What to Know
- Options: Sling TV ($15-$25), Hulu Live TV (starting at $45), YouTUbe Live TV (starting at $50).
- More options: DirecTV Stream ($55-$124), The CW (free), Paramount+ ($6-$10), Peacock (free-$9.99)
- Or: Purchase and hook up a HD antenna. Research what channels can be picked up before buying.
This article details the top seven streaming services for local television channels.
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
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
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.
Price: Starting at $55 - $124
Best known for their cable television offerings, DirecTV Stream 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 Stream 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 Stream might be enough to give you the satisfaction of a few savings with a more typical TV experience.
The compatible devices for DirecTV Stream include Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Android, and iOS devices. DirectV Stream is an excellent option, but be sure to keep an eye on the package you subscribe to, as you might find yourself paying more than what you had for standard cable.
The CW is a network that has a hit lineup of shows featuring original content. It's difficult for 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 might need to find another source to get caught up first. Yeah, that's weird, we know.
Price: $6 - $10
Formerly CBS All Access, Paramount+ gives you on-demand access to CBS classics like Blue Bloods, Big Bang Theory, and Star Trek: Discovery in addition to hundreds of movies from Paramount. You can also watch live local CBS broadcasts to catch your favorite shows as they air.
Paramount+ 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, Paramount+ is a great way to grab your favorite content. If you're attempting to cut the cord without live TV, Paramount+ is an excellent add-on since 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 mobile devices including iOS and Android.
Price: Free - $9.99
NBC Universal's Peacock streaming service is a relative newcomer, but it's already made a big impact in the space. Why? It's completely free. You can get the base version of Peacock at absolutely no cost. Higher tiers add bonus content and remove ads, but the base package isn't lacking.
Peacock grants you access to live news and sports, but TV shows are added to the service's extensive library shortly after airing. So, as long as you're fine with watching your shows a day late, it's an excellent option.
Peacock also includes plenty more content than you'd probably get with a cable provider's "on demand" service. There are hundreds of shows from across NBC Universal's multiple networks, including USA and SyFy. NBC has a long history, and Peacock takes advantage of that with plenty of past favorites too. In addition to TV, Peacock comes with loads of free movies.
Streaming options for Peacock are still somewhat limited, but you can stream to your browser, Apple TV, Android TV or Android device, iOS, Xbox One, Playstation 4, LG or Visio smart TV, and several more.
Another Option to Get Free Local Channels
You don't really need cable or a streaming service to get local television, by the way. You can set up a digital HD antenna to take advantage of over-the-air free signals.
Commonly known as bunny-ears, today's antennas are pretty sophisticated and 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.
Use a site such as Reception Maps to understand which channels your antenna should be able to pick up before making a purchase.