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Local Channels Streaming Guide

Your Guide to Watching Sports, Events, and More

Some people can talk themselves into just watching Netflix or Hulu, but we can’t fathom the idea of missing out on NFL games, new episodes of The Bachelor, or events like the Oscars.

Sadly, most cable-cutters have a hard time figuring out how to stream ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC. Due to regional restrictions, things get can pretty confusing. Let’s help you figure out how to stream local TV channels without cable.

  • How do I watch local channels in my area?
  • Who offers the most local channels overall?
  • Don’t forget about antennas!
  • What devices can I stream local channels on?

How do I watch local channels in my area?

Streaming services like DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV claim to carry ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, but there’s a massive catch—those channels are available only in certain markets.

Each local channel—ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX—breaks down into individual affiliate stations across the country. That’s why your local NBC feed, with local news and sometimes sports, is different than the NBC feed on the other side of the country. The downside is no streaming service carries every affiliate station for each channel. Not yet, anyways. In other words, if you commit to a streaming service, chances are you won’t get every local channel.

So, how do you know if you’ll get the channels you need when you sign up for a streaming service? On your own, you would have to research a ton, sign up for free trials, and cross your fingers that you would get local channels in your area. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Fortunately, you’re not on your own. Let’s see what you can stream in your area.

Who offers the most local channels overall?

Streaming services are racing to be the top dog when it comes to local affiliate agreements. Whoever ends up with the most local affiliate stations will have a huge advantage over other streaming services. In the meantime, local channel offering are subject to change.

To give you an idea of who has the strongest local channel game across the different streaming services, here’s a snapshot of what each major streaming service currently offers.

ABC affiliate stationsCBS affiliate stationsFOX affiliate stationsNBC affiliate stationsTotal affiliate stations
DIRECTV NOW logo8486107873647-day free trial
No contract
FuboTV logo077140893067-day free trial
No contract
Hulu logo1631711851446757-day free trial
No contract
PlayStation Vue logo871101051004025-day free trial
No contract
SlingTV logo801711367-day free trial
No contract
YouTube TV logo100101104974027-day free trial
No contract
FuboTV logo
Hulu logo
PlayStation Vue logo
SlingTV logo
YouTube TV logo
ABC affiliate stations CBS affiliate stations FOX affiliate stations NBC affiliate stations Total affiliate stations
84 86 107 87 364 7-day free trial
No contract
0 77 140 89 306 7-day free trial
No contract
163 171 185 144 675 7-day free trial
No contract
87 110 105 100 402 5-day free trial
No contract
8 0 17 11 36 7-day free trial
No contract
100 101 104 97 402 7-day free trial
No contract

*As of 11/12

As it stands now, Hulu, YouTube, and DIRECTV NOW lead the local channels competition. However, don’t think that just because Hulu offers the most local affiliate stations, it will be the option for you. A lot of that still depends on your local market. For example, Hulu doesn’t carry NBC in San Antonio, Texas—but PlayStation Vue does.

Use our local channels tool to see what streaming service will hook you up with the most local channels.

Don’t forget about antennas

Remember the old rabbit ears you used to have jetting out of your TV as a kid? Good news—antennas nowadays aren’t nearly as cumbersome, and they work much better too. All you need to do is plug it in, and you’ll be watching over-the-air TV in no time.

Now, we do have a few caveats to discuss when it comes to antennas. You won’t get any TV channels beyond your locals, which means no AMC, ESPN, or HGTV. Generally, we recommend pairing an antenna with a cheap streaming service like Sling TV so you get your favorite cable channels along with your local channels. The best of both worlds.

Also, the quality of your TV antenna signal depends very heavily on where you live. If there are big buildings or hills between you and the nearest broadcast tower, you may end up with a spotty connection. Before buying an antenna, we recommend entering your ZIP code here to see what kind of signal quality you can expect.

Howie Recommends
Howie Recommends

If you’ve decided to get an antenna, let us make it easier for you—we recommend going with the Mohu Leaf 50.

What devices can I stream local channels on?

Most streaming services cover popular streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast, as well as mobile and tablet devices. There are some quirky exceptions, though, like the fact that PlayStation Vue is the only streaming service available on PlayStation consoles (go figure). Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, and YouTube TV are the only streaming services that let you stream local channels on your Xbox One.

Just make sure whatever streaming device you have is compatible with the streaming service you choose.

Howie Recommends
Howie Recommends

Apple TV is a bit pricier than other devices, but we think it’s worth it. It has 4K streaming and tons of apps to choose from. If it sounds too expensive, definitely check out a Roku Ultra or Roku Streaming Stick. They don’t have quite as many shiny features, but they get the job done.

Get your local channels

So many streamers out there just live their lives without enjoying local channels. Don’t be one of them. Just because one streaming service doesn’t get ABC in your area doesn’t mean that another streaming service won’t. Make sure to enter your ZIP code in the local channels finder above, and it’ll make this streaming local channels thing so much easier.

Do you have any more questions about streaming your local channels? Let us know in the comments below.

Now we’ve got a few questions for you. Did you decide to go with a streaming service, an antenna, or combination of the two? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.

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