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When you cut the cord, there are some things that are very easy to replace. Thanks to services like Netflix and Hulu, it’s pretty easy to get ahold of all of the movies and television shows you want to watch, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. But there are other things that are still tough to access as a cord cutter – like local news.

NewsON is here to change that. They offer a simple app that works on a bunch of different platforms and promises to deliver local news to cord cutters wherever they are. Is it worth your time? Here's our full review.

Content

NewsON offers content from various local news stations from across the country. You aren't required to choose your own – just have location services enabled on your device, and NewsON will find your local station for you.

Unfortunately, NewsON doesn't have enough stations on board yet. Your faithful blogger lives in the small-town Northwest, more than five hours away from Seattle, Washington. That was close enough for NewsON, which cheerfully beamed Seattle's local news into my living room.

There's a way to access specific channels with the in-app map (more on that in a moment. Looking at the map gives you a good idea of how many networks NewsON supports, and whether or not they're available in your area.

User Experience

The NewsON user experience asks a bit too much of the user. They're really focused on making full use of the screen on mobile devices, which is fine, except that the user is left pretty clueless as to how to access settings and content menus. The answer is to swipe (or, on Roku, use the directional buttons).

NewsON clip menu

Swipe to the right and you'll move left to a screen that sorts clips by genres: you can choose from “Healthy Living,” “Uplifting,” and other familiar local news sub-genres. Swipe the other way and you'll move to the right, where you can view the TV guide for the channel you're on or select a new channel manually from the map (since the app locates you automatically, you would need this feature in order to find your home network when out of town).

NewsON map
NewsON's map. Note the dead zone over the inland West and Northwest. Residents of Appalachia are covered very well, though!

You'll figure it out eventually, but the app feels a bit squeezed and over-simplified. For instance, when on the right screen with the map open, you can't put your finger on the map when you swipe back to your program – that would just move the map. Instead, you have to close the map by pressing the button in the upper left, then swipe right (or you can just swipe from the upper corner without touching the map). Small but annoying quirks like this are pretty much par for the course with NewsON.

Streaming Quality

NewsOn stream
NewsON running on iOS. The controls surrounding the picture only appear when you tap the screen.

The streaming quality on NewsON is really pretty good. The picture quality stays very high the vast majority of the time, and the stream is consistently smooth. We tried a few different news channels, and the quality seemed consistent across all of them. The streaming quality was pretty much equally strong on all of the devices we used to test the service.

Platforms

NewsON is available on iOS, Android, and Roku. You can also Chromecast it from either of the two mobile apps. We used it on all four platforms. Streaming quality was solid across the the board, but the user experience frustrations we've noted here were present on all of the devices.

Price

This is the one thing about NewsON that can't be beat. It's a completely free service.

The Verdict

The NewsON team has a very promising idea, but it hasn't been fully realized yet. They need to secure more local providers before their auto-locate feature is useful to rural residents, and that's a problem – after all, most urban residents can get their local news with an antenna and don't need NewsON in the first place. Their interface could use work, as well. It might be worth checking to see if they have your local station, but don't expect a perfect app.

We can't recommend NewsON just yet, at least not in an unqualified way. With that said, NewsON is very new at the time of this writing. Growing pains are inevitable with new apps, and hopefully NewsON can overcome theirs.

12 thoughts on “Review of NewsON

  1. Peter says:

    I’d recommend Newson. Although it offers access to only one station in my area, that’s all the local news I need. It’s reliable, and the streaming quality is usually pretty good. For international news, I turn to the British services — Sky and BBC. Fewer ads, much better reporting than American network counterparts.

    1. Steve says:

      Why does my Roku Hard reset after watching NewsOn?

  2. Peter says:

    I like watching the local news in areas I used to live, unfortunately NewsON is mostly very annoying commercials that are constantly repeated. I’ve waited 15 minutes for the news while waiting for commercials to finish. Also the volume of some commercials will nearly burst your eardrums. After a month of trying to get to watch news I’ve given up and will no longer watch NewsON, it’s not worth the hassle.

  3. Jenn says:

    Too many repetitive commercials. I cut the cord so I wouldn’t have to watch commercials. For some reason, in my area, Los Angeles, there are the WORST commercials. I won’t buy any of the products because a) I’m irritated by seeing them so often and b) the commercial quality sucks.

