Getting fed up with expensive cable bills?
Wish there was a way you could watch your local TV stations without cable or antenna?
You’re not alone!
More and more people (particularly those aged between 18 and 34 years old) are cutting the cord and finding alternative ways to watch TV without cable. Although there are also ways to get basic cable for free.
Most of it has to do with the expensive cable bills and the way cable companies package their plans.
The average monthly cable bill is a staggering $99 and that’s an expense that most of us could do without.
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High Cost of Cable TV
Don’t you hate it when you have to pay for hundreds of useless channels that you’ll never watch just to get one or two, or just a few local channels, that you actually want?
Cable companies have been playing this game for a long time.
They make packages that have a few good popular channels and hundreds of useless ones. They package their plans this way so they can have an excuse to charge us more.
“Hey we are giving you 500 channels, that’s why your bill is $90 a month.”
I (and I think many of you) would rather pay $30 to get a handful of channels we actually watch than $90 for 500 channels most of which we don’t ever watch.
I know many people (especially senior citizens) just want a few local channels so they can keep up with the local news and weather.
The good news is that there are ways to watch local channels without paying hefty cable bills.
There are even ways to watch local stations without an antenna.
How to Get Free TV Channels without Antenna
Here are a few ways to watch and stream local TV.
1. Install an HD Antenna
One of the simplest ways to watch local channels without cable is to simply purchase an antenna.
Antennas have come a long way.
They’re no longer those rabbit ear style ones that used to deliver a grainy, inconsistent image. Nowadays, you can buy HD antennas that produce a crystal clear picture.
With an antenna, you can get access to local channels and basic cable TV, without having to pay for a cable subscription.
And, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it.
How to watch local channels with an Antenna
Firstly, you’ll need to purchase a quality HDTV antenna – and don’t worry, these really aren’t too expensive. Generally, you can pick one up for $10 to $50.
You can find them on Amazon for a reasonable price.
Here are a few that you should check out:
- 1byone HDTV Antenna – 25 Miles Range with 10ft High Performance Coax Cable: Costs $12.99
- Blimark HDTV Indoor Antenna- 50 Miles Digital Long Range TV HD Antenna With Amplifier Signal Booster: Costs $27.99
Or you can purchase one at your local electronics stores. Places like Costco sometimes also have antennas.
There are two types of antenna – indoor and outdoor.
Outdoor antennas take a bit more effort to install, but they can pick up a wider range of channels.
Consider your own particular needs before making a decision.
If you want a clearer idea of the channels you can pick up, then visit https://www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps, enter your zip code, and you’ll see what channels are available in your area.
You only need to pay for the initial cost of the antenna, and then you get access to local channels for free!
According to one study, more than 60 million Americans choose to use antennas to watch TV, rather than cable.
2. Watch local TV online
Most networks post episodes of their shows, usually recently aired episodes, on their websites.
And you can watch all their programming for free.
All you need to access them is an internet connected device, be it a laptop, computer, tablet or whatever else device you use to get online.
So, take a moment to check out the website of your favorite networks and see if they offer any free content online.
Just look for a tab that reads “Videos”, “Shows”, or “Episodes”.
Here are a few broadcast networks to get you started:
3. Install major networks’ apps
All major networks have their official apps, most of which are free.
These apps are different than apps offered by local stations (more on that below) in that you get access to the programmings on that network as well as live TV shows airing on their affiliated local channels.
Here are the official apps for the top networks:
- CBS All Access: iOS – Android
- Fox Now: iOS – Android
- CW: iOS – Android
- The NBC app: iOS – Android
- ABC: iOS – Android
- PBS Video: iOS – Android
Some of these apps are free, some are paid. But even with paid ones, you can access a lot of stuff for free.
4. Get Sling TV
You’ve probably seen their funny ads on TV. Sling TV is actually one of the best cable alternatives.
Netflix and Hulu might be the most well-known streaming services out there, but Sling is quickly becoming one of the favorites among cord cutters.
Sling TV is somewhat like your regular cable or satellite TV companies. You can actually use it to watch live TV shows, including local news channels such as FOX, NBC and ABC.
Just like your regular satellite TV providers like Dish or DirecTV, Sling also offers a few different packages that meet the needs of different people.
The packages include:
- Sling Orange: $35/mo
- Sling Blue: $35/mo
- Orange & Blue: $50/mo
With each package, you get access to a ton of channels. You can also add extras to your packages for about $5 a month that gives you access to extra channels and features, including Cloud DVR, Showtime, Epix, extra sports channels and more.
