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With Roku, you can still watch all the live local news you want.
Just because you’ve made a move to Roku doesn’t mean you have to give up your local channels or even buy a new digital tuner to catch networks over the air. While there are tons of Roku channels to stream, there are streaming TV apps that make it easy to find your favorite local TV on Roku. Whether you’re looking to watch everything your local affiliates show or just keep on the local news, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to get local channels on Roku.
How to get local channels on Roku
The best way to watch local content is by subscribing to a live TV streaming solution. If you were burned by cable, the idea of signing another contract might seem daunting. Thankfully streaming TV is a different world than cable, free of long-term contracts that screw you on the details. Each of these services allows subscribers to cancel at any time, so if a service isn’t right for you, make sure you try another one. You’ve got options and time to shop.
1) Sling TV
Cost: $25-$40 per month (after free trial)
Sling TV is the perfect budget streaming TV option, starting at just $25 for 29 cable channels and a selection of local channels depending on your area. Thankfully Sling TV also has a local channel page that lets you see which channels are offered with your plan. Sling is a budget plan, so you should expect to be drowning in channels here, but the ability to follow local news and watch ESPN and Comedy Central is worth $25 per month. Be aware. However, not every area gets the same access. Sling TV users in Los Angeles CA only get two streaming local channels while Chattanooga, TV can’t stream any local channels. Sling TV is still building its arsenal of local channels, so if you don’t see your favorite right now check back in a few months. But 100% check before paying. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels.)
Game-changing feature: Price. Sling TV offers the most football for the least amount of money.
Cost: $40 per month (after free trial)
Devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
Hulu with Live TV’s local TV coverage largely depends on where you live in the country. In Los Angeles, CA they offer nine local channels, while Nampa, ID can pick up four, and Chattanooga, TN can get five. Of course, those Chattanoogans will be out NBC, while FOX and CBS are available. It’s confusing exactly why some channels are available in some places, but not others. However, you don’t need to go in blind. Hulu has a local channel search page that allows you to put in your zip code and see what local options you’ve got. Along with local channels, Hulu with Live TV offers a complete Hulu membership and 50+ live cable channels for just $40 per month. If you’re already a Hulu fan, this is a great way to get local channels, cable news, and Hulu all under one bill a month.
Game-changing feature: Every subscription comes with free access to Hulu’s on-demand library, meaning you can catch up on all of your favorite shows. (Here are our picks for the best movies on Hulu, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.)
Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month
Devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
PS Vue is a solid streaming service that offers over 200 local channels for subscribers. There’s just one problem if you want to research before you subscribe; you can’t check what channels are available in your area. While other companies have a zip code service that lets you see which markets are available, or like FuboTV just cover almost everyone, PS Vue has a “trust us we can probably do it” attitude. For subscribers in major metropolitan areas you’re going to be covered, but if you live in a smaller town, you’ll need to subscribe to PS Vue before you know your local options. Your subscription comes with the standard channels you’d expect from a basic cable package, but without the ability to easily see what local channels are included in each area we have a hard time recommending it for Roku users. (Here’s a complete guide to PlayStation Vue channels.)
Game-changing feature: You can stream on up to five devices at once, and there’s unlimited cloud DVR.
Cost: $39.99 for your first month and $44.99 per month thereafter (with a seven-day free trial)
Devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
FuboTV is one of the few streaming services to make a big deal about how much local coverage they offer. Of course, if you could provide local coverage to almost the entire United States, you’d be bragging too. Currently, FuboTV can provide local FOX coverage for 94% of the U.S., CBS to 82% of the U.S., and NBC to 76% of the U.S. On top of your local channels FuboTV features some of the most comprehensive sports coverage of any streaming service. In total, you get 85+ channels with the basic package, including cable favorites like FX, Travel, and Food Network. (Here’s a complete guide to FuboTV channels.)
Game-changing feature: Three-day replay for games and 30 hours of cloud DVR.
5) DirecTV Now
Cost: $40 – $75 per month
While it doesn’t brag about its reach, DirecTV Now offers a surprisingly robust number of local channel options for cord-cutters. Covering more than 400 local channels across the United States, there’s a good chance DirecTV Now has your local NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates available for streaming. You can see what local channels DirecTV supports in your area with their handy zip code search feature. Of course, local TV isn’t the only place DirecTV Now shines, offering a 65+ channel live TV package and DVR for the same cost per month as their competitors providing few channels. With AMC, ESPN, CNN, and more of the biggest channels around, DirecTV Now is a great streaming TV solution, with great local support to boot. (Here’s a complete guide to DirecTV Now channels.)
Game-changing feature: AT&T Unlimited customers can save $25 a month off every DirecTV Now package.
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6) Your Local TV Station’s App
Of course, you don’t have to pay money necessarily to watch your favorite local channel. FOX25 Boston, WSB Atlanta, and WGN Chicago, among over a 100 other stations, have their own Roku apps. You can find these apps under the News & Weather section, of the Roku channel store. Just be careful with the News & Weather section of the Roku site and make sure not to download any news sources you don’t already have a reason to trust.
How to get local news on Roku
For many people searching for local channels the issue isn’t keeping up with the Seinfeld reruns your neighbors are seeing, it’s keeping up with the local news. NewsON is a free Roku channel that allows you to watch newscasts from over 200 trusted local news stations around the United States. Catch live news or watch the previous few days broadcasts, all from the comfort of your home, no matter where that is. Plus if you’re trying to keep track of what’s going on in your hometown after you move away, it’s nice to know you’re not limited to just your immediate local channels like with the streaming TV options.
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, AMC, FX, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, the CW, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, the Weather Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
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John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.