Older or non-Smart TVs made by Vizio, LG, Sony or Samsung work with a digital TV antenna.
There is one easy way to check. Take a peek behind your television, and look for the port to plug in a TV antenna. It’s the same port used to connect a cable box to your TV. That port, known as the “F connector” or “F-type connector”, is also used to connect a TV antenna.
Having that port also means your television has an ATSC tuner necessary for picking up digital over-the-air signals.
Table of Contents
- How to Connect a TV antenna to an old, non-Smart TV
- What if my TV doesn’t have a port for an antenna?
- What TV stations can I get with my old TV?
How to Connect a TV antenna to an old, non-Smart TV
- Plug the coax line connected to your TV antenna into the television’s “F connector” port.
- Go to settings under the TV’s settings menu that controls inputs.
- Look for an “AirTV” or “Over-the-air” TV option, and choose “scan for channels”.
This process will take five to 15 minutes. Ideally, your TV antenna will be positioned where its facing your local broadcast towers.
A free tool such as rabbitears.info will show you where local broadcast towers are in your area. Antennas Direct also has a free tool that recommends specific TV antennas, and maps out local broadcast towers.
Just remember that you need to live within range of the towers powered by your local TV stations to get any channels.
What if my TV doesn’t have a port for an antenna?
You might still be able to watch free over-the-air channels even without an F-type port to connect a TV antenna.
If your TV has an HDMI port, then you can connect a TV tuner, or OTA DVR such as a Tablo.
OTA DVRs typically have one or more built-in digital TV tuners, and a port to plug in a TV antenna.
If your TV does not have an HDMI port, you might see output ports for the red and yellow A/V cords. You can pick up an inexpensive digital TV converter box.
The converter box will have an ATSC tuner and a port to connect your TV antenna.
What TV stations can I get with my old TV?
Older TVs with a digital tuner can potentially get the big four broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
There are a variety of other local networks available for free. Local PBS affiliates and sub-channels, including MeTV, GRIT and ionTV are available over the air.
Read “How to Choose the Best TV Antenna & OTA DVR” for more tips.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble