An Antenna is a great way to get local channels without cable. An antenna can be bought for anywhere from $20 to about $80 depending on where you go and what kind of cable reception you get in your area.
More expensive antennas usually give better reception and can pick up more channels, but it really depends on your location and what stations are broadcasting their signal nearby. Generally, the higher the antennae, the better!
Get Local Channels Without Antenna
If you don’t want another piece of equipment lying around taking up space and would rather stream, here are some services that will let you access your local channels via streaming:
Much like how you can buy an antenna to get local channels (for free, no monthly fee), DISH Networks lets you do the same thing with their streaming app. * [Sling](https://www.sling.com) – The cheapest option for watching your local channels is by using Sling’s streaming service of just $20/month that includes all your local channels as well as a number of other cable-only networks. Be aware that the more services you subscribe to from Sling, the higher your bill will be since they charge on a per-service basis.
FuboTV has been going on a wave of popularity lately due to their cheap price of just $35/month for 70+ channels. The downside is that they don’t offer local channels, but there are other streaming services that can be used to access your local networks. * [Hulu TV](https://www.hulu.com/) – Hulu offers various “channel packages” starting at $5.99/month and going up to $44.99/month depending on how many channels you want in your package (local broadcast network fee not included). As with all the streaming services, you can watch live TV or stream shows from their massive library of available shows and movies on demand.
Playstation VUE is similar to Sling, except it’s not as cheap. It starts at 45+ channels for $30/month and goes up from there depending on what package you choose. Like Sling, it doesn’t have local channels but if that’s not a huge deal for you then all the other cable networks are there.
While PBS isn’t a streaming service, they do offer a free app where you can watch their shows live as well as those from other public broadcasting companies from across the United States! If you have an OTA antenna this is definitely worth checking out.
CBS All Access
CBS is one of the big networks that doesn’t allow you to watch their shows on-demand for free; in order to do so, you have to subscribe to their streaming service for $5.99/month. It basically gives you live access to all the major networks (in most areas), plus lets you watch old episodes of some current run shows!
CW is another network that requires a monthly fee just to get access to their content on-demand, even if it’s just watching older seasons or certain reruns of new shows which are often put online for streaming the week after they air. CW’s service is $7.99/month, or you can get it bundled with Hulu for only $12.99/month which isn’t a bad deal if you are already subscribing to their other services!
The History Channel doesn’t have an app that lets you stream live TV so it acts much like PBS in this regard; however, they do offer some free full episodes of certain shows on their website! It’ll be worth checking out to see what they have available since there are some pretty good shows on there that are definitely worth watching again!
So with all these options, which is the best?
No matter what option you are looking at, I would highly recommend checking out the “Ease of Setup” section to see if anything stands out or looks worth your time.
Here are how I rate each service in terms of ease of setup:
- DISH Network – DISH Network gets an easy 10/10 for having absolutely no setup whatsoever! Once you have their app installed on any streaming device, it takes less than a minute to sign in with your existing account details and that’s it! You don’t need to scan for channels or do anything else, it just works easily every single time!
- Sling – 9/10 – Setting up Sling is easy enough, but the only reason I don’t give it a full 10/10 is that you do need to scan for channels. The good thing about this though is that all you have to do is point your device at an OTA antenna and let it do its job while you sit back and relax!
- PlayStation Vue – 8/10 – While setting up Vue might look daunting with all the different steps required, once you get past them it’s actually pretty easy! Just make sure you input the code correctly (it’s not too long but there are some numbers in there which could throw off even skilled copy-pasters like me) and click through everything else quickly since they do timeout every so often. After you’re done it’s just an app like any other and should be easy to use!
- Hulu + Live TV – 8/10 – This setup is dead simple if you already have a Hulu account which you can link to your desired streaming device; however, people without one will need to go through the process of setting up one specifically for this (which isn’t too terrible). Remember that if you don’t want ads on top of commercials or would rather pay extra for no ads ever, there are other options available!
- PBS – 7/10 – It may not look like much, but PBS has definitely made getting access to their content as painless as possible! While you will need a PBS account in order to do so, which can be a little tricky if you didn’t already have one from donating, it is free! Just use the email address you donated with and choose a password that hasn’t been used before. You can even just enter random information if you don’t want your donation linked to the streaming account for some reason.
- CBS All Access – 5/10 – If we ignore the fact that we had to drop 2 points due to not having an easy setup process like DISH Network does (after all, what company wants more money? ) then this is definitely worth checking out; however, since there is no way of downloading these videos and watching them offline, it really isn’t all that helpful if you are someone who takes public transit to work or is constantly traveling.
- History Channel – 3/10 – While some of the shows on this channel are definitely worth watching again (at least in my opinion), I wouldn’t say that it warrants enough that you need to deal with their horrible app setup process! The fact they don’t have an app at all makes things so much easier since there is literally no setup required unlike the other services on this list. If you subscribe through Hulu then your base fee is only $8/month for their cheapest package which gets rid of commercials!
- CW – 1/10 – Sorry guys, but seriously… why? For $2/month you get to watch the CW app on your favorite device and that’s it! No Chrome cast support, no large selection of shows… nothing! Hopefully, this is just a temporary thing so I can get my 10/10 for ease of setup back.
- Acorn – 0/10 – Don’t even bother with this service, it isn’t worth your time. Once you go through their obnoxious signup process (which requires an email address) then you are given a link in a popup to download a file which will supposedly load up in XBMC if you have it installed… except when I tried to do so there was no video player whatsoever.
For those who aren’t interested in setting up each of these individually, the only real option is PlayStation Vue. While no app is perfect it seems that they’ve taken most of the settings you need into consideration and made them as painless as possible!