The following listing is a collection of networks (be they
cable/satellite or over-the-air) that, legally, provide live
feeds of their programming for free over the Internet. I have
excluded televangelism networks with no secular programs, home
shopping, foreign propaganda and Internet-only channels.
|NASA TV||U.S. space program and educational science programming|
||wvir-dt2||Charlottesville, VA (WeatherNation TV:
24/7 national weather)
|wbay-dt2||Green Bay, WI|
|wbrz-dt3||Baton Rouge, LA|
||Channels with a video link
that is either non-functioning or using an out-of-date
wsvi-dt4 Christiansted, VI - wjrt-dt6 Flint, MI
All channels are on the C-SPAN mobile app, audio only
||News, conservative talk, documentaries
|Newsy||Rolling news coverage
||Rolling news coverage
||Christian Broadcasting Network -
Christian news and talk
|💻 CBS News||Select news programs from CBS
|💻 NBC News
||Select news programs from NBC (Today
Show has its own channel)
||Select prime-time news programs (8 p.m.
onward, audio only)
||Business/pop culture news: ⏱️Cheddar Business is metered|
||One America News Network - Conservative
||NewsChannel Nebraska (regional news and
some syndicated programming)
||Live video of local games (mobile only,
||Live Thursday Night Football on Fox
|⏱️ NBC Sports||NFL football, Notre Dame football, NHL hockey|
|Stadium||Sports talk, live alternative and
mid-level college sports
||beIN Sports Xtra
||For the Fans (formerly Eleven Sports
Network) - College, semi-pro and international sports
||Maverick Television - Motorsports
||California Music Channel - top 40 /
oldies Sunday night
||Country music and classic country-themed
||Grand Ole Opry live telecast
||Country music, Celtic folk,
oldies/classic hits (from UK)
||Blues Television Network
||Smooth jazz, adult contemporary
||Classic Arts Showcase
|CHCH||Canadian news and classic reruns, 1960s
||Classic reruns and televangelism
|Buzzr||Classic game shows
|Charge!||Action films and shows
|Comet||Science fiction films and
|Youtoo||Youtoo America -
Entertainment (via affiliate WVVH)
||wivm||This TV - movies
||Jewish Life Television -
Variety/comedy, Jewish-themed programming
||World Harvest Television -
||TLN Chicago||Total Living
Televangelism/general interest lifestyle programming
LDS-themed programming, college sports
|Light TV||Family entertainment|
|PBS Kids||Educational children's
||Educational children's programs
|CBC||Canadian programming, NHL hockey
||Radio-Canada (French-language Canadian
||French-language dubbing of American
|Red Bull TV
||Highlights from America's Funniest Home
||Children's programming (NickRewind
||Southern culture programming
||Totally bizarre (ADULTS ONLY)
||Select content from TheBlaze,
||Selections from the History channel
||Game Show Network
||Select reruns of AMC original
||Retro Television Network - classic
reruns (1950s to 1970s) - 6-hour sampler daily
July 2020 update:
Unfortunately, iGoCast has finally figured out their IP geography restrictions and has made most of their channels unavailable outside Kansas. That means Antenna TV, Untamed Sports TV and The Action Channel have had to be removed. In addition, that also means I must rely upon the “official” Retro TV online feed, which only carries six hours of the over-the-air network’s programming, mostly public domain stuff, and excludes much of the programming on the over-the-air feed (though some of the missing programming is on other channels; Soupy Sales, for instance, is on JLTV and Doctor Who has its own channel on Pluto TV below.
I do have a new channel: Folk TV, which is a classic television network that has some satellite and cable carriage.
May 2020 update:
Major expansion in progress. Added free versions of cable channels (AMC, GSN, IFC, OAN) since there has been a major expansion in how many have become available. These don’t match their cable counterparts but since I’ve loosened the criteria they now qualify. Also added a ‘‘bar channels’’ section.
Also: because this change has made the page uncomfortably long, I am considering another reformat.
NOTE ON YOUTOO: WVVH, the Youtoo
affiliate streaming the network's programming, relies on an
outdated Silverlight plug-in that I think only works with
Internet Explorer (blech) or SeaMonkey (formerly known as
Netscape Navigator—I recommend SeaMonkey since it’s also the
editor I use). The iPhone/iPad link seems to only work on mobile
devices; I’ve come across a similar issue with WHVL, which uses
An antenna will be your best source of free television
programming. The major broadcast networks still broadcast with
an antenna, and you'll get programming live that isn't available
on the Internet. Note that if you are in a hilly area,
television reception is going to be difficult, regardless of
what kind of antenna you use. The higher you can get your
antenna, the more likely it is to work properly. Point
your antenna in the direction of the broadcast stations you want
to receive (consult the FCC
digital TV signal reception maps to figure out which
direction to point your antenna), and make sure that there are
as few obstructions in that direction as possible. If you live
in a rural or hilly area any substantial distance away from a
broadcast signal, an amplifier will likely be necessary.
