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Can You Use a Smart TV Without Cable?

Last Updated Nov 8, 2022
tv displaying cable guide

These days smart TVs are a staple in most homes. As more people opt for streaming services like Hulu and Netflix instead of cable, it’s logical to wonder if you can use a smart TV without cable at all.

You can use a smart TV without cable since the devices connect to Wi-Fi networks to operate. You can watch TV shows and movies through various apps that you download on the TV in this way; some apps are free, while others require a monthly subscription.

A smart TV provides so many possibilities for viewing through streaming services, casting, and Internet browsers. I’ve never regretted my decision to get rid of cable, and I am excited to share with you all the ways you can watch TV without cable too!

How to Use Smart TVs without Cable

Smart TVs are meant to be used without cable. The freedom to choose from numerous streaming services is part of what makes these devices so great.

All you need to start watching content on your smart TV without cable is a high-speed internet connection. The device must be connected to your home’s Internet to work. (Most people connect their device to their Wi-Fi network; if you can’t get connected, this article can help you troubleshoot the problem.)

Some smart TVs also have ethernet ports, so they can be hardwired to your home’s Internet if you’re looking for a more stable connection. (If you are in the market for a smart TV with an ethernet port, we recommend this one.) If you want to hardwire your smart TV to your Internet network, but the TV doesn’t have a built-in ethernet port, you can also buy a USB to ethernet adapter.

Once you have established a strong internet connection, you are well on your way to viewing your favorite shows and movies. There are several ways to do this:

Subscriptions to Streaming Services

Streaming services are the most common way people use smart TVs. Smart TVs offer dozens of streaming apps. They can be downloaded by searching for them using the search icon on the TV or through voice control when available.

Many smart TVs come with popular streaming apps pre-downloaded. These may include Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. Simply sign in to your existing streaming account or subscribe to a new service to begin watching shows and movies on any of these apps.

For people seeking the familiarity of cable TV, we recommend Sling TV. It’s a streaming service that offers various packages with channels you know and love, such as ESPN, AMC, Disney Channel, and TBS.

Free Streaming Apps

While most streaming apps require a monthly subscription, there are also some free streaming services. (They use ads to make money instead of subscriptions.) Some of the most popular ones are PlutoTV and Crackle.

While you won’t find the hottest new shows on these free apps, some of them have impressive collections. They may have some classics for you to rewatch, and you may even discover something great you haven’t seen before.


You can cast videos from certain websites such as YouTube from your phone or computer to your TV. You can also cast any content from your Google Chrome browser to any Chromecast-enabled smart TV. I love casting because it’s easy to browse for what I want to watch on my laptop and then quickly and wirelessly stream it onto my TV.

Can You Still Watch Cable with Smart TVs?

With a smart TV, it’s possible to continue to watch and browse your favorite cable channels in the way you’re used to. 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.

The other option for watching cable on your smart TV is through streaming apps. Some cable providers have their own smart TV apps now; just sign into them using your cable account username and password.

Also, smart TVs are so popular now that most networks and cable channels have their own streaming app, such as HBO. They can also be accessed using your cable account information.

Final Thoughts

Smart TVs are amazing because they offer so many ways to watch TV shows and movies without cable. You can stream using your favorite apps such as Hulu, Netflix, and Disney Plus. You can also browse for content on YouTube or cast videos from your smartphone or laptop.

If you aren’t ready to cut the cord with your cable company yet, that’s fine too. You can hook your cable box up to your smart TV or use your cable account with various streaming apps. The bottom line: Smart TVs give you numerous options for watching your favorite content online.

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