What Channel is ABC on Antenna

Cutting the cord and ditching expensive cable bills is becoming increasingly popular. But how can you still watch your favorite shows, like those on ABC? The answer is simple: with an antenna! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to know about watching ABC on an antenna in 2024.

Why Choose an Antenna for ABC?

There are many benefits to using an antenna to watch ABC:

Free: Unlike cable or streaming services, an antenna is a one-time purchase that allows you to watch ABC for free. No monthly fees, contracts, or hidden charges!

Wide channel selection: In addition to ABC, you’ll also be able to access a variety of other popular local channels, including CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS.

No internet required: Unlike streaming services, you don’t need an internet connection to watch ABC with an antenna. This makes it a great option for those who live in rural areas or have limited internet access.

Excellent picture quality: Thanks to digital TV, you can enjoy high-quality picture and sound with an antenna.

Easy to set up: Installing an antenna is simple and can be done in just a few minutes.

No cable box or additional equipment required: All you need is an antenna and a television to watch ABC.

How Antennas Work

Before we dive into ABC specifically, let’s review the basics of how antennas work.

Analog vs Digital Broadcasts

Today’s antennas receive digital TV signals rather than the analog signals used up until 2009. This came about due to the digital television transition mandated by the FCC. So when wondering “what channel is ABC on antenna”, know that we’re talking about digital channel assignments post-transition rather than analog channel numbers.

Over-the-Air Frequencies

TV stations broadcast their signals over the public airwaves using a range of different radio frequencies. For example, in Los Angeles KABC broadcasts on RF channel 7. Your antenna picks up these electromagnetic waves and converts them back into moving audio/video.

Virtual Channels

While each station broadcasts using a specific RF channel, they retain a virtual channel number for branding continuity with their analog channels. So while KABC uses RF 7, viewers still tune to virtual channel 7.1. Virtual numbers eliminate confusion for the public while allowing broadcasters to efficiently use portions of the spectrum behind the scenes.

What Type of Antenna do I need?

There are two main types of antennas: indoor and outdoor. Indoor antennas are smaller and less expensive, but they may not receive as strong of a signal as outdoor antennas. Outdoor antennas are larger and more expensive, but they can receive a stronger signal, especially if you live far from the broadcast tower.

The best type of antenna for you will depend on a few factors, including your location, the type of terrain you live in, and the number of channels you want to receive.

Here are some tips for choosing an antenna:

  • Consider your location: If you live in a rural area, you’ll likely need a more powerful antenna than someone who lives in a city.
  • Think about the terrain: Hills and trees can block TV signals, so you may need a more powerful antenna if you live in a hilly or wooded area.
  • Decide how many channels you want to receive: If you only want to watch a few channels, you can get by with a smaller antenna. However, if you want to watch a lot of channels, you’ll need a larger antenna.

Finding Your Local ABC Affiliate

ABC shows are not directly broadcast by the ABC network. Rather, they are sent out to local affiliate stations that then broadcast the ABC feed in their regional market. So Los Angelenos tune in KABC for ABC shows, while Chicagoans access WLS-TV. This is important when scanning for ABC during antenna setup.

Below are steps to determine your regional ABC affiliate station:

1. Identify Your TV Market

Over 200 regional TV markets exist across the U.S. You first need to identify which market you reside in. Sites like AntennaWeb and FCC.gov make this easy by letting you enter your address to see corresponding stations.

If you still can’t ID your DMA, check what channels broadcast local news branded for your metro area. For example, Orlando residents receive channels branded ABC 6, NBC 2, Fox 35, etc tailored for Central Florida.

2. Search Market ABC Affiliate

Once you’ve identified your Designated Market Area (DMA), look up the ABC affiliate for that specific metro. Quick Google searches produce this easily. For example “Tampa ABC affiliate” would display WFTS as the first result.

Common call sign formats to expect are WABC, KABC, WXYZ or KMGH. Of course the exact letters and numbers will match your local station specifically.

3. Note Virtual Channel

Make sure to specifically note the virtual channel of your local ABC station, not just the callsign. This is the number you’ll actually tune to during antenna scans.

So Bostonians would want to note WCVB and virtual channel 5.1, while Sacramentans should look for KXTV on virtual 11.1. Having this info prepped makes scanning simpler later.

How to Set Up your Antenna

Once you’ve chosen your antenna, it’s time to set it up.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Choose a location: Place your antenna in a high location, such as an attic or window. This will help you receive a stronger signal.
  2. Connect your antenna to your TV: Use a coaxial cable to connect your antenna to your TV.
  3. Scan for channels: Turn on your TV and scan for channels. This may take a few minutes.
  4. Enjoy your free TV!

Running Through Antenna Set Up Menus

With background info gathered and antenna properly situated, it’s time to set up your TV or converter box. We’ll outline steps to scan for channels below:

1. Connect Antenna and Choose Input

First, connect your outdoor or indoor OTA antenna to your TV or converter box via coaxial input. If using a conversion box, connect that to your older analog TV via RCA or HDMI cables to enable digital reception.

Use your remote to select the antenna input as the active source. For modern sets, you may see options like “Air” or “Antenna” indicating the OTA input.

