A Cord Cutter’s Life is a series of guest posts by Greg Baker, featuring stories on the motivations, challenges, and benefits to cutting cable. If you’ve considered cutting the cord, let our visiting Cord Cutting Guru show you how in this fun, helpful series.

Off the bat, apologies to all the entomologists and amateur insect enthusiasts for the misleading title: this post is not about bugs, because bugs are gross. Instead, this post is about the good kind of antenna, the kind of antenna that helps you watch TV without cable, an activity which is almost never gross, unless people start kissing on-screen. But in an effort to move away from this terrible joke, let’s talk about this magical antenna for a minute.

Friends Antenna TVHere’s the gist—if it goes over the airwaves, you can watch it on TV. You know when like your grandpa is doing the “when I was your age” bit? One of the classics is when he starts talking about old-timey TV, like having to change the channel on the TV itself, a classic six-inch screen, programming shutting off at like 10 at night, and, of course, only having three channels. That treasure trove of content, those three glorious channels, the basis of your ancestors’ TV habits—they’re all available and free, all you need is that antenna. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to TV as broadcasting “over the airwaves,” this is the stuff they’re talking about.

Okay okay okay, so now you wanna know the details, you want to find out what this is really worth, what channels is this actually going to give you? Well let’s dive in. You get NBC. You get CBS. There’s FOX, there’s ABC, and you know what all of that means. It means without a cable subscription, you can get access to some of the best, most popular, most watched content on TV. You’ll get the Super Bowl. You’ll get the Oscars. You’ll get the Grammys, the Globes, The Goldbergs. All the content from major TV networks, some of your favorite shows, lots of local news, and way, way more.

Let’s explore the more. Now, I live in Los Angeles, so some of this info may be different for you, but let’s do a quick rundown of some of the other channels you never thought you could get, and some you wish you didn’t.

  • The CW - great channel for re-runs and original content on occasion
  • Jewelry Channel - every time I flip past they’re talking about or selling bracelets
  • Armenian TV Channels - thankfully Kardashian free
  • BUZZR - looks like off brand game shows
  • Korean Home Shopping Channel - speaks for itself
  • PBS - they’ve got Sesame Street still, right?
  • Spanish Language Home Shopping Channel - hablas para si mismo
  • Ion - they do a bunch of Psych reruns which is a win in my book
  • HSN and QVC - far, far less interesting than the foreign language shopping channels

Now you may be wondering, “Greg, how many hours did it take you to flip through all those channels?” Well, dear reader, no time at all, and it’s all thanks to Roku being amazing. The new Smart Guide feature that Roku just rolled out functions as a handy TV guide for you, and let me tell you, this was long awaited. Now, I can bookmark channels I like, and even bookmark channels I hate. The Smart Guide is impartial in that way. You can scroll through the listings, see what’s coming up soon, and it even gives programming synopses, which is much better than what it used to be, which was absolutely struggling to remember which channel NBC is before the football game starts. So, kudos to Roku for knocking this feature out of the park.

TCL Roku TV Smart Guide

To recap: the main takeaway here is that you can watch the big four networks’ (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS) live programming for free as long as you have an antenna (which, by the way, run about $20-$50 and plug right into your coaux outlet). You can get major sports, local and national news, major live events, and some of the best TV shows being produced—all for free. And for all the entomologists who read ‘til the end—we’ll work together to get a channel exclusively devoted to bugs on the air, even though they are gross and have far, far too many legs.