Generally, you do not need a streaming service or cable provider to watch local channels. Channels like PBS, NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, Telemundo, and many other sub-channels are free.
So, how do you get local channels without cable?
One of the easiest ways to get local channels without paying is to use an antenna. With a good antenna, you can watch many local broadcasts for free. If you do not have an antenna, buy a streaming device that offers local channels for free.
Alternatively, check out if your local channels have their apps or a live TV streaming section on their websites. Note that you will need a good internet connection to stream their content.
If you are ready to cut the cord, you can get local channels without paying for cable using the following methods.
Use an antenna
An antenna may be the easiest way to watch local TV stations without cable. In addition, an antenna gives you access to many broadcast channels, including ABC, PBS, Telemundo, FOX, NBC, CBS affiliates, and hundreds of independent stations.
But before you can buy an antenna, you have to figure out which one is ideal for you. Generally, a digital antenna is what you should consider. However, digital antennas come in different types, including:
1. Indoor TV antenna
Indoor TV antennas are small in size. They are also omnidirectional, making them perfect for receiving UHF and VHF frequencies that broadcast TV signals.
You can use the antenna by hooking it up to your Smart TV. In turn, the antennas will pick up over-the-air programming.
Although these devices are omnidirectional, you can improve their signal strength by moving them close to a window or placing them higher in a room.
We recently reviewed the best 200-mile indoor TV antennas that can receive multiple TV channels. Check them out.
2. Outdoor TV antenna
Outdoor TV antennas are the best to use if you live in an area far away from a broadcast tower. They give you reliable access to hundreds of local channels.
Furthermore, they can pick up channels with the best picture quality, including those that support premium video and sound technologies like 4K and Dolby Audio.
Make sure to scan for channels when the weather is clear if you are using an outdoor TV antenna. That is because you tend to get fewer channels when scanning during a rainy or cloudy day than on a sunny day.
Continuously rescanning for channels ensures you capture new channels. These tips will also help:
- Install the antenna facing the direction of the nearest broadcast station.
- Ensure no obstacles (e.g. tall buildings, forests, or hills) block the antenna from receiving broadcast signals.
- Ensure the antenna is at least 10-20 feet off the ground.
Even if you buy a multidirectional antenna, ensure to point it at the source of the broadcast signal to get the best reception.
Get a Roku device
Roku has hundreds of channels that you can get for free. Channels like Haystack News and NewsON allow you to watch live TV and local news without paying. You must input your zip or city code if you want to get local information, such as weather, traffic, or sports.
The Roku Channel Store also has a category of News & Weather. Under this category, you can access local channels like KHOU Houston, FOX25 Boston, WSB Atlanta, etc.
Furthermore, the store has several local NBC News stations for many metropolitan areas.
You can locate local channels on the Roku device by doing the following:
- Press the Home button on your remote.
- Scroll and select Streaming Channels.
- Once the Channel Store opens, search for a local channel.
- Select Add Channel to install the channel.
You can also get free Live TV channels by doing the following:
- Go to your Roku home screen
- Select the Live TV tile.
- Click on the left arrow button to scroll through the available options.
If you do not get enough channels on the Roku Channel Store, you can still get many more by connecting an HDTV antenna to your Roku device.
Access local news online
You can get local channels without an antenna using free news streaming apps. The apps will bring news, sports, and weather channels available in your locality.
An advantage is that the applications are available in plenty. Here are a few worth considering.
1. Freecable TV
Freecable TV has over 300 free TV channels. In addition, you can stream local channels from NBC, FOX, ABC, and Newsbreak.
Apart from news content, the platform has over 2,000 free TV shows and movies you can access without paying.
An advantage of using the app is that you can customise your TV channels. The app lets you choose what you want to watch to make it easier for you to jump back and continue watching the content you have not finished.
2. Haystack News
Haystack News is a free service that allows you to stream local channels only. It is best for getting international news, breaking news alerts, local weather, and local sports.
Furthermore, it carefully curates channels that bring you the information that is important to you.
Haystack News has over 300 local channels. It also hosts the leading broadcasters, including ABC, CBSN, MSNBC, CNN, and AP.
