Even though Bruce Springsteen wrote the song in 1992, some television viewers might still agree that there are “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” Although, by today’s comparison, that could also include Netflix, where you can easily spend hours finding something to watch.
But if you are not into streaming or want to cut down on your subscription fees, there is a more accessible (and free) way to get more television channels. A few generations might not know what television antennas are, but oddly enough, they have been making a comeback.
It’s not the latest hipster trend or retro accessory, but rather for their original purpose: to scan and pick up terrestrial television signals. But when was the last time you went through the process of turning and tuning your TV with antennas? Well, you might want to get back into it.
More free channels to watch
If you didn’t know, there are free TV channels that you can pick up (depending on where you are) by just using an antenna. These channels include local broadcasts of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. And channels that were previously unavailable in your area might be now.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently held a broadcast spectrum (wavelengths used for broadcasting) auction. This freed up some space in the air, and many networks moved over to new frequencies. Your TV’s equipment could now pick up something that was unavailable before.
But that is only one reason you should do a rescan for new channels at least once a month. As Consumer Reports explains, you could have missed some free channels if you scanned on a cloudy or rainy day. Weather can affect reception, causing some channels to disappear temporarily.
It is also explained that many networks now have digital subchannels, and a regular rescan will help you discover them.
How to rescan for free channels
By initiating a channel rescan, you ask your television to go through the entire spectrum and look for broadcasting frequencies. Once a broadcast is picked up, your TV will store it to a specific channel number on your set.
The action of rescanning will vary slightly depending on the make and model of your TV. But generally, the process is the same. Here’s how:
- On your remote, press the Menu or Setup button
- Look for anything that mentions Channel Scan, Antenna, Channels, or Channel List
- Once you find the Channel Scan or Channel Tuning option, select Autotune or Autoscan
- The television will start to automatically scan, and you’ll see some channels briefly on the screen. Depending on how many there are, it could take a while.
You can also use this handy DTV Reception Map to see which networks and channels are available in your area and their broadcasting strength.
If you are looking for a new antenna, we have a couple of suggestions for you.