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How to watch or stream local TV channels without cable
Cable television operators have been slowly losing customers for years. Many have cut the cord and are now relying on streaming services for their TV news, sports, and entertainment needs. However, some people are still reluctant to get rid of their cable TV because they want easy access to their local television stations without using an antenna. However, there are still ways to watch or stream local TV channels without cable.
Read more: Best streaming TV apps and services
We will look at what options are available for cord-cutters to watch or stream their local TV channels. We will also look at the good old-fashioned TV antenna as well. People who may have resisted getting one may not be aware of the number of free channels they can now get. There are even ways to stream over-the-air free TV on your mobile device or smart TV.
There are several ways to watch your local TV channels without cable, ranging from old-fashioned antennas to new-fashioned internet access.
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Four ways to get local channels without cable
The easiest way to get your local TV stations without a cable is to purchase a digital HDTV antenna. Think again if you think you will be buying an old piece of “rabbit ears” hardware for this feature. You can get an antenna that can attach to a nearby window, so you don’t have to climb on the roof to install one. One of the best is the Gesobyte Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna which has a range of 250 miles.
Of course, there are also options for people who want to put up a more powerful antenna outside of their house for better reception and range. One of them is the Tonristic HDTV Antenna, which also has an option to set the antenna inside. Best of all, it has a mind-blowing 400-mile range at an affordable price.
Read more: Best HDTV antennas
While the number of channels you can receive clearly with a digital HDTV will vary depending on where you live, the good news is that you should be able to get as many as 80 channels or more. That’s because local TV stations have been adding to their translators with extra channels. That includes networks that offer reruns of old TV shows, such as MeTV, CoziTV, Comet, Heroes and Icons, and many more.
The future: 4K over-the-air TV channels
Not only can you get your local broadcast channels in full 1080p HD quality right now with these new antennas, but the best is yet to come. Slowly but surely, some US cities have already adopted the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard. Once it’s fully operational, you will be able to purchase a new digital antenna that will receive over-the-air TV in full 4K resolution, with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio support. Newer LG, Sony, and Samsung smart TVs are already putting in ATSC 3.0 tuners in their current televisions in anticipation of the full roll-out. Hisense is expected to do the same, starting with its 2022 smart TVs.
Stream over-the-air channels to your mobile device or smart TV
There’s also a way to stream local channels from your over-the-air antenna to your mobile device or smart TV. The Plex Pass subscription, combined with digital television and a compatible TV tuner, will allow you to receive your local channels and stream them to your smartphone, tablet, PC desktop or laptop, or Roku-based smart TV. You can also record and store any over-the-air shows on a compatible DVR, cast your shows to a Chromecast-based TV, or pause and then fast-forward live shows. It takes a little bit of time to set up, but the results may be worth it for watching your local channels the way you want to do it.
A Plex Pass subscription costs $4.99 a month, and there’s a $39.99 annual subscription. You can even get a lifetime subscription for $119.99.
Stream local TV channels with internet-based services
If you don’t want to mess with extra hardware like antennas or TV tuners to get your local television stations, the easiest way is to sign up for an internet-based live TV service. Several of them offer live access to all or most of your local TV stations. Most also offer cloud DVR for storing live shows on your account. You can stream them to your PC, mobile device, or smart TV.
Read more: Live streaming TV services
The biggest issue with going this quick-and-simple route is that the monthly bills for these services can be expensive. They include Hulu Plus Live TV, which costs $70 a month, with unlimited cloud DVR.
Another option is YouTube TV, which costs $65 a month, and includes unlimited cloud DVR space (but the recordings disappear after nine months).
FuboTV starts at $70 a month and offers 1,000 hours of cloud DVR. However, not all of the local channels are available in all markets.
Stream live CBS, NBC, and PBS local channels directly
You can also livestream CBS and NBC local channels by subscribing to Paramount Plus and Peacock. If you pay $9.99 a month, or $99.99 a year for Paramount Plus, you can get a livestream from your local CBS channel. You can sign up for the service, with a seven-day free trial, at the link below.
Similarly, you can get your live NBC station via a Peacock subscription. You can get it for $4.99 a month with ads for its on-demand content or $9.99 a month without ads for on-demand (the live NBC stream will have ads no matter what).
The PBS.org website allows users to livestream their local PBS stations. Best of all, this feature is 100% free to access.
Unfortunately, those networks currently don’t offer direct ways to livestream their local channel affiliates like CBS, NBC, or PBS does. You can wait until the next day to access some of their programming on-demand via Hulu (for ABC and Fox) or on the CW app or website.
Most smart TVs do have their own tuners, but you will still need to hook up an HDTV digital antenna to access your local over-the-air channels on your television.
That’s our look at the options to watch or stream local TV channels on your various media devices. We will update this article if more services launch or existing ones make any changes.