Cutting the cord and leaving cable behind is liberating. No more paying for channels you never watch or dealing with sneaky hidden fees. But most cord cutters do miss access to local channels. How can you stream local news, weather, and sports after ditching cable?
The good news is – getting local channels on Firestick is easy! In this detailed guide, I‘ll show you several methods to stream your local programming on a Firestick or Fire TV.
Here‘s what I‘ll cover:
- Using the pre-installed Amazon News app
- Setting up an OTA antenna
- Subscribing to a live TV streaming service
- Installing free options like NewsON and Locast
- Accessing local channels from other markets with a VPN
Plus, I‘ll provide tips for optimizing each method based on your specific needs and budget. Let‘s get started!
Leveraging the Amazon News App on Your Firestick
The easiest way to start streaming local channels is by using the Amazon News app that comes pre-installed on all Firestick and Fire TV devices.
The Amazon News app provides live and on-demand access to:
- Local news from major affiliate stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox
- Weather forecasts and radar maps
- Traffic conditions for local highways
- Segments covering local sports and events
- Lifestyle and morning shows produced in your city
It‘s a great free option for local news junkies! Here are step-by-step instructions for getting it set up:
Download and Install the Amazon News App
If for some reason the Amazon News app didn‘t come pre-loaded, you can easily download it from the Amazon Appstore:
- From your Firestick home screen, open the "Finder" and search for "Amazon News"
- Select the Amazon News app from the search results.
- Click "Download" to install the app on your device.
- Once installed, the Amazon News app will now show up in your Firestick app library.
Select Your Location(s)
The first time you open the Amazon News app, it will ask you to select your local city or region. This helps deliver content relevant to your area.
You can enter up to two locations – for example, adding both the nearest major city along with your specific suburb or town.
Be sure to set this accurately so you get news and programming for your viewing area.
Customize Your Channel Selection
Next, browse through the available local news and other channels listed for your location. Check off the stations you‘re most interested in to add them to your Amazon News favorites.
Some channels you may see:
- ABC Local News
- CBS Local Morning Show
- NBC Local Traffic
- Fox Local Weather
- Local PBS station
- Univision (Spanish language local news)
Trimming down to just your most-watched stations helps declutter the app‘s interface. You can always change your selections later in the settings.
Enable Emergency Alerts (Optional)
From the settings menu, consider toggling on notifications for emergency alerts. This will send push notifications to your phone for severe weather, AMBER alerts, and other urgent local updates.
Emergency alerts can also interrupt live channel playback when needed. Having them on provides an added layer of safety and awareness about threats in your location.
And that covers the basics of setting up the Amazon News app! The full process should take less than 10 minutes.
Accessing Live Local Channels and Shows
To start watching, tap the "Live" tab showcased at the top of the app:
- Browse for a live local news or weather broadcast and select it to view the stream
- Use the playback bar at the bottom to pause, rewind or jump to live TV
- Swipe left/right to change between channels
Under the "On Demand" tab, you can also view recently aired programs and news clips from each station. It‘s a great way to catch up on anything you missed!
Supplement With An OTA Antenna
While the Amazon News app provides a solid selection of free local programming, an over-the-air (OTA) antenna expands your channel selection drastically.
Connecting an OTA antenna to your Firestick or television provides totally free access to broadcast stations in your area including:
- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and more
- PBS and local public access channels
- Independent stations for classic shows and older movies
- Local religious and Spanish language programming
Today‘s indoor antennas start around $20-30 and can pull in channels broadcast from towers up to 30 miles away. High-end outdoor or attic mounted antennas can extend your range up to 80+ miles and deliver 50-60+ local channels in total.
According to a 2022 survey by Tivo, 82% of US households have access to over 45 local channels via OTA antenna. And video quality is excellent – all broadcast in crystal clear high definition with 5.1 surround sound in many cases!
OTA antennas pair perfectly with the Amazon News app, covering both your local news/weather and all the major entertainment and sports networks. Let‘s look at tips for choosing and connecting your antenna setup:
Select the Right Antenna for Your Situation
With modern amplifier technology, even cheap indoor antennas work surprisingly well if you live within 20-30 miles of the TV broadcast towers.
But for more reliably reception, stepping up to a powered or outdoor antenna is worth the investment. Here are some top rated options:
- Budget indoor – GE Pro Indoor Antenna, $29.99
- Amplified indoor – 1byOne Digital Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna, $27.99
- Outdoor/attic – Channel Master EXTREMEtenna 80, $139.00
- Long range outdoor – Antennas Direct DB8e, $149.99
Visit AntennaWeb.org and input your address to see how far you are from local broadcast towers. This will help choose the right antenna model for your needs.
Optimize Antenna Placement
Where you position the antenna in your home makes a huge difference in channel availability and video quality.
Experiment with placing your antenna:
- Near a window facing the direction of the broadcast towers
- Higher up away from potential interference
- Away from other electronics and devices
- Adjust/amplify the antenna and rescan if needed until signal strength improves
Every home‘s construction and location will be a bit different. Expect to spend some time finding the ideal antenna spot through trial and error.
Connect Antenna and Rescan Channels
Lastly, connect your antenna to your television or Firestick/Fire TV device. Make sure to select "Air/Antenna" as the input source.
Then head to the channel scan function in settings and perform a rescan to pick up your available local stations. New channels will start populating within just a few minutes in most cases.
Tip: Repeat the channel scan periodically if you notice certain stations missing. This will pull in any newly added or relocated broadcast frequencies.