    Also you used to be able to watch previously recorded sessions of news, which was handy because I got home an hour after the news played and now you can’t.

  4. Barb says:

    NewsON just revamped their Roku app and it’s a lot better. I love being able to watch newscasts from all over the country and we also use it for our local channels since they don’t always come in that great with the antenna.

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      Thanks for mentioning, Barb! It could time for us to update our review.

  5. kkk www says:

    used to be a good channel, now it’s nothing but ads and “we’ll be right back.” A bunch of false promises. Can’t believe I waste my time starring at the annoying blue screen, then it will say ad 1 of 1 and 4 to 6 ads will follow! They should be thrown off Roku for being liars!

  6. mmrf says:

    3 years ago, When this NEWSON channel first came out, it was my number one channel/ Even when i wasnt watching tv , i would leave the channel on all day like home background music

    About a AD year ago, the AD started AD AD AD AD getting AD AD AD bad, i started watching AD AD AD AD AD lees and less. It got to the AD AD AD AD AD AD i would want to check out 3 or 4 news stations to se AD AD AD AD AD AD AD what was on, in less than a AD AD AD AD AD MINUTES I WOULD SEE ABOUT ad ad ad ad ad ad 8 ads. Sometimes NEWON channel would disconnect, i would have open NEWONs again, then AD AD AD AD AD AD and have to go thu 3 or 4 more ADS

    i stopped watching NEWS ON and that was the cure. No more ad torture.

  7. UncommonSensesc says:

    When I started watching Newson a couple of years ago, it was pretty darn good. Now I have problems getting my local channel to even connect (using Roku with Roku Express and a tv with built-in Roku and have the same problem on both). Then you get all the ads/commercials! When I first connect, I get to watch usually 3 commercials. Then I wait for the connection to be made (didn’t get to watch either this morning’s news or today’s noon-time news). Then in the middle of a story, I get switched to another commercial. In all fairness, I think some of the programming problems are coming from the local tv station. I usually go over to CBS All Access and watch the local news from there.

  8. Eric W. Lanham says:

    I enjoy watching my local news on Roku and unfortunately NewsOn is my only option. The problems I have are numerous. The picture quality is occasionally good but most of the time it is so low that you can’t even see the weather map or read the headlines at the bottom of the screen. Every ad break has at least one if not more ads that are so loud they are extremely uncomfortable and must be turned down. And the sponsors would probably like to know that alot of ads cannot load even though you still have to wait for it to try. After the program starts it usually stops to buffer several times before it continues to play properly even with very fast internet speeds. And during live broadcasts this is really a problem. The program repeats small sections frequently and skips larger sections. Occasionally the sound or the picture cuts out and you have to restart the program to fix it. Which usually activates ads which cover up the live broadcast. Some days when trying to watch live it plays ads during ad breaks then about 10 seconds after the program returns it shuts down for 1 to 5 more ads which cover up the live show. At times it is so bad that there is very little to no watchable news only ads.
    I really hate how it skips backwards after each segment instead of advancing to the next one even during live broadcasts. A lot of times you don’t notice the transition so you end up missing a section of the program till you realize what happened and make it move on which usually causes an add to cover up part of the show. This problem is aggravated by the fact that some programs are divided into 30 minute segments and others are divided into hour long segments. And sometimes there is no news program at all on a channel even though it shows that there is. Instead you get the channel’s “we’ll be right back” screen saver interrupted occasionally by ads. I’m sure I have experienced other problems that I can’t recall at the moment but these are plenty enough to cause me to remove this channel from my Roku lineup and as soon as I find an alternative that’s just what I’ll do.

  9. Ben Dover says:

    I started watching NewsOn several years ago. Kinda lost interest and didn’t watch it as much. Hoping they would add more stations, like more from the Los Angeles area and the Dallas area. Tuned back in recently and noticed they have even less stations, NONE from the Los Angeles area!!
    Hoping for improvement, don’t see it happening!

  10. Donna says:

    Come on NewsOn learn to edit and stop cutting off parts of the show to add your commercials.. I have 3 channels here in Oregon and love being able to watch the news when ever.. But please please please learn to stop cutting the show short .. And please stop showing the same commercial over and over and over….

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