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Most cord-cutters know 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 services like HBO Max have 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 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 crawl 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

See Offer

$64.99 – $79.99 220+ 7 days

See Offer

$35 – $50 30+ – 130+ 3 days

See Offers

$4.99 – $99.99 N/A 7 days

See Offer

How to Watch Local Channels Online and Over the Air 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.

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
Image of Hulu screen

The 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. It 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
Image of fuboTV screen

A skinny bundle with extra content for sports fans, fuboTV is a skinny bundle with a broad range of entertainment on offer. fuboTV now has deals in place with every major network, so depending on your region this service may be able to net you live local feeds of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Regional sports networks, including college football conference networks and channels that carry live MLB, NBA, and NHL games, are also available in some areas (coverage varies). For more on fuboTV, check out our complete review of the service.

Stream local channels with Sling TV

See Offers
Image of Sling screen

Sling TV built its reputation on keeping plans cheap by excluding local markets, but now it has softened a bit and included some local channel options for certain markets. While it doesn’t have deals with all four networks, it has managed to work something out with a few NBC and FOX stations. Our Sling TV review can give you more detailed information.

Stream local channels with Paramount Plus

See Offers
Image of Paramount Plus Homepage

Paramount Plus replaced an older service called “CBS All Access.” Paramount Plus has way more content than CBS All Access did, but what about the CBS livestream that was available in some markets on CBS All Access? Good news: that’s still present on Paramount Plus, though it’s once again only available in certain markets. If you live in one of those markets, though, you can use Paramount Plus to watch CBS without cable. Since the service is newer, you may also want to check out our Paramount Plus review.

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 have gone up a lot in recent years, but it’s still a solid way to get local channels.

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 complete guide to choosing an antenna for more important information.


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.

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

You can watch your local channels on a variety of devices, because sometimes you just need to check out the latest episode of a show when you’re not in front of your TV at home. Just take a glance at the chart below to get a better idea of all the devices you can use to stream local channels without cable.

Roku Fire TV Apple TV Android TV Chromecast iOS Android Web browser
Hulu + Live TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
fuboTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sling TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
YouTube TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

What about Paramount Plus? It’s a bit too new to make the chart, but rest assured that it’s available on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android, and web browsers.

Speaking of different devices and platforms, be sure to check out our device-specific guides for even more information on how to watch local channels online:

More to Watch for Local TV Fans

The bulk of this article has covered what’s known as the Big Four Networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. But there’s at least one more English-language network that’s worth mentioning, even though it’s not mentioned as regularly as the other four. That network is CW, or sometimes “The CW,” because apparently the network views itself as comparable to The Ohio State University. The network is known for shows like “Riverdale” and “Supergirl” that often appeal to a younger audience than, say, “Blue Bloods” on CBS. But there’s stuff to like on CW no matter your age, so check out our guide to watching the CW without cable to get more info.

22 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 .

      1. Michi says:

        Very good! I wish I was as smart as you , idk how to tether and have too many people in the house using TVs anyways like 5 . Thinking about Roku but I’m not sure how to stream channels?

  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.

        1. Svendahle says:

          Not in Minneapolis. How about 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.

  7. Jim Barnes says: 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.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Change your tv setting to mi..turn of tv..restart locast and set to mi..should resolve the problem.

  11. Lucy says:

    Such good Information.

  12. Lucy says:

    Change your T.V setting to MI..turn of T.V..restart locast and set to mi..should resolve the problem.

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