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How to Watch Local Channels Live Without Cable

It’s still possible to watch your local channels after cutting the cord.

Syndication: News-Journal
Photo by Bill Vilona/Special to the News Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the proliferation of streaming services in the past few years, it’s easier than ever to cut the cable cord and solve the problem of how to stream local channels. Ditching your cable package is usually the most cost-effective option, depending on how many streaming services you have. It might also be a more affordable option for sports fans that prefer to customize packages and pay for their favorite channels. 

Streaming services also offer greater flexibility — subscribers aren’t locked into contracts and are free to cancel at any time without paying the exorbitant fees typically associated with ending an agreement with a cable provider. The only major hesitation for making the jump to streaming from cable surrounds local channel streaming. Here’s what you need to know about streaming local channels without cable.

What are local channels?

Local channels are the affiliates of basic broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, and Telemundo, making programming dependent on your ZIP code. Many viewers depend on local channels to catch up on news updates, weather forecasts, and sports teams in their specific locations. 

Which streaming services offer local channels?

Hulu + Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Paramount Plus, and Fubo are a few of the streaming services that provide access to local channels. 

How to stream local channels with DIRECTV STREAM

Head to the DIRECTV STREAM website to select the package you’re interested in. Add on any extras, then proceed to create your DIRECTV account. Enter your payment information to complete the sign-up and start streaming. 

What is DIRECTV STREAM?

DIRECTV STREAM is an offshoot of satellite TV provider DIRECTV. DIRECTV STREAM offers five tiers of packages starting with the Entertainment plan, which features more than 75 channels for $79.99 per month. The Choice plan upgrades you to more than 105 channels for $108.99 per month, the Ultimate plan levels up with more than 140 at $119.99 per month, and the Premier plan rounds out the English-language packages with more than 150 channels for $164.99 per month. Spanish language viewers can choose an Óptimo Más plan with more than 100 channels for $79.99 monthly. 

The streamer also currently offers the first three months of premium channels like HBO Max, SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, Cinemax®, and MGM+™ free of charge. 

PlanPrice per MonthChannelsStreamable DevicesFree Trial
Entertainment$79.9975+Unlimited
3 out-of-home streams
Yes
Choice$108.99105+Unlimited
3 out-of-home streams
Yes
Ultimate$119.99140+Unlimited
3 out-of-home streams
Yes
Premier$164.99150+Unlimited
3 out-of-home streams
Yes
Óptimo Más$79.99100+Unlimited
3 out-of-home streams
Yes

What sports offerings does DIRECTV STREAM provide?

Sports lovers can get their fix in every DIRECTV STREAM package. All English language plans include ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports 1, TBS, and TNT, along with local channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Fans can catch the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, College Football Playoff, and World Cup. Upgrading to the Choice, Ultimate, and Premier plans adds the options of ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, Fox Sports 2, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, SEC Network, and Tennis Channel. Subscribers also have the choice to pay extra for ESPN Deportes, NBA League Pass, and NBA Bet. 

Óptimo Más includes UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga, and Liga MX. 

DIRECTV STREAM has an advantage over other streaming competitors with its regional sports networks (RSNs). To unlock RSNs, subscribers must upgrade to at least the second-tier Choice plan, but unlike other streaming competitors, DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t charge a regional sports fee, so fans will be able to follow their local teams with relative ease. 

Another cool feature is a Game Tile which shows live scores without switching back and forth between channels. With Team Recordings, you can ensure that all your team’s games record throughout the season with the click of one button. Auto extensions automatically record games that go into overtime and extra innings.

DIRECTV STREAM provides unlimited Cloud DVR storage, but you can only store recordings for up to nine months. Another caveat is that despite being touted as unlimited, subscribers can only store up to 30 television show episodes at a time before the oldest installment automatically deletes. However, the streamer generously offers unlimited streams at home and three out-of-home streams. 

How to stream local channels with Hulu

Visit the Hulu website to sign up for their Live TV service. You’ll need to create an account and enter personal information, including your name and email address. Select your preferred Hulu + Live TV plan, then enter your billing information to complete the process. Hulu accepts five forms of payment: Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express, and PayPal.

What is Hulu?

