Cutting the cable cord and saving money on TV doesn‘t mean you have to give up your favorite local channels. With over 55 million users in the U.S. as of 2022, Roku streaming devices and smart TVs make it easy and affordable to access live local programming.
This simple guide will walk you through exactly how to watch local over-the-air channels on Roku using an antenna or free station streaming apps. Let‘s get started watching ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and more without a costly cable subscription!
Why Stream Local Channels on Roku?
The ability to view local TV on a Roku device offers many benefits:
- Watch local news and weather – Stay up-to-date on what‘s happening in your area for free. Morning and evening newscasts stream 24/7 on many station apps.
- Never miss local sports and events – Cheer on your home teams with access to live sports broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC and more without cable.
- Enjoy primetime shows and network TV – See the latest episodes of popular primetime series on demand the day after they air from big broadcast networks.
- Save money – No expensive monthly bills just to watch local channels. An HD antenna costs around $40-60 one time.
Over 31% of U.S. households cut the cord in 2022, fed up with soaring cable prices. Roku empowers you to easily eliminate those costs while still tuning in free local TV from major networks.
Now let‘s look at the two main methods for accessing all your favorite local programming through a Roku device: using an antenna or streaming apps.
Method 1: Connect an Antenna for Live TV
The most straightforward approach for watching local channels on Roku is to simply connect an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Digital OTA signals provide free access to broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
With an antenna properly connected to your Roku setup, you can enjoy live local TV just like cable but completely free after the initial antenna purchase.
Choosing the Right Antenna
Today‘s antenna technology is nothing like the old rabbit ears. Modern digital models provide clear reception of high-definition signals up to 60 miles away. However, with so many options available, it can get confusing picking the right one.
The following table compares the most popular indoor and outdoor antenna models:
|Antenna Type||Price Range||Reception Range||Key Features||Top Models|
|Indoor||$15 – $50||Up to 30 miles||Compact, mounts on walls or windows||Mohu Leaf, Winegard Flatwave|
|Outdoor/Attic||$40 – $150||Up to 60+ miles||Mounted outside or in attics for farther reach||Clearstream Eclipse, Antennas Direct Clearstream 2MAX|
|Amplified/Powered||$60 – $200||Up to 70+ miles||Built-in signal amplifiers boost reception||Channel Master Titan 2, 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna|
Check AntennaWeb.org to view broadcast towers in your area and determine the right range antenna. Those located closer to towers will need only simple indoor models while homes further out require larger outdoor directional antennas pointed at the towers.
Positioning is also crucial – place indoor antennas near windows facing broadcast towers and install outdoor models as high as possible with a clear line of sight. Proper antenna selection and placement makes enjoying free live channels a breeze.
Connecting an Antenna to a Roku TV
One of the best features of Roku smart TVs is the dead simple process for enabling antenna channels. Simply follow these steps:
- Connect the coaxial cable from your antenna directly to the Antenna/Cable port on the back of your Roku TV, which is the standard F-type threaded coax connector.
- Access the Settings menu, select TV inputs and verify your antenna is detected.
- Choose "Air/Antenna" input and select Scan for channels. Your TV scans for any available local broadcast stations from the antenna.
- Once scanning finishes, newly detected antenna channels are automatically added and ready to view in the Live TV section. Tune to them just like regular cable channels using the Roku remote.
Connecting and scanning for antenna channels is simple on Roku TVs. Image credit: ReviewGeek
Roku smart TV software integrated with the antenna input makes accessing free local programming incredibly easy.
Connecting an Antenna to a Roku Streaming Device
For Roku streaming media players connected to your TV via HDMI, antenna setup requires a couple extra steps:
- Connect the antenna coax cable to Antenna/Cable input on your TV first, just like with a Roku TV.
- On your TV, run a channel scan to detect available stations from the antenna. Refer to your TV manual for instructions.
- Tune your TV input to wherever your Roku player is connected, typically HDMI.
- On the Roku home screen select "Antenna TV" to view local channels. Use your Roku remote to change stations.
In this case, the antenna runs directly into the TV first, with channels then passed through to the Roku via the HDMI connection. This outboard setup enables tuning and viewing anten
Method 2: Get Local News and Shows Via Streaming Apps
In addition to live TV from an antenna, another great way to watch local programming through Roku is by using free station streaming apps.
Major broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox have Roku apps where you can stream shows on-demand the day after they air. This allows you to catch up on primetime series for free instead of paying for cable.
Many local affiliates also offer free Roku apps with a live feed of local newscasts along with weather forecasts, special event coverage and shows focused on your city.
Here‘s a comparison of the top network and local streaming apps:
|App||Live Local News||On-demand Shows||Other Content||Free?|
|CBS News||❌||Primetime 1 day later||National news||Yes|
|ABC||❌||Primetime 1 day later||Local syndicated shows||Yes|
|NBC||❌||Select primetime||Late night clips||Yes|
|FOX NOW||❌||Select primetime||Sports highlights||Yes|
|NewsON||Local 24/7||❌||Local syndicated shows||Yes|
|NewsNet||Local 24/7||❌||Local weather/traffic||Yes|
While antenna channels provide live broadcasts, streaming apps allow you to catch up on your favorite episodes at your convenience. Used together, they offer the complete suite of local programming options.
Pro Tips for Getting All Your Local Channels
Follow these expert tips when setting up Roku for local channels:
- Rescan for antenna channels whenever you move your antenna to potentially discover new stations.
- Try different locations and orientations for indoor antennas – near windows works best to pull in more signals.
- Elevate and amplify outdoor antennas – install as high up as possible with line of sight to broadcast towers.
- Check reception and signal strength meters when scanning on your TV to ensure antenna is positioned optimally.
- Call your local stations if some channels are missing after rescanning – they can help troubleshoot antenna issues specific to your area.
- Use both an antenna and streaming apps in tandem to ensure you never miss the latest local news, weather, sports and shows.
Cutting cable doesn‘t mean sacrificing access to local TV. With this handy guide, you can unlock free local programming on your Roku device with ease. Now enjoy saving money without missing out on ABC, CBS, NBC and more.