ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are the “Big 4” cornerstones of American television. And a major concern people have about ditching cable is being able to watch the local affiliates they’ve known all their lives. Fortunately, the streaming landscape has evolved since the early days of Netflix and Hulu, and live TV has become a major part of the market. Read on for the best ways to watch local TV channels without cable in 2022.
Not all live TV streaming services carry all the major broadcast networks – and some might only have them in select markets – so it’s best to double-check your zip code with each service before signing up.
Watch local TV channels on Sling TV
Sling TV is the lowest-priced live-TV streaming service out there, but it only offers 2 of the Big 4 broadcast networks – Fox and NBC.
Sling TV’s 2 main plans – Orange and Blue – cost the same, but only Blue includes Fox and NBC. Furthermore, they’re only available in select areas. Sling TV offers Fox in 18 “designated market areas” and NBC in 11, all of which are listed here.
The Blue plan comes with 41 channels and lets you watch 3 screens at once. It also comes with a rather meager 50 hours of cloud DVR storage.
Watch local TV channels on fuboTV
At twice the price of Sling TV, fuboTV is a big step up. The streaming sports leader includes local affiliates for the Big 4 networks, as well as for The CW, Telemundo and Univision, in all its plans.
The entry-level Pro plan is all you need to watch local TV, but if you need more than 131 channels, the Elite plan has 185, while Ultimate has 211 channels. Both upper tiers also have 130+ live events in 4K.
All plans include a 1,000-hour cloud DVR and let you watch 10 screens at home and 2 more on the go.
Watch local TV channels on Hulu + Live TV
For the same price as fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV offers 75+ channels, but you get the Hulu on-demand library full of movies, shows and award-winning original content. It also includes Disney+ and ESPN+, making it a great family option. The ad-free plan is a few bucks more, which removes commercials from Hulu’s on-demand library.
You get local channels for all Big 4 networks, the CW and Telemundo, plus regional NBC Sports channels in a handful of markets.
It comes with unlimited cloud DVR, but only 2 simultaneous streams, which are upgradable with the Unlimited Screens add-on for $9.99/month.
Watch local TV channels on DirecTV Stream
While DirecTV Stream has the most expensive streaming packages on the market, its entry-level Entertainment plan is the same price as others in its class.
Its 75 channels include the Big 4 networks, Telemundo and UniMás, as well as The CW in a few areas. It’s one of the only streaming services with local PBS stations – covering 99% of the US – and the only one with Ion TV stations.
The Entertainment plan includes 40,000 on-demand, ad-free titles.
All plans have unlimited cloud DVR and let you watch 20 screens on your home network, plus 3 more on the go.
Watch local TV channels on Vidgo
Similar to Sling TV, relative newcomer Vidgo only has 2 of the Big 4 broadcast networks, but it’s got ABC and Fox instead. Both its English-language plans – Plus and Premium – include local affiliates for both networks, as well as Univision.
The Plus plan is priced a bit lower than competitors, while the Premium plan is priced $10 to $15 higher – yet doesn’t add much in terms of quality content.
You can watch 3 screens at once. The Premium plan includes 20 hours of cloud DVR that can be added to the Plus plans for an additional fee.
Watch local TV channels on YouTube TV
You’ll be able to watch all of the Big 4 networks and the CW with YouTube TV, as well as the 3 major Spanish-language networks, Telemundo, UniMás and Univision. YouTube TV is the nation’s other streaming service with local PBS stations – and a few bucks cheaper than DirecTV Stream.
Its single English-language plan has 85+ channels and there’s some on-demand content, but it’s not organized in a library like Hulu. And while there are a few channel bundles, most are added à la carte.
YouTube TV allows 3 simultaneous streams and comes with unlimited cloud DVR.
Watch your local CBS channel on Paramount+
While Paramount+ is primarily an on-demand streaming service, subscribers to its Premium plan get the live channel of their local CBS station. If CBS is your go-to local station, then Paramount+ is the cheapest way to watch it without cable.
Live TV for local CBS affiliates is available in 99% of the country, but you can double-check by searching for your city – or your local station’s call sign – on this Paramount+ webpage.
Douglas Wright is a freelance writer based in Japan. A former web designer and technical writer, he left beautiful Vancouver for bustling Tokyo, where he spent a decade recruiting for software and high-tech firms. No longer commuting through the world’s busiest train station, he writes fiction and a wide range of formats for clients around the world. When he gets AFK, he’s either outdoors with his two boys, streaming a show with his wife, or reading a book over a French-pressed, hand-ground coffee.