How to Get Local Channels Without Cable

Cut cable without leaving your favorite local channels behind

Couple sitting on couch in home watching TV

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Have you decided that it's time to leave your cable provider behind? The high costs related to cable television have given many a pause, considering what options they might have when they cut the cord. Luckily, you don't need to leave your favorite local channels, or any channels for that matter, behind. We show you how to access local channels without the need for an expensive cable subscription.

Free Over the Air Television

Want to see how far you might be able to stretch a few dollars? What if it was possible to get your favorite shows for no-cost at all. Here, we explore two great options for accessing your favorite shows without paying an ongoing subscription.

Digital HD Antennas

Digital TV Antenna
ClearStream / Antennas Direct

Price: Cost of Antenna ($20-60), Then Free

The world has seemingly left behind televisions with antennas — commonly known as bunny-ears to those who needed to use them in the past century. Today's antennas are a bit more sophisticated, being able to pick up up full digital 1080i HD broadcasts. Best of all, antenna designs have come a long way since the past, with some even sporting elegant, artsy designs that fit in with your media setup.

An HD antenna will typically cost you under $50 from your favorite online or brick-n-mortar retailer, depending on its range for picking up signals. Once your antenna is purchased and plugged into your television, you won't need to pay a dime for the channels you receive. However, be sure to use a site such as Reception Maps to understand what channels your antenna should be able to pick up before making a purchase.

Locast.org

Locast TV
Locast.org 

Price: Free

Does the idea of free network television connection entice you, but you'd prefer to avoid placing an antenna above your television (or outside)? The non-profit organization, Locast, picks up channels in certain areas, streaming them to viewers via a non-cost app for mobile devices and media center boxes. At the current moment, Locast is only available in a limited number of cities including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washinton DC, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Denver, with more options on the way.

Just download the Locast app to your Android, iOS, or Roku device, and you can begin watching your favorite local content. It is worth noting that while Locast.org is free, the organization does play ads to help support its mission.

Internet Television Services

Perhaps you are just tired of dealing with your local cable company and the need to rent a box from them, bundled with a monthly fee. Thanks to many internet television services, you can stream content to some of your favorite devices.

Sling TV

Sling TV
Sling 

Price: Starting at $15 - $25

The folks at Sling TV have been providing an alternative to standard cable services since 2015. Offering a variety of different packages, customers can download the company's app to many different devices to access their favorite content. Sling provides a couple of different offerings for prospective buyers so that users can always find what fits their lifestyle and viewing habits best. In addition to accessing standard cable shows, Sling TV offers some different add-ons for sports, kids, news, international coverage, and more.

The best aspect of Sling TV is its vast availability for different hardware and platforms including AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, Android TV, Oculus, iOS, Chromecast, and Android. Sling also routinely offers free and discounted streaming media boxes when signing up for their services.

Hulu Live TV

Hulu TV
Hulu

Price: Starting at $45

If you already a subscriber to Hulu's video service and are enjoying it, the next most logical step to obtain local channels is to scoop up Live TV. Known for allowing you to watch and access your favorite television shows on-demand, Hulu now offers a Live TV option for those who don't want to leave the option behind. Available as an add-on to Hulu's streaming library, live TV can be accessed with the click of a button once signed up.

Hulu offers a variety of channel options based on your physical location, with add-ons that include an enhanced Cloud DVR, premium entertainment channels, and international television. Hulu is available on most streaming boxes and gaming platforms including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Chromecast, iOS, and Android.

YouTube Live TV

YouTube
 mediaphotos / Getty Images

Price: Starting at $50

A website known for its user-generated content is also bringing onboard the option for live television streaming. If you spend most of your free time browsing YouTube and subscribing to your favorite creators, then it might make sense that live television is only a click away. Offerings multiple accounts for a single household and an unlimited Cloud DVR, YouTube TV offers a variety of different channels based on your physical location. Additional add-ons for sports and premium entertainment networks are also available.

As with other service offerings, YouTube TV is widely accessible; it is available on platforms and devices including Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. One bonus of YouTube Live TV is that the subscription also gives you access to YouTube Originals — the company's exclusive programming offerings.

DirecTV NOW

DirecTV NOW
 DirecTV

Price: Starting at $50 - $70

Best known for their cable television offerings, DirecTV NOW enables customers to forgo the cable box, connecting to their live television offerings over the internet via a streaming media box. As the closest option to a standard cable offering, DirecTV presents the most impressive possibilities with packages that include over 125 channels. If you're apprehensive about cutting the cable cord and switching to a new online offering, DirecTV might be enough to give you the satisfaction of a few savings with a more typical TV experience.

List of compatible devices for the DirecTV experience includes the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Android, and iOS devices. DirecTV is an excellent option, but be sure to keep an eye on the package you choose to subscribe, as you might find yourself paying more than what you had for standard cable.

Direct From the Source

While some television channels require you to obtain them as part of a larger package, some networks have broken away, allowing you to access their content for a separate subscription price or even completely free.

The CW

The CW
 The CW

Price: Free

The CW is a network that has lately seen a hit lineup of shows featuring original content. It's difficult for fans comic fans to ignore the network's list of material including The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow. The CW has taken a different approach for cord cutters, offering their content for free — no strings attached, no subscriptions required. Directly download The CW app to your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, or Android TV device and being enjoying your favorite shows.

It is worth noting that The CW only provides the last few available episodes of their shows to stream, so if you want to start watching a show from the beginning, you'll need to stop by your local video store to get caught up first. The CW app can provide free streaming due to commercials that appear during the viewing experience, similar to watching a standard television stream.

CBS All Access

CBS All Access
CBS 

Price: $6 - $10

CBS also wants you to be able to quickly watch your favorite content the way you want to watch it — without a cable subscription; however, they do want you to pay for it. CBS All Access is the networks in-house streaming subscription available to watchers who can't get enough of Blue Bloods, Big Bang Theory, and other CBS classics. As the service only includes one network, CBS All Access is considerably cheaper than alternatives and includes streaming options with and without commercials (an extra charge is required for without ads).

With over 10,000 different episodes of shows available on demand, including CBS originals, All Access is a great way to grab your favorite content. If you're attempting to cut the cord without live TV, CBS All Access is also an excellent addon itself as Hulu's standard streaming library does not include content from CBS. You can begin your watching experience on Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Roku boxes, and mobiles devices including iOS and Android.