I can remember watching television when I was a kid in the early 1980s. We had around eight channels to choose from. Often the channel we were watching would get all fuzzy and we had to rearrange the antenna positioning in order to try to make it clearer. We called the antenna “Rabbit Ears”, and thought we were being smart by wrapping aluminum foil around it because we hoped it would amplify the signal. There were times that we could barely get any reception because of bad weather.
Early days of cable TV
When my parents finally got cable TV during the early 1980s it was a happy time for me. The rectangular box on top of our wooden console TV had a magical glowing red digital number that seemed to light up the entire living room at night. I can’t remember exactly how many channels we had but at the time it seemed like an endless selection. For me and my sister we now had surplus of cartoons we could choose from and we often disagreed on which one to settle on. My parents would usually take over the TV during the evenings and they would often watch whatever movie they could agree on that was available. Although they didn’t pay for the premium channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc.) they seemed to always be able to find a suitable movie choice.
Old School Cable TV Hack
Not to long after have our first cable TV experience we began to hear about ways to manipulate your cable box to get it to show the premium content. Again, my parents didn’t pay for any of the premium content so all the good stuff was scrambled on the screen. The trick we learned involved touching something medal to something inside the cable box to somehow unscramble the channels. To do this we needed to put the cable box on its side and we used a bobby pin to carefully insert it into a small hole in the box. It wasn’t an easy task, it needed to be inserted perfectly in order to hit the right spot inside the cable box. Although we each got better at this over time, there were times it took up to fifteen minutes to finally get the hack done. Once the pin was in place we could view all the channels that were previously scrambled. The flip side of this was that the channels that we normally received were now scrambled. But we could easily pull the pin out to watch those again. It wasn’t long before the cable company figured out people were doing this. They eventually made some changes to prevent the hacking.
Free TV with an HD Antenna
My quest to get free television also included my attempts to access local TV via an HD antenna. Local television stations broadcast their channels for free but you need to have a way to receive the signal. After learning this I headed to the store and I purchased an HD antenna. My research prior to going to the store showed it was one of the best rated HD antennas. Setting up the HD antenna was super easy but there was one important thing that I didn’t take into consideration. How far away was the TV station’s tower that was transmitting the free broadcast. Unfortunately I was only able to get two channels in high definition but they were not channels that I wanted. After searching for tower locations online I discovered that they were more that sixty or seventy miles away. This was the reason I only had two good channels.
What about Apple TV or Roku?
Another discovery I made during my search for free TV online live was that devices like Apple TV and Roku do give you a few good sources of channels that are free but still don’t allow local stations without some sort of subscription. Pluto TV was and still is a good way to kill time if you don’t need anything local. The content that Pluto TV offers is obscure and their movies are fairly old and undesirable. They have an entire channel dedicated to MTV Cribs, a surfing channel, several channels that have a marijuana theme, and they even have on 4k channel. Haystack TV is a free app that is available on most smart devices and it provides various sources of news and sports. In addition, my Samsung TV has Samsung TV Plus needed has content similar to Pluto. But after everything was said and done, I still needed my fix of local broadcasting and I needed ESPN.
I found a way but it wasn’t easy.
After months of trial and error, I accumulated one Apple TV, one Roku stick, and one unused HD antenna but my quest for free TV online live had still fallen short. Even with all my new gadgets I was still not able to watch local TV or ESPN without a paid subscription. Apparently the saying was true, “nothing in life is free”. Or is it. What if I borrowed from someone else that had a subscription service? I wasn’t even sure it was possible but I definitely had to give it a shot. Now I had to figure out who liked me enough to trust me with their subscription service log in and password. After trying several people and not being successful, I ended up on the phone with my dad. He had recently relocated to Arizona and had just signed up for Dish television service. He agreed to let me piggy back on his subscription but I had to somehow figure out his user name and password since he couldn’t remember what he had used. It took a little digging but I was determined to get this necessary information.
After finally gaining access to my dads username and password I started my attempts to sign in to various smart apps at my home. Most of the apps give a specific code and then ask you to visit their activation web address in order to enter the credentials from your paid subscription service. Much to my surprise, I had no issues with any of the channels. I was able to sign in and gain access to every one with no problems. I am now FREE.