Q: I love watching the NFL, but I can’t seem to find it online. I tried several networks and it seems like they want me to buy a package of unlimited watching for (only) $200! That’s a tad rich for just watching the odd game.
A: My own quick search couldn’t find anything for the NFL online either. I did find at least one site offering “free streaming” of televised NFL games and while these might work, I wouldn’t trust sites for “free” on the Internet that isn’t directly from the copyright holder. (See last question below.)
The NFL seems to be the one major professional sports league that doesn’t have apps on consoles like the Playstation or Xbox where you can actually watch live games. In contrast, the NHL, MLB and NBA offer apps on several platforms and devices for on demand viewing with high quality high-definition video feeds. (The CBC runs live NHL games online for free in those years when there isn't a lockout.) The kicker of course is that you have to buy a pricey annual subscription and home games in your area are stupidly blacked out. Sports programming remains a potential stumbling block in going cable free.
Q: I just read Cutting the Cord part 1 and wanted to bring your attention to a local webpage hdtv4free.info which gives loads of info on how to make a super simple antenna and get free HDTV. We get CTV, CBC (watched the Olympics in HD), Global, City TV, Omni (not HD) just with a tiny antenna. You should check it out because it's the bees knees. I'm biased since the page belongs to my boyfriend, but, truly, it is filled with great info. He gets emails from people all over the world who have hooked themselves up with one of these antennas and been blown away by the free digital signals they could pick up. I love having the option of watching local TV in real-time. I generally watch things on the PC, which is plugged into the TV, and switch to the antenna (with a click of the remote) to watch the news or So You Think You Can Dance.
We stopped paying for cable TV three years ago and I can't imagine ever going back.
A: I looked at the site and am passing it on to our readers. It’s a well thought-out and helpful guide with more information and expertise about antennas than I can provide here. I like the shoebox antenna and the instructions for building it -- I’m a fan of the DIY approach when it comes to consumer tech.
Speaking of websites, readers might want to check out TVFool.com and Antennaweb.org, both recently recommended during a recent Know How video podcast on the online TWiT network. The Canadian-based Digitalhome.ca also has an active forum on getting free HDTV with over the air reception.
Q: When are you going to explore the dark side and write about illegal means of getting TV and movies from the Internet?
A: Not any time soon. Downloading copyrighted material without paying through filesharing methods such as BitTorrent is likely illegal in Canada, despite some greyness in the legality of downloading music files the same way due to prior court decisions. I’m not completely opposed to filesharing—there are interesting libertarian/anarchist arguments in support of it, and I’m not saying I’ve never done it. But I want the people who create the television and movies I enjoy to make a living and want to encourage the proliferation of paid models of distribution. For now distribution is admittedly in the hands of Big Content, which admittedly places the interests of consumers last. That’s got to change.
You are on your own in the darker areas of the web. In general, I’d be careful of sharing files or streaming from dodgy “free” sites through your browser—those are perfect opportunities for someone to infect your system, trick you into providing personal information online or bombard you with annoying and irrelevant advertising.