How to Get Free Live TV for Cord-Cutters

Looking to cut the cord? Here are some of the best ways to leave cable behind and still get the live channels you want—oftentimes for free.

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Craig Hanks
YouTube Channel Manager & Streaming Expert
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December 02, 2020
5 min read

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Hey everybody, thanks for joining me on today's Cord Cutting 101 video. Today the topic is live TV. This is the thing that you're giving up when you're cord cutting, but not necessarily because there are lots of options to keep live TV in your life.

Today we're going to go through all of those major options, from the free, to the pretty-much-free, to the, "Oh, my word, I cut the cord for this price range?"

Let's dive in.

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All right. Now, today we're going to start with local channels. That's the simple thing to talk about when we talk about live TV. Then we're going to move onto cable channels, and then we'll wrap up with options you may not have heard of yet. So, to start—local channels.

Cord-cutting option 1: HD antennas

Now, like I said, this is a pretty simple one. Really all you need to do is get an antenna—an HD antenna. Yes, I know. They're not technically HD antennas, but that's what they're marketed as, so that's what you should search for on Amazon or wherever you go to find one.

I have done a lot of videos lately on antennas, so I'm not going to rehearse all of that now, but I will point you toward an antenna video or two that you can check out if you are interested in learning more about them. Hit up the video description if you want a suggestion on some specific products that you can try.

Cord-cutting option 2: Locast

The other thing to note with local channels is Locast.

Now, Locast is a nonprofit that allows you to stream local channels online for free—in select cities. It's honestly not in that many markets, to be honest. There are about 45 million homes that are covered, which is pretty good. It's in 19 markets, and that covers about 38% of the market.

Now, Locast is great if you can get it, but there are some restrictions that go along with it. Just know that it's there.

Cord-cutting option 3: Livestreaming services

Okay, now let's talk about streaming cable channels—and this is where we're going to spend the bulk of our time today.

Cable channels are why you cut the cord, right? This is what you were getting through cable or satellite, so this has your TNTs, TBSs, E-channels, ESPNs, and all that stuff. This is what you can still get, believe it or not, even if you have cut the cord. It's just going to cost you a little bit.

We're going to talk about a few live TV streaming services, but I’ll tell you right up front: this isn't a review of all of those services.

Cut with cord with Hulu + Live TV

4 out of 5 stars
Available channels
Starting from
Data effective 08/17/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

I'll also tell you right upfront that Hulu + Live TV is my pick for the best live TV streaming service. If you want to know why, well, basically it comes down to a few things.

The price is decent, considering the other options. It's 55 bucks a month. You can add on $10 for a decent DVR, which gives you 200 hours. You can fast forward through commercials, stream across devices. It's a pretty slick DVR, but you don't have to add that on.

Hulu + Live TV carries both Fox and ABC channels so you get Fox Sports One, Fox Sports Two, and ESPN, if you're worried about sports channels, but it does not have Viacom, which is a pretty big name in the entertainment channels.

Viacom—we're talking about MTV, BET, those sorts of channels. Nickelodeon I think is included in there too. So no Viacom channels, but it does bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, so that bundle makes it a really great option.

Become a cord-cutter with YouTube TV

4.5 out of 5 stars
Available channels
Starting from
Data effective 08/17/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Let's talk about the competitors really briefly. YouTube TV is probably Hulu + Live TV’s top competitor right now. YouTube TV just raised its prices from 50 bucks a month up to 65, so you're already jumping up 65. That's the same price you would pay with Hulu Live if you added the DVR, but on YouTube TV you don't have the option to get rid of that.

Even after the price hike, I'd say YouTube TV’s still a really great service. In fact, the reason for the price hike is because they do have those Viacom channels, and so, unlike Hulu, you get FOX channels, ABC channels, and Viacom channels. It's a pretty sweet deal.

The only problem here is that Hulu Live pulls ahead because it includes not just Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, like I mentioned in that package deal, but it has Hulu as well.

Hulu comes with all of the on-demand content, all of the original content—it's a great service even by itself. You add the live TV on there? Yeah, it's going to be number one in my book, unless something drastic changes.

Ditch cable with Sling TV

4 out of 5 stars
Available channels
Starting from
Data effective 08/17/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

The other big name that I'll mention is Sling TV, which you can get for $30 a month for the Orange package, if you prefer the ABC side of things—which includes ESPN. Or $30 a month for the Blue package, if you prefer the Fox side. You can also get a combo of Orange plus Blue for $45 a month, which does include some Viacom channels.

And you pay an extra $5 a month with whatever package you choose to get a good DVR. That's a 50-hour DVR. Otherwise, you can get 10 hours for free.

Other livestreaming options

Now, there are a couple more options. AT&T TV Now, which I normally say skip but it is starting to get more attractive because of all the price hikes that are going on now. It's starting to look a little more average on the price side.

Then there’s FuboTV, which is great for soccer fans, but prices are going up by five bucks a month right now, so that's not great. It was already pretty expensive to begin with.

Anyway, whichever way you go, you will be able to get those cable channels you were used to either on cable or satellite—just here with a livestreaming service. Like I said, they're just a little pricier than you might want them to be. They're certainly pricier than I want them to be.

More free cord-cutting services

Yeah, if those are all a little bit too pricey for you, there are free options—as in no extra cost—which is pretty great. If all you use TV for really is a little bit of background noise during the day in your house, then you don't need to pay a bunch of money for that. You can use a service like Pluto TV or TiVo's new service.

There are a few things like this around, but Pluto is the most popular one out there right now. It's increasingly popular, actually, because they keep getting more and better programs and better channels.

These are not going to be the channels that you're used to so you're not going to find TBS, you're not going to find MTV, anything like that. These are kind of off-brand channels, but oftentimes they will have decent reruns and movies going on with these channels and some original content as well.

You can also get, on a device that I just did a review—the TiVo stream 4k— a TiVo channel, which is very similar. It's got off-brand channels, but the nice thing about this one is that you can actually integrate Sling TV. So if you do want to pay a little bit for something like Sling TV, you can integrate it with the other channels that are available for free on TiVo's network there.

That’s a wrap

As you can see, if you're cutting the cord and you want to keep live TV in your life, then you do have options. Some of them are a little pricier than you might want; some of them are not pricey at all. If you have any other options that you'd like people to know about, hit the comments below, and we'd appreciate hearing about that.

Follow us on YouTube!

If this video helps you, please hit those Like and Subscribe buttons.

And go on and smash that notification bell to get updates whenever we put out a new video.

Craig Hanks
Written by
Craig Hanks
Craig is a long-time writer, presenter, and podcaster, and he now runs the YouTube channel, where he strives to be far more charming and presentable than he is in real life. Within the umbrella, he has accidentally become a streaming expert after covering the streaming wars for almost three years. Craig is also the founder and host of The Legendarium Podcast, his outlet for his love of fantasy and sci-fi literature.

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