2. Start New Channel Scan

Next access your menu system to initiate scanning for available digital channels in your broadcast area. On many TV sets, you select “Settings” then “Channels” to start this process. Refer to your owner’s manual for specifics menus and options that apply to your hardware.

Key things to select are:

  • Channel type: Over-the-air antenna
  • Scan mode: Automatic channel scan

Any other options like signal strength thresholds or channel add/skip preferences can simply be left in default states for now.

3. Let Scanning Run and Toggle Antenna

Once initiated, automatic scanning will take 5-15 minutes identifying what’s available in your location. A status bar showing discovered channels and progress will display on-screen.

As the scan runs, try tweaking your antenna orientation for optimum reception of key stations. Even rotating a few degrees can boost signals.

Add any difficult to acquire channels to your Favorites list as they emerge. This avoids losing them if reception deteriorates later during ordinary antenna use.

4. Verify ABC Availability

Once the channel scan finishes, you’ll have a complete list of available stations in your area. Flip through options to make sure your ABC affiliate appeared during the process.

Check virtual channels rather than using channel up/down which may be out of order or skip certain stations. So directly tune to 5.1 instead of just clicking Channel 5 repeatedly if that’s your ABC affiliate’s designation.

5. Rescan or Adjust if Needed

If for some reason your target ABC station did not show up, first try optimizing antenna placement to aim more directly at the broadcast tower site. Even slight movements or removing obstructions can make local stations emerge.

You can also just rerun the full new channel scan from the TV/converter settings menu. Doing rescans with periodic antenna adjustments often pulls in initially missing options.

And should your local ABC affiliate still fail to materialize due to distance/terrain limiting antenna reception, streaming alternatives exist as a last resort to access ABC shows. We’ll detail streaming options in the FAQ section below.

Troubleshooting tips

If you’re having trouble receiving a signal, here are a few troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure your antenna is properly connected: Check all of the connections between your antenna, coaxial cable, and TV.
  • Try adjusting your antenna: Move your antenna to a different location or adjust the direction it’s pointing.
  • Use a signal amplifier: If you live in a weak signal area, you may need to use a signal amplifier to boost the signal.


Watching ABC with an antenna is a great way to save money and enjoy free TV. With the right antenna and a little bit of know-how, you can be watching your favorite shows in no time. So ditch the cable bills and experience the freedom of antenna TV!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What if I don’t receive ABC with my antenna?

First double check your antenna location avoids nearby obstruction, points properly towards your metro area broadcast towers, and sits mounted as high as reasonably possible.

Also confirm your television or conversion box connects properly to the antenna via coaxial input, and you selected the correct source setting like “Air” or “Antenna” to run scans.

If you just have poor antenna signal strength limiting range, several streaming providers offer ABC and other local stations without cable. DirecTV Stream, FuboTV, Hulu Live and YouTube TV all include ABC in select markets. Just use your zip code to check specific channel availability in your area before subscribing.

And certain services like Locast offer local stations for a monthly donation rather than a full subscription fee. Always check their site to confirm ABC carriage in your region though before donating.

Why does my ABC station show with dots like 5.1 instead of just Channel 5?

This indicates a digital subchannel, usually the main feed. So 5.1 represents the primary station, while 5.2 or 5.3 might be bonus specialty channels riding on their signal.

These extra “diginets” sometimes show old movies, weather loops or other niche content. But for ABC shows just tune to the dot one subchannel specifically.

What is the lowest and highest channel ABC uses?

Currently among UHF signals, WHTM in Harrisburg, PA utilizes the highest ABC channel at channel 43, broadcasting on virtual channel 27.1 after being displaced by the digital transition.

WMUR in Manchester, NH holds claim to the lowest position on virtual channel 9.1

But again, channel numbers vary widely market-to-market. So check your specific metro affiliate call sign and virtual number rather than just guessing channel 7 or 9.

How many cities have an ABC affiliate?

With ongoing broadcast industry consolidation and ownership rule changes, ABC’s reach continues expanding nationwide across both large and mid-sized markets. By 2024 industry site JW Broadcasting projects ABC affiliate carriage across 212 designated market areas.

So residents in over 75% of U.S. television regions can access ABC over the public airwaves with an antenna assuming terrain doesn’t interfere. Only tiny rural areas lack service currently.

Streaming cable alternatives like YouTube TV also help fill remaining gaps by providing linear ABC live feeds sourced from major markets to outlying or mountainous areas.

Does ABC offer any free streaming options?

Yes! Viewers can stream full ABC shows for free on either mobile or connected devices using the ABC app or website.

You just need to confirm your TV provider account credentials by logging in with your cable, satellite or live TV streaming service username and password. Those without current TV subscriptions can’t utilize their free access however.

So antenna users lacking a TV provider log-in may need to instead rely on over-the-air reception, or antenna-alternatives like Locast donations in some cities, to get ABC free. But again, streaming TV bundles often make reception gaps a non-issue nowadays for most.

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Additional resources

Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

  • AntennaWeb: This website allows you to enter your address and see a map of the TV stations in your area, along with the recommended antenna type for your location.
  • TV Fool: This website provides detailed information about TV reception in your area, including signal strength and tower locations.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC): The FCC website has a wealth of information about over-the-air TV, including tips on choosing an antenna and troubleshooting reception problems.