When it comes to watching TV, most TV shows people watch are on broadcast TV networks like CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC. These local networks are divided into local markets across the countries, and the local affiliates are often owned by a company other that the company that owns CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC. Occasionally these local affiliates have a dispute with the cable TV or streaming service, and the local channels are dropped from the service. In these cases, those local feeds are replaced with national feeds allowing the TV services customer to watch prime time and national sporting events on that channel. For example, if the local CBS affiliate drops from your live TV streaming service, you won’t be able to watch your local news, but you can watch all the prime-time TV shows on CBS when they air.
To give you a current view of each service and the local channels they offer, I’ve linked where you can see which local channels the top live TV streaming services provide in your area in the list below.
- DIRECTV STREAM – Offers local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, The CW, and more with a 5-day Free Trial. You can also check what channels are available in your zip code by using this link and selecting the “Regional Sports and Local Tab”
- Hulu Live TV – You can check your zip code here to see which channels are available in your area, including local channels. If the channel is local, it will show the local callsign of the Network, Otherwise, it will indicate the main network (NBC, CBS, ABC, or Fox). For example, if it simply shows “CBS” instead of “CBS 10”, that means your zipcode will get a national CBS feed for your timezone.
- FuboTV – See all the local channels streaming on fuboTV. Enter your zip code, if the channel is local, it will show the local callsign of the network or the local channel number. Otherwise, it will indicate the main network (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, etc.).
- YouTube TV – You can check your Zip Code on YouTube TV’s Website to see the local channels they stream in your area. Again, if you see the general Network name (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, etc.) instead of the local channel or callsign, this is a national feed instead of your local feed.
- Sling – Now, Sling Doesn’t have CBS at all, but Sling’s “Blue” plan does stream ABC, NBC, and Fox in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area (Note: Sling adds a $5 fee in those areas). Since Sling is the most affordable of these streaming services, starting at $40 per month, if you live in one of those areas, you could pick up a $11.99 per month Paramount+ subscription for your local CBS network. You can sign up on Sling’s Website. The total cost of both services in those areas would be $57 per month.
All of these services include a cloud DVR so you can even record the stream of local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC and watch whenever you want. If you are looking for information on streaming a specific channel on a network or cable TV, see our guide – How To Watch Any TV Channel.
Streaming Local Channels Free
I understand that not everyone wants to use an antenna. Many readers are looking to steam their local channels, not troubleshooting reception issues. The streaming service Locast used to be the best option for streaming local networks free. Unfortunately, Locast suspended operations after losing a court decision to ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. While there isn’t a long-term solution to steaming these local solutions, you could take advantage of free trial options from the services in the list below. They all stream local network channels in TV markets across the US if you need a more short-term solution to watch something on local channels now.
- DIRECTV STREAM – Provides a 5-day free trial
- YouTube TV – offers a 1-week free trial
- FuboTV – Offers a 1-week trial
More details and information on these services are provided in the next section.
Streaming Services With Local Channels
If you don’t want to use an antenna, there are several ways to stream your local network channels. The best options to stream local ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS are DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV. They all offer a way to live stream major broadcast networks in nearly every market in the US. FuboTV is also an option. However, they don’t cover as many markets. Lastly, Paramount+, Sling TV, and Vidgo stream some of the “big four” local broadcast networks in some parts of the country.
We break down the local channel offers of each of these services in the sections below.
DIRECTV STREAM Local Channels
DIRECTV STREAM is a way to stream your local channels (along with the most popular cable channels) without needing an expensive cable box or satellite dish. The service offers live ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, The CW, PBS, and more. Use the link below to see all the channels you can stream.
DIRECTV STREAM local channel availability: See all the channels available in your zip code. Just click that link and use the “Regional Sports & Local” tab on the page to see the local channel lineup in your area.
The service is essentially DIRECTV without all the device rental fees. One subscription will let you stream channels on up to 20 devices like Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, and more. The service is perfect if you have multiple TVs in your house. DIRECTV STREAM plans start at $74.99 per month with no commitment. You pay month to month and can cancel at any time. A subscription to DIRECTV STREAM includes:
- watch unlimited streams simultaneously inside the how and a limit of 3 streams on the go.
- a cloud-based DVR
- Local channels (NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, etc.) and cable channels like Freeform, AMC, HGTV, Discovery, and more
- supported on Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, and more
DIRECTV STREAM Entertainment Plan Deal: Currently DIRECTV STREAM provides a 5-day free trial for their "Entertaiment" Channel Plan. After the trial, the service costs $74.99 per month after. You can sign up on the DIRECTV STREAM website.
You can check out everything this service offers by reading about it in our DIRECTV STREAM review.
Stream Local Channels on Hulu Live TV
Did you know Hulu streams Live TV? Hulu’s Live service currently streams live ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS, in nearly every TV market, along with the CW in quite a few local markets as well. You can check your zip code with Hulu to see which local channels are available in your area. It will also tell you which cable channels are available! You can get live FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC in most U.S. These are the same local affiliate networks you see over the air and on cable TV. Please be aware that Hulu Live TV has lost live ABC in 31 Markets due to recent contract disputes with local affiliates.
