4 Ways to Never Pay for TV Again
Traditional cable and satellite TV service costs too much. The recent Netflix password-sharing crackdown means no more mooching from friends and family. And, with high inflation and the looming threat of a recession, we’re preparing to cut entertainment expenses from our budgets. Well, don’t start choppin’ yet, ‘cause we’re about to share four ways to never pay for TV again.
1. Refuse to pay
If you’re adamant about never paying for TV again, don’t. Free, ad-supported TV (FAST) services like Sling Freestream have tons of live TV channels plus thousands of on-demand movies and shows.
Other FAST-service channel lineups dwarf Sling Freestream’s 80+ live channels, but that’s the beauty of free streaming services: You can have them all, which means having hundreds of channels.
Note: FAST channels aren’t like the popular channels you’re used to watching. Instead, FAST channels show looping entertainment, news, and sports programming, often dedicated to a theme (like horror movies, telenovelas, or game shows) or even a single TV series.
So you’ll find plenty of stuff to watch on FAST services—but probably not your local channels. Don’t worry: We’ll help you solve that problem in the next section.
2. Pluck movies and shows from thin air
You can get free live TV over the air, just like our ancestors, with an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna for only $25–$70. We know that’s not completely free, but after you buy the antenna, you never again have to pay for your local broadcast affiliate channels and subchannels.
If you live in a city or suburb, we recommend the Mohu Leaf Plus Amplified Indoor TV Antenna ($47.99), which has a 60-mile range, NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0-compatibility (for broadcasts in 4K with HDR), and Dual-band VHF/UHF.
In rural areas, look for a longer-range antenna like the 1byone TV Antenna – Amplified HD Digital Indoor TV Antenna ($30.99), which has a 200-mile range and 4K UHD converter box–compatibility.
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But before you buy an antenna, make sure you really need one.
3. Test your smart TV’s IQ
Many newer (post-2020) smart TVs like the Samsung Q90B have a built-in NextGen/ATSC 3.0 antenna that can pick up 4K broadcasts with HDR. Some older TVs—like my 2015 LG UH615A—have ATSC 1.0 HDTV (1080p) antennas. Check your settings. If you see an option like “Channel Tuning” or “Scan for Channels,” you don’t have to buy a new antenna.
Also, some smart TV manufacturers have proprietary free, ad-supported TV (FAST) services like LG Channels, Samsung TV Plus, and Vizio WatchFree+. Like Pluto TV and Xumo, these services have hundreds of live TV channels and thousands of on-demand titles.
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4. Exploit streaming TV services’ generosity
Trials, by design, don’t last forever. So you’ll eventually have to pay for the service, but you can still try several before you sign up. That way, when you can afford TV again, you’ll know if they deserve your money.
We suggest starting with Philo and Paramount+.
Philo, a live TV streaming service, has 70+ channels—but no locals—and thousands of hours of on-demand content. Paramount+, a mostly on-demand streaming TV service, has 36,000 movies and shows and four more live channels, including your local CBS affiliate. That’s a solid TV lineup, even if it’s only free for a week.
The silver lining: Philo ($25 a month) and Paramount+ ($4.99 monthly with ads or $9.99 without them) are both highly affordable. When you’re ready to start paying for TV again, $29.99–$34.99 monthly is an outstanding deal for 74+ live channels and thousands of on-demand titles.
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