ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Making Sense of Free HDTV Channels

Updated on September 26, 2012

When you attach an antenna to your TV and complete a channel scan, you should see all of the major networks in HD. This means you will be able to watch local news, daytime shows, prime time series, late night, and even professional sports in HD for free. You will notice that the networks will be on channels like 5-1, 9-1, 13-1, etc. In between the networks will be channels like 5-2, 9-2, and 13-2. These are called “subchannels,” and they offer even more exciting free programming.

Each local station in your town will most likely have at least one “subchannel.” In the early days of HDTV, that is, from around 2005 to 2009, many of these subchannels were simply 24-hour weather stations. But that often required extra time and money on the part of the TV stations. Now, several new “networks” have been established for these local channels to air on their subchannels. Here are some of the networks you may see on the subchannels:

  1. “ThisTV,” which mostly shows movies from the MGM library of the 1930s to the early 1990s

  2. “MeTV,” which shows re-runs of shows from the '50s through the '80

  3. And “RTV” (Retro TV Network), which used to be the same as MeTV but seems to have lost the rights to many classic shows and has indeed been dropped from many local markets.

    You may also see up to three different PBS stations, each with their own programming slate. I urge you to give PBS a second chance if you think it is only boring nature shows. Some of the most entertaining and informative programming is on your local PBS station, and it's commercial-free. You will most likely also receive the CW and MyNetworkTV, which offer even more HD shows and movies for free.

Not Seeing Everything You Thought You'd See?

If everything goes well, you will be able to see all of your local stations in HD. The subchannels will most likely be in SD (Standard Definition), but still very watchable. Here are some reasons why you may not see everything I mentioned above:

  1. Your house is too far from the transmitters, or there are obstacles in the way of the transmission. This could happen if you live in between two major TV markets, or in the moutains or a deep valley. Usually TV stations situate their transmitters on hills or tall buildings. In some markets, they may actually be many miles outside of the city, so those in the outlying areas would actually have a better chance of getting a clear signal. But in flat areas, transmitters will likely be on the top of tall buildings, so you'd have a better chance closer to the city. And just because the station is nearby doesn't mean that's where their transmitter is. Many stations have transmitters miles and miles away from where their studios and offices are.

  2. One of your local stations could be located in a different city. This is the case in many markets that are made up of several different cities or incorporated areas. For instance, people in Greenville, SC, will have a difficult time receiving the ABC affiliate as it is located in Asheville, NC, which is a good 55 miles north.

  3. Your TV antenna may need to be placed in a different location. If the scanning tool can't see a signal, it will assume there is nothing there and skip over the station. If you know there is a station that your TV did not pick up during the scan, you may need to move the antenna and perform the scan again.

  4. Your local stations may not be affiliated with the ThisTV or MeTV networks. In this case, you would not see these specific services, but your local stations will most likely have something on their subchannel, even if it is just a constant live weather radar with a robotic voice from the National Weather Service.

Conclusion

Hooking up an antenna is a great way to get free HD content on your HDTV without satellite or cable. But as you can see, there are several factors that might interfere with your ability to get those free signals. However, if you live in a relatively populated area, your local stations have hopefully made sure the majority of their viewers can receive their signal over the air. Therefore you will be able to see network programming and even extra channels, all for free, simply by connecting an antenna and performing a channel scan on your TV. Happy tuning!

Further Reading

If you found this article helpful, I have written much more HDTV advice in my blog and book, both available at:

www.hdtvdecoded.com

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)