Cutting the Cord – Free TV

So, you want to “cut the cord”, but after looking at subscription prices for services such as Roku, Hulu, or Netflix, you’re asking yourself, “should I just stay with the cable?” Well, there are many free alternatives including free broadcast digital TV!

What is broadcast digital TV?

According to the FCC, “Digital Television is an advanced broadcasting technology that has transformed the television viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality, and multiple channels of programming. Since June 13, 2009, full-power television stations nationwide have been required to broadcast exclusively in a digital format.”

What kind of programming will I find on broadcast digital television?

That’s a good question. There is a lot of programming that is available and many channels to choose from.  For this discussion we are only going to look at the major TV stations in the greater Cleveland area. Many of the “sub channels” carry older programs that aired previously on cable networks.  You will need an antenna for your TV, such as indoor or an outdoor antenna. The channels and quality may vary based on your location. Let’s start at the top of the channels and see what we have.

Channel 03-1, WKYC-HD, NBC, “Channel 3”. This is the standard NBC station here in Cleveland. It carries the standard NBC programing.

Channel 03-2, True Crime Network. True crime network is a 24/7 network that entertains & informs its viewers with gripping crime and investigation programming. It carries shows like Crime Stories, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Most Shocking.

Channel 03-3, COZI TV. COZI TV is NBC’s multicast network that delivers a 24-hour line-up of TV’s all-time best shows and pop culture favorites.  COZI TV’s iconic sitcoms include Frasier, Roseanne, The Office, Will & Grace and The Nanny.

Channel 03-4, Quest. Quest is a 24/7 network that entertains and informs its viewers with exhilarating adventure programming about nature’s greatest dangers, history’s greatest mysteries and man’s greatest achievements. Quest features shows like Modern Marvels, American Restoration, and Ice Road Truckers.

Channel 05-1, WEWS-HD, ABC, “News 5”. This is the standard ABC station here in Cleveland. It carries the standard ABC programing.

Channel 05-2, GRIT. Grit, Television with Backbone!  Grit is the network television home for your favorite bold, brave and legendary action heroes! If you like westerns you will love Grit!  Grit carries shows like Tales of Wells Fargo, Laramie, and Death Valley Days and movies like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Channel 05-3, Laff. Laff is a network that specializes in comedy programming, featuring a mix of feature films and archived sitcoms. Laff is targeted at adults between the ages of 18 and 49 years old. Laff features shows like Home Improvement, Spin City, The Drew Carey Show, and According to Jim.

Channel 05-4, Court TV.  Court TV is a network that specializes in live gavel-to-gavel coverage, in-depth legal reporting and expert analysis of the nation’s most important and compelling trials.

Channel 08-1, WJW, FOX, “Fox 8”. This is the standard FOX station here in Cleveland. It carries the standard FOX programing.

Channel 08-2, Antenna TV.  Antenna TV is a network featuring classic television programs such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Barney Miller, I Dream of Jennie, and Father Knows Best.

Channel 08-3, Comet TV. Comet is a channel dedicated to sci-fi entertainment offering popular favorites, cult classics, and undiscovered gems. Their slogan is “Watch COMET and Space Out.” Comet plays shows like Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Stargate SG-1, and The Outer Limits. It also shows movies like Dr. Who and all the classic Godzilla movies like Mothra Vs. Godzilla.

Channel 08-4, Charge!. CHARGE! is a network featuring action programming including movies, series and sports entertainment. Their slogan is “CHARGE! Ready for Action.” Charge! has programs like the original Magnum P.I., Knight Rider, and Chips.

Channel 19-1, WOIO, CBS, “Cleveland 19″.  This is the standard CBS station here in Cleveland. It carries the standard CSB programing.

Channel 19-2, MeTv. MeTV stands for Memorable Entertainment Television. It is an all classic television network with iconic programs that rank among the most revered and beloved TV shows of all time. Each week, viewers enjoy shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and Hogan’s Heroes.

 Channel 19-3, Dabl. Dabl (pronounced dabble) is a lifestyle-oriented programming station that has programming for cooking, home renovation, design, DIY, pets and travel. You’ll find shows like Martha Stewart Living, and The Essence of Emeril, and some shows come from places like Canada and England like Design Inc., and Escape to the Country.

Channel 25-1, WVIZ, PBS. This is the standard PBS station here in Cleveland. It carries the standard PBS programing.

Channel 25-2, Ohio Channel. The Ohio Channel is a service of Ohio’s public broadcasting stations. The Ohio Channel combines Statehouse coverage with locally produced PBS programs to give a statewide perspective on issues that affect the lives of all Ohioans. Think C-SPAN but for the State of Ohio.

Channel 25-3, World.  WORLD shares the best of public media in news, documentaries, and fact-based informational programming that helps us understand conflicts, movements and cultures that may be distinct from our own.

Channel 25-4, Create. Create TV is more often called “do-it-yourself”, the programs seen on Create include viewers’ favorite public television series and specials on food, travel, home and garden, arts and crafts, fitness and other lifestyle interests. You’ll find shows like This Old House, Growing A Greener World, and Cook’s Country.

Channel 25-5, PBS Kids 24/7. PBS Kids is all the educations children’s programing found on PBS.  The station airs 24/7 PBS children’s programs.  Programs like Dinosaur Train, Nature Cat and Sesame Street.

