How to Get Local Channels Without Cable

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How to Get Local Channels Without Cable

Just a couple of years ago, the local channels were the missing piece for those who decided to cut the cord. However, in the last couple of years that has changed, and today you can get local channels without the cable.

In this article we will cover all the details of how to get local channels without cable, what equipment do you need, and all other useful information that will ensure you get free of the expensive monthly cable bill without saying goodbye to your favorite local channels.

The craziest part is that many users stick to the cable plan mainly to have access to local channels, while those are actually available for free in several cases. As such, make sure to read the following content with high attention. We promise you that you will get away with many great insights that will help you save some money if you decide to take action on what you’re about to learn.

Are you ready to say goodbye to your cable? Let’s do this.

Why is cable so expensive? Will you save money by cutting the cord?

One reason why cable is so expensive is that it delivers hundreds of channels. But when you think about it, you watch only a hand-full of those. As such, it makes sense to consider other options that may provide you with fewer channels overall, however, will include the ones you watch regularly.

That said, you can save quite a lot of money when you play it smart. Many channels are available for free both over-the-air and online. There are also many paid options available that are way more affordable than cable TV, which on average sets you back for $100 per month.

Based on our research, users have saved as much as $1000 or even more per year by applying some of the tips and information that you are about to learn in the following sections.

Can you still get local channels without cable?

Of course, there are several ways you can still get local channels with the cable. Most of these options can be split into two groups – over-the-air options and online streaming. Each of those options requires a different set of equipment, which will cost you something. However, once you have the equipment many local channels can be obtained completely for free. Isn’t that great?

What equipment do I need to watch TV without cable?

How to Get Local Channels Without Cable

As we said, there are many different ways that you can access local channels and other video content these days. Herein we will cover the equipment needed. Keep in mind that you only need one of the following to access more than enough channels to keep you entertained. However, you can also combine several of the below-presented options to expend your options and still spend less than you would on cable.

Smart TVs

Requires an internet connection.

Smart TVs are really awesome. They provide you with the display to watch your favorite content on and also enable you to connect to the internet, either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable. To make full use of a Smart TV, you will also need an internet connection.

These days most LG, Samsung, and Sony TVs are Smart TVs. Of course, there are also many other less known manufacturers on the market.

Streaming Video Players

Requires an internet connection.

These devices may be used with TV sets or even laptops and PCs. As long as you have a display and an internet connection, you can make full use of this streaming video players. There are many types of streaming players available and we will have a closer look at many of them in the next section. Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Amazon Fire are some of the most popular ones.

Game Consoles

Requires an internet connection.

A game console in combination with an internet connection can be also used to stream local TV channels. All most popular game consoles, like XBOX ONE, Playstation 4, and Nintendo come with a number of streaming video apps that enable you to enjoy your favorite video content. Of course, you need a TV or a monitor that will enable you to project the content and actually view it.

Indoor HD Antenna

No internet connection required.

This is a great option for urban areas with a lot of signals available. By investing in a solid indoor antenna and connecting it to your TV set using a coaxial cable, you can watch a great number of local channels in HD quality for free.

Outdoor antenna

No internet connection required.

This enables you to capture signals in rural areas or other places with a weaker signal. The equipment will cost you slightly more (outdoor antenna, amplifier, and coaxial cable), however, you can then enjoy the content for free. Of course, you will also need a TV set to actually watch the content on.

Check out for Best Tv Antenna that Picks Up Cable Channels

Smartphones/Tablets

Requires internet connection (mobile data or Wi-Fi).

A smartphone or a tablet with a proper amount of data or connected to a Wi-Fi network is all you need these days to access many local channels. You do need to install the right kind of apps that will provide you free access to specific channels.

Laptop or PC

Requires an internet connection.

You can make use of online options and streaming if you have a laptop or a PC and a solid internet connection. You can then watch channels directly on your laptop or PC or use an HDMI cable and connect your laptop to your TV set to enjoy the content on a larger display.

DVR

A standalone Over-The-Air (OTA) DVR will enable you to watch and even record (only from the digital antenna). The most popular options are Fire TV Recast, Tablo OTA DVR, and Tivo Roamio.

Best Ways to Get Local Channels Without Cable

This is the section that will make all the difference for you. Herein, you will finally learn how to get local channels without cable. We did extremely extensive research to present you with all valid alternatives. Some of these are even free and require just the purchase of proper equipment, which we already described shortly in the previous section.