Hulu is a streaming service known for its on-demand library featuring quality original programming, television shows, and popular movies. But livestreaming is possible through Hulu + Live TV only, which starts at $68.99 per month for access to more than 85 channels. 

Other live TV options are the ad-supported and ad-free Hulu + Live TV, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus bundles, which run $69.99 to $82.99 per month, respectively. Sports fans can enjoy local channels plus major sports championships across college and professional leagues, like the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, and World Series. Fans can get even more of their favorite sports through an add-on featuring the NFL RedZone, FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, MAVTV, Outdoor Channel, and the Sportsman Channel. 

PlanCost per MonthChannels Streamable DevicesFree Trial
Live TV Only$75.9990+2No
Hulu + Live TV, Disney Plus,
and ESPN Plus
$76.9990+2No
Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus$89.9990+2No

What sports offerings does Hulu provide?

Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are sports-oriented channels specific to a local market or geographic area, and Hulu offers regional sports in several cities. 

However, some content or channels may not be available in specific ZIP codes. But sports fans can still find a robust selection of channels and events on the streamer. College football and basketball, as well as NFL fans, can watch nationally broadcast games on their local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC channels. This includes the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, and Major League Baseball’s World Series. Hulu not only answer the problem of how to stream local channels but also gives access to a ton of other entertainment.

Subscribers can also enjoy ESPN’s family of networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN College Extra, and ESPNU. One of the most powerful college football conferences is also represented via the SEC Network. Among the variety of sports channels are NFL Network, MLB Network, NHL Network, CBS Sports Network, ACC Network, Golf Channel, and Big Ten Network. And if that’s not enough, you can purchase the Sports Add-on for an extra $9.99 per month.

Alternatively, subscribers to the Hulu + Live TV bundle will gain access to ESPN Plus and its award-winning “30 for 30” library, original programming featuring the biggest names in sports like Peyton Manning, and unprecedented UFC content. And you can follow your favorites with a personalized experience that allows you to select your preferred sports, teams, and leagues for customized recommendations and alerts. 

No time to watch live? Hulu has viewers covered with unlimited DVR that keeps you connected to the action at no extra cost. You can also take the game with you on your mobile phone. Unfortunately, with only two simultaneous streams allowed, you may miss out on the live action if others in your household are also streaming while the game is on. 

How to stream local channels with Sling TV

Sling TV can be the answer to how to stream local channels if FOX is your go-to station. You can sign up with an email and password on the Sling TV website before selecting a base service. Add any extras or premium services, then enter your payment details and check out. Unfortunately, Sling TV’s Orange plan doesn’t include local channels. 

What is Sling TV?

Billed as the first app-based TV service letting you stream live television and on-demand content via the internet, Sling TV offers three plans: Orange ($40 per month), Blue ($45 per month), and the combined Orange & Blue ($60 per month). Sling TV offers multiple popular premium and add-on channels, including SHOWTIME and STARZ, and a package of Sports Extras for an additional $11 per month.

PlanCost per MonthChannels Streamable DevicesFree Trial
Orange$40311No
Blue $40423No
Orange & Blue$55481 to 3 No

What sports offerings does Sling TV provide?

Let’s start with the pros. Sling TV is an inexpensive, budget-friendly alternative to cable. But viewers looking to keep their local networks may feel disappointed to learn that Fox is the only channel consistently available, and this is only on the Blue or Orange & Blue plan. So, Sling TV may not be the answer to how to stream local channels. 

NBC is also available on those plans but only in select markets. The sports offerings are pretty slim as well with the basic plans. With the Orange plan, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and TNT are the only sports options. The Blue plan includes Fox Sports 1 (FS1), NFL Network, and TNT. The Orange & Blue plan is a combo of the two. So it would be well worth considering a sports add-on for an extra $11 per month. 

The Sling Orange Sports Extra package features ACC Network (ACCN), ACCNX, beIN SPORTS, ESPNews, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, MLB Network, MLB Network Strike Zone, NBA TV, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, Tennis Channel, SEC Network, and SEC Network Plus. 

When you purchase a Sling Blue or Sling Orange & Blue add-on, the package includes the Big Ten Network, beIN SPORTS, Fox Sports 2 (FS2), Golf Channel, MLB Network, MLB Network Strike Zone, NBA TV, NFL RedZone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, and the Tennis Channel. 