You can use Haystack News as an app on your preferred device, including mobile, Smart TV, Chromecast, or stream on the web.
LocalBTV is a free local broadcast TV service. Unlike many services that offer local channels, LocalBTV only covers 24 markets in the United States.
Also, it does not include major network programming from national broadcasters.
However, in areas where LocalBTV supports, you will enjoy streaming local news, weather, and breaking news.
Furthermore, it has content that covers family, action, music, arts, and sports. You must submit your area code on the LocalBTV app or website to get local news.
4. Local Now
You can get national and global news from top channels like Bloomberg, People TV, Newsy, and Cheddar News.
Everything on Local Now is free. You can access the channels on a mobile app. That will allow you to enjoy daily shows, keep up-to-date with current affairs, see the latest sports results, and find your local weather forecast.
NewsON is a local channel app for Smart TV and mobile devices. It allows you to stream live local news, previous newscasts, and weather and get local news clips. In addition, you can use NewsON for free and get over 200 trusted stations across the US.
NewsON has many features you can enjoy. For example, it will inform you which local stations are broadcasting live.
Also, you can access your favourite local stations and browse partner stations that bring you the programmes you want to enjoy.
The platform also offers many programmes, including TV shows, series, and documentaries.
STIRR is available as an app on your preferred devices. You can download the app and get information about channels in your local area.
That way, you will watch local news and weather without subscribing to cable service.
Vuit offers hundreds of local TV stations, depending on your location. You’ll enjoy access to local news, weather, and sports.
Furthermore, you can get new clips and on-demand content from top news providers.
Vuit is available on mobile devices, Smart TVs, and the web. You can add it as a channel on Roku and choose a TV station in your area to get the information you want.
In addition, it is free and does not require a monthly subscription to access its content.
Use individual network apps
Some networks have apps that let you stream local channels without an antenna on a Smart TV. All you have to do is download their apps to watch live TV. They include:
1. ABC News
ABC News offers live prime-time news broadcasts. However, the service has an app and a web interface that offers local news.
Since ABC News comes from ABC, the service broadcasts its content through its local affiliates.
The advantage of the local affiliates is that you do not have to subscribe to a cable provider to access them.
Instead, you can visit the ABC News local section and access your local news section. That will give you access to information in your locality without using an aerial.
2. CBS News
CBS News is part of the CBS television and radio service. It has hundreds of local news channels in all the metropolitan cities of the United States.
So you can get news from Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Baltimore, among others. The local channels cover events across the United States.
You will get updated on the latest local news, weather, and sports without a subscription. Also, depending on the station, you will enjoy live TV on your phone, web, or Smart TV.
3. NBC News
NBC News is a top broadcaster of local and international content. It allows you to stream the latest news across the globe through its programmes like MSNBC.
You also get access to prime-time shows like Nightly News to get informed about current affairs.
But if you want local news, you can use NBC’s affiliates to get a local channel that serves relevant information.
NBC News has channels across the United States. You can get the information by visiting the NBC News local section on its website or downloading its app.
PBS has over 300 stations affiliated with it. The channels bring you local news, weather information, traffic, sports news, and local events.
Furthermore, you can get live TV and watch thousands of hours of classic movies and TV shows.
You can find a local channel on the PBS website or app by entering your zip code or choosing your state. The PBS app or site will link you to your local channel and watch it for free.
Are local channels free without cable?
Hundreds of local channels are available without cable. You can access them by mounting an indoor or outdoor TV antenna.
Or, you can visit the local channel’s website or app to watch the news and get other information on your Smart TV, phone, or computer. The channels will not charge you anything to watch them on your digital TV.
What streaming services offer local channels?
Generally, you do not have to pay a cent to watch local channels. However, many premium streaming services allow you to get local channels without cable.
The only issue is that you will have to pay a small monthly fee to access them. Examples of premium streaming services that offer local channels are YouTube TV ($64.99 per month), DirecTV STREAM ($69.99 per month), Hulu + Live TV ($69.99), and fuboTV ($79.99 per month).
Alternatively, you can use Sling TV to watch local channels. However, sling TV will not make you pay to watch your local channel.