Roughly, we can split cable alternatives into those that will capture signals with the use of antennas and those that will use internet streaming, which includes on-demand streaming and live streaming. Both can further be divided according to the type of the device and antennas being used. Overall, there are these 3 ways to get local channels without cable:

  • Use Antenna (indoor/outdoor)
  • Use Live TV Streaming (YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, AT&T Now, Sling TV, FuboTV, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Philo, etc.)
  • Network Apps (ABC, CBS, FOX NOW, NBC, PBS)

NOTE: Our extensive list presents you with basically all alternatives to cable and satellite TV. That said, not all of the given options enable you to access local channels. As such, some are great overall solutions, while others may be combined with an OTA antenna to cover the local channels as well.

Alternatives for Cable and Satellite TV – List Overview

Below is an overview list of the most popular alternatives.

  • Local Channels Only (indoor/outdoor antennas): FREE; Using indoor/outdoor antenna
  • Locast: Free (limited to small number of cities)
  • Philo: starts at $16/mo
  • Sling TV: starts at $25/mo
  • Hulu: starts at $39.99/mo for LIVE or $7.99 for on-demand only
  • YouTube TV: starts at $40/mo
  • Fubo TV: starts at $44.99/mo
  • AT&T Watch APP: starts at $16/mo
  • Amazon Prime Video: $12.99/mo
  • Netflix: starts at $7.99/mo
  • CBS All Access: $5.99/mo
  • HBO Now: $14.99/mo
  • Google Chromecast: $35 or $70 one time for the device (local channels available for free)
  • Starz: $10.99/mo
  • Showtime: $10.99/mo
  • Apple TV: $4.99/mo
  • Roku Player or Roku TV: $29.99/mo
  • Spectrum TV: starting at $14.99
  • Vudu: rentals from $0.99; purchases from $4.99 (a lot of free content)
  • Xfinity by Comcast: $65/mo
  • Kodi: basic service for free
  • Plex: $4.99/mo
  • Tubi: free

NOTE: Below we took a closer look at some of the most popular options, including their pros and cons.

Use Indoor HD Antenna

This is one of the most affordable options on how to get local channels without cable. It only requires a purchase on an indoor antenna which is not that expensive at all. This method works in areas that have a relatively solid signal (usually urban areas).

PROS

  • The main pro of this method is that it is completely free.
  • It can get you access to many channels from all major networks, including FOX, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
  • The installation is very simple; install the antenna on the wall or place it on a stand, use the coaxial cable to connect it with the TV set, search for channels and that’s it.
CONS

  • The main downside of this method is that you fully depend on your location; you may get a wide range of solid signals, however, you may also have a very poor selection.
  • Distance from the signal tower or obstructions can enable the signal.
  • Weather conditions can affect your signal.

Use Outdoor Antenna

If you are not lucky enough to have a solid signal indoors and cannot use the indoor antenna directly, you may want to consider an outdoor antenna. Here you have two options, you can either choose an omnidirectional or Yagi (single directional) antenna. The first one enables you to collect signals from several directions, while Yagi focuses on a single direction but can pick up very weak signals.

Outdoor antennas are typically used in combination with amplifiers, though this part is not necessary. All modern TV sets have built-in tuners.

PROS

  • Enables you to collect signal in rural areas
  • Enables you to collect signal in areas with weak reception
  • Aside from the antenna, it provides you with free channels
CONS

  • More complicated installation
  • Outdoor antennas are slightly more expensive
  • Your signal may still be weather-dependant

Locast

Locast.org is a non-profit service that streams broadcast TV over the internet for free. They do accept donations (FWY). Visit Locast’s website to check out a list of cities where the service is currently available. If Locast is available in your city, you can stream it to your TV set using a compatible device like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, or Apple TV. It can also be streamed using the Locast smartphone app or on a computer.

PROS

  • Free
  • Can be used via various compatible devices
CONS

  • Is only available in 21 cities.

Philo

Philo is a Live Cable TV Streaming Service. It is somewhat of a newcomer to the streaming space and currently offers two relatively simple options. One gives you 43 channels for $16 a month and other 56 channels for $20/month.

PROS

  • Included in the price is recording option – the provider lets you record as many shows as you want
  • Stream shows on up to three devices at one time
  • You can save every episode of your favorite show for up to 30 days
  • Extremely affordable price
  • Free trial
CONS

  • It doesn’t include local channels in its packages (you can use the HD antenna strategy as mentioned above to get them for free)
  • Limited sports channels

Sling TV

Sling TV is a Live Cable TV Streaming Service. They offer two package options, Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Each package costs $25 a month, but you can get both for $40 a month.

In some cases (if you’re a first-time subscriber and commit to a package), Sling will provide you with a free Roku (a digital media player).

Moreover, Sling, allows you to customize your packages and add other channels that may not be in their packages for only a few extra dollars a month. However, adding many packages you can get to $75/mo or more.

