How to get local channels on Roku

How to get local channels on Roku

Roku has a channel for just about everything: on-demand movies, live baseball, and even live feeds of pandas and other animals. There are channels for live TV on Roku, including skinny bundles like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and DIRECTV NOW, to name just a few. But what about local channels? Experienced cord cutters and longtime readers will remember that local channels are available for free over the air with the use of an OTA antenna, but is there any way to integrate this experience with the Roku interface? And what about other ways to watch local channels? Are there apps for this? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to get local channels on Roku devices.

 

How to get local channels on Roku

Skinny bundles – slimmed-down packages of pay TV channels that stream over the internet – first arrived to fill the void left by live network TV. Over-the-air antennas could give cord cutters the major networks and other local stations, but we needed skinny bundles to get AMC, ESPN, and other network channels. Over time, though, skinny bundles began to recognize the importance of the major networks – which is why antennas no longer have the cord cutting monopoly on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. The bad news is that the major network feeds on each of these skinny bundles are limited to select markets only. The good news is that it’s easy enough to find out if you’re in one of the lucky markets, because each of the skinny bundles offers a free trial. Not bad, right? We’ll list skinny bundles first below, followed by over-the-air TV and individual local TV apps you’ll want to know about.

 

DIRECTV NOW

Get local channels on Roku: DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW is a skinny bundle that boasts live feeds of affiliates from all four major networks. Depending on your geographic location, DIRECTV NOW might be your ticket to all four major networks for $35 a month (for the “Live a Little” bundle – though you are free to opt for a larger one if you’d like, DIRECTV NOW’s smallest includes all of its major network offerings). The service also offers some regional sports networks. For more on what’s available in your area, check out the website or just start a free trial (the link is below). To read our review of DIRECTV NOW, click here.

Try DIRECTV NOW for free

 

fuboTV

Get local channels on Roku: fuboTV

fuboTV initially focused entirely on live soccer coverage. These days, it’s focused on sports more broadly, and also offers a wide range of network TV channels. As of this writing, that includes all the major networks except for ABC. Coverage varies by region, of course. fuboTV’s offerings include a single base package and a few different add-on packages, many of which revolve around sports.. You can read our review of fuboTV here.

Try fuboTV for free

 

Hulu with Live TV

Get local channels on Roku: Hulu with Live TV

Hulu’s entry into the skinny bundle market offers just one base package and limits add-ons to premium channels, but that single base package is all you’ll need to watch live streams of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in select markets. You’ll pay $39.99 for the privilege – once your free trial has expired, of course. You can read more about Hulu with Live TV in our review of the service, or just click the link below to check out the free trial and see what you think yourself.

Try Hulu with Live TV for free

 

PlayStation Vue

Get local channels on Roku: PlayStation Vue

Despite the name, it has been ages since PlayStation Vue was limited to those who own Sony’s PlayStation gaming system. You can get it on all sorts of devices now – including, of course, Roku! PlayStation Vue has local feeds of all four major networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox – on board. As always, the catch is that these are available in select markets only. Like its competitors, PlayStation Vue offers a free trial (be aware, though, that this one only lasts 5 days instead of 7). After that, you’ll be paying at least $39.99/month, depending on which package you choose. Read our review of PlayStation Vue here.

Try PlayStation Vue for free

 

Sling TV

Get local channels on Roku: Sling TV

Another skinny bundle, Sling TV has been around since long before live local channels were available on skinny bundles. It shows a bit, because Sling TV is missing CBS and only includes ABC in one of its add-on packages. NBC and Fox show up in Sling Blue ($25), however, which is one of two base packages that Sling TV allows you to supplement with add-on deals. Read our review of Sling TV here.

Try Sling TV for free

 

Over-the-air broadcasts

Get local channels on Roku: over-the-air broadcasts

The most affordable way to get local broadcasts is still to opt for an over-the-air antenna. Combining that with your Roku device can be easy or a little bit more involved, depending on what sort of device you have. If you’re using one of Roku’s several smart TV models, adding an antenna to the setup is as easy as plugging it in and scanning for channels. If you have an external Roku streaming device, however, you’ll have to get more creative. You can use an OTA DVR and corresponding app like Tablo to pull it off, or you can set up a Plex server on a PC and use a PC TV tuner and Plex’s live TV feature to stream live OTA TV on your Roku through the Plex app.