Channel 25-9, CSCN, Audio. CSCN stands for Cleveland Sight Center Radio Reading Network (CSCN). The station broadcasts daily, content for the blind and low vision community to air twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Since this is a TV station for the seeing impaired the station is an audio only station.

Channel 43-1, WUAB, The CW. The CW Network is a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corporation. The network features programs like The Flash, Nancy Drew, Batwoman, and Supernatural.

Channel 43-2, Bounce. Bounce is the first African American broadcast network. It features a programming mix of original series, theatrical motion pictures, specials, and more. It carries shows like Living Single and The Bernie Mac Show.

Channel 43-3, Circle. This channel dedicated to celebrating country music and the country lifestyle.  You can find show on Circle like The Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw, and Backstage at The Opry.

Channel 55-1, WBNX, Independent. WBNX-TV is an independent television station licensed in Akron. You can find shows like King of Queens, Last Man Standing, and Mike & Molly.

Channel 55-2, Religious. WBNX’s second digital subchannel is branded as The Happy Channel airing religious/family-oriented programming, such as Ernest Angley Ministries-produced programs like The 90 & 9 Club, The Ernest Angley Hour and the gospel music series Sing, Sing, Sing, Come on Let’s Sing.

Channel 55-3, Movies!. Movies! is a network that has programming emphasizes feature films like Fame, the original A Star is Born, and Days of Thunder.

Channel 55-4, Heroes & Icons. H&I is about Compelling drama, action and adventure come to life. Weekdays, H&I has programs like Monk, House, and Jag. Then on Sunday through Friday nights, H&I boldly goes “All Star Trek”, featuring each original live action “Star Trek” TV series.

Channel 55-5, StartTV. Start TV showcases strong and resourceful female leading characters. Each lead character and series embody a boldness and determination to “Start” leading the way. You will find show on StartTV like The Good Wife, The Closer and Ghost Whisper.

Channel 55-6, Decades. DECADES has programming that is Television Across the Decades, a nostalgic trip through classic television from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. You’ll find shows like The Best of The Ed Sullivan Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and The Dick Cavett Show.

Channel 61-1, WQHS, Univision. Univision is a North American Spanish-language network that is owned by Univision Communications. It is the United States’ second largest provider of Spanish-language content.

Channel 61-2, UNIMAS. UniMas is an American Spanish language network that is owned by Univision Communications. The programming is aimed at Hispanic Americans in the 18-34 age range and includes telenovelas and other serialized drama series, sports, and sitcoms.

Channel 61-3, GET-TV. GET-TV is a network featuring your favorite action, crime, comedy and western TV series and movies from all eras. You will find shows on GET-TV like All in the Family, Hot in Cleveland, and Amen.

Channel 61-4, ESCAPE, Court TV Mystery. Escape has rebranded as Court TV Mystery.  Escape is owned by Court-TV (channel 5-4) and it focuses primarily on mystery and crime programming. You’ll find shows like American Greed and movies like Fatal Attraction.

And Finally Channel 61-5 Dabl.  Yes, in Cleveland we get Dabl twice, on both channel 19-3 and 61-5.

As stated before we only focused on the main channels in Cleveland: 3, 5, 8, 19, 25, 43, 55, and 61. There are smaller stations also available in Cleveland, including: 17-1 ION Plus, 20-1 Azteca America, 20-2 Infomercials, 20-3 Cheddar, 20-4 Infomercials, 20-5 QVC2, 20-6 Infomercials, 23-1 ION, 23-2 Qubo, 23-3 Shop Infomercials, 23-5 QVC, 23-6 HSN, 26-1 Stadium, 26-2 BUZZR, 26-3 SonLife, 26-4 Shop LC, 26-5 QVC, 26-6 Jewelry TV, 26-7 LX, 35-1 Retro TV, 47-1 TCT HD, 49-1 WEAO PBS Western Reserve PBS, 49-2 Local Fusion, and 49-3 First Nations Experience.

If you’re still looking for a digital service, remember you can get digital services for free with your Heights Libraries card, including:

Kanopy. Enjoy classic movies, thoughtful documentaries, and TV shows, including the Criterion Collection, with Kanopy. Heights Libraries card holders are limited to 10 checkouts (also known as play credits) per month.  Movies are checked out for 3 days and can be viewed through the Kanopy apps for iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.

Acorn TV, Indie Flix, Stingray Qello, and Great Courses. RBdigital offers several video streaming options:

  • Acorn TV – top British movies and TV shows
  • Indie Flix – independent movies, documentaries, and TV shows
  • Stingray Qello – concert films and musical documentaries
  • Great Courses – courses on history, health, science and more, taught by experts

These services can be accessed through the RBdigital app for iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Hoopla. Hoopla is a digital streaming service created in 2011 specifically for libraries.  It offers library card holders access to a wide selection of audiobooks, movies, music, comics, eBooks, and TV shows. Hoopla’s titles can be streamed on a computer and mobile devices through the Hoopla app for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. Hoopla is also supported on Apple TV and Chromecast. Library card holders are able to download up to 10 items per calendar month.

For more information on Cutting the Cord, check out these previous blog posts:

…or join us for a Facebook Live Tech Talk on Wednesday, October 7 at 4pm at the Heights Libraries Facebook page.

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