How to Get Local Channels Online Without Cable

Few television channels have the staying power of local television. Even as viewers have more and more choices for what to watch, local television still brings in big viewers. Local television offers programming that national channels cannot duplicate. If you want to know what’s happening in your neighborhood, you can catch it on the local news. You might even see yourself on tv.

Local Television Moves Away From Cable

A decade ago, most people relied on cable television to watch local programming. Even in modern times, these channels usually come with a standard cable package. Most people don’t know that cable isn’t required to see local television, though. Today, local television is more available than ever. It’s higher quality than ever before.

There are multiple options to watch local channels without cable. You don’t have to have a paid cable subscription at all. You can cut the cord and still watch the best shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS, to name a few. These channels offer the best in television, paid or free.

Cable Isn’t Cool Anymore

Most people are surprised to learn how unpopular cable television really is. The vast majority of great television still comes to viewers on free, broadcast television. Other than major sporting events, very few cable television shows crack the list of the most popular shows on television. Modern and classic favorites such as Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Wheel of Fortune, and The Price Is Right all still come to you via broadcast television that is absolutely free, if you know how to find it.

Over the Air or Internet Streaming

There are viable ways that you can see local tv channels without costly cable. The two major options are over the airways and via internet streaming. Local television is still broadcast television. That means that broadcasters send out the television signal free to everyone that is close enough to pick it up. Television via internet streaming is sometimes free and sometimes available for a fee.

Broadcast Television

A great way to watch local channels without cable is with broadcast television. This is absolutely free, and you don’t have to sign up for anything. There’s no place to enter your user name and you don’t have to worry about a complicated interface or not having a keyboard to make typing easier.

To get local television over the open airway, you need a television set with a digital tuner. If your television is newer than 2007, it should have a digital tuner. To check, you can look for the antenna coaxial port on your television. It’s on the back side of the television and it looks like a screw with a large head.

If you have a television that is digital, it should say as much somewhere on the television set, too. There are a number of different words that manufacturers use to indicate this such as HDTV, ATSC and HD. If your television is older than 2007, you can buy a converter box, but it might make more sense just to buy a new television instead.

Once you get your television, you need an antenna to pick up the broadcast signals. There are several different antennas, and you typically get what you pay for. If you have a stronger signal, you can pick up channels from farther away. Typically, the more you pay, the stronger antenna you get for the money, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Even with a great antenna, there are things that can interfere with being able to pick up a strong signal. Of course, the better the signal you can pick up, the better your picture is.

Antenna Options

The Mohu Sky 60 is one antenna option. Mohu makes antennas for both indoor and outdoor installation. Examples of indoor antennas are the Mohu Leaf and the Mohu Curve. Any store that sells electronics ought to have at least a small selection of antennas.

Use DVR Recording

If you go the antenna route, you can use a DVR service to make the experience more convenient for you. The service allows you to record television as it airs to watch it later. It also lets you pause and rewind. This is helpful if you can’t watch an entire show at once.

Network Hits with Subscription Television

While a television antenna is the way to go if you want to see local programming, there are other ways to catch the best shows that the networks have to offer. Many of the networks offer content through subscription services. They either own the service themselves, own a partial share, or they work through a third-party company to offer these channels over the internet.

Hulu is one example of a subscription television provider. Hulu offers a large number of current ABC shows, and they have a huge library of classic hits from across a wide variety of networks. CBS also has a pay-to-watch streaming services called CBS All Access. This lets you choose which local CBS station to watch from across the country.

Free Online Content

Check each network for what they offer online without a subscription, too. ABC has a reputation for generous free, online offerings, if you can put up with a few ads. If you like PBS, they have their own app that you can use to watch for free to your heart’s content.

Who Offers the Best

NBC has a great deal of content online. You can watch hits like The Blacklist online. ABC puts their hit programming online about a week after it airs. CW has an impressive amount of content online, and they are definitely worth checking out. CBS also generously puts shows online. FOX appears to make you wait for programs if you don’t have a paid television service. PBS is a leader in online content.

Streaming To a Television

While online content is great, sometimes you want to watch local channels without cable without giving up being able to watch on television. For this, there are streaming devices. Streaming devices pull the television channel from the internet connection and display it on your television, big or small. Roku is an example of a streaming service.

Local Affiliate Programming with Paid Streaming Television

If you want to pay for an internet-based television service, there are a few ways to do that where you can still see your local television channels. CBS All Access is a good way to go if you want to watch CBS online. Sling TV is another option that lets you see your local ABC channel in certain markets. Sling TV also gives you NBC and FOX local programs in some markets. DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue also have some agreements to air local programming through their streaming television services.