How to Stream Local Channels without Cable: Watch Local Channels Online

stream local channels

More and more people are moving away from traditional cable TV and satellite TV subscriptions in search of something more affordable. And who can blame them, with the average cable bill now over $100 per month! It’s now fairly easy to watch live TV online without cable, but to stream local channels without cable can be a bit more tricky. Tricky, but not impossible – keep reading to learn how to stream local TV channels online.

While national channels – like ESPN, FX, TNT, etc – broadcast all over the US, local networks focus on specific regional areas. FOX, CBS, NBC and ABC are examples. Streaming local channels like these is possible, but availability tends to vary from location to location. There are separate local networks for each of these overall networks, which leads to a maze of literally hundreds of networks nationwide. This is what complicates the process of being able to stream local channels online – but fear not, we’ll show you how to watch local channels without cable in the guide below.

 

Get the Most Local Channels + Tons More with Hulu Live

Just $40 per month gets you the best coverage of local channels available, plus 50+ other networks

Hulu

Hulu Live is an excellent way to stream local TV networks. The service is $40 per month, and does not require a contract or commitment. Subscribers enjoy live streaming of over 50 popular TV networks. Local affiliates of CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC are covered in most areas, while some regions even get MyTV and The CW!

The service is a full-blown cable alternative, serving up all your favorite channels at a fair price. It also includes a huge bonus: a large on-demand library (similar to Netflix) of TV shows, movies and Hulu Originals!

 

The Best Local Coverage – Period.

Hulu With Live TV currently covers local channels in more markets than any other streaming service. In fact, it offers 50% more coverage than its closest competitor! In total, Hulu Live carries local channels in the bulk of US markets. Chances are you’ll get your locals with this service – and you can always check to be sure during the signup process.

  • For FOX streaming, Hulu Live offers live coverage in over 170 US markets. That covers the vast majority of all US television markets.
  • For NBC streaming, Hulu Live offers live coverage in over 140 US markets. That covers the vast majority of all US television markets.
  • For ABC streaming, Hulu Live offers live coverage in over 140 US markets. That covers the vast majority of all US television markets.
  • For CBS streaming, Hulu Live offers live coverage in over 130 US markets. That covers the vast majority of all US television markets.
  • In addition, MyTV is covered in 12 US markets, and The CW in 8 US markets.
  • Costs $40/mo with no contract. 50+ channels in total
  • Hulu Live offers a 7-day free trial!

Hands-down, Hulu carries the most locals of any competing streaming service. Add that to the great selection of nationwide channels and the on-demand library, and you’ve got a killer entertainment solution!

Check out our Hulu Live review for all the details. Or, sign up for your Hulu Live 7-day free trial to start things off today!

 

Watch Many Local Channels Without Cable TV via YouTube TV

The new service offers broad coverage of ABC, FOX, CBS and NBC

YouTube TV ReviewYouTube TV is another solid option for those wondering how to stream local channels. The service runs $40 per month, and does not require a contract. YouTube TV is not yet available nationwide, but it’s covered in most major markets.

One unique thing about YouTube TV is that they’ve actually been waiting to launch in new markets until they’ve secured the rights to broadcast local channels in that market. In other words, if the service itself is available in your area, it definitely can give you local channels. That said, there are still areas of the country where the service is not yet available.

 

Local Channels Galore

youtube tv menu

YouTube TV offers the second-best coverage of local networks. It’s still well behind Hulu in total (total of 600+ vs. 400+ markets for YouTube TV), but it’s a great option none-the-less. Here’s details on how this service can help you watch local channels without cable TV:

  • For FOX streaming, YouTube TV offers live coverage in over 90 US markets. 
  • For NBC streaming, YouTube TV offers live coverage in over 90 US markets. 
  • For ABC streaming, YouTube TV offers live coverage in over 90 US markets. 
  • For CBS streaming, YouTube TV offers live coverage in over 90 US markets. 
  • In addition, YouTube TV offers MyTV in 26 US markets
  • Costs $40/mo with no contract. 50+ channels in total

One thing you’ll notice with this service is that if it carries one local network in your area, it probably carries all of the local channels in that area. This is different than most alternatives.

Our YouTube TV review has the full scoop on this new service; you can also kick things off with a free 7-day trial.

