If your TV picks up no TV stations after running a channel scan, check to make sure it’s set to “antenna” or “air” mode rather than “cable” mode. Many older TVs have the default setting to “cable” which won’t scan the appropriate frequencies for over-the-air TV. You can learn more in this video. Note that if you have a newer TV that doesn’t have the option for “cable/air” mode it will scan all available TV frequencies.

If your TV is in the correct mode and you still don’t pick up any channels you may need to try out different locations for your antenna. The antenna will likely work best near a wall or window in the direction of the broadcast towers. You can find the specific direction of your nearest broadcast tower using the FCC DTV Reception Maps, shown below,

If you still don’t pick up much, you may need a better antenna setup. If using an indoor antenna, try a small attic or outdoor antenna instead. If you have a small outdoor antenna, try upgrading to a medium or large-sized antenna. You can find a list of recommended antennas here.

Getting started

Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.

The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.

Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows

Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

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