This is a guest post from Stephen Lovely, an expert on cord cutting and the Managing Editor of Cordcutting.com.
The TCL Roku TV is a great TV by any measure, but it’s particularly appealing to those of us who have cut the cord. With Roku’s easy-to-use interface on board, it’s a snap to swap cable for streaming services and other alternatives.
And, as I so often say over on Cordcutting.com, saying goodbye to cable doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to live TV. Everything cable has to offer can be matched by cord cutting alternatives – and that’s true even of the local stations that offer you local news, sporting events, and more. Here’s how to watch local channels on your TCL Roku TV, no cable required.
Free Over-the-Air TV
Local stations often have their own transmitters, which means that there’s a good chance that your favorite local station is available for free over the air. Over-the-air TV may seem old-school, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the crisp HD streams that are the hallmark of modern OTA TV. The right antenna will get you HD feeds of local networks, including local affiliates of the four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), plus PBS and other local stations. An antenna is all you need to watch everything from NFL football to the local news.
It’s also possible to replicate cable and satellites’ DVR features with free over-the-air TV. OTA DVRs allow you to record and watch OTA broadcasts. You can watch what you recorded (plus live TV) over your local network using an app. That presents no problem for TCL Roku TV owners, as popular OTA DVRs like Tablo have apps for Roku’s platform.
Live TV Streaming Services ("Skinny Bundles")
Most cord cutters aren’t dogmatically opposed to paying for TV – it’s just that the cable and satellite business is plagued by high prices, unfair competition, and terrible customer service. Fortunately, there are better options out there, and they’re called “skinny bundles” or simply “live TV streaming services.”
A live TV streaming service is exactly what it sounds like: a pay TV solution that streams over the internet. The live local and network channels are exactly the same as they are on cable, though – only the way that they’re delivered is different. These services tend to offer smaller channel bundles (hence the “skinny” part of the “skinny bundle” moniker), which makes for lower prices.
And most of these streaming services include live local feeds of the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), as well as regional sports networks, Univision, and more. One thing to keep in mind: coverage varies by region, so you may want to take advantage of some free trial offers to see where your area stands.
The live TV streaming service market is relatively young right now, but it’s already crowded with competition (which is another advantage it has over cable and satellite!). Here are a few options to consider:
- DirecTV Now: AT&T’s skinny bundle includes all four major networks, plus regional sports coverage.
- fuboTV: Once a soccer-focused service, this skinny bundle now offers a broader range of channels, including CBS, Fox, and NBC, plus regional sports networks.
- Hulu with Live TV: The live TV offering from the longtime on-demand service Hulu includes all four major networks and some regional sports coverage.
- PlayStation Vue: Don’t sweat the name – PlayStation Vue is available on your TCL Roku TV, not just on the gaming system it shares a name with. PlayStation Vue offers all four major networks, plus regional sports networks.
- Sling TV: Sling TV is Dish’s entry into the market, and includes ABC, Fox, and NBC, plus a selection of regional sports networks.
- YouTube TV: YouTube TV isn’t available everywhere yet, but it offers all four major networks and some regional sports coverage.
Other Services Worth Considering
Free over-the-air TV and live TV streaming services are your two best bets for a wide sampling of local content, but there are some other services worth taking note of for their local TV offerings. Here are a few you should know about.
- CBS All Access: CBS has its own standalone streaming app, which features both on-demand content and – in select markets – live feeds from local CBS stations.
- NewsON: NewsON specializes in local news. It boasts live feeds from local news stations across the country. Not every local station is on NewsON, but if yours is, it’s a great option.
- Plex: The ever-popular media server application Plex supports over-the-air TV. Just set up an antenna on the device you’re running your server on (such as via a PC TV tuner on a computer running Plex), and then log into the Plex app on your TCL Roku TV.
If all of that seems like a lot of options to you, well, it's because there are a lot of ways to watch live TV on your TCL Roku TV. Roku's platform gives you plenty of options while keeping them all organized, which is one reason that the TCL Roku TV is so popular with cord cutters and cable subscribers alike!