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Get back to broadcast TV. Use an antenna to stream live TV for free. Here's how to get started. Plus, what to buy and all you need to know about ditching streaming services and using free live TV.
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Sick of streaming services? How to find and record your shows for free

Streaming isn’t for everyone — especially since it means you have to constantly juggle ever-changing subscription costs. It’s easy to overpay on movies and shows you don’t have enough time to watch. If you want to save yourself from subscription misery, this guide will help you find and record free shows and movies.

Maybe you don’t want to abandon Netflix, HBO, Disney+ and your other favorite services. Maybe you’re just looking for some free streaming services to add on top of your paid services. Tap or click here for the 15 best sites to watch movies and shows for free.

One great way to save money on entertainment is by returning to the magic of broadcast television. Attach a simple antenna to your TV to stream free, live content in HD from popular networks. Here’s how to easily find and record your shows.

First, you need to find the right antenna

You need to figure out whether you need an unamplified, amplified or large outdoor antenna. Here’s a quick explainer:

  • Amplified antennas: Large and powerful, these are usually meant to be used inside houses with a medium-strength signal.
  • Unamplified antennas: These have a shorter range. They’re simple and cheap. Plus, they’re designed to be used in houses with a strong signal.
  • Large outdoor antennas: These are ideal for areas with a weak signal. They can be amplified or unamplified.

Since there are so many factors to think about, shopping for an antenna isn’t easy. That’s why we rounded up some of the best options you can buy online. Read through them and find the best pick for your home entertainment setup.

Promising review: “The antenna is great. I have around 60 channels now. The setup was easy and quick. I did it myself in about 10 minutes. I love it and would recommend it to everyone!”

Promising review: “Great feature is the placement of the power module below the antennae itself, you can see the green lights to indicate the best reception – then you can fix the antennae in that spot via the pins. Love this product!”

Promising review: “This was an upgrade from a basic antenna I was using and it was worth it. The picture quality is better and I get enough channels in my area for my enjoyment.”

These are all great options, but if you need more ideas, we’ve got you covered. Tap or click here for the seven best antennas for a clear TV signal.

Now that you have an antenna, it’s time to adjust your TV search habits. You’ll have to follow these steps to find what you want to watch with your new setup.

Use this site to find out when your shows are on

Although these live TV channels are free, there’s one drawback. They come out on a schedule. You can’t watch all of them on demand.

That’s why you need a tool that shows you which channels are in your area. Depending on the strength of your antenna, you can reach broadcast towers up to 250 miles away. Of course, each broadcast tower will access a different variety of channels.

If you’re not sure which networks your antenna can access, don’t sweat it. Just use an online directory to see the channels near your area. We recommend Zap2It.

It’s a great way to find out when your shows and movies are on

You can use this free guide to find local TV listings by provider or time zone. It’s super easy to use.

When you first open Zap2It, you’re taken to its default lineup page, which looks like this:

If you have a specific show or movie you want to watch, type it into the search bar. You can also create an account to save your liked shows so you can get quick access later on. You can adjust your grid preferences and change your provider or time zone to match your location.

See the times at the top of each column? You can go forward or backward in time by pressing the arrows on the left and right.

Aside from searching for shows and changing your preferences, you can also use nifty keyboard tricks to quickly find what you need. For example, use Ctrl + F once you have the page open to find what you’re looking for. Tap or click here for five smart keyboard shortcuts everyone should know.

If you’re ready to start searching for shows, hit the yellow button below. This free online guide helps you find anything you’re craving, from live TV like sports and news to your favorite movies and shows streaming now.

CHECK OUT THIS HELPFUL GUIDE: Quick and easy ways to find live sports games and TV shows

Use an over-the-air DVR to record

Although you have to manage TV schedules, you don’t have to resign yourself to missing everything. Say your favorite movie is on at 8 p.m., but you have to go to dinner with a friend at that time. Just record it with a DVR.

That way, you can watch it later on. It’s a convenient workaround you’ll use time and time again. Here are some of our favorite DVRs you can use:

Promising review: “First off this is really a top-notch product that works well right out of the box … Many of the channels I am getting are just plain more reliable with this box than any other setup that I’ve tried. Streaming is extremely reliable and I’ve had zero buffering even when both kids are home and making heavy use of the network.”

Promising review: “If you too miss the days when you could just “tape” a show, then this is for you. No subscription required, no nonsense. Just set up the times you want it to tape and off it goes. As an added bonus we can now watch broadcast TV in the room that’s too far from the antenna to bother running cable to.”

Now you know how you find and record your shows – Here are your next steps

Yes, your smart TV is spying on you – Here’s how to stop it

Check all available TV channels in your area with this web tool

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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