Watch Free Live Broadcast TV on NVIDIA Shield

Cable TV companies are notorious for imposing “broadcast fees,” which can be as high as $20 per month. These fees are charged for delivering major broadcast channels that you can likely receive for free with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna.

nvidia shield free live tv
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For a certain kind of cord-cutter, a NVIDIA SHIELD can become a powerhouse for watching free live TV.

All you need is an antenna and an over-the-air receiver to stop paying for major broadcast channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. 

Cable TV companies are notorious for imposing “broadcast fees,” which can be as high as $20 per month. These fees are charged for delivering major broadcast channels that you can likely receive for free with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna.

Why Do This? Isn’t streaming enough?

Most people in the U.S. don’t need cable TV or a streaming service to watch live OTA channels. Local TV stations also carry subchannels in most TV markets across the U.S.

Getting a sought-after station like FOX or NBC without paying for a subscription is great, but you shouldn’t sleep on sub-channels such as COMET for your fix of “The X-Files.”

Subscription-free, over-the-air television channels are delivered with much less compression, so the picture quality is noticeably better than one delivered by a cable provider or even a streaming service.

The one-time cost for the two pieces of equipment you will need quickly pays for itself considering that it will rid you of either cable or a streaming service like Peacock and Paramount Plus that offers the same fare.

The Android TV software that powers NVIDIA Shield is flush with free, ad-supported television (FAST) channels that mimic over-the-air broadcasts. But they do not carry the same programming, including live sports and primetime TV shows.

What You Need

The setup for this is pretty simple, but you will need a strong internet connection and a high-quality TV antenna.

Picking the right TV antenna that’s appropriate for where you are located is a crucial step. You will need to figure out if you need an indoor antenna, an outdoor one, or maybe a model that you can tuck away in your attic.

nvidia shield free live TV
(Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Once you figure that out, you can use a few different over-the-air DVRs. A NVIDIA Shield gives users a number of ways to watch broadcast television.

I have used three different over-the-air DVRs with the SHIELD. They are the Hauppauge WinTV-dualHD, a HDHomeRun, and Tablo.

There are likely other setups that can work with NVIDIA Shield, too. But I’m going to focus on two ways: one using the Tablo 4th generation OTA DVR, the other using a HDHomeRun.

I prefer using a Tablo because you can connect to the internet over Wi-Fi. HDHomeRun requires an Ethernet connection, and supplying your own external hard drive or network-attached storage (NAS) for recordings. 

Regardless of which OTA DVR you choose, you can make all your OTA channels available across your WiFi network. 

These two devices will get you free ATSC 1.0 digital TV signals. I also like both of these devices because you can see your TV channels in native MPEG-2 quality. I don’t recommend using NextGen TV quite yet given its limitations and restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM). 

Tablo 4th Gen with NVIDIA Shield

The Tablo 4th generation OTA DVR is the most elegant solution that combines over-the-air channels and FAST channels with a user-friendly interface and robust search features.

There is no subscription required to use a Tablo, even for recording TV shows, movies and sports. Everything you need to start using a Tablo comes in the box, including a 5 foot power cord and Ethernet cable. 

nvidia shield tablo
(Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Setting up Tablo with NVIDIA Shield

Connect your antenna to the Tablo 4th gen. The Tablo does not need to be near your TV or NVIDIA Shield, but it does need to be connected to the internet either over Wi-Fi or hardwired through the Ethernet port. 

Plug in the power adapter to the Tablo, and use your smartphone to connect to the Tablo app. Download the Tablo mobile app to your smartphone, and open it so you can connect to the DVR. 

Tablo 4th gen has a built-in antenna amplifier (10db), and it is automatically on. You should turn this off under the settings tab before you run the first channel scan. 

Sometimes using an amplifier can be detrimental to your reception, so it’s best to do your first channel scan with just your antenna. 

A channel scan can take five to 10 minutes. Once your channel scan is complete, you can head over to your TV and open the Tablo app on NVIDIA Shield. 

If you are unsatisfied with the number of channels you got, or your reception, you can reposition your antenna, or turn on the amplifier doing another channel scan. 

After the channel scan, you can head over to the guide, and start watching live TV.

You can use the other tabs at the top of the guide to search for shows, sports and movies. Setting up recordings just takes a couple of clicks. The app supports up to six simultaneous streams within your home network.

The two-tuner Tablo supports recording up to two programs at once. The 4-tuner Tablo doubles the number of simultaneous recordings.

HDHomeRun with NVIDIA Shield

The HDHomeRun is another flexible and powerful way to stream live broadcast TV to your NVIDIA Shield and multiple screens around your home. Just like with the Tablo, you don’t need your HDHomeRun to be near your TV. 

But since the unit does require an Ethernet connection, that may affect where you can put your HDHomeRun. I personally use a long cord and an Actiontech adapter to extend my Ethernet ports.

Using HDHomeRun with NVIDIA Shield. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Setting up HDHomeRun with NVIDIA Shield

Connect your antenna to the HDHomeRun. Plug in the Ethernet cable to connect the HDHomeRun to your router. This will make the broadcast signals available to all devices on your network.

To detect the HDHomeRun on your network and scan for channels, use the web interface: http://hdhomerun.local

From the web interface, you should be able to see your HDHomeRun listed, and perform a channel scan. The web interface also lets you update firmware, and even hide channels you don’t want to see in your lineup. 

Download the HDHomeRun app on your NVIDIA Shield from the Google Play Store. 

The HDHomeRun app allows you to watch live TV on your NVIDIA Shield. The FLEX Duo unit has two tuners, the FLEX Quatro has four tuners. 

Viewing Experience

Both the Tablo 4th generation OTA DVR and HDHomeRun offer distinct advantages in terms of the viewing experience. The Tablo integrates over 40 free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels into its menu, going beyond traditional broadcast TV. 

This feature allows you to access a variety of content, from news to lifestyle programming, directly through the Tablo interface. Tablo has a more nuanced search feature, and includes internal storage. 

On the other hand, HDHomeRun excels in flexibility and more widespread device support. It supports a wide range of third-party apps like Plex, Emby, and Channels.

With HDHomeRun, you can set up a more customized home entertainment system, leveraging the strengths of third-party apps to organize your media library, stream to multiple devices, and access additional features like remote streaming and advanced recording options.


Using a NVIDIA Shield with either a Tablo 4th generation OTA DVR or an HDHomeRun is a great way to access free, high-quality broadcast TV. 

Both devices offer unique advantages: Tablo with its user-friendly interface and built-in guide data, and HDHomeRun with its flexibility and multi-device support. You should choose the one that best fits your needs while using your NVIDIA Shield. 

Once you’re set up with free over-the-air television without the monthly fees, you will likely never go back to paying for local broadcast channels again. 

Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

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