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How to Watch TV When your Cable is Out (No Cable, No Problem!)

How to Watch TV When your Cable is Out (No Cable, No Problem!)

How to watch TV when your cable is out” is a question that many people face, yet few know how to deal with… this seems to always occur during those precious moments when you only have a limited amount of time to unwind and enjoy your favorite entertainment.

It can be incredibly frustrating when your cable goes out, leaving you unable to watch TV shows, movies, or share quality time with your family and friends.

…and whether you use Xfinity, Spectrum, or another cable provider and you’re experiencing a network outage – it doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

This post is focused on a solution to solve the problem of watching TV when your cable Tv is out temporarily, such as a network outages.

but if you want a more permanent solution, see how you can Get Rid of Cable and still Watch TV (& Sports).

Before resorting to calling the cable company or simply waiting it out, let’s explore some alternatives to ensure you can still enjoy your favorite entertainment when your cable is out.

Also see: 3 Ways to Watch Movies Still in Theaters Online

How to Watch TV When your Cable is out

How to Watch TV When your Cable is out 1

Discover alternative ways to watch TV during cable outages, including using an HDTV antenna for local broadcasts, utilizing your Wi-Fi connection to stream content on a smart TV or streaming device, and exploring various streaming services and casting options to enjoy your favorite shows and movies.

Let’s dive in!

1. Use an HDTV Antenna

Use an HDTV Antenna

When the cable goes out (or its just not working at all at the moment), you might feel like you’re out of luck and destined for boredom. But fear not! One solution to this problem is using an HDTV antenna. These handy little devices pick up broadcast channels from your local major networks… allowing you to watch TV without a cable subscription.

Note: They’re also quite affordable, with prices ranging from $20 to $100, making them an excellent backup plan for those unexpected cable outages.

HDTV antennas come in two types: indoor and outdoor.

  • Indoor antennas are compact and easy to set up, perfect for city dwellers or those with limited outdoor space.
  • Outdoor antennas, on the other hand, are larger and more powerful, providing better reception in rural or suburban areas. Whichever type you choose, an HDTV antenna is a reliable way to keep yourself entertained when the cable cord is cut.

Related: How to Fix Xfinity WiFi Connected But No Internet Access

2. Use your Wi-Fi with your Smart TV or Streaming Device

Use your Wi Fi with your Smart TV or Streaming Device

If your cable is out but you still have a working internet connection, your Smart TV or streaming device can save the day.

Most modern Smart TVs come with built-in software that allows you to access popular streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

With these apps, you can watch a wide variety of original content, from movies and TV shows to documentaries and exclusive series.

TV streaming services like Fubo TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV offer a way to watch local channels and sports packages without a traditional cable subscription.

See: The differences between a Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box (Player)

These services are compatible with a variety of streaming devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku, giving you the flexibility to choose the best option for your viewing preferences.

Related: Does a Smart TV work without internet? (Which features won’t work?)

3. Cast TV Shows and Movies to your Smart TV

Cast TV Shows and Movies to your Smart TV

Sometimes, both your internet and cable may be out, leaving you without access to streaming apps or satellite subscriptions. In these cases, casting TV shows and movies from your phone or laptop to your Smart TV or streaming device can be a lifesaver.

All you need is a device that supports screen mirroring, like Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay, and a compatible Smart TV or streaming device.

Related: How to add Apps to Vizio Smart TV not in app store

To cast your favorite content, simply connect your phone, tablet, or laptop to the same Wi-Fi network as your TV and follow the on-screen instructions for screen mirroring. This method allows you to enjoy movies and TV shows stored on your personal devices, even when your cable and internet are down.

Also see: How to Cast Videos from VLC to ANY Smart TV

4. Visit a RedBox

Visit a RedBox

In the age of streaming and on-demand content, it’s easy to forget that RedBox still exists. But when both your internet and cable are out, and you don’t have an antenna, a trip to your local RedBox kiosk could be just what you need to keep yourself entertained.

Related: Best Cheap Streaming Devices

RedBox offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray, with new releases available every week. Plus, renting a movie from RedBox is incredibly affordable, often costing just a few dollars for a 24-hour rental period. With thousands of kiosks located across the United States, it’s easy to find a RedBox near you.

So when the cable cord is cut and the Wi-Fi is down, don’t despair. With options like HDTV antennas, Smart TVs, streaming devices, casting, and even a trusty RedBox rental, you’ll never be out of entertainment, even though it may be a last resort option – it still works!

Related: How to Play Blu-Ray in VLC on Windows & Mac

How long do Cable TV outages last?

How long do Cable TV outages last

Cable TV outages can vary in duration, ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours, or sometimes even days, depending on the cause and severity of the issue.

There are Minor outages, which could be the result of routine maintenance, temporary network disruptions, or simple hardware issues – these are often resolved quickly, causing minimal inconvenience. As mentioned, you can expect the outage to last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours and there’s other ways to watch tv in the meantime as we discussed earlier.

