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How to Watch Local TV Without Cable (Easiest Ways)

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If you recently cut the cord, you may be missing your local TV channels.

If so, let it be known that you’re not alone as this is one feature that many miss, aside from live sports and live events on TV.

Even though you may feel that you don’t have your local channels anymore, it is possible to get them still at no cost.  Yes, 100% free.  In some cases, you may have to pay a small fee, but I promise you that I would only include services that I feel are worth it.

In today’s post, I wanted to talk about all of the many ways you can get local TV channels without any cable subscription.  As with all of my guides, everything I’m about to list is 100% legitimate and scam-free.

So, if you want local channels without cable or satellite, here’s how you can do it:

How to Watch Local TV Without Cable

Buy an HD Antenna

Out of all the options I note here, buying an HD antenna is the easiest way to get local channels for free.  And, don’t worry, the indoor antennas are very easy to install.  Anyone can do it, I promise you that!

Sure, the HD antenna will cost you a few bucks, but most of the highly-rated antennas on Amazon cost less than $30.  For instance, as I write this, these were a few of the highly-rated HD antennas that cost less than $30:

All of these antennas work in the way.

Just plug it into your TV and then mount the antenna on your wall or even let it sit on the TV stand.  Sometimes, you will have to move it around to get the channels you want.  Most of the time, however, it will work right away, no matter where you put it.

All of the antennas on the market today can broadcast channels up to 130+ miles away, all in HD quality.  To know which channels you can get in your area, refer to this FCC map to check the strength.

If you want a stronger signal and don’t mind investing even more money, then you may want to consider an outdoor antenna to expand your range.  This option may require a contractor, however, as more work is involved in the installation process.



Consider Sling TV

For as little as $20 a month, you can watch your local TV channels as well as a ton of cable channels, including favorites such as A&E, Discovery, FX, TNT and so many more.  As I write this, these were the channels they offered on top of your locals…

 

They also offer free cloud DVR storage and premium channel add-ons if you want a specific channel.  Sometimes, they even throw in a free Roku if you commit to a few months.  It truly is a great deal.

Before you sign up, however, make sure they offer local channels in your area as they are restricted.  You can do so here.

If you don’t want to hassle with an antenna and always want to ensure your locals show up without any fuzziness, then this is the way to go.  For the price of a pizza, you can get many of the channels you had before.

Hulu

Hulu is well known for its on-demand library, similar to that of Netflix, but they also offer a “Hulu + Live TV” option as well, which includes your local channels as well as a ton of cable TV channels.

Before getting excited, however, make sure that the locals you want are included as it will vary based on your zip code.  To know for certain, visit this link and input your zip code to see which channels are available to you.

These plans are more expensive than the options I mentioned here at $54.99+ a month, but it does include 60+ channels as well as 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.  It’s a fantastic cable TV alternative that includes your local channels.

YouTube TV

If you’re looking to cut the cord, this is of my favorite alternatives on my list.

YouTube TV offers 70+ channels, including your locals as well as unlimited cloud DVR storage.  Plus, it’s operated by Google, quite possibly the most innovative company on this list.  It’s not going to be much different than your traditional cable providers.

YouTube TV is a flat $49.99 a month, plus tax, but again, make sure your local channels are included as they do vary.  You can input your zip code on the main website to see which channels are available to you.  As long as you live in a popular area, you shouldn’t have a problem getting them all.

As I write this, you can test YouTube TV for five days at no cost.

fuboTV

As yet another cable alternative, fuboTV also offers local channels as part of its package.  Just head to the official website and it will show you which local channels you can get in your area.

In some areas, there are more than 175+ channels and plans start at $59.99 a month.

fuboTV offers a free seven-day trial, allowing you to at least check it out before you commit to a monthly bill.

Watch Online via the Website

Almost all of your major networks allow you to watch shows via their website/apps at no charge.

If you own a Roku, you can download the apps and watch them right from your TV.  However, a Roku isn’t necessary as you can watch directly from your laptop/computer if you so choose.

To start watching network programming for free from your computer, these are the official website for each company:

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to watch live programming unless you already have a cable TV subscription.  You will only be able to watch the shows without a “lock” sign next to it as this will indicate you won’t need an account to sign in to watch.

Download the App

You don’t have to watch on your desktop or computer as every network offers an app as well.

Just like the website version, you can watch many shows for free, but you will have to make sure you look for the shows that do not have a “lock” icon next to it.  This will indicate that anyone can watch it.

All of the network apps are free to download and can be done via the official links noted below:



Download NewsON for Local News

Aside from missing local channels, many cord cutters noted they missed live sports as well as their local newscasts.  It’s all they focus on.

If you’re a fan of the local news, then consider downloading the free Roku app, NewsON.

The cool thing about this app is that you can watch local news from anywhere in the United States and you don’t need an account to watch.  Just log in whenever the news is live, or if you’re not able to make it at that time, you can watch it on demand.

As I write this, they have more than 200+ local news stations throughout the United States, with previous newscasts available up to 48 hours.

USTVNow

USTVNow.com is designed for the U.S. military and U.S. citizens who live abroad, but anyone can use the website, including U.S. residents who simply live in America.

You do have to sign up for an account as well as choose a plan, but they offer a $0 a month plan that includes five channels, all of which are locals.  They also offer a few premium plans ($19 and $29 a month) that include many more channels, but I don’t find much value in it as there are better options elsewhere.

The only problem with USTVNow is that the locals may not be local to you as they choose local channels at random.  But, if it’s live programming you’re looking for, aside from your local TV news, it’s something to consider.  Hey, it’s free!

Download a Local TV App

In some cases, you may find that your local news channel may have an app as well, but they will only broadcast their news and that’s all.  You may also be able to view the news headlines.

Usually, I’m not a huge fan of downloading a ton of apps and would rather go directly to their official website, but of course, this is a personal preference.  All of these apps will work on your laptop, computers, tablet or smartphone.  Generally, anything that can download an app from the Google Play or iTunes store.

No matter where you live, you should be able to find an app.  Just search the Google Play/iTunes store for the channel you like and download it if it’s something of interest.

YouTube

Did you know a lot of your favorite shows can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube?

Just like the apps mentioned prior, almost all of your popular networks have some sort of presence, including the big ones like Fox and CBS.

What you will find out with the major networks is that they often just post teasers.  So, instead of subscribing to the said network, consider looking up the show instead.

For example, if you wanted to watch the Simpsons, I found hundreds of full episodes you could watch at no cost.  Of course, not every one of your favorite shows will be here, but it doesn’t hurt to look!

CBS All Access

I will include this option on this list, but as the name implies, it will only include CBS content.

For $5.99 a month, the app lets you watch the CBS channel live as well as gives you access to more than 10,000+ CBS episodes, including sports and movies.

If you’re a huge fan of CBS programming, it’s an option to consider.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are so many ways to watch your local channels, all without having to pay those extravagant cable TV fees.  In many cases, you won’t have to pay a fee at all!

Whether you want to watch programming live or your favorite network show on demand, it can be done.  Just take a look at the many options and choose which one works best for you as well as your budget.

Again, every option I list is 100% legal and will only take a few seconds to set up.  Best of all, you don’t need an account to join.

As always, if I’m missing any options and/or you want to share your thoughts, you more than welcome to vent in the comments below!

In the meantime, check these options out and see which works for you.  Why pay $100+ a month when there are great alternatives out there for a fraction of the cost?

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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