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Here's how to watch local channels on your Roku
Cord-cutting usually means getting rid of your satellite TV or cable television service. However, it could be a chore to stream your local network and syndication TV channels. Many cord-cutters use smart TVs with the Roku OS, or use a TV with a Roku set-top box or streaming stick connected. You may be wondering how to watch local channels on Roku devices. The truth is that it’s pretty easy if you know what live internet-based TV services to use. You may even want to consider getting a digital antenna to watch those channels.
THE SHORT ANSWER
You can sign up for live TV services like Hulu Plus Live TV or YouTube TV to watch local channels on your Roku. Other streaming services also provide access to live TV from a single network, like Paramount Plus or Peacock. You can even hook up a digital antenna to your Roku smart TV.
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Services that let you watch local channels on your Roku or Roku TV
Hulu Plus Live TV
The Hulu Plus Live TV service is perhaps the best way for cord cutters of getting most of your local TV channels without having to buy an external antenna. In addition to offering your local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CW affiliates, it also has over 70 more basic cable channels. It includes features like 50 hours of cloud DVR storage in its basic price, and you can increase that amount to 200 hours with an additional fee. You can also have unlimited concurrent streams on your home network, again for an additional fee.
You can get Hulu Plus Live TV for $69.99 a month. That includes ads for the normal Hulu streaming service movies and TV shows, and Disney Plus and ESPN Plus are thrown in for no additional cost. You can get rid of ads on Hulu if you pay $75.99 a month.
- Most major local network affiliates
- 50 hours of cloud DVR
- Disney Plus and ESPN Plus included
- Add-on fee needed to expand cloud DVR space
- Pay more to get rid of Hulu ads
- No local PBS stations
YouTube TV is perhaps the best alternative to Hulu Plus Live TV if you want most of your local channels. At $64.99 a month, it’s a bit cheaper than Hulu Plus Live TV, but you get access to more network affiliates. In addition to ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations, you also get access to some other syndicated stations in your area, plus your local PBS channels. The CW is also available, but only as an on-demand service and not as a live TV channel.
In addition, you have over 100 channels to access for the base price, unlimited cloud DVR space, and support for up to six profiles per account. If you don’t care about losing access to the Hulu, Disney Plus, or ESPN Plus content libraries, this is an excellent service to watch local channels on Roku devices.
- Most major local network affiliates, including PBS
- Unlimited cloud DVR
- A bit cheaper than Hulu Plus Live TV
- The CW network only offered as an on-demand service
- No other premium streaming services included
If you want a live TV service that’s even cheaper than Hulu Plus Live TV or YouTube TV and still offers local stations, check out the Sling TV service. The Sling TV Blue service normally costs $40 a month but offers live streams of Fox and NBC stations. You also get up to 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. You can also access nearly 40 other cable TV channels with the subscription. The downside is that the local channels are only in select markets. However, if you want a cheaper solution and you don’t care about the other local stations, this is a nice compromise.
- Much cheaper than YouTube TV or Hulu Plus Live TV
- 50 hours of cloud DVR
- Up to three live streams at once
- Just Fox and NBC stations, and only in select markets
FuboTV is one of the more expensive live-streaming television services out there with a starting price of $69.99 a month. In some markets, it offers access to Fox, CBS, and NBC local channel affiliates. It also offers over 135 other channels in its basic package, including a ton of sports channels. It offers 1,000 hours of cloud DVR and you can stream on up to 10 devices at once on your home network. On the minus side, ABC and CW networks are not included, and some markets might lack the other broadcast channels.
- CBS, NBC, and Fox affiliates available
- 1,000 hours of cloud DVR
- Up to 10 live streams at once at home
- ABC and CW networks are not available
- Some markets may lack the other channels
In addition to the live TV streaming services, two of the major networks, CBS and NBC, offer ways to watch live TV with their own streaming services. CBS network fans can sign up for Paramount Plus and its Premium subscription for $9.99 a month to access their local CBS affiliate, plus all the on-demand movies and TV shows that are featured on the service.
Starting November 30, NBC network fans can do the same with a Peacock Premium Plus subscription, which also costs $9.99 per month. Again, you can access the live streams from your local NBC station via Peacock, along with all of the other content that the streaming service has to offer.
- Cheap way to get CBS and NBC live channels
- All of Paramount Plus and Peacock’s content are included
- No cloud DVR feature
If you own a smart TV with the Roku OS already installed, you can also purchase a digital antenna and connect it to the TV. Roku has a programming guide for live TV that supports local channels with an antenna connection. Once you install the antenna, you can go into the Roku Live TV section and start scanning for channels. They will be added to the Live TV channel guide.
If your TV also has a USB connection, there’s something else you can do with a Roku-based TV with an antenna. You can connect a USB flash drive that has 16GB of free space or above to the USB connection on your TV. Then, when you watch anything live on your broadcast channels and want to pause something, you can do it with the flash drive. It will store up to 90 minutes of video from the channel you are watching. Yes, you can also rewind the video from that channel to 90 minutes in the past as well. It’s not exactly a full DVR, but it could come in handy when watching live news or sports.
- No monthly fees, just a one-time hardware purchase
- Local channels automatically added to Roku Live TV guide
- Add a USB flash drive for pausing and rewinding live TV
- Some people may not want to mess with an extra hardware device
- USB flash drives only adds 90 minutes of video to rewind.
Unfortunately, neither network has offered a way to get access to live streams of their local channels similar to CBS/Paramount Plus or NBC/Peacock. That could change in the future, however.
Digital antenna channels like MeTV, Cozi TV, Heroes & Icons and more can be added to your Roku device via your digital antenna. Some of these channels also have free live feeds from their own, including Comet and others.