Did you know that you can watch TV even if you don’t have an aerial for the TV or extra TV aerial points? You will obviously need a TV and it may also be handy to search the internet for guides to free TV so you know what TV broadcasts are available.

Let’s take a look at the various options that are available.

If you live in the UK and you do have a TV aerial, the most widespread option nowadays is to watch Freeview. Although Soarview is very similar to Freeview, this is in fact the Irish equivalent. If you don’t live in the UK or Ireland, your region will most likely have different digital TV packages available, although the themes and idea will be about the same, but tailored for the local audience. There are however a number of different options available that you can use to watch live TV, but you don’t need a TV aerial to view this content.

Cable TV

Cable TV is a popular option to watch TV without having to install a TV aerial. In the UK, the most popular cable TV service is Virgin media. This service allows your TV service, internet, and phone to all be provided by one cable connecting to your home. As Virgin Media is a service for which you have to pay a subscription, if you want to save money by not installing a TV aerial, you may find that it is cheaper to install a TV aerial rather than opting for cable TV.

One limiting factor for cable TV is that it may not be available at your location in the UK. In Eastbourne for example, Virgin Media is not yet available, although it is available in Brighton, some 30 minutes down the road. Virgin Media is however continuously installing the service in new locations, so it if you don’t have access to it yet, you may want to check on their roll-out schedule to see when you’re likely to get it at your location.

Satellite TV

Another alternative to watch TV without an aerial is to access the channels you want via a satellite dish. You will need a satellite receiver and dish to access satellite TV. Although the receiver is often a satellite set-top box, many modern TVs have built-in satellite tuners. There are two leading options for satellite TV in the UK. These are Freesat, which is very similar to Freeview, and Sky, which is a service that is subscription-based. Satellite TV offers additional benefits for users who want to watch foreign TV channels, such as German or French TV stations. A satellite dish lined up with the satellites used by these countries can be used for this.

Viewers already using a satellite dish and wanting to install extra TV points in other rooms in their home may find that linking more TVs to the satellite dish costs less than installing a TV aerial.

The satellite version of Soarview in Ireland is Soarsat. It is however not as widely available as Freesat is, and is only aimed at locations where the TV aerial reception is good. The KA satellite band is used for the Soarsat service. This means that the installation costs for Soarstat is substantially more than the mini-dishes typically used for Freesat and Sky.

Cable Access Television Systems

Cable Access Television (CATV) provides TV viewing via a coaxial cable that is connected to your home. This cable in turn also connects to a cable distribution system. There are however very few CATV systems still around, as these systems are fast being replaced by systems that connect with fibre optics and offer more benefits and flexibility. CATV systems are usually still found on older estates where the owners did not want the aesthetics of the village or estate ruined by externally mounted antennas, resulting in them rather installing a cable system. CATV systems have a number of disadvantages, including having a very limited number of TV channels available. Users also need a TV that is compatible to use CATV services as it uses a different frequency band than what TV aerials do. Not all TVs can handle this frequency band.

Fibre Systems

Newly built estates nowadays often install fibre to all the houses and buildings in the estate. A single aerial and one satellite dish is then installed for the estate and a fibre optic cable used to connect everyone. The owners and residents therefore all have a TV aerial connection for their TVs without having to install a TV aerial or extra TV point.

Internet Services

The technology that has had the biggest impact on how we watch TV is the internet. It was originally only used for TV on demand and catch up TV, but alternative options are increasingly becoming available every day.

Smart TV Stick

If you don’t have a Smart TV, you can turn your normal TV into a Smart TV by using a Smart TV stick. Your TV does however need an HDMI port as the Smart TV stick is plugged into this port and connects to your WiFi. Some Smart TV sticks can also be powered by the TV’s USB port. There are numerous different Smart TV sticks available on the market, with some of the more popular ones being Google Chromecast, Now TV stick, Kodi Stick, and the Amazon Firestick. These sticks normally offer several live TV options, together with subscription-based services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and one-time purchasing or rental options.

Smart TV

The new generation Smart TVs that have become available in the last few years allow viewers to access everything they need. Put simply, Smart TVs are TVs that can be connected to the internet. These TVs use applications to enable users to watch numerous different online TV packages, such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc. Although the earlier Smart TVs had to be linked to the internet by using Ethernet cables before any Smart TV service could be accessed, an ever-increasing number of Smart TVs have WiFi capabilities. If you, therefore, have WiFi in your home, you don’t have to install cables to get your new TV ready for viewing.

There are however some TVs that do require a connection to a TV aerial before some of the major catch up services like ITV Hub, BBC iPlayer, My5, and All 4 can be watched.

Screen Mirroring on Mobile Phones

Another way to watch TV without a TV aerial is by watching anything on your Smartphone and then to beam the show to the TV wirelessly. In order to do this, you need to have a smartphone that is compatible and allows access to video services on the internet. You will also need a TV that is capable of doing screen mirroring. Once this configuration has been done, you simply need to select what you want to watch on the phone, tap the button and it will be shown on the TV. This option is becoming increasingly popular with most modern TVs. Most Apple products support this functionality as a standard, including Apple TV, iPad and iPhone. Chromecast works similarly where a smartphone is used as the remote control for the TV.

Smart Set Top Box

Smart set-top boxes work similarly to Smart TV Sticks, although smart set-top boxes normally offer many other features. These include things like integration with other TV services and recording facilities. Some examples of the flexibility offered include Freetime combing a satellite dish with an internet connection, and Youview combining a TV aerial with an internet connection. A smart set-top box will also allow you to add game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox which may be connected to the internet to provide you with catch up TV services and TV on demand.

Is A TV Licence Still Required?

TV licenses are still required if you watch TV without an aerial in the UK, but this will vary from country to country. If you want to stream any type of video, including YouTube, in your home in the UK, then you technically still need a TV license. You may personally believe that the concept of a TV license is outdated, but to prevent getting into hot water, make sure that you know what the law requires and stick to it.