In fact, over-the-air TV channels are better now than ever before in the past, since all channels are now broadcast in digital HDTV.
Best of all, it is free; this means popular channels such as CBS, NBC, FOX, and a host of other channels can be picked up for free over the air.
Some can remember the old days of large rabbit ear antennas that would pick up grainy pictures and could be moved around to adjust a picture.
The problem with the old rabbit-ear antenna days was TV signals were broadcast in analog, which didn’t have very good resolution and had problems displaying images.
Major broadcast TV stations still broadcast a signal for free but have switched to high resolution digital HDTV signals.
To receive an HDTV signal, all that is needed is a digital HDTV antenna. Read Here for Top Antennas.
A TV that can decode a digital signal is also needed, but most any TV made in the last ten years should be able to decode a high definition signal.
If your TV is too old to decode, an HDTV signal decoder boxes can always be bought, or it may be time to upgrade.
So How Many Channels Can You Get?
This will depend on your location and how far you live from TV broadcast towers.
Most big cities will have around 50-100 channels or more, while smaller cities will usually have 20-30 stations.
One way to boost how many stations you can receive is to get a good outdoor antenna that can boost a signal greatly.
The terrain is also a factor, with a home on a flat terrain able to receive from farther away than a home that has lots of obstacles such as mountains and trees.
Depending on your locality, many smaller local stations will also transmit.
For example, in my area, local news and other small networks send out a signal along with the weather channel.
The best way to see what is available in your area is to download the free TV Guide app or go to their website here.
By looking at what is on it will also tell you the number of channels in your area.
What Kind Of TV Shows are Broadcast?
Most know the type of shows that are shown on the major networks, such as FOX has the Simpsons and other programs.
Often free over-the-air stations are found at the lower end of a cable subscription and can count for a 1/3 to a 1/2 of the channels.
Channels that can not be picked up over the air are cable-only channels such as Comedy Central, SyFy, and 24-hour network news channels.
If you live in a big enough city, your TV’s built-in TV antenna may be enough to receive stations, although usually, a digital antenna needs to be bought for the best results.
To see if your internal TV antenna can pick up stations, select the TV or antenna option from the menu screen on your TV.
After the correct option is selected, the TV should scan automatically or have a button to scan for channels.
After the TV is done scanning, you will be able to see which channels it found by simply going through them.
Unless you live very close to a transmission tower, most often, an antenna must be bought that can boost a signal.
An antenna can range from small indoor-sized units to larger outside units that can be placed on a roof or other high place.
Alternatives to Over-the-Air Antenna TV
While picking up stations with an antenna is the only truly free option for those with the internet, there are more options available.
This includes streaming websites and streaming apps, both paid and free.
Popular free options include Tubi TV, Roku Channel, and Popcornflix.
Paid websites include Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon.
For a complete list of free streaming websites see our list here.
Paid options are not free and will need to be researched for what content they have for movies and TV shows.
If you can get a bit technical, there are streaming apps that that can work well.
This includes Kodi and Android APKs, which can be technical in setup and management.
The easiest to set up for Android users, including the Fire TV Stick, is Rokkr which basically just has a URL added to work.
Read Here How To Install and Setup Rokkr for Live TV
Location and the type of antenna used will determine your over-the-air local channel user experience.
Since everyone will have a different outcome expected, it is best to see what is available in your locality.
For example, someone cutting the cable cord will no doubt benefit from a bigger antenna that can pick up a station from father away.
While someone else, may simply want basic local TV channels, and not care about distance.
There are also many online options to choose from, including paid and free.
Free websites have a lot of content to watch with many old movies and TV series.
For those who can get technical, there are also many options along with many YouTube videos and sites with instructions.