 

Stream Most Local TV Channels in Many Areas with DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW offers great coverage of NBC, FOX and CBS, with limited coverage of MyTV and The CW

DIRECTV NOW is another online streaming service that can be used to watch local channels online. Its plans start at $40 per month, offering upwards of 65+ channels. It works on most devices – including streaming players like Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices on iOS and Android, and computers.

 

Solid Coverage of Local Channels

directv now

DIRECTV NOW’s basic package offers over 65 channels for $40 per month. Key channels include ESPN, AMC, TNT, A&E, FOX News, CNN and more. The service also offers a free 7-day trial. In the same package, local broadcast networks like FOX, NBC and ABC are available – but only in select markets. Details below!

  • For FOX streaming, DIRECTV NOW offers live coverage in over 100 US markets. 
  • For NBC streaming, DIRECTV NOW offers live coverage in over 80 US markets.
  • For ABC streaming, DIRECTV NOW offers live coverage in over 70 US markets.
  • For CBS streaming, DIRECTV NOW offers live coverage in over 80 US markets.
  • In addition, DIRECTV NOW offers MyTV in 12 US markets, and The CW in 8 US markets.
  • Costs $40/mo with no contract. 65+ channels in total

So, if you’re wondering how to watch local channels without cable, DIRECTV NOW (review here) can be a good option, depending on where you live. And again, just like the other services discussed here, the vast majority of DIRECTV NOW’s channels are available nationwide (and the selection is impressive) – it’s just locals like FOX and NBC that are region-restricted. See the DIRECTV NOW channels list for details.

There is a free 7-day trial of DIRECTV NOW available, so if you’re curious, try the trial and stream local TV channels for free!

 

Sports Fans can Stream Local TV Networks via fuboTV

The sports streaming service offers great local channel coverage

fuboTV is a streaming service designed for sports fans. It costs $45 per month, and there’s no contract. Subscribers enjoy access to more than 75 channels, the bulk of which cover sports.

fuboTV is a great option for streaming local networks, particularly if you’re into sports. It covers CBS/NBC/FOX in many areas, plus local sports networks from NBC Sports, FOX Sports and more! However, keep in mind that ABC is NOT covered on fuboTV.

 

More Locals, More Local Sports

fuboTV is built for sports, and it’s easy to see why. Fans of just about every sport and league in the world can find what they’re looking for with this service.

  • For FOX streaming, fuboTV offers live coverage in over 90 US markets. 
  • For NBC streaming, fuboTV offers live coverage in over 80 US markets.
  • For CBS streaming, fuboTV offers live coverage in over 70 US markets.
  • In addition, fuboTV offers MyTV in 3 US markets, and The CW in 8 US markets.
  • ABC streaming is not covered on fuboTV
  • Costs $40/mo with no contract. 65+ channels in total

Read through our detailed fuboTV review for the full scoop. Ready to test it out? Get started for free with a 7-day free trial!

 

Watch Local Channels Online with PlayStation Vue

If you’re wondering how to get local channels online, PlayStation Vue is another option. This service can be used to stream local channels without cable. It works just like the services we’ve already discussed, allowing you to watch live TV over the internet on many of your favorite devices. PlayStation Vue works on PS3/PS4 consoles, streaming players like Apple TV and Roku, and mobile devices.

 

Great CBS Coverage; So-So FOX, NBC and ABC Coverage

vue action shot

PlayStation Vue’s basic package will run you $45 per month, making it one of the most expensive starting packages. Key offerings include ESPN, Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS, Bravo and more. In many areas, local channels including NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS are also offered. Here’s where Vue can be useful for streaming local channels:

  • For FOX streaming, PlayStation Vue offers live coverage in 60+ US markets.
  • For NBC streaming, PlayStation Vue offers live coverage in 40+ US markets.
  • For ABC streaming, PlayStation Vue offers live coverage in 30+ US markets.
  • For CBS streaming, PlayStation Vue offers live coverage in 100+ US markets.
  • In addition, Vue offers MyTV in 13 US markets.
  • Costs $45/mo with no contract. 45+ channels

So, PlayStation Vue (review here) can certainly be a solution if you’re looking to stream local channels. It does offer good coverage of CBS streaming, while the other channels have more coverage elsewhere.

PS Vue now offers a free 5-day trial for new members!

