When it comes to watching TV, the majority of TV shows people watch are on broadcast TV networks like CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, etc. TV shows on those networks are consistently in the Nielsen ratings top 10.
Ultimately, when it comes to saying goodbye to cable, getting access to your local networks and the prime time shows are a priority for many. Today, I’m going to let you know to get those local network channels over the air (OTA TV), and a few ways to stream them over the internet.
Below is information combined from the following articles:
- Watch Fox Online Without Cable
- Watch NBC Online Without Cable
- Watch CBS Online Without Cable
- Watch ABC Online Without Cable
- Watch The CW Online
Stream Local Channels Free
You no longer need a cable or satellite TV subscription to watch your local TV channels. You can now watch your local networks online using a live streaming service. You can even get a device like a Roku and watch them on your TV set. Some are even free like Locast!
Locast is a provides local ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, and more 100% free. You can even watch Locast using a streaming device. Locast supports Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and Android TV.
Locast is only available in the following TV Markets: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Rapid City, San Francisco, Seattle, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Washington DC
You can read more in our review of Locast.
Watch Local TV Online
If you can’t use locast, or they don’t quite meet your needs, two best options for watching ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS online are Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV. They both offer all of the major broadcast Networks in nearly every market in the US.
Local TV on Hulu Live TV
Did you know Hulu streams Live TV? Hulu’s Live service currently streams live ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, in nearly every TV market, along the CW in quite a few 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 areas in the U.S. These are the same local affiliate networks you see over the air and on cable.
In addition, 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 much cheaper than cable, starting at just $54.99 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 TV on YouTube TV
YouTube TV is an equally great option for watching live ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. You can check your Zip Code on Youtube TVs Website to make sure those channels are available in your area. They are also one of the only live services to offer PBS in their channel lineup.
YouTube TV is also a top service for watching local and cable channels live online. The service costs $64.99 per month, and there is no contract so you can cancel at any time. YouTube TV is available on Roku, Android, iOS (includes AirPlay to Apple TV), and Chromecasts/Chromecast-compatible TVs. You can see our in-depth review of YouTube TV for more information on their service.
Other Local TV Options
FuboTV offers live local Fox, NBC, and CBS in select markets. This service also includes networks known for sports like FS1, FS2, beIN Sports, NBCSN, BTN, and more. You can see what’s available at FuboTV through this 1-week free trial. We cover this streaming service in-depth in our Review of FuboTV.
CBS All Access – This service 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 CBS All Access.
AT&T TV Now is another streaming service that offers local channels in many parts of the United States. You can check out or review of AT&T TV Now for more information on their service.
Watch Prime Time Network TV Online
If you aren’t in a market where the streaming services listed above offer live local channels, they still may stream content on demand. While you won’t have local news, it will cover a lot of prime time network TV. They all provide free trials and no contract, so there is no risk to try them.
Another way catch to prime-time network television is the combination of Hulu On-Demand and CBS All Access. This combination will provide several hit prime-time 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, they can be accessed through the PBS app. It is available on almost any device.
While CBS All Access, Hulu, and the PBS app is supported on most browsers, tablets, and smartphones, you probably want to watch these shows on a television. To do that, all you need is a streaming device like Roku.
These devices connect to various video services over the internet using apps (also known as channels.) They then stream the video directly to your TV.
You may not require a streaming device if you are content watching on your Mac, PC, or laptop. In that case, the following websites will allow you to stream recent episodes from your favorite network TV shows.
|NBC – Click to watch full-length episodes of NBC TV shows such as “SNL”, “The Good Place“, “Superstore”, and more.|
|ABC – Catch hit ABC shows like “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Goldbergs”, “Modern Family” and more for free. They make you wait about a week before watching the most current episode, but the full-length episodes are available for the current season of shows.|
|CBS – Want to watch “Young Sheldon”, “60 Minutes”, “Madam Secretary”, and more hit CBS shows online. Then check out their website.|
|FOX – Fox does have a lot of 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, if you don’t mind waiting, you can watch FOX broadcast shows on their website.|
|The CW – 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. All their shows seem to be available very soon after airing.|
|PBS – PBS also does a great job of providing online content. Full-length episodes of every PBS show I’m interested in watching seems to be available for free.|
Local Channels Over the Air (OTA)
Cable TV doesn’t want you to know this, but local broadcast TV networks are available over the air simply using a TV antenna. In fact, today’s antenna TV has a better picture than cable. TV signals these days are digital, so you need a TV that was made after 2007 with a digital tuner.
Typically, you can find out if your television is equipped with a digital tuner in the user manual or on the TV manufacturer’s website. However, an easy way to see if your TV is digital is to look at the antenna coaxial port. It looks like a fat threaded screw somewhere on the back of the TV.
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 your TV is not digital, you can convert it using a digital converter box.
Once you have a TV that is “digital ready”, all you need to do is install a TV antenna. I installed the Mohu Sky 60 outdoor antenna on my roof and now I receive all the major local broadcast networks. Mohu also makes quality indoor antennas like The Mohu Curve and Mohu Leaf. If you are interested in purchasing a Mohu antenna, check my Mohu promo page for a big discount.
If you want to learn more about using an antenna for free local TV, then check out the following instructional guides.
- 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
How To Get Free TV
With so many local affiliates in the U.S., it’s difficult to negotiate all of them into one streaming service. Therefore, a TV Antenna is the best legal solution for free TV. I’ve had many ask in the comments about getting free TV through jailbroken streaming devices or getting a jailbroken Fire Stick. I’d advise against it.
While there isn’t an explicit law against it, it is a legal gray area. Furthermore, it violates the terms of service of many streaming services, and some content providers are starting to deny services on these devices.
For information on watching other TV channels online check out: How To Watch Any TV Channel Online Without Cable
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