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Most cord cutters know that there are plenty of ways to watch popular movies and television shows without cable. Netflix and Hulu have made it easy to check out big-budget Hollywood films, and HBO's streaming option has freed TV binge-watchers from the clutches of the cable companies. But what about local content? Many cord cutters don't know how to watch local channels without cable, and may not even realize that they can.

The truth is that you have a bunch of ways to watch local channels online and over the air. Thanks to the rise in skinny bundles and the resurgence in popularity of over-the-air TV, cord cutters are once again enjoying local news and other local programming without having to go crawling back to traditional pay TV providers like cable and satellite companies. This is our complete guide to watching local channels without cable.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream Local Channels:

  Price Channels Free Trial  
$5.99 – $85.96 68 – 88 7 or 30 days

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$39.99 – $44.99 85 – 100+ 7 days

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How to Watch Local Channels Without Cable

There are three basic ways to get your local channels without signing up with a traditional pay TV provider like a cable or satellite company. We'll cover each of them in the list below, starting with a group that may require a bit of explanation: skinny bundles.

Skinny bundles are streaming solutions that resemble cable and satellite subscriptions almost everywhere except for on your monthly bill. Skinny bundles tend to be slimmer than cable packages (hence the name), ditching some of the less important channels and keeping a core group of popular networks available for far less than the cable giants charge. Among the key channels featured in these slimmed-down bundles are local major network (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) affiliates from around the country. The bad news is that availability of live local major network feeds will vary by region, but the good news is that it's easy to check out the selection in your region by taking advantage of the free trials available with each of the services we've listed below.

Once we've covered skinny bundles, we'll move on to over-the-air TV and some key apps you ought to know about. Here are our picks for the best ways to watch local channels without cable.

Stream local channels for free with Hulu

Free Trial

Hulu got its start as an on-demand streaming service that competed with Netflix and the rest of the streaming video on demand (SVOD) crew. These days, Hulu is in the skinny bundle fray as well: its Hulu + Live TV service offers a single base package that boasts tons of great channels, including (in most markets) live feeds of all four major networks. Hulu + Live TV also has regional sports networks in some markets. You can read our review of the service to learn more.

Stream local channels for free with fuboTV

Free Trial

Once only concerned with soccer channels, fuboTV has expanded its focus to include a broad range of entertainment, albeit with a bit of a sports-centric focus. fuboTV now has deals in place with every major network except for ABC, so depending on your region this service may be able to net you live local feeds of CBS, F0x, and NBC. Regional sports networks, including college football conference networks and the New York-area MSG family of channels and YES, are also available in relevant areas. For more on fuboTV, check out our complete review of the service — or just try it for yourself by checking out fuboTV's week-long free trial via the button above.

AT&T TV Now

AT&T TV Now has deals with all four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC), and some customers will be able to access local feeds of these channels. There's more to AT&T TV Now than local channels, of course — it divides its service up into paid tiers with different numbers of channels available. You're free to get whichever bundle calls to you, but you'll only need the smallest one to get all of the major networks that can be streamed in your area. Read our review of AT&T TV Now to learn more. You can sign up for the service's free trial offer to test it out for free.

YouTube TV

For those in the right markets, YouTube TV could be a way to watch local feeds of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. YouTube TV costs $40 per month once your free trial is up. Read our review of YouTube TV to learn more, or just sign up for the service's free trial offer and check it out for yourself.

Free over-the-air TV

Local major network affiliates have their own transmitters, so it's reasonably likely that your area gets channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC free over the air — and that's not to mention other common over-the-air channels, such as PBS and Univision. How many channels are available and how big of an antenna you'll need to pick them up will vary by region, but getting the answers to these questions is pretty simple. Check out our free over-the-air TV explainer and our complete guide to choosing an antenna and getting free HDTV over the air for more important information. There's a reason that this is the classic solution to the problem of how to watch local channels without cable or satellite.

Stream local channels free with CBS All Access

Free Trial

Can I Watch Local TV on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?

Your options get a little thinner after the skinny bundles, but there are some other apps to consider. One of these is CBS All Access, which offers local feeds of CBS stations to certain customers. Once again, you'll have to live in certain areas to get the live feeds — and, once again, you can find out how good the deal is for your region by checking out the service's week-long free trial via the link above. You can read our full review of CBS All Access to learn more.

NewsON

There are relatively few standalone apps that offer local content, but there is one that is worth noting here. NewsON is a platform for local news stations. If you're lucky, you'll find that your local station is available live on the platform. NewsON's app is available on streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Read our complete review of NewsON here. It's worth noting that the service has improved a bit since our review was written.

Other Apps

You may find that your favorite local channels have apps of their own! These days, it's not uncommon for local news networks to offer clips or even live feeds on their websites and through apps for mobile devices and streaming boxes. Other local news channels use streaming platforms like Livestream or the aforementioned NewsON. It's worth doing a quick Google search and reading your local station's website to see where else you might find their content.

We don't always think of the major streaming devices as tools for watching local TV, but we really should. Each of the skinny bundles and apps listed above have awesome platform support, meaning that you can grab virtually any service on this list and have it work with whatever streaming device you own — whether that means a Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android, or Android TV device.

Specifically, here's what you're looking at:

Roku fans can choose between Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV, each of which offer apps for Roku devices.

Fire TV fans get Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV.

Apple TV fans have a lot of options, too: Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV.

Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV also all work with Chromecast via their in-browser and/or mobile apps.

Android TV, the Google-backed streaming platform used by the Nvidia Shield TV, among other devices, supports Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and YouTube TV.

Want to watch on the go? No problem: Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV each have apps for both Android and iOS mobile devices.

Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV all have in-browser apps that work on your computer, too.

On top of that, you can combine free over-the-air TV with many of these devices by using either an OTA DVR (once your antenna is connected to the DVR, devices like Tablo will let you stream the OTA feed on your streaming device via the relevant app – in this case, Tablo TV) or Plex (connect an antenna, via a PC TV tuner, to the computer hosting your Plex server and then use the Plex app on supported streaming devices and access the live TV feature). It's simplest of all with a smart TV (such as the ones that Roku makes with its manufacturing partners): just plug your antenna into your TV, which is also your streaming device, and scan for channels!

Looking for advice on a specific device? Then you may also want to check out our tutorials on how to get local channels on Fire TV, how to get local channels on Roku, how to get local channels on Apple TV, and how to get local channels on Chromecast.

17 thoughts on “How to Watch Local Channels Without Cable

  1. Sandi Patty says:

    Help. We cut our $155 DirecTV TV bill with a ClearStream 4MAX extreme range outdoor HD antenna. We installed, connected, scanned, but when we go to watch the signal breaks up after about 10 minutes and we get a message that says “weak or no signal go to broadcast and scan signals.” I hoped we would hold a signal better than that. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Fortunato says:

      You need to find the direction of where the signals are broadcast from. You’re dealing with towers not satellite. Here’s how it works. When you have a reciever dish for satellite the station sends the signal to a dish to satellite, the satellite has transponders it chose the strongest signal and redirects that to your dish reciever that signal goes to you’re box the box differentiates as the signal may be strong or weak so in modern boxes they auto adjust. On a cellphone the signal goes to a tower the tower to the satellite then to a tower then to your cellphone. If the phone notes a weak signal the phone Powers up a stronger signal. In you’re situation you dealing with obstacles as towers don’t release or emit a straight signal. I emits a circular wave pattern like a pebble in a smooth pond. Any obstacles prohibit the signal from being recieved fully and distance, mountains,buildings,trees and bad weather will interfere. If your using a digital reciever your issues will be as above AND auto traffic with digital handsfree phone systems, aircraft, weather, smartphones and or anything running close to you’re reciever. You need to place the device to the highest location in you’re home and with no obstacles like in a window on the side of the home where the towers are located. Example, in Vineland N.J. you have cities northwest, northeast, and Southwest. Now you antennae will only pickup a good signal from about 40 to 65 miles. So pick the closest large city and direct your antennae there. Your major cities run repeaters and boosters so you should pick up your major and a few minor stations. To avoid all of the above, which I felt by explaining it would better assist you in knowing how electronics function and to what capacity . Go to an electronics store purchase a signal booster that will boost and filter your channels and that should take care of you’re situation. What I do is I’m on unlimited data on my cell, I can tether or go WiFi, so then I go to my computer accept the wifi change it to mobile hotspot 146 miles away and watch all the tv I want in HD. That way for 70.00 a month I have hundreds of channels and music, unlimited calls, text and data . I’m located in a valley, my regular towers are Northwest, and everything affects it. Oh, and the computer I use is 14 years old, and I have to run a cable to the largescreen monitor but hey, I get better TV and more tv in HD than all of my neighbors who pawn their hubcaps to pay for direct TV, plus I don’t get blocked out on any sports .

  2. Norman Ramme says:

    Where is the reference to LOCAST. It replaces ugly outdoor antennas which do not work well in the Pacific Nortwest, in addition to indoor antennas which do not work either.
    Local tv stations should be happy with LOCAST as it improves picture quality including advertising.

    1. Dawn Breen says:

      no locast in seattle :c

      1. Just passing by says:

        There is now.

  3. Brenda Burch says:

    How do we find out if the channels we want will work? Such as Foxnews live?

  4. Kathy says:

    Am I correct in thinking I still need “internet” to stream anything mentioned here?

    1. Stephen Lovely says:

      To stream on any of the streaming services listed, yes, you’ll need internet — but you don’t need internet to use an antenna!

  5. Debra says:

    I am finding antenna does not work where i live it goes in and out plus some antennas did not pick up anything, i am on the second floor of 3 floors bldg facing straight north, i am trying to find something that i can mostly only get network channels on my TV without paying high cable bills, i have internet and phone both on cable company but want to get rid of cable and get only network channels without antenna which does not work here. Any suggestions ?

  6. rachel frampton says:

    I always want to be updated with local news but I’m barely home to check it out on television. I never knew that skinny bundles are streaming solutions that are almost the same with cable and satellite subscriptions except for the monthly bill. This seems interesting, but I also opt to find a website where it possible to watch local news videos. https://inewz.tv/

  7. Jim Barnes says:

    UStvnow.com has five free channels. ABC, CBS, CW, PBS, and MyTv. They also have other packages that includes recording

    1. Jim Barnes says:

      These are all free, the bigger packages have recording available for a price

  8. Diane McDermed says:

    Do any people get local channels with a Rabbit Ears Antenna, and then just pay for the rest of the services they want to stream live?

    1. Stephen Lovely says:

      This is a great way to do it!

  9. Ed says:

    I think what most people don’t understand, is the frequencies being broadcast don’t travel well over hills or mountains. So if you do receive a signal your smart tv will let you know just how strong that signal is. Also antennas are very directional so ideally they need to be motorized to pickup strong or weak signals.

  10. Robert545 says:

    Simply Search local tv stations for any area, then, go to their website and watch the live feed. Simple and no app or subscription needed.

    For those of you recommending locast, I just went to their site and the site denied me because I wanted to watch out of area TV stations. I live in wa but want to watch MI tv because I am moving there soon. LOCAST = NOCAST.

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