They also stream just about every channel you can find on pay TV. There is no contract, so that you can cancel at any time. Hulu’s Live TV service is cheaper than cable, starting at just $69.99 per month. That also includes Hulu’s massive on-demand streaming library.
Hulu+live TV is supported on Roku, Fire TV Devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and more. You can find more information on the service in our Hulu review, along with a listing of all your local channels on Hulu.
Local Channels on YouTube TV
YouTube TV is an equally great option for watching live ABC, CBS, Fox, The CW, and NBC. You can check your Zip Code on YouTube TV’s Website to ensure those channels are available in your area.
YouTube TV is also a top service for watching local and cable channels live online. The service costs $72.99 per month with no contract, so you can cancel at any time. YouTube TV supports Roku, Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and more. You can see our in-depth review of YouTube TV for more information on their service.
Local Channels on Fubo TV
FuboTV offers live local Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS in select markets. This service also includes networks known for sports like FS1, FS2, beIN Sports, BTN, and more. You can see what’s available at FuboTV through this link. Recently fuboTV had to switch the local CBS affiliate to a national feed due to local carriage disputes. This is common these days, in these situations, you can still watch the prime time shows and national sports on these networks, you just won’t have access to local coverage like local news and local programming. We cover this streaming service in-depth in our Review of FuboTV.
FuboTV is available on major platforms, including Apple TV, AndroidTV, Roku, and Amazon FireTV. The price of their “Pro Plan” is $74.99 That includes a cloud DVR with 250 hours of storage and the ability to watch on three devices at once.
More Limited Options
Sling TV offers only local ABC, FOX, and NBC in select markets if you subscribe to Sling TV’s “Blue” channel package. You can watch Sling TV on Windows and Mac PCs and laptops, Android and iOS devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Nexus player, Xbox One, 4th Generation Apple TV, Chromecast, and more. To find out more about what Sling TV offers and more information about Sling TV device compatibility, check out this detailed review of Sling TV. Sling offers discounts for new customers.
Paramount+ provides the local live CBS broadcast markets across the U.S. Check the link to see if the live local feed is available in your area. If interested, you can check out this free trial to Paramount+.
Peacock Premium Plus provides your local NBC station streamed live in addition to an ad-free experience of the on-demand content available on Peacock. The price is $11.99 per month and you can sign up on Peacock’s website.
Vidgo streams Fox and ABC in around 100 markets around the country but doesn’t offer NBC and CBS. Vidgo is supported on Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV. You can also stream the service on up to 3 devices simultaneously. We have the full details in our guide to Vidgo’s live streaming service.
Stream Local Channels Through Your Cable Provider
Some cable companies are finally waking up to the fact that the cable box is their customer’s biggest issue. Check the list below to see if any of the companies below will let your stream live TV on your Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or another streaming device instead of renting their bulky cable box.
Xfinity Stream – If you have Xfinity Internet you can get TV service through the Xfinity Stream App, eliminating the need for a cable box. You can eliminate all device rental fees by doing what I did and using your own router and modem with Xfinity Internet. Depending on the TV service you choose there may be additional broadcast and regional sports fees, but it’s worth seeing if it will save you some money. For example, they will provide 300 Mbps Internet service and stream your local channels starting at $54.99 per month (plus broadcast fees). It may be worth checking out here.
A Way to Watch Free Local TV
Cable TV doesn’t want you to know this, but local broadcast TV networks are available over the air simply using a TV antenna. Nearly every TV sold in the US can use a TV antenna. To make sure yours does, look for a coaxial port on the back or side of the television. If your TV is digital, then there will be a label with the letters “HD,” “ATSC,” “HDTV,” or other words indicating the TV has a digital tuner. If you have an older TV that isn’t digital, you can convert it using a digital converter box.
Once you have a “digital ready” TV, all you need to do is install a TV antenna. Antenna companies use the term “digital antenna,” but that is just a marketing term. Any antenna can pick up the signal. It’s the turner inside the TV’s ability to read that digital signal that matters. You could use an antenna from the 1950s, and if the TV is digital (which mostly all made after 2007 are), you can use it.
While there are many different types of antennas, and finding the perfect one requires some research, generally, if you live in a city or the suburbs, you can grab a $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. 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
Streaming Local Channels on Roku and Amazon Fire TV
Obviously, if you chose to use Hulu, YouTube TV, or other live TV streaming service to watch your local broadcast channels, you can download the app to your streaming device and watch local TV. However, if you decide to go with a TV antenna, it’s still possible to natively stream those channels from your antenna to certain devices.
If you have a Roku TV instead of the standalone Roku device, a “TV Antenna” Roku app reads input from the coaxial port on your Roku TV back. Connect your TV antenna to the port and turn on the TV Antenna app. You will have access to a program guide and all the channels your antenna receives. Amazon Fire Smart TVs have similar functionality.
