Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Cutting the cord is the easy part. The tough thing about living without cable is figuring out how you're going to watch all of the TV you want without having to go back to the world of legacy pay TV services. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to watch live TV without cable or satellite. Thanks to free over-the-air TV and “skinny bundle” services, it's a breeze to watch live TV on all sorts of devices. Cord cutters can enjoy their favorite shows on everything from their mobile devices to their big-screen TVs. Today, we're to talk specifically about how to watch live TV on a PC.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream live TV on a PC:
When we talk about watching TV without cable – and particularly when we talk about streaming live TV – we're almost always dealing with a computer of some sort. After all, streaming boxes are just little computers, and a smart TV is just a TV with a computer built into it. But it's worth remembering that we can also use our “actual” computers to stream this sort of content. Skinny bundles can show us live TV in our web browsers just as easily as they can on our streaming sticks, streaming boxes, and smart TVs. Below, we'll explain how to watch live TV on a PC, and we'll list the specific services and techniques you need to know about in order to do it.
Longtime readers of Cordcutting.com know that most of the services and techniques we recommend for watching live TV without cable fall into one of two categories: skinny bundles and free over-the-air TV. Before we dive down into the specifics of our list below, let's go over what these two major categories mean.
Skinny bundles are some of the biggest threats to cable on the market right now, and it's not hard to see why. They offer the same basic stuff as cable, but do it better – and at a lower price.
Like cable and satellite, a skinny bundle is a pay TV multichannel service: you pay to get it, and you enjoy lots of network TV channels (live and, in many cases, on demand) through the same single service. But there's a crucial difference between a skinny bundle and cable or satellite: skinny bundles stream online.
That means that you can use a skinny bundle to watch live TV on all sorts of different devices – including, of course, your PC. It also means that skinny bundles don't have the big regional monopolies that traditional cable infrastructure creates. That means lots of competition and innovation. One innovation of note is that skinny bundles trim the fat from the big, bulky cable bundles you're used to. They offer just the channels you want – a “skinny bundle,” just like the name suggests.
Then there's free over-the-air TV. With free OTA TV, you can watch lots of great channels – including important ones like NBC and Fox – for free. All you need is an antenna and a TV.
You don't need a PC to watch free over-the-air TV, but you can use certain types of hardware and software to combine your OTA setup with a PC in ways that add new features and functionality to OTA TV.
Our list below will kick off with skinny bundles and then move on to OTA-related techniques and other types of streaming services. Are you ready? Here's how to watch live TV on a PC.
Stream live TV on a PC for free with Philo
Philo's goal is to make skinny bundles as affordable as possible. Philo's trick is that it dispenses with local channels and sports channels — two types of channels which disproportionately account for the expense of most pay TV services. If you can live without those (or replace them with free over-the-air TV and league streaming packages), then you'll love Philo TV, which offers its live TV at very low prices.
Stream live TV on a PC for free with Hulu
Hulu + Live TV is a skinny bundle that also includes Hulu's popular on-demand service. Though the on-demand arm of Hulu is longer-tenured than this comparatively new live TV service, Hulu + Live TV can hang with the best of the skinny bundle crowd. It offers a bunch of great channels live and on-demand. You can add premium channels on top of that. As many competitors also do, Hulu + Live TV allows you to test things out for free by signing up for a free trial.
Stream live TV on a PC for free with fuboTV
fuboTV holds a special appeal for fans of foreign soccer leagues thanks to its wealth of related networks. But don't worry: There are tons of non-sports channels available through fuboTV, too. On top of all of this other good stuff, fuboTV offers a free trial. Snag that free trial offer by clicking on the link in this section.
Stream live TV on a PC with Sling TV
Sling TV is a little different from most of its skinny bundle competition in that it puts much of its focus on add-on bundles. After signing up for one (or both) of Sling TV's base bundles, you're free to add as many “Extras” as you want. The Extras include sets of like-minded channels or individual premium channels. Using this system, you're free to build a customized skinny bundle that makes your content as cost-effective as possible to get. You can sign up for Sling TV by clicking on the link above.
AT&T TV Now is AT&T's skinny bundle service. It offers a lot of great channels for a price that cable just can't match. You can check out this service for free by taking advantage of its free trial offer.
YouTube TV is a great way to watch live TV on PC. It has great apps and features on all platforms, and it boasts plenty of top channels in its bundle. Google's live TV streaming service is well worth a look! You can check it out risk-free by taking advantage of the service's free trial program.
You can use an antenna with your TV because your TV has a TV tuner built into it. Your computer does not, but it's easy enough to add one: there are a ton of PC TV tuners available from reliable manufacturers, and they'll allow you to easily turn a USB port into a place to plug in your antenna. At its simplest, a PC TV tuner will allow you to watch live OTA TV on your PC – but there are also more clever things that you can do using software. With third-party software and/or software included with your PC TV tuner, you can record and time-shift OTA TV, and even make it available to stream on other devices.
Stream live TV on a PC with ESPN+
ESPN+ is ESPN's standalone streaming service. While it doesn't offer a live feed of ESPN, it does offer other live broadcasts produced by the channel. Plus, it includes MLS Live, which is Major League Soccer's version of the live TV streaming service.
OTA DVRs exist to make OTA TV into time-shiftable, streamable content. Just plug your antenna into an OTA DVR like Tablo and then use your computer to stream live and recorded TV.
Or, if you're in a DIY sort of mood, you can turn your PC into an OTA DVR yourself! Using a PC TV tuner, your PC, and software like Plex, you can create your own OTA DVR.
CBS All Access is a single-channel solution that targets die-hard fans of CBS. With a CBS All Access subscription CBS super-fans can watch on-demand CBS programming and — in select markets — a live feed of their local CBS network. Just be sure to check the availability of live TV in your market. One easy way to do that is to sign up for a CBS All Access free trial.
League streaming services are live TV solutions that focus on specific sports leagues. Generally, they make it possible to watch live out-of-market games (sorry, no local or national broadcasts). MLB.TV is the gold standard for sports league streaming services, and features smooth streaming and superior features.
NBA League Pass is the NBA's league streaming service, and it works pretty much how you'd assume: any regular-season game that is not being broadcast in your local market is available to stream via the service. You can also invest in a single-team option or even buy a single game.
NHL.TV is the NHL's league streaming service. Use it to watch out-of-market regular season games live on all sorts of devices – including, of course, your PC. For hockey fans, this is a great way to watch live TV on PC.
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