Can You Use a Smart TV Without Cable?

Streaming devices on a table stand and streaming apps showing on screenStreaming devices on a table stand and streaming apps showing on screen

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These days, Smart TVs are a staple in most homes. As more people begin trading their library of cable channels for streaming services, it’s logical to wonder if you can use a smart TV without cable.

Will a Smart TV Work Without Cable?

You can do much more with a Smart TV than just watch cable. With a Smart TV in my house, I’ve never regretted my decision to get rid of cable. 

While some people keep their cable subscriptions after purchasing a Smart TV, all you need is a high-speed internet connection

Most people connect their Smart TVs to the internet through a Wi-Fi network. But, some TVs feature ethernet ports for a more stable connection. 

If you are in the market for a smart TV with an ethernet port, I recommend this TCL Roku TV

Once you have established a strong internet connection, you can watch your favorite movies and shows through: 

  • Subscriptions to streaming services
  • Free streaming apps
  • Casting and screen mirroring

Subscriptions to Streaming Services

Today, most people use their Smart TVs almost exclusively through streaming services. 

Smart TVs offer dozens of streaming apps you can download from your TV’s app store. Some Smart TVs even let you add new apps to your home screen through voice commands.

Many Smart TVs come with the most popular streaming apps pre-downloaded. These usually include:

  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney Plus
  • YouTube 

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly streaming service or a prestige service like HBO Max, adding new streaming channels to a Smart TV is easy. 

Just download the app and sign into your existing account or subscribe to a new service.

LG TV Streaming menu with Prime selcted

If you want an app that offers all the benefits of traditional cable, including the ability to watch live content, I recommend Sling TV. 

Sling TV offers various packages with channels you know and love, such as ESPN, AMC, Disney Channel, and TBS.

Other streaming services that offer a live TV experience include: 

Streaming ServiceMonthly Price
Amazon Prime Video$8.99-$12.99
Hulu + Live TV$54.99
Youtube TV$72.99
HBO Max with Showtime$14.99

Some Smart TVs offer their own streaming apps. For example, LG TVs offer LG Channels, which gives you access to TV shows, movies, and live/on-demand entertainment. 

Free Streaming Apps

While most streaming apps require a monthly subscription, there are some free streaming services available. Instead of subscription costs, they make money through in-video advertising.

Some of the most popular free streaming apps include:

  • Pluto TV
  • FreeVee
  • Tubi
  • Crackle

Some TVs have their own free streaming services as well. For example, Roku TVs offer The Roku Channel, and Samsung TVs offer Samsung TV Plus.

While you won’t usually find the hottest new shows on these free apps, they have impressive collections. 

Casting and Screen Mirroring

If your Smart TV is compatible with Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay, you can cast movies and TV shows from your smartphone or computer to your TV. 

Casting makes it easy to browse for content on your laptop or phone, then quickly and wirelessly stream it onto the TV.

If your Smart TV doesn’t support screen mirroring directly, you can connect a compatible device to your TV’s HDMI port and cast from there. 

Some of the devices that support casting or screen mirroring include:

While not all models of all these devices are compatible with AirPlay, using one of these can sometimes even be better than using your Smart TV.

Group of streaming devices in front of a TV

Can You Still Watch Cable with Smart TVs?

The main thing that draws people toward Smart TVs is easily using streaming services without an external device. But, it is possible to watch and browse your favorite cable or satellite channels the way you always have. 

You can connect your existing cable box directly to the smart TV using an HDMI cable. Simply plug it in, choose the corresponding HDMI port, and start browsing.

If you don’t have a cable box, you may still be able to watch cable on your Smart TV. It all depends on your cable provider.

Some cable providers and news channels now have their own smart TV apps. Download the app and sign in using your cable account username and password!

Some providers that offer their own on-demand streaming services include:

  • Xfinity: Xfinity Stream
  • Spectrum: Spectrum TV
  • DirecTV: DirecTV Stream

Some cable providers also let you download apps and widgets right on your cable box so you never have to switch between inputs. You can watch Netflix and local channels using nothing but a cable box.

Can You Use a Game Console on a Smart TV?

Another thing you can do with a Smart TV without a cable subscription is play your favorite video games, like COD, Fortnite, and Roblox!

You can hook a PS4 or Xbox up to your Smart TV like you would with any other TV. Just plug it into the HDMI port, boot up your console, and change the input. 

Some Smart TVs even have a shortcut on the home screen that brings you directly to your console. 

Can You Use Antennas with Smart TVs?

You can connect an antenna to your Smart TV to watch local channels without a cable or satellite subscription. But, some antennas work better with Smart TVs than others. I’d recommend one of the following:

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