Your local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS stations are certainly among your must-have channels if you’re thinking of cutting the cord.
The good news is that you don’t need a cable or satellite subscription to access those stations. The bad news is that it will cost you money if you live somewhere where an antenna can’t pick up the extensive broadcast networks.
It also explains why the extensive broadcast networks sued Locast, a free streaming service that offered access to local stations, forcing it to close in late 2021.
How should a cord cutter behave? This article discusses the top ways to watch local channels without cable.
1. An Antenna
An antenna is an ideal option to pick up your local stations if you reside close to broadcast towers because you only have to pay for the antenna once and enjoy free TV for life.
I spent about $50 on a Mohu Leaf indoor antenna. The main broadcast stations are among the more than 100 channels it can get after being connected to the back of my TV.
Cities and some suburbs are better for using indoor antennas like the Mohu Leaf. However, an outside antenna is best for houses in more remote areas.
The main disadvantages of outdoor antennas are that they can be more expensive than inside antennas and that expert installation is necessary.
2. A Service That Streams Live TV
YouTube TV, Hulu Live, and DIRECTV STREAM are three of the best live streaming services that offer local network stations. These are what I call cable 2.0 services.
For roughly $70 a month, they provide packages of well-known cable networks and access to your local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and possibly PBS. The lack of a contract is these services’ main advantage over cable.
Not every cable. 2.0 services carry your local stations. Sling TV is one of the less expensive options, but it only delivers FOX and NBC stations in some locations, with no ABC or CBS.
A streaming service called Paramount Plus, formerly known as CBS All Access, provides a combination of on-demand and live programming.
Several Paramount-owned networks, including CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Smithsonian Channel, provide on-demand content.
However, if you choose the Premium plan ($9.99/month), you can access your local CBS station whenever you want.
Your local CBS station is not included in the $4.99/month Essential plan, but you can view live streams of some sporting events like the NFL on CBS. Both options are available at a 16% discount if you pay annually rather than every month. Find out more here.
Peacock can be compared to NBCUniversal’s take on Paramount+. With its $9.99/month Premium Plus plan, Peacock will begin offering 24/7 access to your neighborhood NBC station in November 2022.
NBC is occasionally rebroadcast on Peacock for users of the more affordable Premium tier. In addition, for the 2022 season, Peacock will stream Sunday Night Football games.
The day after they air, the current NBC series can also be streamed by Peacock Premium and Premium Plus subscribers.
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5. Hulu On Demand
Thanks to Hulu’s affordable on-demand service for many years, numerous network TV programs have been available to stream the following day. However, Hulu is being forced to change its course and concentrate more on original content.
Here are two explanations:
- Hulu no longer offers next-day streaming for new episodes of NBCUniversal programming. However, they may be found on Peacock, which NBCUniversal owns.
- There is a new agreement between Hulu and FOX for out-of-season episodes, but Tubi will also offer free streaming of these shows.
Hulu is no longer a one-stop shop due to the dispersed nature of streaming rights. Disney owns Hulu. Thus it continues to be the top streaming destination for episodes of shows that air on ABC the following day.
6. Network Apps
With so many new streaming services, it’s simple to overlook the ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC network apps. However, they do offer some free media to view.
Only some things in these apps are free is their biggest flaw. For example, lock icons denote that specific programs require a pay-TV subscription (cable, satellite, or live TV streaming service) to be viewed.
The PBS Video App is one network app that I genuinely enjoy using. It’s a fantastic way to stream your preferred PBS content for free. PBS Passport, which costs $5 per month, offers access to more programs.
7. Apps For Local News
Free applications like NewsON and Haystack News offer material from stations around the nation if all you want to do is watch your local news. However, I recommend going to their website if you have a preferred local news source.
Most stations allow you to stream live newscasts to a TV via your computer or smartphone, and an increasing number of stations are now releasing their apps.
By subscribing to reputable news outlets on YouTube, you can also get breaking news.
As part of a study for Stanford University, Puffer is streaming the over-the-air broadcast TV signals from the San Francisco region.
After registering, you may stream ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and the CW. There are restrictions because this is a research endeavor, not a streaming service that makes money. For instance, Puffer is only available to 500 users nationwide at any given moment.
9. Utilize Video Streaming Services To Your Advantage.
This is a growing method for getting local channel material. You can acquire what you need from a video streaming service if you don’t want to spend the money on an antenna or one of the live TV streaming services.
Two recent entrants in this market are NBC’s Peacock ($4.99 per month) and the ViacomCBS service Paramount+ (beginning at $4.99 per month). Additionally, they provide local channel programming for much less money than a live-streaming subscription.
A live stream of your local CBS affiliate is included in Paramount+’s Premium subscription plan ($9.99 per month). However, the Essential package ($4.99) includes specific live material, such as NFL on CBS broadcasts and on-demand streams of CBS programming. In addition, within 24 hours of a live TV showing, new content for many shows, including 60 Minutes and NCIS, is frequently accessible for streaming.
Shortly after they air, Peacock offers on-demand streaming of NBC programs, such as Saturday Night Live. Although it’s not the local station, it has a section for NBC programs that is streamed live.
Peacock offered an excellent cost-saving alternative for watching significant events in 2022, like the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, by streaming them live alongside conventional television broadcasts.
Network TV programs are also made accessible for on-demand viewing immediately after broadcast transmission through Hulu’s on-demand service ($6.99).
Many individuals have told me they would be delighted to pay $20 per month for a streaming service that only offers local content, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Numerous cable channels are owned by the same corporations that own the main broadcast networks.
Therefore, even though paying for 100 channels when you only view 10 is not a good deal for consumers, it is suitable for the vast content businesses that run the channels we watch.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I obtain local channels without cable for the best price?
App for streaming live TV. A live TV streaming service is a well-liked method of cutting the cord. Sling TV is a service that excels in providing local channels for a reasonable cost.
How can I obtain free access to local channels on my smart TV?
You may buy a high-definition digital TV antenna or download a few free apps from your TV’s app store if you’ve been wondering how to access local channels on a smart TV. An antenna can be used without an internet connection and for a one-time fee.
Can you get free local TV?
A TV antenna is the simplest way to receive free local channels without a cable subscription. It is simple to determine if you are close to broadcast towers. Visit the Antennas Direct Transmitter Locator application.