Thinking of cutting the cord, but worried about missing out on local channels? Local news channels are as important as ever. And their prime time lineups offer a lot of must-see TV. Read on to find out about how to watch local channels using streaming services, apps, and even HD antennas.
In a hurry? We have reviewed several services that allow you to stream local channels without cable and satellite TV. All of these provide the local channels in most areas — some you may not even know about!
- Fubo: With 150+ channels, it offers something for everyone. Fubo allows you to try out its service with a free trial.
- DIRECTV STREAM: Makes it easy to switch from cable to streaming with their 75+ channel Entertainment plan and options for much more. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
- Hulu + Live TV: This total entertainment streaming service provides a great on-demand selection and all the essential live TV channels.
If you can’t watch your favorite movies and shows because of your location, try ExpressVPN to get access to the content you deserve.
Unfortunately, we don’t know a streaming service in that offers this TV channel. But if you’ve already paid for the right service, and just can’t watch because of your location, there is an easy way to get the sports, movies, and TV you deserve. You need a VPN, like one of the following.
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If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to begin, you’ll find all the answers in our full VPN guide.
Table Of Contents
How To Watch Local Channels Via Streaming Services
People normally think of Netflix and Hulu when it comes to streaming services. But Live TV streaming services are in a different category (Hulu has a live TV service too). And in this field, the biggest thing that separates services is their support of local channels.
If you’d like access to your local TV stations, your best bet is to find a streaming service that will allow you to watch them online. All you need is an internet connection. And along with the local channels, you get a bunch of premium cable channels with these subscriptions.
What’s important to understand about local broadcast channels is that networks like Fox aren’t just single channels. Networks that are known as “local channels” are affiliated with a local counterpart. This is why local network affiliates may only be available in some areas but not in others.
Additionally, each streaming service must have a contract with the local channel. This is why some are missing nationwide or in a particular location. For example, Sling TV offers relatively few local channels but this allows them to keep their prices down.
In the following mini-reviews, we’ve highlighted the streaming services that offer good coverage of local channels. All of them allow you to stream on the major devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android mobile, Apple TV, iOS, and Roku. All but DIRECTV STREAM allow you to watch on Android TV-based devices. All but Vidgo support Samsung smart TVs. Fubo, Hulu, and Sling TV all support LG and Vizio smart TVs and the Xbox One gaming system.
Fubo: Local Channels and RSNs
|Local Channels||ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC|
The CW, Telemundo, Unimas, Univision
|Cloud DVR storage||1000 hours|
|Free Trial||✔️ Try it now|
With Fubo (formerly FuboTV), you get access to up to eight local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, The CW, Telemundo, Unimas, and Univision. These will be available in most locations with near-universal support of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and Telemundo.
Fubo is known as a great streaming service for sports with standard cable sports channels like ESPN as well as uncommon ones like beIN Sports. They also provide regional sports networks (RSNs).
But they also offer a well-rounded service with standard channels like AMC, Disney, Hallmark, HGTV, Nat Geo, Paramount, USA, and much more! The one downside of Fubo is that it does not offer the Turner channels so no CNN or Cartoon Network.
Find more information here:
DIRECTV STREAM: Major Networks Everywhere
|Local Channels||ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC|
The CW, Telemundo, Univision
|Cloud DVR Storage||Unlimited hours|
|Free Trial||✔️ Try it now|
DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) offers all the major network English-language affiliates: ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. They also offer The CW widely. Finally, DIRECTV STREAM offers decent coverage of the Spanish-language channels Telemundo and Univision.
If you’re looking for a reputable service with a history in the business, DIRECTV STREAM offers that with solid plans starting at $79.99/mo. They offer a good range of channels including Animal Planet, Bravo, Discovery, FX, IFC, and TNT.
DIRECTV STREAM also offers upper-level plans. The Choice Plan ($108.99/mo) offer access to their great selection of regional sports networks (RSNs.). Their Ultimate Plan ($119.99/mo) provides 130+ channels. And the Premier Plan ($164.99/mo) adds 19 premium channels from HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz.
Hulu + Live TV: Local Channels Everywhere
|Local Channels||ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC|
The CW, Telemundo
|Cloud DVR Storage||Unlimited hours|
Hulu Live TV probably offers the best local channel line-up of any of the streaming services. Even in the smallest towns, they manage to supply ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. That’s also true of The CW.
They aren’t as good for Spanish-language channels. They don’t offer Univision or Unimas anywhere. But they do offer Telemundo pretty much anywhere it’s available.
For $76.99/mo, Hulu + Live TV offers 85+ channels including Adult Swim, Food Network, Syfy, and TBS. They also offer a good range of sports channels like ESPN, NFL Network, and FS1. You also get thousands of on-demand titles, including Hulu Originals and FX Originals.
Read more about Hulu + Live TV here:
Sling TV: Great Antenna Option
|Local Channels||Fox, NBC*|
|Cloud DVR Storage||50 to 200 hours|
Sling TV may be the best budget option if you’re looking for local channels. There are two ways to stream local channels live with Sling TV:
- The Sling Blue plan includes local ABC, Fox, and NBC affiliates (select markets).
