iOS is everywhere. It’s the operating system that powers your iPhone or iPad, and it makes a fantastic streaming platform, too – which is what we’re here to discuss today. iOS devices are just as great for streaming local content as they are for streaming Netflix. But how can you get local channels on an iPhone or iPad? That’s what we’re here to explain. Below, we’ll lay out how to watch local channels on iOS, including online streaming options and even some creative solutions involving free over-the-air TV.
How to Watch Local Channels on iOS
There are a lot of great ways to watch local channels on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. A good number of them, though, fall under the same category: that of the live TV streaming service, or “skinny bundle.” So let’s talk about that that means.
Live TV streaming services are exactly what they sound like: pay TV services that offer bundles of live network television channels online. These bundles are often less bulky and inefficient than cable’s offerings (hence “skinny bundles”), though, and the online delivery means you can watch live network television – and local channels – on iPhones and iPods, among many other devices.
The local and regional channels offered by these services include local feeds of the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) and regional sports networks. The catch is that coverage will vary by region, so you’ll need to take a look at the fine print – or just sign up for a free trial – to see if you can really use a given live TV streaming service to watch local channels on iOS devices.
Hulu with Live TV is a great way to get local channels on iPhones and iPads, and it comes from a familiar brand: Hulu, a company already well-known for its on-demand streaming service. All four major networks are available on Hulu, so you’ll get plenty of local channels on iOS as long as your local affiliates are among the ones that have struck a deal with Hulu. You can read our review of Hulu here or can investigate it yourself by taking advantage of the free trial period. After the free trial, you’ll pay $39.99 per month.
Update: Sling TV has killed the “Broadcast Extra” bundle for now, but ABC may yet make a comeback on the service. Stay tuned.
The idea behind Sling TV is to allow customers to build their own skinny bundle. Subscribers start by choosing one (or both) of two base packages, then move on to adding “Extras,” which are small groups of channels lumped together by genre. You’ll find NBC and Fox in the “Sling Blue” base package ($25 per month).
ABC is available in “Broadcast Extra” ($5 per month), which can only be added if you have the “Sling Orange” base package ($25 per month, or $40 altogether if you get both Orange and Blue). CBS is not available on Sling TV as of this writing, but plenty of regional sports networks are.
fuboTV was built with sports fans in mind, so its regional sports network coverage is pretty solid. Its English-language base package, fubo Premier, costs $39.99 per month in all areas except those served by the New York area’s MSG family of regional sports networks, where it costs $44.99 instead. All four major networks are on-board here, so you’ll get full local feeds in participating regions. To learn more about fuboTV, read our review here or sign up for the free trial via the link below.
PlayStation Vue offers subscribers a few different bundles. The smallest, which is the $44.99-per-month “Access” bundle, offers all four major networks in participating regions. You can also access some regional sports networks at other price points depending on your region. Despite the name, you don’t need a PlayStation to watch PlayStation Vue – the service is a great option for watching live local channels on iOS.
YouTube TV is Google’s skinny bundle service, but never fear: it plays nice with Apple’s hardware and mobile operating system. YouTube TV is a great way to watch live TV, including local channels, on iOS and other devices. You can sign up for the service’s free trial offer by clicking on the link below this paragraph.
DirecTV Now offers all four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) in all of its bundles, from the $40-per-month “Live a Little” on up. As you scale up to larger bundles, you’ll also see regional sports networks become available in some areas. The usual disclaimers are in effect here, as local channel availability will vary by region, but in most cases DirecTV Now makes a great way to watch local channels on iOS. You can read our review of the service here and can sign up for the free trial via the link below.
Free Over-the-Air TV (With Additional Hardware and Apps)
Okay, so you’re not about to plug an antenna into your iPad or iPhone. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use an antenna to watch local channels on iPads and iPhones. There are a few different ways to convert over-the-air broadcasts into streaming content you watch watch on your mobile devices. Let’s go over a couple.
First, there are OTA DVRs, which work similarly to cable DVRs but are designed to work with antennas. These devices will allow you to record live TV and then play your recordings – or live TV – through an app on your streaming device. That means you can just get an OTA DVR (and antenna), set things up and download the right app, and proceed to watch local channels on iOS (among other platforms). Easy!
You can also use Plex, the media server app that offers live TV and DVR features. Connect an antenna to the device you’re running Plex on (for instance, you could use a computer and a PC TV tuner), fire up the Plex app, and enjoy local channels on iOS. You’ll need Plex’s premium subscription plan, Plex Pass, to do this.
CBS has a streaming service all its own: CBS All Access. In addition to on-demand content, CBS All Access offers live CBS broadcasts in select markets. And since it has an app for iOS, this makes CBS All Access a great way to get local channels on iPhones and iPads (or, at least, it’s a great way to get one local channel!). To see if you can watch local TV on iOS with CBS All Access, check the service’s website or simple click the link below to sign up for a free trial.
NewsON is a streaming service that specializes in local broadcasts – in particular, local news. Download the app on your iPad or iPhone and you’ll soon be watching news on local channels on iOS. You can choose from a bunch of participating local stations, so it’s worth checking to see if your region has any good options on the app.
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