iOS is everywhere. It’s the operating system that powers your iPhone and iPad, and it’s a fantastic streaming platform too. 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? Below, we’ll lay out how to watch local channels on iOS, including online streaming options and 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 such as iPhones and iPads. Many of them, though, fall into the same category: live TV streaming services, or “skinny bundles.”
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”), and the online delivery means you can watch live network television — and local channels — on iPhones and iPads, as well as many other devices.
The local and regional channels these services offer include local feeds of the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) and regional sports networks. The catch is that coverage varies by region, so you’ll need to look at the fine print — or just sign up for a free trial — to see whether you can use a particular live TV streaming service to watch local channels on iOS devices.
Hulu + Live TV is a great way to get local channels on iPhones and iPads. This live TV offering from on-demand giant Hulu is one of the best live TV streaming services on the market, and it includes access to local major network affiliates and regional sports networks in select markets. Read our Hulu + Live TV review to learn more, or just sign up for the service's free trial and investigate it on your own.
fuboTV was built with sports fans in mind, so its regional sports network coverage is pretty solid. fuboTV also has local major network coverage in many markets. To learn more about fuboTV, read our fuboTV review — or just sign up for the free trial to test it for yourself.
Sling TV now has local NBC and FOX feeds, but only if you live in what the service calls “eligible markets.” Those markets mostly include major metro areas such as Los Angeles and New York City. If you are able to watch local channels this way, then you can also use Sling TV to watch them on iOS. All local networks are available in select markets on all streaming services, but we’ve found Sling TV to be a bit more selective about its select markets, so double-check the availability of local networks when you sign up.
Paramount Plus arrived on the scene in early 2021, but it didn’t come from nowhere. It’s a rebranding of the service previously known as CBS All Access. A Paramount Plus subscription gives you access to more channels than just CBS, but if you live in the right market it also includes the ability to watch your local CBS affiliate on iOS.
YouTube TV is Google’s skinny-bundle service, but 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. The service also offers a free trial to new customers.
Free over-the-air TV (with additional hardware and apps)
You’re not about to plug an antenna into your iPad or iPhone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an antenna to watch local channels on iPads and iPhones. There are a few ways to convert over-the-air broadcasts into streaming content you can watch on your mobile devices.
First, there are OTA DVRs, which work similarly to cable DVRs but are designed to work with antennas. These devices 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.
NewsON is a streaming service that specializes in local broadcasts — particularly 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 whether your region has any good options on the app.
Watch Local Channels on More Than Just Your iPhone
The services we laid out above don't work on iPhones and iPads alone. Check out our other guides on streaming local channels without cable to learn all of the ways that you can enjoy local programming without breaking the bank.
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I plan to enter the world of cord cutting in July (2-year subscription ends). I have a lot of trees around my house and the city dump runs behind my house. When I had DirecTV, the antenna was on my roof. I’m assuming that I will need a multi-directional outdoor antenna. Could you please share info on the best ones for my situation? I’m also considering the Roku for streaming. I have been told that each TV in my house (total of 3) will need a device. Is this true? Which Roku is best? #1 (family room) is 7 yr old Samsung 1080ptv, #2 (bedroom) is a smart TV and #3 will be a brand new Vizio, Samsung or best picture/deal. Is it possible to run the antenna to all rooms using the coax cable already setup from precious DirecTV, Fios and Cox cable? As far as internet, which works better for cord cutting: Fios or cable? I’m in the VA. Lastly, I am asking for guidance on purchasing my own router/modem. I currently rent from Cox and my landline comes through their digital modem. Thank you in advance for all your assistance!