If you want to watch programs on demand, invest in a DVR.
This may seem a bit counterintuitive considering the need for a
good antenna, but especially if you have difficulties in picking
up signals because you live in a valley, a portable,
battery-powered TV will give you the best chance at actually
finding them. The trick is to head to the highest publicly
accessible hill in your area, then run your channel scan.
Hilltops offer MUCH more favorable signal reception conditions,
and a smaller antenna (usually included with the portable) will
Then, when you come down off the hill, if you have your bigger
home-based antenna, you can hook it up. One of the biggest
differences between analog and digital TV is how it handles weak
signals: an analog TV can display whatever shows up on that
channel, no matter how weak or distorted it may be. For digital,
you have to scan first, and if that channel's signal is weak or
distorted, it'll be skipped over and not added to the channel
lineup—meaning there will be no way to actually get that channel
on your TV. By scanning on a hilltop, when you come down, all
those channels are already in your lineup, and you can then
manually adjust your antenna to lock in a usable signal, just
like you used to be able to do with analog. (Otherwise, you're
basically aiming blind and hoping for the best.)
The one drawback to this method is that portable TVs usually
don't carry HD displays and, naturally, are very small.
There are a few free over-the-top content providers. Most of
them don't provide cable-quality programming, but a few of them
have some notable shows.
Pluto TV, for example, includes the program library from the late Anthony Bourdain, the talk shows of MSNBC and Fox Sports 1, some of the channels listed on this page, and a surprisingly wide array of reruns, including the Nosey channel, which carries daytime talk shows.
Xumo TV has a somewhat more limited selection, including some of the same channels Pluto carries, and is only available in the United States. Both services have a large number of “web-exclusive” services that collect short-form video content and airs it on a linear channel.
MyTVtoGo has a collection of largely lower-end channels (many of which originate from this service and have the name “4U” in them), which I've found a few TV stations carry over-the-air.
Stirr is a new one from Sinclair Broadcast Group; it has its own channels and substantial amounts of local news.
Cable networks will never offer their most popular programs for
free. It's not part of their business model. There are a large
number of subscription “over-the-top” services out there, some
run by the individual channels and others run by middleman
companies bundling channels together. We're in the late 2010s
now, so some over-the-top services are producing their own
original programs that aren't available anywhere else. Keep all
this in mind when assessing which services you want to buy, and
note that if you buy all the channels available on a cable or
satellite provider, it will likely cost more than a
subscription, so if you want a huge selection, paying for cable
or satellite may still be your best bargain.
Local sports, in particular, will likely pose your biggest
obstacle. National sports networks can be found on most
over-the-top providers, but the local ones that carry a majority
of your local major league teams' games are difficult to find,
and what ones that are carrying them tend to be very expensive.
If you're thinking of buying an out-of-market package and hoping
to get your local teams, think again—your local teams will
almost certainly be blacked out. So, with that in mind...
If keeping up with live sporting events without paying for an
expensive channel is what you seek, tune in a radio. At night, a
large number of clear-channel stations audible over diameters of
over a thousand miles still carry a number of different sporting
events, depending on the station and market. Your local teams
will almost certainly be within range. For certain sports, the
games are also streamed on the Internet (although with the major
leagues, many of the same issues that make it difficult to find
TV broadcasts also restrict online radio broadcast
availability—you might find it, but expect to pay). Don’t ask me
why they’ll make a radio broadcast available for a 750-mile
radius and beyond on clear channel AM radio but will make people
pay money if they want to hear it on the Internet.
If you're cutting the cord, you're trying to avoid the cable
company that has a vested interest in you not cutting the cord.
Research what your local phone company offiers, see if there is
WiMax or other similar service available in your area, and if
all else fails, satellite Internet is available nationwide from
HughesNet or Viasat (although HughesNet has common ownership
with a satellite TV provider, the companies and accounts are
separate). Try to avoid metered connections if you can.
All video streams are freely provided by the actual channels.
No ownership implied.
Fullervision Enterprises Unltd. 2019