Roku has a channel for just about everything – including, if you’re lucky, a lot of your local channels. Over-the-air broadcasts are still the best way to get local coverage, but there’s something to be said for integrating that local content with your Roku operating system. Here are a few ways to get local channels on Roku devices.
Antenna (Roku TV only)
If your Roku device is one of Roku’s smart TVs, you have a super-easy way to get local channels. Since Roku TVs have tuners, you can just plug in a normal antenna. You can scan for channels and then access the local networks right through Roku’s main menu.
DIRECTV NOW (coming in 2017)
DIRECTV NOW is the first of three skinny bundle services to make our list. Like all skinny bundles, DIRECTV NOW offers a slimmed-down package of channels for a much lower price than the cable companies charge. And like its two major competitors, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV NOW also offers local feeds of some of the major networks. In this case, that means ABC, NBC, and FOX (local feeds of Telemundo are also available).
Unfortunately, there’s one other thing that DIRECTV NOW has in common with the competition: the local feeds are available only in select markets. You can find out if you’re in one of the lucky markets by checking out DIRECTV NOW’s free trial.
At the time of this writing, Roku doesn’t have a DIRECTV NOW channel – but they’ve promised that it’s coming in 2017.
NewsON is for news stations only, but it offers a pretty wide range of local news networks – all streaming live through the NewsON channel. 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.
The deal with PlayStation Vue is pretty much the same as it was with DIRECTV NOW. PlayStation Vue actually has all four major networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox – on board. But the catch is the same as it was with DIRECTV NOW: only lucky select markets get to enjoy those local broadcasts.
You can tell if you’re in one of those chosen markets by the price of PlayStation Vue, which rises to $39.99 for the cheapest package if you’re in one of the areas where the service offers local feeds of all four major networks. Like its competitors, PlayStation Vue offers a week-long free trial.
One more skinny bundle! You know the drill by now: Sling TV offers local broadcasts in select markets only. In this case, the channels are ABC, FOX, NBC, Univision, and Unimas. Like its competitors, Sling TV offers a free trial, so it’s easy to hop on and see if you get local channel coverage before you spend any of your hard-earned cash.
The only way to use an antenna directly with Roku is to get a Roku TV, because Roku boxes and sticks don’t have TV tuners. But you can still use an antenna indirectly with a Roku box or stick. You’ll just need a Tablo device and the Tablo TV channel.
Tablo is an OTA DVR. Plug in your antenna and you’ll be able to record TV, watch your recorded programs, and – yes – watch live local TV, all on any device with a Tablo app. There’s a Tablo channel for Roku, so there you go! Tablo isn’t cheap, but it’s a great product.
Your local news station’s channel
Many local news affiliates of major networks like NBC and Fox have Roku channels of their own. Your mileage will 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 content (news) on your Roku.
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