- Sling TV interfaces with your antenna so that you have a single interface for your streaming and over-the-air (OTA) channels. If you pay upfront for two months, Sling will give you a basic HD antenna for free (or a better one for a greatly reduced price).
Sling TV allows you to stream Fox from 18 localities and NBC from 11 localities. Both are available in the seven largest media markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft Worth, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
Sling TV doesn’t offer any of the standard US-based Spanish-language channels. However, they have several packages with local channels from different areas outside the US. Each package offers between 3 and 20 channels and costs $10 each.
Check out these articles for more information:
Vidgo: Basic Local Coverage
|Local Channels||ABC, Fox|
|Cloud DVR Storage||❌|
Like most low-cost streaming services, Vidgo offers little local coverage. But they do offer ABC and Fox. And that combined with over 100 channels for $69.99/mo is a good deal for some people.
Vidgo subscribers can watch ABC and Fox in over 70 markets across the United States. Fox is available in the top 10 media markets and ABC is available in 9 of the top 10.
Learn more about Vidgo here:
Unblock Your Favorite Movies and Shows With a VPN
If you can’t watch your favorite movies and shows because of your location, a VPN will allow you to get the access you are entitled to, plus extra security and unequalled privacy. Check out our VPN Guide for everything you need to know, including our top pick ExpressVPN.
Other Ways To Stream Local Channels
There are other options for streaming local channels:
- Paramount+: With the premium plan, you can stream your local CBS affiliate, which provides access to NFL and other sports as well as all the local programming.
- YouTube TV: provides good coverage of the major networks. This includes PBS in most locations (although you can get that for free with the PBS app). They have 100+ other channels as well as add-ons.
How to Watch Local Channels With an Antenna
Using an over-the-air (OTA) antenna is often the first cord-cutting measure people try when they look to end their cable subscriptions. It is the one way to get truly free TV and save money even compared to bargain streaming services. In another article, we explain how OTAs work and how you can get HDTV for no cost other than the purchase of an antenna.
There are several antennas to choose from if you want to use one to stream local channels. Assuming you want these local channels in high-definition, you can start by checking out these TV antennas:
- Mohu Antennas: This company offers ten different indoor HD antennas. Most of their antennas have a signal receiving range of 40+ miles and amplified indoor antennas are also among the products offered. If you’re on a budget, you can get a Leaf Indoor Antenna for $24.99, often with a discount on top. Other Mohu antennas with better performance range upwards of $59.99.
- Sling TV’s HD Antenna: You can get this HD antenna worth $44.99 for free when you prepay Sling TV for two months. Sling TV costs $40.00/mo and you will have local channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC included (subject to your location). Learn more about Sling TV’s free OTA and discounted Air device offers in our Sling TV review.
How To Install an HD Antenna: Step-By-Step
If you’re considering purchasing an HD antenna or have already bought one, see this step-by-step guide on how to install it on your home TV to watch local channels without a cable TV subscription. The local channels you can typically get anywhere are ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
In higher-population areas, you can normally get PBS and Telemundo. You can get other local network affiliates and independent stations depending on whether they are in your area.
Note that sometimes, streaming services will provide regional feeds of networks in areas that don’t have a corresponding local channel. These won’t be found OTA.
- Unpack the HD antenna from its box. Ensure you have the:
- Main antenna unit
- Coaxial cable
- Support pins — these will allow you to fix your antenna against a wall.
- Connect either end of the coaxial cable to your TV. This may be labeled DTV, TV, Cable, Antenna, In, or something similar. Connect the other end to the HD antenna output.
- Turn on your TV and set the tuner mode to the antenna. This will be labeled something like TV, Antenna, or Air.
- Scan for channels. After this is finished, you will see your local channels pop up.
This particular guide is based on the Indoor Leaf Antenna but the process is much the same with other indoor and outdoor antennas. Refer to your TV’s manual if you struggle to get local channels live.
See the following for more details:
- Over-the-Air TV Explained for Cord-Cutters
- Best Antennas and DVRs for Cord-Cutters
- How to Connect Multiple TVs to your OTA Antenna.
Apps To Stream Local Channels Online
Many local channels like Fox, ABC, and CBS have exclusive apps that run on mobile streaming devices (eg, Android, iOS), smart TVs (Samsung), and TV devices (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast). You can also stream local TV channels live via the following apps:
- ABC App: Watch ABC live via the app available on most mobile devices and smart TVs. As long as you’re within the US, you can access on-demand and live content, provided that you’re subscribed to one of the supported live streaming services.
- Fox Now: Stream both live and on-demand Fox programs from any responsive device. The app is free to use if you are subscribed with a streaming service that provides access to Fox.
- CBS App: As long as you’re subscribed to a supported TV plan, you can watch live CBS in some localities via the CBS app.
- NBC App: Download the NBC app and watch live NBC in over 200 US markets. You can only view NBC live via the app if you are a subscriber of one of the major streaming services. NBC also offers a Peacock TV app, but it only provides on-demand content.
