months of service. You can also negotiate for a better deal with your cable or satellite TV provider. For example, you may be able to get a discount if you agree to a longer contract.

Quick Guide

What is free over-the-air TV?

To better understand how to legally get free cable TV channels, let's look at what "free over-the-air" means. The "over the air" part means the TV channels are broadcast over the airwaves. This differs from cable or satellite, which are sent through wires or cables. There are two types of broadcast signals: analog and digital.

Digital signals offer higher quality and better sound than analog. Free over-the-air TV is completely analog. You won't find any free digital broadcasts. Because the broadcast signal travels through the air, it's susceptible to interference from other devices. Digital transmissions are more secure than airwaves.

How to get free cable TV channels legally

You'll need an antenna and a digital tuner if you're ready to completely disconnect your cable service and get free cable TV channels legally. The antenna receives the broadcast signal, and the tuner converts it to a digital signal so you can watch it on your TV. You can connect the antenna to your TV with an RF (radio frequency) or coaxial cable.

When you subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, you pay for the content you want. The programs and channels on the cable network that these channels are hosted on are usually available for free. For example, HGTV is a cable TV channel. You can watch it for free with an antenna and digital tuner.

Who has the best signal and where to find it?

The Broadcast Signal Coverage map is a great resource when hunting for a place to get free cable TV channels. It's best to choose somewhere in the middle of the country. The farther you get from the coasts, the better the broadcast quality.

The best broadcast signal is within the line of sight of the TV towers, which are generally located in the foothills of mountains. Once you find a spot in the middle of the country that's also near mountains, you should be able to get a strong signal.
You can search by city or state to see where the best broadcast signal is.

Essentials: Where and how to find what you want

You can get a lot of content for free over the air, but you'll need a digital tuner to watch it. A digital tuner differs from an analog tuner, typically included in TV sets. Cable companies provide Internet service to customers through wires. You'll need to research which Internet providers provide broadcast channels to get free cable TV channels legally.

Broadband Internet providers that provide free broadcast channels are often called "broadcast-only" providers. Some of these providers include Antennas Direct, Channel Master, and GRIT. You can also legally use a satellite internet provider to get free cable TV channels. However, you'll need to be located in a rural area to avoid high data costs.

Free Cable TV Channels You Can Get Legally

We've got you covered if you want to know what channels you can get for free.


HGTV is a home and garden channel that's completely free over the air. You can also watch episodes online.


Bravo is a channel where you can watch American reality TV shows, documentaries, and Broadway musicals.


AMC airs shows such as "Preacher," "Humans," and "NOS4A2."


VICELAND is a channel that features documentaries, lifestyle shows, and food programming.


ABOUT is a television channel that airs documentaries and biographies.


AXS TV is a channel that airs live concerts, talk shows, and reality TV shows.


BET airs original TV shows, award shows, and music-related programming.

BET Gospel

BET Gospel airs gospel music-related programming.

BET Jams

BET Jams airs R&B and hip-hop music-related programming.


CMT airs country music-related programming.

Comedy Central

Comedy Central airs stand-up, sitcom, and sketch comedy-related programming.


COOKING is a channel that airs shows related to cooking and baking.


DAVID JEREMIAH is a channel that hosts a variety of Christian-related shows.


DISNEY JUNIOR airs TV shows for kids under the age of 7.


DISNEY XD airs TV shows for kids and teens under the age of 14.


E! airs celebrity and pop culture-related programming.


EPIX airs action, comedy, and drama-related programming.


ESPN airs sports-related programming.


ESPN 2 airs sports-related programming.


ESPN U airs sports-related programming.


ESPNNews airs sports-related programming.

Food Network

Food Network airs cooking-related programming.


FOX airs sports-related and reality TV shows.

FOX Business

FOX Business airs business and economy-related programming.

FOX News

FOX News airs news-related programming.

FOX Sports

FOX Sports airs sports-related programming.


FX airs comedy, drama, and horror-related programming.


FXX airs comedy and drama-related programming.

Golf Channel

Golf Channel airs sports-related programming.


HALLMARK airs family-friendly and holiday-related programming.


HBO airs drama, fantasy, and comedy-related programming.

HBO Signature

HBOSignature airs drama, fantasy, and comedy-related programming.


HGTV airs home and garden-related programming.


HISTORY airs documentaries and reality-related programming.


INSP airs family-friendly and inspirational programming.


ION airs crime, mystery, and sci-fi-related programming.


LIFETIME airs family-friendly and reality-related programming.


LIFETIME MOVIES airs family-friendly and romance-related programming.

MLB Network

MLB Network airs baseball-related programming.


MTV airs music-related programming.


MTV2 airs music-related programming.


NAT GEO airs documentaries and animal-related programming.


NAT GEO WILD airs wildlife-related programming.


NBC airs sports-related and reality TV shows.

NBC Sports

NBC Sports airs sports-related programming.

NBC Sports Network

NBC Sports Network airs sports-related programming.

NFL Network

NFL Network airs sports-related programming.


OWN airs drama, reality, and lifestyle-related programming.


PBS airs educational and entertainment programming.