If you’re a sports fan or newshound, chances are you won’t want to miss out on any local channels. Thankfully, you don’t have to invest in a cable subscription to watch primetime shows, games, and more. There have never been more ways to cut the cord and stream local channels online. So whether you’re looking for a live TV streaming service with an expansive local line-up or a free way to watch local networks, you’re in luck. Read on for everything you need to know.
Navigating local network channels
Local networks get their name from nationwide channels that feature special local programming. Think the likes of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.
There are over 200 TV regions in the US, known as designated marketing areas (DMAs). The daytime schedule on these local channels usually consists of news and shows related to your local area. The evening programming, however, tends to be the same across the country. Essentially, these kinds of channels allow you to stay on top of local happenings and keep up with the latest episodes of primetime series.
Here are the various ways non-cable users can watch local networks.
Free streaming services
Luckily, you can watch some local content without denting your bank account. Locast is one popular example of a free service that streams local networks over the internet. Channels like ABC and FOX are available to watch via Locast’s phone app, Locast.org, or a compatible device like Roku. Unfortunately, Locast is only available in select cities.
You can also catch the latest headlines via local news stations’ live streams. Again, these online broadcasts are free and can usually be accessed through an app or website. CBS and NBC are just two networks that offer this feature. Alternatively, use an app like NewsON to watch local news. Available on Amazon, Android, iOS, and Roku devices, it’s partnered up with almost 300 local stations across the country.
Live TV streaming services
If free platforms like Locast aren’t available in your area, live TV streaming services are your best option. Companies like fuboTV and Hulu offer live TV packages for a range of monthly fees. Not only do they feature local channels, but they come complete with huge entertainment offerings, including on-demand catalogs and premium networks.
The local stations you can watch vary depending on where you live. So before signing up for a paid streaming service, enter your ZIP code into the platform’s site for a full list of available local options.
Here are a few of the top streaming services with local channels to consider.
AT&T TV Now
Watch all four major networks with an AT&T TV Now package. Local content from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC can be watched live in certain areas, but every area can view on-demand content the following day. Plans start from $55/mo. for more than 45 networks and range up to $135/mo. for access to over 125 channels.
Regional sports networks from the likes of FOX and Spectrum SportsNet are also available for those who subscribe to the Max, Choice, Xtra, or Ultimate plan. Plus, you can catch local offerings from Telemundo, The CW, and Univision.
The only major local name that’s missing from fuboTV‘s line-up is ABC. But the channel is set to reach fuboTV in August 2020. When that time comes, the service will have local content from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC along with programming from Telemundo, The CW, and Univision. Again, live local channels aren’t available in all areas, but every user can watch local shows and news on-demand. Find regional sports on MSG, NBC Sports, and more.
fuboTV’s pricing starts at $54.99/mo. for over 100 channels and totals $84.99/mo. for 172 networks. You can also invest in the service’s Spanish-language plan for $29.99/mo. Head here for our complete fuboTV review.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu has two packages: an on-demand-only plan and a live TV option. Sign up for the latter for $54.99/mo. to watch local programming from the likes of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Only a handful of areas are missing from Hulu + Live TV’s local coverage, making it a great option for people living almost anywhere in the country. (If your location isn’t on the list, you can catch up with content the very next day.)
Regional sports from FOX, NBC, and YES Network are available too, along with primetime content from Telemundo and The CW. Plus, you can enjoy more than 60 TV channels and Hulu’s extensive on-demand library. Want to know more about the service’s live TV plan? Check out our detailed Hulu + Live TV review.
YouTube TV’s $64.99/mo. standard package includes more than 85 top networks, including local broadcasts from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, and The CW. It’s also one of the only local TV streaming services to come with PBS. And you can keep track of your area’s sporting ups and downs with titles from FOX Sports and YES Network. Check out our in-depth review of YouTube TV.
Many don’t realize that there’s a second way to watch local networks from the likes of ABC, CBS, and PBS for free. Broadcast news, shows, and games over the air with a simple high definition (HD) antenna. Pay from as little as $20 for an indoor antenna and anything up to $100 for an outdoor version. Once the antenna’s connected to your TV, it’ll quickly scan for local channels.
Primetime TV networks
Plenty of big-name local networks have developed their own way to livestream content. ABC, FOX, and The CW are just three channels that can be viewed through the networks’ sites or corresponding apps. Most channels require you to enter a TV provider login to watch shows live, meaning you’ll have to pay for a cable or satellite TV service. But, generally, you don’t have to log in to watch content on-demand.
The final cut
To access the biggest selection of local channels, consider combining all of the above approaches. While free services are ideal for daily news and series catch-ups, they likely won’t satisfy all of your live local needs. But add in a live TV streaming service and an antenna, and you’ve got a huge channel line-up that will rival any cable service.
Of course, local channels vary from area to area. To avoid disappointment, do your homework and check what’s available where you are before committing to any paid service.