By the way, Not sure if Sling is for you? No worries, sign up for a free 7 day trial of Sling TV and give it a go. If you like it, keep it going, if not, just cancel it (you won’t be charged a dime).
5. Watch local TV on FuboTV
FuboTV is another new(ish) player among live TV streaming services.
It offers some of the best channels for movies and shows, as well as live local channels like Fox, NBC, and CBS.
And if you like sports, their package includes some of the top sports networks including FS1, FS2, beIN Sports, NBCSN and BTN.
One of the best features of FuboTV is the ability to record shows you have missed for up to 3 days. That’s right, you can replay any game, show or movies that aired in the last 3 days. I can’t think of any other service that has this feature.
It costs $44.99 per month but for the first month you only pay $39.99.
FuboTV also offers a free 7 day trial.
6. Get regular TV (with local stations’ apps)
Using an antenna is definitely the most efficient way to get local TV and it’s the method we strongly recommend. But, it isn’t the only way to watch local channels without cable.
You can also watch your local channels by installing their official free app.
Every single local TV station across the country has an app that gives you access to all the programming including Live ones.
All you need is a device with an internet connection – laptop, computer, smartphone, tablets, etc.
With these free TV apps, you can stream content from a variety of local broadcast networks.
To find the official apps for your local channels, search for local station name followed by app, like so:
“St Louis Fox 2 app”
7. Best way to get local channels (YouTube!)
This may be the obvious choice, but a lot of people don’t even think about it. Almost all major networks with local stations have their own dedicated channels on YouTube where they upload the latest videos.
To find your local station’s YouTube channel, search for local channel’s name followed by YouTube channel, like so:
“KMOV YouTube channel”
Now, I should mention that this is best for watching local news. You won’t probably see TV shows that air on local channels on YouTube, but you can see all the videos from their news programming. Some of them may even simulcast live news programming on YouTube.
8. Subscribe to YouTube TV
This is different than regular free YouTube. This is Google’s (Google owns YouTube) cable-free live TV service.
It actually is one of the best streaming services. I think with all its features and bells and whistles, it may even be better for a lot of people than Hulu or Netflix.
YouTube TV costs $40 a month.
With it, you get live TV from over 60 networks including local sports and news.
Some of the best YouTube TV features include:
- No cable box required.
- Cloud DVR with no storage limits, so you never run out of storage space.
- You can record different shows simultaneously.
- You can stream your library wherever you are with an internet connected device (perfect for frequent travelers among us who hate those limited channels in most Hotels.)
- Each household gets 6 accounts so everyone can have their own personalized DVR.
If you like to try it, they are offering a 7 day free trial. You can see more details on YouTube TV intro page.
9. Watch local channels online through streaming services
If you have already have streaming services like Hulu or Netflix you may be able to watch TV programmings from your local stations as well.
You can easily watch shows on your laptop or tablet, but you might prefer to watch shows on your TV.
There two main ways to do this.
- Get local stations using your laptop
There’s a super simple way to watch the content that networks post online and from streaming services, like Hulu, through your TV.
All you need is your laptop and an HDMI cable, which you can pick up on Amazon for less than $7, and internet connection.
Don’t have or don’t want to pay for the internet? Reads our post on how to get free internet access.
Simply connect your laptop to the TV using an HDMI cable, and play the show you’re interested in. Your TV will display what your laptop screen is displaying.
There’s an article here that you should definitely check out. It goes into more detail about how to set it up.
- Get local stations on Roku
As mentioned above, apps like Hulu and Netflix offer some broadcast network shows.
While you can use the above method to stream content to your TV, you can also use Roku.
It’s a set-top box that acts as a streaming player. Essentially, you use this device to connect to different video streaming services over the internet, using Roku channels and apps.
Your Roku device streams content directly to your TV.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Roku streaming player, then check out this page to view the devices on offer and find out where to buy one
Roko and similar devices offer an extremely convenient and cost-effective way for you to get and watch your local TV channels without paying hefty cable bills for packages that come with hundreds of channels that you’ll likely never watch.
You can also visit this page if you want to learn more about how Roku works.
The Bottom Line
Nowadays, you don’t need to have a cable subscription in order to watch local broadcast channels.
By simply using an antenna or any one of the options we mentioned above, you can easily catch up on your favorite shows, local news and sports programming at a much cheaper cost, or even for free in some cases. Happy cord cutting!