If you don’t have a Roku TV but a Roku device, you may still be able to use an antenna. However, you will need some additional hardware. Here are two solutions.
Tablo DVR – This is a DVR for your TV antenna. Your antenna plugs into Tablo DVR, and the Tablo plugs into your home router. From there, you can use the Roku table app to manage the DVR, watch live TV, and set recordings. Read more in our review of DVRs for your TV Antenna.
HDHomeRun Connect Duo – This device is not a DVR. It connects to your router via ethernet. You then connect a TV antenna to the HDHomeRun, and the TV signal is available on your home network through the HD HomeRun Roku app. This device is available through Amazon.
Of course, you can always hook the antenna to your TV, switch your TV input to Roku for streaming, and “TV Antenna” to watch live TV. These solutions are more for the convenience of access to live TV through your Roku menu.
Streaming Prime Time Network TV Shows
If you aren’t in a market where the streaming services listed above offer live local channels, they still stream content on demand. While you won’t have local news, it will cover a lot of primetime network TV. They all provide free trials and no contract, so there is no risk to try them.
Stream Network Shows On-Demand
Another way to catch primetime network television is Hulu On-Demand, NBC Peacock, and Paramount+. This combination will provide several hit primetime shows on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW. You can give Hulu a try to see if you like the service. If you’re looking for PBS shows, you can watch them through the PBS app. It is available on almost any device.
While Paramount+, Hulu, and the PBS app are supported on most browsers, tablets, and smartphones, you probably want to watch these shows on television. To do that, all you need is a streaming device like Roku.
These devices connect to various video services using apps (also known as channels.) They then stream the video directly to your TV.
Watch Free with Network TV Apps
While you typically can’t stream your local network through the apps below, they offer free content. In most cases, the latest seasons of primetime shows are available to watch through these apps for free. However, while there is free content, don’t expect them to have everything you want to watch available when you want to watch it.
You can watch several NBC Shows using the NBC app or at NBC.com. They make you wait 8 days before watching the most current episode, but the full-length episodes are available for the current shows free on most streaming devices. You just need to search your device’s channel store for the NBC App.
Current episodes for the following show’s latest season were available through the NBC app: American Ninja Warrior, Connecting…, Dateline NBC, Ellen’s Game of Games, This Is Us, Transplant, The Voice, The Wall, and Weakest Link.
While the ABC app requires a TV provider login for some content, current episodes of ABC shows available free. A “lock” symbol identifies which episodes require you to link your participating TV provider account. However, Locked episodes for most shows will become available to watch without signing into your participating TV provider account 8 days after the episode first airs on TV.
I checked, and you can watch the latest episode of the following shows eight days after airing on ABC: 20/20, America’s Funniest Home Videos, American Housewife, The Bachelorette, Black-ish, Card Sharks, Celebrity Family Feud, The Con, The Conners, Dancing with the Stars, Emergency Call, The Goldbergs, The Good Doctor, Grey’s Anatomy, Match Game, Press Your Luck, Station 19, Supermarket Sweep, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The shows look to keep at least the last 5 episodes available free. You can download the app to your mobile or streaming device or watch through ABC’s website.
The Fox Now app does have many programming online for free, but it appears they delay current episodes if you don’t have a valid cable or satellite TV account. Some shows seem that they are on more of a delay than others. However, there is a method to the madness.
Generally, without a TV provider, new episodes of returning FOX shows (i.e., shows that have been on the air more than 1 season), unlock 8 days after they air on TV. In some cases, only the most recent 5 episodes will be available free. So you can watch the latest episodes of The Simpsons and The Masked Singer. However, new shows like LA’s Finest will be locked without a TV provider.
The Fox Now App is available on most streaming platforms.
You can watch several CBS Shows using the CBS app or at CBS.com. There may be a bit of confusion on which shows are available on THe CBS vs. their premium Paramount+ service, but the full-length episodes are available for the current shows free on most streaming devices. You just need to search your device’s channel store for the CBS App.
Current episodes for the following show’s latest season were available through the CBS app: NCIS, The Equalizer, Clarice, and more. New episodes appear the day after they air on CBS and generally are available free for a few weeks before moving over to Paramount+.
The CW is great when it comes to watching broadcast TV online. They have up-to-date full-length episodes of “Arrow,” “Supernatural,” “The Flash,” and more. Most of their shows are available soon after airing. The CW app is available in the channel store of most streaming devices.
PBS also does a great job of providing online content. You can stream the live feed of the local PBS member station in over 125 TV markets. See our guide to watching PBS online for details. Many Full-length episodes of PBS shows are available for free at PBS.com.
Looking For a Specific Local Network
If you are in a specific live local network, then check out the channel-specific articles below.
- Watch Fox Online Without Cable
- Watch NBC Online Without Cable
- Watch CBS Online Without Cable
- Watch ABC Online Without Cable
- Watch The CW Online
- Watch PBS Without Cable
For information on watching other TV channels online check out: How To Stream Specific TV Channels
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