Basketball fans might reap the most benefits from Sling Orange plus Sports Extra, which offers a slate of NBA and NCAA games, including a front-row seat to the March Madness tournament

One big drawback is that Sling TV only offers 50 hours of DVR storage, which pales in comparison to services like Hulu and YouTube TV’s unlimited capacity. But, especially when considering the lower price, Sling TV remains a worthy competitor. 

How to stream local channels with YouTube TV

YouTube TV is regularly the solution in wondering how to stream local channels. You can head to the YouTube TV website to sign up or download the app on your Android device. Log in to your YouTube or Google account to access the free trial or to purchase (if your trial has already ended). Enter your ZIP code to view the networks included in your membership, then select any add-ons before entering your payment information to check out. 

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a subscription streaming service featuring two basic plans: a Base plan at $64.99 a month and a Spanish plan for $34.99 per month. Both plans will make it easy to figure out how to stream local channels in your area. The 4K Plus add-on allows unlimited simultaneous streams, offline viewing, and select 4K playback. Sports Plus adds more than 13 extra sports networks, including NFL RedZone. The service features a myriad of entertainment add-ons, such as HBO Max, SHOWTIME, and STARZ. 

PlanCost per MonthChannels Streamable DevicesFree Trial
Base Plan$72.99100+Yes
Spanish Plan$34.9928+6Yes

What sports offerings does YouTube TV provide?

Sports aficionados will get good mileage out of YouTube TV. The streaming service is home to major local and sports channels, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, Fox Sports 1, and NBC. Other channels on the roster include the ACC Network (ACCN), Big Ten Network (BTN), CBS Sports Network, ESPNews, ESPNU, Fox Sports 2, Golf Channel, NBA TV, NFL Network, SEC Network, and TUDN.

Catch the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, golf majors, tennis Grand Slams, College Football Playoff, and many more prominent live sports events on YouTube TV. And in what may be the biggest coup for YouTube TV, NFL Sunday Ticket will be launching this fall on the service as an add-on, which will give fans access to out-of-market games. 

Moreover, YouTube TV blows away the competition with some of the coolest mobile app features that’ll have subscribers opting to use their phones over smart TVs. The fantasy football feature lets users link their fantasy football account to the app to keep up with their team and league performance in real time during NFL games. YouTube TV’s Stats View allows fans to track both team and individual stats in-game, while a Key Plays function breaks the game down into its most pivotal parts. 

YouTube TV offers three simultaneous streams, which is a slight improvement over streamers like Hulu (which only offers two) and up to six individuals receive personal accounts with customized recommendations as well as unlimited DVR storage. Subscribers should note that YouTube TV doesn’t carry Bally Sports or Fox Sports RSNs, which will affect in-market coverage of your local MLB, NBA, and NHL teams during the regular season. Another drawback is that the streamer doesn’t offer the MLB Network or Tennis Channel.

For a more robust sports experience, the Sports Plus add-on tacks on 13-plus additional sports networks, including the popular NFL RedZone from NFL Network, for an extra $10.99 per month. 

How to stream local channels with Paramount Plus

Go to the Paramount Plus site and sign up for the free trial or a subscription of your choice. Enter your personal information, including your full name, email address, and a password, then select continue to complete the sign-up process. Follow the prompt to enter your payment information and begin streaming on Paramount Plus. 

What is Paramount Plus?

Paramount Plus is an on-demand service featuring thousands of television episodes, popular movies, original programming, and live sports. The plans range from $5.99 per month for the Essential plan, $9.99 for Premium, and Paramount Plus With Showtime for $11.99. Paramount Plus is closely linked to CBS, so the sports offerings include NFL, SEC, and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) across CBS Sports, CBSSports.com, 247Sports, SportsLine, CBS Sports Fantasy, and MaxPreps.

PlanCost per MonthChannelsStreamable DevicesFree Trial
Essential$5.99N/AYes
Premium$9.9920+Yes
Paramount Plus With Showtime$11.9920+Yes

What sports offerings does Paramount Plus provide?

The Paramount Plus sports offerings have ties to CBS and the CBS Sports Network. This means that all subscribers can stream NFL games available on their local CBS stations (with some blackout restrictions). College football from a Premium subscription will offer weekly SEC games from the CBS stream as well. However, in the search of how to stream local channels, this service isn’t going to offer them all.

