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How to Watch OTA Broadcasts on PC: Watch TV on Computer

Wondering how to watch TV on computer? We'll show you how to watch OTA broadcasts directly on your computer, to help you save money and enjoy the show!

Many cord cutters are using their computers, tablets and phones to access the entertainment they crave with subscriptions to streaming media providers like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and HowtoWatch favorite, SlingTV. But what about over-the-air (OTA) television? We’ve mentioned time and again about how an invaluable (and free) part of any cord cutters arsenal is broadcast television, and how it is one of the best ways to access free, 1080p high definition content. But what if you don’t have a TV? Learn how to watch TV on computer in this guide.

Many people would assume that without a TV, there just isn’t any way to tap into all of that free content floating out there on the airwaves. But they’re wrong. Whether you don’t want to plunk down thousands on a TV, or if you just don’t have the room for one, chances are you’re reading this article on a device that can receive those OTA HD channels.

And sure, if you already have cable, like Xfinity, you can certainly watch some content directly on your PC using their website. But if you don’t have cable, you’ll need to employ the use of a TV tuner to catch free OTA broadcasts on your computer.

That’s right, with a little bit of pocket money and this short guide, you can soon be watching all of the OTA broadcasts you can handle directly on your PC. What’s better than being able to watch TV on computer, for free?


Watch TV on Computer: What Do I Need?

All you need to be able to watch TV on your computer is something called a TV Tuner. There are two types, external and internal. They both work in the exact same way, only the internal kinds require you to open up your PC’s case to install, while the external ones plug straight into a free USB port. Generally, you’ll want to stick to an external TV Tuner if you have a laptop, whereas either an external or internal TV Tuner would be suitable for a traditional desktop PC.

Most of the external TV Tuners employ a design similar to a USB flash drive, making them small and compact. This allows external TV Tuners to be disconnected when not in use, and even used on multiple computers. Amazon has a good list of some of the best external TV Tuners on the market today. Or, check out some TV tuner reviews.

Internal TV Tuners are generally cheaper in cost, however be aware that you’ll need to be comfortable with installing new components on your computer in order to get it working. Since they sit on the inside of your computer, internal TV Tuners are more conspicuous than externals.

Instructions on getting your TV Tuner to work will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so ensure you read all directions carefully. For the purposes of this article, we will be hitting upon the major points that are standard across brands.

Finally, you’ll need a good HD antenna like the Mohu Leaf, if you don’t already have one. Make sure you follow our guide on how to choose the best TV antenna for your needs.


How Do I Get It To Work?

After deciding which type of TV Tuner best suits you, run the software that came with it (sometimes this will occur automatically). This will install the drivers and programs necessary for the TV Tuner to work on your machine and allow you to watch TV on computer.

Next, you’ll want to plug in your antenna into the antenna connector on the TV Tuner. Some TV Tuners will come with their own antenna, however we recommend using a better quality antenna like the Mohu Leaf to make sure you receive the maximum number of channels in crystal clear HD.

The software bundled with your new TV Tuner should walk you through the process of scanning for your local channels. If you’re having difficulty tuning into stations, check out our guide on how to get the best antenna reception. Simply follow those handy tips and try scanning for channels again. Once that’s done, you’ll be watching all of your favorite over-the-air programming on your PC in no time!

What’s your favorite PC TV Tuner? Let us know in the comments!

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