Ken Burns’s latest documentary series, Benjamin Franklin, starts Monday, April 4, at 8:00 p.m. ET., on PBS. This two-part, four-hour documentary explores the life of one of the 18th century’s most renowned figures. From his work with electricity and influential essays to his groundbreaking theories on the natural world, Franklin’s research and writing were just the tip of his contributions to technology, literature, science, and government. The special will also explore his contradictions, as his success divided him from his family, and despite his abolitionist actions, he owned and enslaved people for a time. He was often open to change of thought, shifting from loyalty to the British Empire to a staunch advocate for American independence. Read on for more on how to watch Benjamin Franklin without cable.
- When Does It Air: Benjamin Franklin airs on Monday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
- Where Does it Air: Benjamin Franklin airs on PBS.
- Best Way to Watch: Stream via the PBS app or with YouTube Live TV (free trial).
Stream Live PBS Free
You don’t need cable to watch PBS. The live local broadcast of PBS streams free in most U.S. TV markets. You can also watch numerous PBS shows like Sanditon, Antiques Roadshow, and The PBS News Hour on-demand through the sources covered below. You can also read more in-depth information on each option in our How to Watch PBS Without Cable article.
Watch on The PBS App
While it isn’t well advertised, PBS streams the feed of the live local PBS channel of over 125 PBS member stations, so it is likely a live local PBS station streams through the PBS app in your area. Not only can you watch PBS live, but the app also offers over 4000 PBS shows on-demand.
You download the PBS app on the following devices:
- Apple TV
- Android TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Samsung Smart TV (Tizen)
Watch PBS With an Antenna
Generally, if you live in a city or the suburbs, you can watch PBS over the air using something as simple as this $25 Flat TV antenna. The free return policy makes it no risk. If it doesn’t get the channels you want, you can return it for your money back.
You can see if PBS is available over the air using this FCC page. If the flat antenna doesn’t perform to your expectations, then check out the following instructional guides for more details on over the air TV.
- Learn How to Choose a TV Antenna
- Learn How to Use One Antenna for Multiple TVs
- Learn How to Ground a TV Antenna
- Learn how to Improve Antenna TV Reception
- Record from your Antenna with an Over the Air DVR
Other Streaming Services with Live Local PBS
The following streaming services offer a live broadcast of PBS. Broadcast stations like PBS, ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC are separated into 210 TV markets in the US. Each streaming service has to negotiate a deal with the station owners in each market to carry the channel, so you have to double-check your local availability.
To watch PBS, use the link in each section to subscribe to a service that offers PBS in your area, download the services streaming app to a streaming device like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, etc. and watch PBS through that services channel guide.
Watch PBS on YouTube TV
YouTube TV is currently the only live streaming service where you can watch your local PBS station live. YouTube TV offers the live PBS broadcast of over 100 PBS member stations across the U.S. You can see the channels available in your area by entering your zip code on YouTube TV’s channel finder.
YouTube TV supports Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and more. The YouTube TV app has also returned to Roku devices after settling a dispute between the two companies. Be sure to check out our review of YouTube TV for more information. You can sign up for their free trial.
How Much: $72.99 per month.
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