Soccer is prominently featured on the streamer with a wide range of national and international contests, including AFC Champions League, Argentina Liga Profesional de Fútbol, Brazil Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Concacaf Women’s Championship, Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, NWSL, Scottish Professional Football League, Serie A (Italy), UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Europa League. 

Golfers can follow CBS coverage of two of the sport’s prestigious majors: the Masters and the PGA Championship. Other sporting events available for viewing include Big3 basketball, Bellator MMA, Professional Bull Riding, and SHOWTIME Championship Boxing. 

Unsurprisingly, Paramount Plus only offers local CBS programming — limiting your options. Subscribers do, however, get three simultaneous streams with 1080p maximum resolution. 

How to stream local channels with Fubo

Create an account by entering your personal information, including the correct ZIP code, to ensure accurate programming options in your area. Select a plan and any desired add-ons before completing the sign-up process with your payment information, then begin streaming. 

What is Fubo?

Fubo is the mecca of sports, with more channels than any other live TV streaming service. The streamer originally started out in 2015 as the Netflix of soccer, and it has stayed true to its roots while expanding its catalog. So, if sports are your thing Fubo is an excellent choice but maybe not the answer to how to stream local channels.

The streaming service features four package options starting with the Pro at $74.99 per month, the $84.99 monthly Elite plan, the Premier for $94.99 per month, and a Latino plan for $32.99 per month. Fubo’s substantial sports programming is further bolstered by the Sports Plus with NFL RedZone add-on, International Sports Plus, and NBA League Pass. The slate of premium add-ons includes STARZ ($8.99 per month), Pantaya ($5.99), and MGM Plus ($5.99).

PlanCost per MonthChannels Streamable DevicesFree Trial
Pro$79.99169+Yes
Elite$89.99244+Yes
Premier$99.99288+Yes
Latino$32.9957+2Yes

What sports offerings does Fubo provide?

Fubo’s Pro plan includes beIN SPORTS, the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Golf Channel, NFL Network, and the Olympic Channel. The Elite and Premier plans boast all the channels offered on the Pro plan plus channels like the MLB Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, NBA TV, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Mountain (regional network), and Zona Futbol. This means you can access all major sports leagues and their championships via the streaming service, like the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, World Series, The Olympic Games, College Football Playoff, and World Cup. 

For the sports fan who craves an even more comprehensive addition to an already impressive package, the Sports Plus with NFL RedZone add-on roster includes ESPNU, ESPNews, Fight Network, MLB Network, MLB Strike Zone, NBA TV, NHL Network, a slew of Pac-12 networks, FuelTV, Unbeaten, Stadium, Stadium 1, Stadium 2, Stadium 3, Tennis Channel, Zona Futbol, Sports Grid, WPT, Impact!, Racing America, and Next Level Sports Entertainment. The Sports Lite add-on is an eight-channel bundle including the ACC Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, SEC Network, and Tennis Channel. 

International football fans can rejoice through an optional add-on featuring a lineup of Fubo Latino Network, FOX Deportes, Zona Futbol, ESPN HD Deportes, GOLTV English, GOLTV Spanish, TyC Sports, Fubo Sports Network 2, and Fox Soccer Plus. 

Fubo provides 1,000 hours of cloud DVR, which is less than the unlimited space offered by other streamers, but on the plus side, recordings never expire. RSNs are a welcome feature on Fubo plans, but depending on the number of RSNs in the customer’s area, the streamer charges a regional sports fee of $11 to $14. The main local channels ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC are all available on Fubo.

FAQ

What’s the cheapest way to stream live local channels?

There are cheaper options like Paramount Plus and Sling TV for your answer to how to stream local channels, but both limit subscribers to one or two channels. YouTube TV is the most affordable streamer for viewing a full gamut of local channels. 

How do I get local channels on my smart TV?

There are a couple of options in solving how to stream local channels on your smart TV. Visit your TV’s app store to download the apps of the various streamers offering local channels or invest in a high-definition digital TV antenna.

Is there a streaming channel for local channels?

There aren’t any dedicated streaming channels for local channels. However, streamers like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Paramount Plus, Fubo, and DIRECTV STREAM provide varying access to local channels which makes figuring out how to stream local channels a bit simpler.

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