Ready to “cut the cord” from cable but afraid of losing your local channels? At first glance, it can seem more difficult than it really is to access them. Don't fret! Here I've compiled a simple list of 3 options you'll have so you no longer have to wonder how to watch local channels without cable.
We'll also tackle how to record local channels with a DVR so you won't ever miss your favorite shows and sports!
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Option 1: Get Local Channels FREE With an Antenna
Ever considered buying the “cheap” cable option that just gives you local channels? DON'T. It is a major waste of money for something that you can get for free. Ever since 2009 (or 2011 in Canada) we've had access to the digital broadcast signal to our local TV channels. You just need to make sure you've got the right equipment.
If your TV was made in 2007 or later, all you will need is a digital antenna. If you have an older TV from before 2007, TV, though you will also need a digital converter box. These start around $15-$30. You can check out a whole bunch that are available on Amazon here.
When it comes to antennas, there's a number of options. You have indoor and outdoor antennas. Antennas for one TV or multiple TVs. You'll want to consider how close your local broadcast stations are and also what the climate is like in your area as these can both affect your signal.
Once you've got your antenna set-up, you'll be able to access local channels like NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS. Plus, you get access to a surprisingly large amount of digital sub channels (usually listed like 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, etc.) that show additional local programming and reruns of old sitcoms. In my region I can get 20-30 free channels total and many are not available with a cable subscription.
You can check out antennas available from Amazon here or some of the ones I've highlighted below.
Option 2: Stream Local Channels Over the Internet for Free with Locast
If you live outside of an area with a strong broadcast signal, or just want to do away with extra equipment, Locast can be a great option to access local TV in the United States. Locast is a not-for-profit service that relies on monthly donations from its users so that it can provide local channels streaming free over the internet.
They are expanding across the U.S. and available to a little over half of the country's population in 32 different markets.
When you watch Locast, every 15 minutes the program will interrupt with a brief ad requesting donations. As long as you donate at least $5 a month, this will remove the ads. For viewers with financial concerns, they can bypass the donations if they qualify for a program called Locast Cares.
The Locast app is available on a variety of devices. You can get it on Android , Google, Amazon, Roku and Apple devices. For a full list, go here.
You can find out more about Locast on their website and sign up for it here.
How to Record Local Channels with a DVR
Just because you cut the cord from a traditional cable service, doesn't mean you have to give up recording your favorite shows. With a DVR you can still record whatever you want from a regular broadcast.
The prices for DVRs vary wildly from $30-$50 on the low end to $200+ for the better DVRs. Consider that with a regular cable service you normally pay at least $15/month to rent their equipment, if not much more, and you are still saving money from a cable company.
You can see the full range of DVRs on Amazon here, but I've compiled a few that were recommended by Mashable below.
Now, when it comes to Locast, recording shows is a bit more complicated. You won't be able to use a typical DVR since it is being streamed over the internet. You'll need to use Locast with a service like PLEX. Here's a good video on YouTube that goes into more detail from Lon.TV
Option 3: Stream Local Channels with fuboTV, Youtube TV, or Hulu + Live TV
Now that we've covered options that give you JUST the local channels and require extra equipment, let's explore paid streaming services that have live TV. These services provide a cable-like experience but at a lower cost (compared to cable) and in one tidy package that doesn't require a DVR or antenna.
These might not be the cheapest of the three options, but they are certainly the most simple and convenient. All three services here don't require a contract and have no hidden fees so you can cancel at any time.
Hulu + Live TV offers a regular Hulu account with all the on-demand content you'd expect from the streaming service plus 75+ live channels including the local networks NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS. You get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and a 7 day free trial. After that it is $64.99/mo. You can find out more about Hulu + Live TV or sign up here. Interested in bundling with Disney Plus? Read more here.
YouTube TV gives you 85+ live channels, the ability to stream from 3 devices at once, and unlimited cloud DVR storage. You'll get all of the main broadcast networks plus PBS. They offer a 7 day free trial. After that it is also $64.99/mo. You can find out more about YouTube TV here.
fuboTV gives you 100+ channels, the ability to stream on 3 devices at once, and 250 hours of cloud DVR storage. You'll get local channels, cable networks like The Hallmark Channel, and various sports networks. They offer 4k streaming which gives you fantastic image quality. fuboTV also offers a seven day free trial and normally costs $64.99/mo. but as an exclusive offer to Shall I Stream It? readers you can get your first month for 15% off when you follow this link.
How to Watch Local Channels Without Cable Wrap-Up
As you can see, there are a number of options out there when it comes to accessing your local channels. Have you tried any of these options? What has your experience been like? Leave a comment down below and let me know your thoughts!