PROS

  • Affordable basic packages
  • You can get free Roku device
  • Customizable packages and many add-ons
CONS

  • Can get pricey when many add-ons are added

Hulu

Hulu is a Live Cable TV Streaming Service. Hulu was used to limited to the on-demand platform, which started at $7.99 per month with limited commercials (this option is still available). However, as of late, Hulu added Live TV, with plans starting at $39.99 a month.

The $39.99 a month package comes with over 50 channels. This package also lets you stream full seasons of series, hit movies, Hulu Originals, and more.

With Hulu, there are no hidden fees, no equipment rentals, and no installation appointments. They do offer additional add-ons, which include Entertainment Add-on (AHC, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY, FYI, Lifetime Movies, SCI) for $7.99/mo, Espanol Add-on (CNN, Discovery, Familia Discovery, ESPN Deportes, History en Espanol, NBC Universo) for $4.99/mo, HBO for $14.99/mo, Cinemax for $9.99/mo, Showtime for $10.99/mo, and STARZ for $8.99/mo.

PROS

  • No hidden fees
  • No equipment rentals
  • No installation appointments
  • Affordable on-demand option ($7.99 with commercials or $11.99 with no commercials)
  • 50+ live channels
  • Many add-ons available
  • Compatible with a lot of streaming devices
  • A massive on-demand content library
CONS

  • Must pay to remove ads
  • Only 2 screens simultaneous streaming (need to pay for add-ons)
  • Relatively expensive with all the add-ons.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV starts at $64.99 and offers four of the most popular local channels: ABC, FOX, NBC, and CBS channels. Moreover, YouTube TV is the only streaming service that offers PBS channels today, and it has recently added the CW to its lineup.

YouTube TV only offers one package, but offers various add-on packages and additional channels, including AMC Premiere for $5/month, CuriosityStream for $3/month, Fox Soccer Plus for $15/month, NBA League Pass for $40/month, EPIX for $6/month, SHOWTIME for $11/month, Shudder for $5/month, Starz for $9/month, Sundance Now for $7/month

PROS

  • YouTube Red Originals content
  • Unlimited cloud DVR storage, available for up to nine months
  • Up to six user profiles
  • Three simultaneous screens
  • Great smartphone/tablet app
CONS

  • Relatively lacking in overall channel selections
  • No channels from Viacom and Time Warner, and no MLB games
  • Poor integration with YouTube videos
  • Relatively pricey

Fubo TV

In the past FuboTV focused on sports channels, however, they have since expanded into a full-fledged live TV service. Now they offer 65+ channels in total including news, entertainment, local channels, and, of course, sports channels.

FuboTV offers quite a few package plans:

  • Fubo Standard – $54.99/month – includes a whopping 71 channels including local channels from FOX, CBS, and NBC. Besides, there are 130+ events and some of them are streamed in 4K. 30 hours worth of cloud DVR is also included.
  • Fubo Family – $59.99/month – includes every feature in the standard package with a number of an additional simultaneous screen (from 2 to 3) and offers 500 hours worth of cloud DVR space.
  • Fubo Ultra – $74.99/month – it adds 24 extra sports channels, 36 entertainment channels, and 9 showtime channels. It includes all the extra features of the Family plan.
PROS

  • Excellent all-around channel lineup
  • Exceptional user experience
  • Excellent for sports fans and international sports
  • You can cancel anytime
  • No long-term contract
CONS

  • Relatively expensive
  • Unable to stream from game consoles
  • ABC and ESPN missing

AT&T Watch App

The AT&T Watch App is a relatively simple solution. It offers 30+ live channels (and 15,000 on-demand titles, all for a highly affordable price of $15 per month.

If you already have an AT&T Unlimited & More plan, then you can activate and start watching it as part of your phone plan package.

Channels are rather limited, but it includes A&E, CNN, and TLC. Local channels and regional sports networks are not included in the package. Also, premium add-ons can be added for an additional charge.

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Included as part of the AT&T Unlimited & More phone plan
  • Includes A&E, CNN, and TLC
CONS

  • Limited channel selection
  • Local channels and regional sports networks are not included (use of antenna can help you get local channels)

AT&T TV

AT&T TV is a relatively new player in the world of live TV streaming, however, we all know AT&T as a huge brand.

A great benefit of the AT&T TV is that it includes HBO in all plans (even the most affordable one), and also includes ALL popular local channels except PBS (that might depend on your location).

Plans:

  • Plus: $50/mo; 54 channels
  • Max: $70/mo; 70 channels
  • Entertainment: $90/mo; 71 channels
  • Choice: $105/mo; 97 channels
  • Xtra: $115/mo; 124 channels
  • Ultimate: $125/mo; 135 channels
  • Optimo Mas: $95/mo; 105 channels
PROS

  • HBO included in every plan
  • Has all local channels except PBS
  • 500 hours of DVR storage
  • Three devices can stream simultaneously
CONS

  • One of the worst channel lineups if you don’t consider HBO and the local channels
  • Poor choice for sports fans
  • Doesn’t work with Roku

Amazon Prime Video

Available for Amazon Prime members. They offer much more than just TV shows and movies if you sign up with Prime – you will get free two-day shipping, unlimited music streaming, unlimited photo storage, unlimited reading, and same-day delivery on eligible products.

