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.
Stream Live PBS Free
There are two ways your can stream your live local PBS broadcast free.
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)
To activate the PBS app on your streaming device, follow the steps below:
- Download the PBS App from your Channel Store and Open the app
- Select “Activate Now,” and you will receive an activation code.
- Navigate to this URL on your laptop or smart device: Activate PBS
- Sign in with your PBS account (you can create one FREE if you don’t have one)
- Once signed in, your device will refresh. If you have a local live stream of PBS, you will see a “Live TV Tab” in addition to thousands of On-demand episodes.
Where is Live PBS Available
The following member stations stream your live local PBS channel through the PBS app:
- Alaska Public Media
- Arizona Public Media
- Arkansas PBS
- Austin PBS
- Blue Ridge PBS
- Colorado Public Television
- Connecticut Public Broadcasting
- Delta College Public Media
- Detroit Public Television
- East Tennessee PBS
- Florida’s 5 WUFT-TV
- Georgia Public Broadcasting
- Houston Public Media TV 8
- Idaho Public Television
- Illinois Public Media
- Iowa PBS
- Kansas City PBS
- KSPS Public Television
- Lakeland LPTV
- Lakeshore PBS
- Louisiana Public Broadcasting
- Maine Public Broadcasting
- Milwaukee PBS
- Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Mountain Lake PBS
- MPT/Maryland Public Television
- Nashville Public Television
- Nebraska Network
- New England Public Media
- New Hampshire PBS
- New Mexico PBS
- North California Public Media
- Northwest Public Broadcasting
- Oklahoma Educational Television Authority
- Oregon Public Broadcasting
- Ozarks Public Television
- PBS Charlotte
- PBS Fort Wayne
- PBS Guam
- PBS SoCal
- PBS Western Reserve
- Pioneer Public TV
- Prairie Public Broadcasting
- Rhode Island PBS
- Rocky Mountain PBS
- Smoky Hills PBS
- South Dakota Public Broadcasting
- The Kentucky Network
- The Nine Network of Public Media
- Twin Cities PBS
- Vegas PBS
- Vermont PBS
- WCMU Public Television
- West TN PBS
- West Virginia Public Broadcasting
- WETA (using WETA Metro channel)
- WFYI Indianapolis
- WGCU Public Media
- WNIT Public Television
- WNMU Public TV 13
- WPBT South Florida PBS
- WPSU Penn State
- WQPT PBS
- WSKG Public Media
- WTJX Channel 12
- WVIA Public Media
- WVIZ/PBS Ideastream
- WXEL South Florida PBS
- WXXI Public Broadcasting
- Wyoming PBS
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
Below I’m going to cover the streaming services that 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.
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.
DIRECTV STREAM Carries PBS
AT&T’s live streaming service is another way to watch PBS live. However, you have to subscribe to their “Entertainment” package for $74.99 per month. The service also offers a 5-day free trial and doesn’t force you into a contract so you can cancel any time. You can see if your local PBS stations (and other local channels) are available using the channel zip code search on the DIRECTV STREAM website. The service also includes a cloud DVR service and allows you to simultaneously stream to an unlimited number of devices in the home, and up to 3 outside the home.
DIRECTV STREAM is supported on the following devices:
- 4th Gen Apple TV
- Google Chromecast, 2nd gen and higher
- Amazon Fire TV
- Fire TV Stick
- iOS devices
- Chrome and Safari browsers
See our review of DIRECTV STREAM for more details on this streaming service.
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.
For information on watching other TV channels online check out: How To Stream Specific TV Channels
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