Check out free over-the-air TVPlex, and Tablo

 

NewsON

Get local channels on Roku: NewsON

NewsON is a unique app that offers live broadcasts of local news stations. It’s for local news stations only, so it won’t help you pick up things like CBS and Fox NFL broadcasts or NBC’s national Nightly News program. Still, NewsON definitely has appeal. It offers a pretty wide range of local news networks streaming live. Way back when we reviewed it, NewsON’s selection was pretty slim. It’s grown since then, though, and now offers a solid selection of local news stations from all around the country. It’s worth downloading NewsON on your Roku device and checking to see if your preferred local news station is one of the ones that participates in NewON’s live broadcasts.

Check out NewsON

 

CBS All Access

Get local channels on Roku: CBS All Access

One major network has a streaming service all its own. CBS All Access is a streaming service that targets CBS super-fans, and it includes live streaming in many of CBS’s markets. Not everyone is eligible for live streaming, but it’s easy enough to find out if you are by checking CBS’s website or just starting a free trial of the service. CBS All Access will cost you $5.99/month. Read our review of the service here.

Try CBS All Access for free

 

Your local news station’s channel

There’s one last general type of method for watching local channels on Roku that we have not yet mentioned: standalone channels for individual stations. Your mileage may vary, but it’s worth checking to see if your local news network offers any live streaming on their Roku channel. Some do, and it’s an easy way to get some local channels on Roku – though, as with NewsON, you’ll be limited to news broadcasts and won’t get NFL games and network shows.

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely

Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

9 Comments on "How to get local channels on Roku"

  1. NBC and ABC both have apps on Roku that lets you watch some on demand shows without a login. PBS has a free app, I’m not sure about Fox, and CBS All Access is a paid subscription. There is a lot of major broadcast shows available on Roku. Only CBS All Access has a live stream in most locations.

    • Mark Matthews | July 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Reply

      All the major broadcast channels including ABC, NBC, FOX, and CW have their own channel apps on Roku where you can watch some recent content on there. Only the greedy CBS does not have a complimentary Roku channel, instead wanting to unilaterally set up a pay service for another revenue stream.

  2. If you are in the Tampa Bay area, the local ABC Action News has a channel on Roku.

  3. I dropped DirecTV, tried Google Fiber TV for a year, loved it but can’t afford it. I am using an antenna, plus Sling TV. I’m managing with that combination. My problem is that now with the new season starting, I won’t be able to DVR local antenna shows.

    I can’t afford any expensive equipment and monthly fee. Do you have other suggestions?

    Thank you.

  4. You updated this article but didn’t mention the recently released ClearStream TV Over-The-Air Television Digital Tuner? It’s a less expensive but more limited alternative to Tablo for accessing your own antenna from any Roku.

    https://www.antennasdirect.com/store/Clearstream-TV-Over-the-Air-Television-Digital-Tuner.html

    Also Plex Live may make its way to Roku soon as well. But in the meantime there have been workarounds for watching a stream form a HDHomeRun on a Roku for some time now.

    https://github.com/computmaxer/roku-hdhomerun
    https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/101755/rel-hdhomerun-viewer/p1
    https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/83233/hdsurfer-plug-in-for-hdhomerun/p34

  5. Richard R Kirk | September 8, 2017 at 5:55 am | Reply

    I recently cut and reattached to the cord in rural Oregon. Charter/Spectrum has a local monopoly on high-speed internet. I tried a combo of Sling (Blue/Orange) with DVR and sports pack along with the Charter internet service. It was more cost-effective for me to go back to cable, as they gave me a deal for the same price, that also includes HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and a regional sports network with the rights to Portland Trailblazer games. It was a way better deal than Sling, I also found the customer support for Sling to be very weak with very long waits for rude staff. It reminded me of cable without the channels.

  6. Enjoy info received. I am retired with limited income and refuse to pay $130. Per month for TV! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  7. What about XTV? I just heard about it and it sounds good. It’s a free app.

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