You don’t need cable to watch PBS. In fact, 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.
PBS is Free on Locast
Locast streams the local PBS network live in over 42% of households, and it is 100% free. You can even watch Locast using a streaming device. Locast supports Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV.
While Locast is technically free, the service does interrupt its broadcast every 15 minutes or so to ask for a donation of $5. If you decide to donate, then the message is removed, and you can watch without solicitation from Locast for donations. Please, note that the service also subject to a pending lawsuit from the major broadcast networks, so while the service is currently legal, it is unknown how long that status will last.
Locast is available in the following 34 TV markets:
- Atlanta, GA
- Baltimore, MD
- Boston, MA
- Charlotte, NC
- Cleveland, OH
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Detroit, MI
- Houston, TX
- Indianapolis, IN
- Los Angeles, CA
- Madison, WI
- Miami, FL
- Minneapolis, MN
- New York, NY
- Orlando, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Portland, OR
- Puerto Rico
- Rapid City, SD
- Raleigh-Durham, NC
- Sacramento, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Scranton, PA
- Seattle, WA
- Sioux City, IA
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Tampa Bay, FL
- Tri-Cities (TN, KY, and VA)
- Washington, D.C
- West Palm Beach, FL
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.
Watch PBS on YouTube TV
Besides Locast, YouTube TV is currently the only live streaming service where you can watch your local PBS station live. YouTubeTV 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 isn’t available on Roku. However, users can use YouTube TV through the YouTube app on Roku devices. Be sure to check out our review of YouTube TV for more information. You can sign up for their free trial.
How Much: $64.99 per month.
For information on watching other TV channels online check out: How To Stream Specific TV Channels
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