How to Watch PBS Without Cable

PBS offers fantastic content for all age groups. There are programs for kids, sports, drama, science, documentaries, and so much more. No wonder it’s the favorite channel for many U.S. families!

How to Watch PBS Without Cable

But are those who don’t have cable also able to enjoy the educational content broadcasted on this channel? You’re in the right place if you want to find out the answer.

Are There Any Free Options?

If you’ve decided to cut the cable, you may be afraid you’ll lose your favorite channel. But don’t worry! Not only will you be able to keep it, but you may get it for free. In fact, there are several ways to watch PBS without paying for it.

As PBS states on their official website, the General Audience content is available for station members, while PBS Kids content remains free on different platforms, such as the PBS Kids Video app.

Here are your options if you want to watch other PBS content for free.

Over the Air (OTA)

One option is, of course, using an antenna. Does this sound like an outdated way to watch TV? Maybe so. But an antenna will enable you to watch PBS without any costs. The installation isn’t complicated at all, and you can pick up some cable TV channels, including PBS, over the air (OTA) for free.

watch PBS without cable

The only thing you may not be happy about is the cost of the antenna. Still, it’s usually equal to the one-month streaming service subscription. After this initial investment, you’re free to watch any TV channel broadcasted over the air without paying a huge bill. Make sure you choose the right antenna, and you’re ready to make some popcorn and sit back in front of your TV.

Depending on your region, you’re likely to get the primary PBS channel, PBS Kids, Create, World, and MHz Worldview. The antenna is also the only way to watch live PBS content, as the streaming services that carry this channel only offer the most recent and archived episodes.

PBS Website

Another way to watch PBS content for free is to visit their website. Not all the shows are available all the time, but you can view multiple episodes of different programs for a while after they air. You can’t watch content live, but on-demand episodes are good enough, right? Some shows will appear on the available videos page, but some of them require you to be a PBS member. The shows that demand membership are marked with a white and blue icon.

You have two ways to become a member if you want to have access to all the shows all the time. You can either pay at least $60 once or pay $5 monthly, so it’s up to you to think of what pays off in your case. If you’re only going to watch the channel for a few months, the second option is more affordable. However, these payments are rather donations as PBS is a non-profit organization. You’re actually helping them continue their work, and not paying for a service.

PBS Video App

PBS Video app allows you to watch this channel’s content for free, and it’s perfect for those who are always on the go. It’s compatible with nearly all platforms, like Roku, Android and iOS devices, Apple TV, and more.

To use the app on your iOS or Android tablet or smartphone, you don’t even need to activate it. Just log in or register using your Facebook or Google credentials, or your PBS account. For other devices, such as Amazon Fire TV or Roku, visit the to activate the app.

And with PBS Passport, you gain even more. If you’re a station member, this added benefit enables you to stream even more shows online. There are more than 1,500 episodes of Poldark, Downtown Abbey, Austin City Limits, and other popular PBS content.


What Streaming Services Carry PBS?

PBS shows are available on a number of streaming services – Amazon Prime or Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube TV, and Hulu. However, note that not all of these services offer all PBS content. You can probably find quite a few episodes hosted on Netflix or Hulu that you can watch on-demand, but don’t expect to have access to everything.

How to Watch PBS with Amazon Prime or Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video offers content from PBS Kids, PBS Masterpiece, PBS America, and PBS Living. It’s compatible with most devices, from Amazon Fire Stick to gaming consoles. To watch PBS via Amazon Prime Video, you can visit the official Amazon website or use your Amazon device to subscribe to the service.

The prices depend on the channel you choose. PBS Kids will cost you $4.99 per month, PBS Masterpiece costs $5.99 per month, while for PBS Living, you need to pay $2.99 per month.

How to Watch PBS with YouTube TV

As of February this year, PBS is also a part of YouTube TV. On this platform, you can watch on-demand episodes of shows such as American Experience, Great Performances, Nature, Masterpiece, etc. Your kids will be happy with 24/7 access to PBS Kids channel and their beloved shows like the iconic Sesame Street.

To check if your local PBS station is supported by YouTube TV, visit the official YouTube TV website and type in your zip code. If you’re in no luck, don’t worry, because more stations will be added to this streaming platform throughout this year.

You can watch PBS on YouTube TV via their official website, or download the YouTube TV app to your device.

How to Watch PBS on Different Devices

A wide variety of devices supports PBS in a way. Here’s how you can watch this channel on different devices.

Android and iOS Devices

You can stream PBS content via web browsers if you have an Android tablet or an iPhone. Still, it’s probably much more comfortable to download the app and enjoy all your favorite episodes this way. Visit Google Play Store or App Store, install the app, and log in. No need for activation – you’re ready to watch.

Apple TV

Watching PBS on Apple TV does require activation. However, it’s done in a few easy steps:

  1. Turn on your Apple TV and download the app. You will receive an activation code, so don’t leave the screen because you’ll need it.
  2. On your computer or phone, launch a web browser and go to
  3. You’ll see a box where you should enter the code from the TV.
  4. Click on Continue to finish the process.

Note that if you have the Passport membership, you need to log out of your account first, or deactivate it, depending on the Apple TV model you have. Follow the previously described steps, enter the code you will see on the screen, and use the same account to log back in. You’ll see an updated list of videos you can watch.

how to watch PBS

Amazon Fire TV

PBS shows are available on Amazon Fire TV as well. Visit the app store to download the PBS app, and you’re all set. Before you start watching, you need to activate the device. Here’s how:

  1. Select the PBS app, and you’ll see the Activate Now button on your screen.
  2. After you’ve selected that button, you’ll see an activation code.
  3. Without leaving the screen, take your computer or mobile phone and visit, where you’ll type in the activation code.
  4. Click on Continue and sign in with your Facebook, Google, or PBS account. If you’re a Passport member, make sure you use the same account you’ve used when you’ve first signed up.

Be aware that this process is the same for some smart TVs, such as Samsung, but it only works on 2017-2019 models.


To watch PBS on Roku, you need to add this channel first. When you select Streaming Channels or Channel Store, use the search field to find PBS. Choose it, select Add channel, and once it’s downloaded, proceed to activate it.

  1. Select PBS on your home screen.
  2. Choose Activate Now.
  3. Use a computer or a mobile phone to open the URL and type in the activation code you see on the screen.
  4. Click on Continue, and on the next screen, choose the way you want to sign in.

Fun for the Whole Family

You have so many ways to enjoy PBS shows alone or with your family, and their price goes from very affordable to zero. Much more convenient than cable, isn’t it? If you’ve given up on the cord, it doesn’t mean you need to give up on Sesame Street or Downtown Abbey. Continue watching all these shows in the way you find suitable.

What method did you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

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