- PBS Livestream: Access your local PBS channel (if available) via its livestream. You can also download the PBS app and watch PBS live without subscribing to any other TV package. This is a great app to have since most streaming services don’t provide access to PBS.
- The CW: Unfortunately The CW app does not allow you to watch the local channel, though you can still access many shows on-demand, including the latest episodes. All for free.
- Univision Now: This application is free and accessible if you’re already subscribed to a participating TV provider. It’s a useful way to watch Univision on the go for Spanish speakers and learners alike. Univision Now is only available if you’re a FuboTV or DIRECTV STREAM subscriber.
- Telemundo App: Live TV and on-demand content via the Telemundo app, as long as you’re subscribed to one of the major streaming service providers.
Superpower Your Live TV Streaming With a VPN
You can’t beat a VPN for privacy, security, and access. We have used them for years as an important part of our streaming toolkit and we recommend ExpressVPN. Other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.
|i||See our VPN Buyer’s Guide for complete information on how to choose the best VPN for your needs.|
Local channel availability shouldn’t stop you from ditching your cable company. The top streaming services offer you everything you need. Get rid of your cable bills and contracts for a better system for less money!
FuboTV is our top choice for watching local channels. Fubo allows you to try out its service with a free trial.
What TV shows are on ABC?
ABC has a real variety of TV shows, both in terms of genre and production size. You can watch popular prime-time shows like the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, crime procedural The Rookie, and thriller Big Sky. ABC also shows plenty of comedy like Home Economics and The Goldbergs.
How many devices can stream Paramount+?
Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) allows three simultaneous streams with six separate user profiles. This means that three different devices can stream different content at the same time. This is included with the most basic Paramount+ plan for $5.99/mo. Note that you must get the premium plan for $9.99/mo to get your local CBS affiliate.
How can I watch local channels online for free?
Although the networks provide apps for mobile devices and smart TVs to stream live, you need a cable or streaming service to access them. The one major exception is PBS, which allows anyone to stream their local affiliate. At one time, you could get free local channels through Locast, but this service went out of business due to a court ruling.
What is NewsON?
NewsON is a free, ad-supported service provided by a consortium of TV station owners. It offers live streams of local news from over 275 local TV stations across 165 US media markets, which covers over 3/4ths of the nation. For many, if they can find a way to watch live sports, they wouldn’t need any live TV channels at all.
What shows does NBC have?
Like many local affiliates, NBC has a real buffet of TV shows. The likes of America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior are fan-favorite shows. But NBC also shows a lot of major league sports. Some sports shown on NBC include NFL, NHL, soccer, and NASCAR.
What programs are on Fox?
Since it was first started, Fox has been known for its exceptional original content. They feature some of the best reality shows like Beat Shazam, MasterChef, and Hell’s Kitchen. They also offer popular dramas like The Resident and 9-1-1. And, of course, they are still known for their prime-time animated comedies like The Simpsons and Family Guy.
Does PBS have on-demand content?
PBS has an app that runs on most devices and smart TVs that provides access to a live stream of your local PBS affiliate. Along with this, they provide a ton of on-demand shows. You can also stream PBS live for free by heading over to their website.
Does The CW provide on-demand content?
Yes, The CW has most of its live-airing content available on-demand via The CW app on mobile, smart TV, or The CW website. Note that The CW is a local channel and you can only access the app and website from the US. Even within the US, The CW is only available in select markets.
What is a Broadcast TV Fee?
Broadcast TV Fee is a charge by Comcast and other cable companies for the ability to watch local channels that are available for free with an antenna.
Comcast’s Broadcast TV Fee was once the source of a class action lawsuit as complainants argued the company misrepresents its fees and in some cases explicitly lies about them.
Many believe broadcast TV fees are just a way for cable companies to squeeze their customers for a little more money and to help maintain high revenues despite losing customers every quarter to cord cutting. Those critics just may be on to something. Back in 2019, we calculated that Comcast is pulling in as much as $2.64 billion a year from its Broadcast TV Fee.
Here’s how we calculated this jaw-dropping number.
According to Comcast’s 2018 Q3 report, the company now has 22,015,000 video customers subscribed to its cable TV service. We also know their Broadcast TV Fee is being raised to $10 a month in many markets. To put things into perspective, in 2016 Comcast charged $6.50 per month for broadcast channels, up from $1.50 per month in 2014. That’s an increase of 567% since 2014!
And as you can see in the screenshot below, local channels are included in every cable package Comcast offers, so it’s not a fee you can escape even if you are able to get the channels for free with your antenna:
Using these numbers, we can calculate that Comcast will bring in as much as $220,150,000 every month from the $10/month fee. Over the course of a full year, Comcast can rake in $2.64 billion by charging its customers for broadcast channels that most of them can get free over the air with an antenna.
More Information on Streaming Local Channels
If you need more information, check out our pages on streaming the most popular local channels:
Ditch “Big Cable” Now – 3 Simple Steps to Cut the Cord
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