How to Get Broadcast TV on the Computer

by Cameron Easey

A typical desktop computer system is capable of doing many things, including using the machine to watch broadcast television. Broadcast television is provided over the air by using an antenna and can be received through satellite television services such as DirecTV. Getting broadcast television on a computer requires adding additional equipment as well having an Internet connection.

Install a TV tuner card in the computer that is used to watch television programming on a computer. A TV tuner card is used to connect a cable, satellite or external antenna to watch television programming on a computer. A TV tuner card can be found online at sites such as or at a retailer such as Best Buy.

Open the case by loosening the screws in the back for the side panel. You will need an open PCI or AGP slot to add the TV tuner card. Insert the TV tuner card into an open slot, tighten the screw that connects the card to the case and reattach the side panel.

Connect one end of a coax cable from an antenna or converter box to the TV tuner card. An RCA cable also can be used to connect to the TV tuner card. But the line for the audio will need to be connected to a sound card or to a computer's on-board audio. Use a 1/8-inch RCA to mini-jack adapter if the standard RCA connector will not work.

Install the computer software that came with the TV tuner. The software will process the signal from the TV tuner so programming can be watched on the computer. Open the software by double clicking the icon for the program on the desktop.

Use the Internet to watch broadcast programming. All of the major television networks and many cable networks provide shows that can be watched on their websites. Make sure to install any software that is needed to watch video from each individual site.

Install the browser plug-in or software necessary to watch the video. A prompt should appear at each site indicating a browser plug-in is required to watch the video. Download and install the plug-in or software when prompted.

Click on a video or particular program to watch from one of the network's websites. The video should open and play from within the Internet browser.


  • check Connect a separate TV to the computer by using an RCA cable that is connected to the video-out of a graphics card to the video-in on the television.


  • close Watching television programming on a computer can use a lot of processing power and might make low end machines run slowly.

Items you will need

About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.

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