How to Watch Local TV on a Computer

By Sue Stepp

On June 12, 2009, federal law stopped allowing transmission of television broadcasts in an analog format, and required all broadcast in a digital format. This means viewers receive high definition digital television for all local shows. If a person's computer has a television tuner card installed, the tuner card makes viewing local television on a computer possible. Installation of a television tuner card to a computer only takes a few minutes. Install the card internally or by USB hookup. The easiest method uses USB hookup. Installing internal television tuner cards requires computer-building skills.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Windows XP or newer
  • PC TV tuner card
  • Internet
  • Antenna

Step 1

See if your computer has a pre-installed internal television tuner card. Check for the card using one of these three methods. First, check your computer's manual. Second, check for a coaxial port on your computer. If it has a port, the computer has an internal television tuner card. Third, check in the Device Manager. Click on the "Start" icon. Click on "Control Panel," "Hardware and Sound" and "Device Manager." Click "Continue" when the security screen comes up, and the Device Manager opens. Move the cursor to "Display Adapters," and the tuner card will come up. If it is empty, a television adapter is not installed.

Step 2

Buy a television tuner card from a local computer supply store if your computer needs it. Use an external USB TV tuner card if you want the card hooked up quickly. The USB TV tuner card plugs into the USB port on your computer. Hook up the antenna to your tuner card's antenna port. If you purchase an internal television tuner card, have it installed professionally.

Step 3

Click "Start," and then click "Programs." Click "Media Center." If this is your first time opening the Media Center, Click "Quick Set Up." Media Center searches for the TV tuner card you installed. Connect your computer to the Internet, and click "My TV." Click "Yes" on the computer prompt, asking permission for a local television guide search. The television guide appears on the screen.

Step 4

Click on a television show you want to watch from the television guide. Click on several different TV shows. If the computer receives the channels, the tuner card works. Moving around the antenna helps you receive different stations. Your location affects how well you receive different digital channels. Media Center is very similar to a digital video recorder or TIVO system. It gives you choices. You can search, pause live TV, record a show or get information about a show.

Tips & Warnings

  • The guide used by the Media Center is a standard local listing guide. You may or may not receive all the channels listed in your local area.