 

City Slickers Can Stream Local Channels (FOX and ABC Only) with Sling TV

Sling’s affordable, $25/mo package offers limited coverage of FOX and NBC

With an online streaming service known as Sling TV, subscribers gain access to 40+ channels for only $25 per month, with no contract required. The service works over the internet, allowing you to watch live TV on your favorite devices – from PCs and Macs to mobile phones, tablets, and streaming devices like Apple TV, Roku etc. And if you don’t have a compatible device to use, Sling TV will give you a discounted or even free streaming device if you prepay for a few months of service! How’s that for a deal? The service also offers a free 7-day trial.

 

Very Limited Coverage of Local Channels

Sling TV is a great service, but local channel coverage is definitely not its strong suite. The service offers very limited coverage of NBC (11 markets) and FOX (17 markets), with zero coverage of CBS and ABC.

Sling TV offers a package called Sling Blue, which comes with over 40 channels for $25 per month. Some key channels include TNT, AMC, CNN, TBS, and many more. In this same package, local networks like FOX, and NBC are included, but only in select markets.

  • For FOX streaming, Sling TV offers live coverage in 17 US markets.
  • For NBC streaming, Sling TV offers live coverage in 11 US markets.
  • CBS is not covered
  • ABC is not covered
  • Costs $25/mo for 40+ channels. No contract

So, as you can see, there are different channels available in different areas. Sling TV (review here) is also rapidly expanding, so expect to see new markets added on a regular basis. Also, it’s important to understand that 95% of channels on Sling TV are available nationwide. It’s just ABC, NBC and FOX that are only available in select cities – everything else is nationwide.

Sling TV offers a free 7-day trial for new customers, which is a great way to watch local channels online while you explore the service.

 

Stream CBS Online with CBS All Access (only CBS)

cbs all access review

CBS fans, I have good news: this is the easiest local channel to watch online. That’s because CBS offers its own in-house streaming service, called CBS All Access. The service is available nationwide, but only the on-demand version of it. For CBS live streaming, the majority of US markets are covered, but it’s not quite nationwide yet.

 

Perfect for CBS Fans

cbs all access action shot

CBS All Access (review here) provides on-demand access to over 8,500 episodes of hit CBS shows and programming. In addition, in most US markets, CBS live streaming is also offered. There are too many markets to list here, but you can confirm channel availability on CBS All Access’ website. The service costs $5.99 per month, or $9.99 per month for a commercial-free package.

  • ONLY CBS, but it’s quite affordable
  • Live stream CBS programming and sports in most areas
  • Enjoy a huge on-demand library of CBS content
  • NOT a complete cable replacement, as it only covers CBS
  • Just $6/mo – and no contract

So, if you’re after CBS programming, this is the way to go. It’s affordable, easy to use, works on most devices, and is available in the majority of the US. The downside is that it’s only CBS, but it’s still a good option to stream local channels – so long as your favorite local channel is CBS!

Click here to try a free 7-day trial of CBS All Access

 

A Digital Antenna Provides Another Option for Some

Depending on where you live, you may be able to use a digital antenna to stream local channels. This doesn’t require cable or a subscription to any service, but you will have to buy an antenna. The downside to this approach is that signal can be spotty, and in many areas you won’t pick up all the channels you want.

 

How Can I Stream Local Channels Online?

So, we get it, that was a ton of information to take in. Unfortunately, there is no simple and definite answer to how to watch local channels without cable, simply because different channels are available in different markets. These services are also expanding rapidly, so new markets are added on a regular basis – making it easier for more and more people to be able to watch local TV online.

The good news is that each service discussed in this guide offers a free trial. That means that you can try out any of these services, see how you like them, and confirm which local channels you get – for free. Follow the appropriate links below to learn more and sign up.

Hulu with Live TV – $40/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

YouTube TV – $40/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

DIRECTV NOW – $40/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

fuboTV – $45/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

PlayStation Vue – $45/month, no contract – free 5-day trial available

Sling TV – $25/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

CBS All Access – $5.99/month, no contract – free 7-day trial available

Feel free to ask away if you have any questions!

Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows is a cord-cutting reporter living in the rainy but beautiful Pacific North West.
Disclosure: Streaming Observer is supported by readers. Articles may contain referral links. For more information, see the disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Austin Meadows

1 Comment on "How to Stream Local Channels without Cable: Watch Local Channels Online"

  1. Jacob Prezbindowski | May 6, 2017 at 10:22 pm |

    One more Playstation Vue exclusivity:
    * Offers by far the most channels for the money.

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