And that‘s all it takes to unlock free over-the-air TV! With an antenna giving you full local channel coverage, the Amazon News app makes a perfect accompany app for extra local content.
When To Consider Paid Live TV Streaming
Both the Amazon News app and an HD antenna provide excellent free options for local programming. But what if you also want the full channel packages and perks offered by paid live TV services?
Streaming providers like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and Sling TV replicate the entire cable TV experience through app-based streaming. For example, here‘s an overview of what YouTube TV offers:
Local Broadcast Channels – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and more with sports, news and primetime shows
Regional Sports Networks – Catch local pro, college and high school sports games
Cable Networks – ESPN, HGTV, Comedy Central, AMC, and over 85+ total channels
Unlimited DVR Storage – Record any program to watch later
Simultaneous Streams – Watch on up to 3 devices at once
No Contracts – Cancel anytime!
Plans start at $65/month. So it‘s certainly not a cheap cable replacement. But you gain incredible convenience, full nationwide channel coverage, and perks like unlimited DVR.
Local channel streaming is also extremely reliable on these services – comparable quality to cable/satellite. And they offer temporary credentials to access TV Everywhere apps like Watch ESPN when traveling.
If you‘re a sports fan wanting to follow local teams in-market, YouTube TV or fuboTV are great options. For the best value while still getting the major local channels, check out Sling TV Orange & Blue combined for just $50/month.
Most streaming services offer free trials to test them out. Take advantage to get a feel for their channel lineup, features, and streaming performance.
Having access to local channels on Firestick via both free and paid streaming methods gives you maximum flexibility.
Great Supplemental Options for Local Programming
Let‘s cover a few more apps that provide additional options for local news and content:
NewsON is a free app for Firestick, Roku, iOS and Android devices offering newscasts from 275+ local stations in 160 markets.
It includes both live streaming channels and an on-demand clip library for recent local newscasts. NewsON focuses exclusively on local news coverage.
Locast is a non-profit service that streams local broadcast stations over the internet in 35 US cities. It‘s available via their website or mobile apps.
Locast carries the major local networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. The service is free but periodically interrupts programming asking for donations.
Haystack TV curates clips from local news segments nationwide. You can customize local channel selections and get alerted when stories are added for those outlets.
Haystack TV is a great way to stay on top of local coverage from multiple regions around the country.
Stirr is a free streaming service from Sinclair Broadcasting offering live local news, sports, and general entertainment channels. It‘s available on a wide range of devices.
News and local channel selection is focused mainly on Sinclair‘s portfolio of stations. But it does provide some nice diversified options.
Using a VPN to Access Other Cities‘ Local Channels
By default, streaming local channels is limited to programming available in your designated media market. So someone in Chicago can‘t watch Seattle local news live via the Amazon News app or other free options.
But using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to bypass geo-restrictions by masking your real location.
Here‘s how it works:
Sign up for a premium VPN service like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, or NordVPN.
Install the VPN app on your Firestick or other streaming device.
Connect to a server located in your desired viewing area – for example Los Angeles.
The streaming service will now think you‘re located in LA and provide access to that city‘s local channels.
Find a free streaming site, app, or service providing Los Angeles locals and enjoy!
I recommend testing channels on Locast or NewsON when experimenting with a VPN.
Keep in mind streaming sites and channels are constantly changing. Channel availability will vary depending on the current live TV sources indexed by each platform.
But with some testing, a premium VPN can definitely unlock local access outside your home market. It adds some nice flexibility!
VPN services start around $6-12 per month. Choose one with lots of server locations, fast speeds, and reliable connections for the best experience.
I hope these tips help explain how to leverage VPNs to stream extra local content options.
Common Questions About Firestick and Local Channels
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about getting local channels set up on your Firestick:
How many local channels can I get with the Amazon News app?
The number varies, but expect around 5-15 local news, weather, traffic and other channels.
Which streaming service has the most local channels available?
YouTube TV provides the largest local channel lineup across US markets. Hulu Live TV also performs well.
Do I need internet to watch local channels on Firestick?
Yes, an internet connection is required for streaming local channels through any apps or services.
Can I get in-market sports games without cable?
Yes! An OTA antenna will cover network sports broadcasts in HD. Or use a streaming service like YouTube TV or fuboTV for regional sports networks.
Is an indoor or outdoor antenna better?
It depends on your distance from the broadcast towers. Indoor models work for locations within 20 miles while outdoor/attic antennas reach up to 80 miles.
What internet speed do I need for streaming local channels?
Minimum 10-25 Mbps is recommended, but faster speeds like 50+ Mbps deliver the most reliable performance.
Feel free to reach out with any other questions! I‘m happy to help explain the various options covered in this guide.
Closing Thoughts on Local Channels for Cord Cutters
I hope this guide provided everything you need to know to get streaming with your favorite local channels on Firestick and Fire TV devices.
The Amazon News app, an OTA antenna, live TV streaming services, and supplemental free options like NewsOn give you all the local programming you could ask for.
Take some time to test out the different methods based on your needs and preferences. An antenna plus the Amazon News app make an extremely powerful free combination!
Ditching cable no longer means sacrificing access to local news, weather, traffic and sports. With Firestick, streaming local channels is easy, affordable, and delivers excellent picture quality.
Here‘s to breaking free from cable bills and still enjoying free over-the-air TV in crystal clear full HD! Feel free to contact me with any questions.