Amazing deals for students ($6.49 a month) and EBT/Medicaid cardholders ($5.99 a month).

First-time users are eligible for a 30-day free trial.

PROS

  • A lot of on-demand content
  • Additional content (books, audios, etc.)
  • Free 2-day shipping
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Great deal for students and EBT/Medicaid cardholders
CONS

  • No live show
  • No local channels

Netflix

Netflix is currently the most popular on-demand content provider on the market. Netflix offers thousands of TV shows, documentaries, many original series, movies, and much more. All this on-demand.

There are three plans available:

  • Basic: $7.99/mo
  • Standard: $10.99/mo
  • Premium: $13.99/mo

All packages offer the same content but not the same number of screens you want to watch at once and if you have access to HD.

PROS

  • Highly affordable plans
  • One of the best on-demand library
  • Best and most popular shows and movies
CONS

  • No live show
  • No local channels

CBS All Access

The CBS All Access is an app that lets you stream more than 10,000 CBS episodes, Live TV plus all of the CBS All Access Originals. This can be done from any streaming device. All this is available on-demand for $5.99 a month with limited commercials or $9.99 a month without commercials.

This option makes sense if you are a HUGE fan of CBS programming and want access to the entire library. However, if you want it just for the live programming, then consider Hulu or an over-the-air antenna.

PROS

  • Great for HUGE fans of CBS programming
CONS

  • There are better options for live CBS programming (e.g.: Hulu or OTA antennas)

HBO Now

HBO Now is a standalone streaming service and it doesn’t require a cable service (HBO GO on the other hand is a part of your cable provider’s subscription package). That aside, both apps are basically the same.

HBO Now enables you to get all of HBO’s series and live HBO episodes, all from a streaming device.

This is a great option for all HBO programming fans that want nothing else. The package price is $14.99 a month and no cable subscription is required.

Though, keep in mind that if you want other channels, you may be better off subscribing to one of the live TV streaming services mentioned above (e.g.: Hulu, AT&T TV, etc). With those, you can add HBO for as little as $5 a month.

PROS

  • Great for HBO fans that do not want another programming
CONS

  • It is not that cheap, considering you only get HBO programming

Do I need the internet as an alternative to cable?

We won’t lie to you; a great internet connection in combination with a streaming device and a deal with one of the Live Streaming providers is probably the most comfortable alternative to cable. However, you do not need the internet to enjoy local channels. Those can easily be picked up by an indoor or an outdoor antenna.

If you are in an urban area, you will probably be able to get quite many channels with an indoor antenna, while a remote rural area will almost certainly require the use of an outdoor Yagi antenna.

What if you don’t have internet service at all? Can you still watch local channels without cable?

Internet service is a prerequisite if you want to use Live Streaming services, however, most local channels are available in the air and are waiting for you to capture the signal. Of course, you must be in an area that has at least some decent signal, which you will then collect with an indoor or an outdoor antenna.

FAQ

Do TVs have built-in antennas?

No, TVs do not have indoor antennas, at least not the ones that could collect OTA signals. There are WiFi antennas in certain Smart TVs.

What is the best antenna for free TV?

There is no single antenna that would offer the best solution for every situation. First, you need to determine if you can use an indoor antenna or do you need an outdoor antenna. Then determine whether you need an omnidirectional or Yagi antenna.

Here are some of the best indoor antenna options:

  • ClearStream Eclipse
  • Mohu Releaf
  • Mohu Curve Amplified
  • Clearstream 2Max HDTV Antenna.

Here are some of the best outdoor antenna options:

  • Tree New Bee Outdoor Remote Controlled Antenna
  • Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna
  • Mohu Sky 60 Outdoor Amplified 75 Mile Range TV Antenna
  • ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount – 70 Mile Range
  • 2 Element Bowtie Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna.

What kind of antenna do I need for local TV?

This completely depends on your location (distance from the signal tower, obstacles, building material, etc.). See the previous answer for some of the best antenna options.

What TV antenna gets the most channels?

If you are lucky enough to be in an area where you get a solid signal from various signal towers, you will want to use an omnidirectional antenna to collect the greatest number of channels.

Does a smart TV need an antenna for local channels?

If you use a streaming provider that included local channels of your preference, you do not need an antenna. You can also access other online streaming options with a smart TV directly. It depends on which channels you want.

Check out for How To Get Free Satellite TV