If you’re currently a cable subscriber but haven’t yet rented an HD cable box and added the HD service tier (or perhaps you don’t intend to because you bought your HDTV mainly to watch DVDs), you still may be able to watch CBS’s HD Superbowl presentation via your cable connection, without paying extra.

Here is what the cable companies don’t want you to know (because it reduces their revenue).

Cable companies generally don’t encrypt local channel digital (standard and high def) broadcasts sent over their systems. Odds are they are not filtered out, and are therefore available for you to intercept if you know how. Don’t worry: there’s nothing illegal about this if you are a paid cable subscriber.

If your set doesn’t include a built-in digital over the air tuner, you’re out of luck here, but if it does, you need to determine if the tuner includes QAM reception. The good news is that most major name brand sets do and have for the last couple of years. Consult your owner’s manual or spec sheet to find out about your set. If it does and your cable provider carries your local CBS affiliate in HD (odds are they do) you are ready to add the channel to your TV.

Connect your coax “cable” TV wire to the cable in “F” jack (it’s the screw in jack) on the back of your HDTV. It may be labeled “digital cable”input or “Ant/Cable” input (consult your owner’s manual).

Next, go into your HDTVs “set up menu” to toggle the antenna input’s default setting from “over-the-air” to “digital cable reception” or “RF cable reception” (you’ll find the instructions for doing this in your set’s owner’s manual). Once you’ve done this, continue following your manual’s instructions for scanning in the available digital cable stations.

Now here comes the tricky part. All the local broadcast stations will be at a channel numbers totally different than listed by your cable company. For example, if your cable system’s channel guide lists CBS’s digital station at channel 802, you won’t find it there. It could be at 101.1, or 89.2 or somewhere else on the system when you input it via your set’s built-in digital cable tuner, rather than using an outboard HD cable box.

You can access all of the scanned channels by using the remote control’s “channel up/down” button until you find the local CBS digital station. Knowing what’s being broadcast will help identify the channels. Watching in prime time when most shows are broadcast in HD makes the job easier.

When you find CBS-HD, write down the channel number to make it easy to find on Super Bowl Sunday.

There you have it, the Superbowl in HD via cable without paying extra.

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