Did you know that you have potentially hundreds of free TV options at your fingertips in 2022?
The combination of an antenna and a few apps can bring you a free menu of movies, news, sports and TV series so good that you may wonder why you’ve been paying the cable company or a live TV streaming service each month.
Money expert Clark Howard believes that free TV content has reached a level of quality that now gives consumers a chance to save money without a catastrophic drop-off in entertainment options.
“Depending on your age, you either came of age in a time when nobody ever heard of the idea of paying for television programming, or you grew up in an era where everybody paid for programming, typically through a cable subscription,” Clark says.
“Well, now we have a bit of the ‘long ago’ now available again. That’s the ability for you to watch a ton of free programming over the thin air.”
This new reality is the main topic of one of the latest episodes of the Clark Howard Podcast. In this article, we’ll dig into Clark’s latest thoughts on the TV landscape and help you find out how many free TV channels you can access from your home.
How To Find Free TV Content in Your Area
You may think of using an antenna to capture an over-the-air broadcast as a practice of yesteryear, but hear us out before you quickly dismiss it as an old-timey practice.
For as little as a $20 investment, you could find that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of high-definition TV channels within your reach at no charge.
Clark recommends using a free tool called The Free TV Project to find out which channels are available in your area.
“It’s a tool that you can use that will help you figure out how many channels you can get where you live for free through the thin air,” Clark says. “If you go to thefreetvproject.org and put in your ZIP code — or even better, your actual address — it’ll show you all the channels that are available and all the programs that are available that you can pick up for nothing with a simple antenna.
“The best part is if you get a good signal and you got one of those fancy 4K TVs, you will get a much better signal on that programming on your TV than you do through streaming.”
Clark says he’s able to get 120 over-the-air channels via antenna for his ZIP code in the Atlanta area.
My results in a Nashville suburb were not quite that impressive but still plenty good enough to warrant consideration. The Free TV Project detected 79 over-the-air channels available in my market, including my ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates.
You’ll notice in the screenshot above that the website also gives you an approximate signal strength you can expect from your location. If you’re getting low signal strength at your address, it likely means you may have to pay for an antenna with a longer range to ensure good reception.
For those who are worried about missing live broadcasts of TV shows over the air, we recently did a roundup of some of the best OTA DVRs available. These will allow you to record content broadcast to your TV via antenna and watch it on DVR at your leisure.
Free Streaming TV Options Are Emerging As Well
Even if you already know you can get live news, sports and network TV hits for free via antenna, you may be excited to learn that’s just the beginning of the free TV experience in 2022.
You also can get thousands of hours of live and on-demand streaming TV content for free.
Major content producers, including Amazon, Paramount Global and FOX, are offering free streaming services available for download via app on your phone, tablet or smart TV.
We suggest checking out Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Freevee and The Roku Channel as options for beginners on the free streaming TV scene.
They’re not going to have the latest hit HBO drama or the big game on ESPN, but you may be surprised at the library of on-demand TV series, hit movies and live channels that are available.
Tools for Saving on Your Paid Streaming TV
If you’re not quite ready to go “free” in every area of your entertainment life, we still can help you lower the cost of your streaming TV bills.
Team Clark has your back with comprehensive guides for the video on-demand and live TV streaming subscription markets. Within those guides, you can also find links to reviews of individual services, including YouTube TV and HBO Max.
We have an interactive live TV streaming channel tool that will let you enter your favorite TV channels to get a recommendation for getting them at the lowest possible monthly cost. You can try it out below.
We also have a streaming channel guide that can help you assess the full channel lineups of different live TV streaming services.
Do you have a strategy for saving money on your TV bill? We’d love to hear about it in the Clark.com community.