However, more severe outages, stemming from hardware failures, widespread network disruptions, or natural disasters, may require a more extended period to resolve. In these situations, outages can last for several hours, days, or even longer, especially if the problem affects a large number of users or spans across multiple regions.

Also see: How to Fix Xfinity Not Working on Roku in 30 Seconds

Another factor that can influence the duration of a cable TV outage is the response time of the cable company or network administrator responsible for addressing the issue.

Providers that prioritize uptime, reliability, and have established protocols and procedures for responding to outages are more likely to resolve issues faster than those without such resources.

Ultimately, the length of a cable TV outage will depend on the specific circumstances and the efficiency of the cable provider in addressing the problem. To minimize the impact of outages, it’s a good idea to have backup plans in place, such as using streaming services or alternative viewing options.

Related: Why Are Roku Private Channels Not Working Anymore (Can It Be Fixed?)

What to do when Cable TV outage occurs to get your Cable back

What to do when Cable TV outage occurs to get your Cable back

We’ve all been there: you’re cozy on the couch, ready to binge-watch your favorite show or catch up on the latest news, when suddenly, the unthinkable happens – a cable TV outage! Fear not, my fellow TV enthusiasts, there are steps you can take to get your cable back up and running.

Related: Get Terrarium on Roku: Load and install Terrarium TV on Roku

First – check whether the outage is local or widespread – you can do this by contacting your cable provider or checking their website for information on any known issues. Additionally, make use of sites like Downdetector or asking someone you know if theirs is down too. But with down detector or a similar site, you can see if other users in your area are experiencing similar issues.

This will help you determine if the problem is on your end or if it’s a more widespread issue affecting multiple customers. If the issue appears to be local, try resetting your cable box by unplugging it from the power source, waiting about 30 seconds, and then plugging it back in.

If this doesn’t resolve the problem, it’s time to actually give your cable provider a call. While frustrating to make the call, they are one the best to remotely troubleshoot the issue or, in some cases, may need to send a technician to your home to address the problem.

Related: How to get a Web Browser on Apple TV

Alternative entertainment options during a Cable TV outage

Alternative entertainment options during a Cable TV outage

While waiting for your cable to be restored, you might be wondering what other options you have to keep yourself entertained. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to cable TV that don’t require a cable cord.

While cable TV outages can be frustrating, there are steps you can take to restore your service and alternative options to keep you entertained during the downtime.

Related: How to get a Web Browser on Nvidia shield

By understanding the cause of the outage and exploring streaming services, streaming devices, antennas, and mobile apps, you’ll be well-equipped to weather any cable disruption that comes your way. And who knows, you might even find a new favorite streaming option that makes you reconsider your monthly cable bill.

Related: 7 Cool Things You Can Do with Nvidia Shield TV Pro

Here are some alternative options:

  1. Streaming services: Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video offer a vast library of original content, movies, and TV shows that you can watch using your internet connection. If you’re looking for live TV options, consider Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, or YouTube TV, which offer a mix of news channels, sports, and entertainment.
  2. TV streaming devices: Streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku allow you to access a variety of streaming apps and on-demand content. All you need is a reliable internet connection and a compatible TV.
  3. Antennas: If you’re craving local news and major network programming, an indoor or outdoor HD antenna can be an excellent solution. These antennas provide access to free, over-the-air broadcast channels without the need for a cable subscription.
  4. Mobile apps: Most major networks and streaming services have mobile apps that allow you to watch content on your smartphone or tablet. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection, either through Wi-Fi or your mobile data plan. Plus you can cast or screen mirror these to your TV.
  5. Cloud DVR: If you have a cloud DVR service with your cable provider or a streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, you may still be able to access your recorded content during an outage. This can be a great way to catch up on shows you’ve missed or re-watch old favorites.


How can I watch TV when my cable is out?

When your cable is out, you can still watch TV through various alternatives, such as streaming services, over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts, or internet-based platforms. Popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ offer a wide range of TV shows and movies.

Some services like Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV provide access to live TV channels. To watch these, you’ll need a stable internet connection and a streaming device like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV.

Also see: 7 Ways to Connect iPhone to Roku & Roku TV (Mirroring, Casting, USB Cable)

Is it possible to watch live sports without cable?

Yes, it’s possible to watch live sports without cable. Many streaming services offer live sports coverage, including ESPN+, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and FuboTV. Additionally, some major sports leagues have their own streaming platforms, such as MLB.TV for baseball and NBA League Pass for basketball.

Another option is to use an indoor or outdoor HD antenna to access local broadcast channels that may carry live sports events.

Can I still access my favorite TV shows when my cable isn’t working?

Yes, you can still access your favorite TV shows when your cable isn’t working by using streaming services or platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney+. These services offer a variety of TV shows, including original content, that can be accessed through an internet connection.

Related: Best Streaming Devices for Watching Youtube TV

Keep in mind that the availability of specific shows may vary between streaming services, so you might need to subscribe to multiple platforms to access all your favorites.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