With the rising costs of cable and satellite TV, an increasing number of consumers are "cutting the cord" and switching to streaming. But one concern for cord-cutters is still having access to local channels for news, weather, and local programming. Thankfully, with the right apps and equipment, you can stream your local ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS affiliates on your Amazon Firestick or Fire TV.
In this comprehensive guide, you‘ll learn multiple methods to get local channels on Firestick, including using an HD antenna, live TV streaming services, the Amazon News app, Locast, and more. We‘ll provide detailed instructions for setting up each option, along with tips for getting the best streaming experience. Let‘s dive in!
Why Do You Need Local Channels on Firestick?
Here are some of the key reasons cord-cutters still value access to local stations:
Local News and Weather – For timely updates on weather, traffic, election coverage and local events, local news channels are a must. According to Pew Research, 60% of U.S. adults often get news from local TV.
Live Sports – Local channels provide access to regional college and professional sports programming you won‘t find on national outlets.
Major Broadcast Networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS are only available on local affiliates in each media market.
Familiar Faces – The anchors, reporters, meteorologists and personnel on local news stations become trusted household names.
Emergency Alerts – Local channels provide life-saving emergency and weather alerts the moment they are issued.
Now let‘s look at the best options for streaming this essential local programming on your Firestick or Fire TV.
Method 1: Connect an HD Antenna
One of the most reliable ways to access local channels on Firestick is by connecting an over-the-air (OTA) HD antenna. By plugging an antenna directly into your television, you can tap into free broadcast signals to watch ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and other stations available in your region.
The major benefits of using an HD antenna include:
No monthly cost – OTA antenna channels are 100% free after a one-time equipment purchase.
No buffering – You get a crystal clear direct signal without internet speed fluctuations or data caps.
Easy to set up – Antennas plug directly into your TV‘s coaxial input and channel scans take minutes.
High video quality – OTA channels stream in full uncompressed HD for the best image quality.
Let‘s look at the step-by-step process for connecting an antenna to watch local channels on your Firestick:
What You Need
- Amazon Firestick or Fire TV
- HD antenna (indoor or outdoor models)
- Coaxial cable to connect antenna to TV input
- Optional amplifier if signal is weak
Setting Up the Antenna
Select a location for your antenna, preferably near a window or outside with a clear view of the direction of your local broadcast towers. Avoid obstacles like mountains or tall buildings which can cause interference.
Connect the coaxial cable from your antenna directly to the TV input on the back of your television. If you have a wired cable/satellite connection, you may need a coax splitter to connect both.
Initiate a channel scan through your TV settings (often under Settings > Channels > Channel Scan). Let the channel scan run until it detects all available local stations.
Reposition your antenna if needed until you have the maximum number of channels with a strong signal lock. You may need to rescan after adjustments.
Once your HDTV recognizes the local channels from the antenna, they will be accessible through the Firestick‘s Live TV menu.
That‘s it! With just a few minutes of setup, you‘ll have free live local station streaming on your Firestick.
Choosing the Best Antenna
With so many antenna options on the market, it can be tough to pick the right one. Here are some key features to look for:
Indoor vs. Outdoor – Outdoor antennas mounted on roofs or in attics provide longer range, while compact indoor models are ideal for apartments.
Amplified vs. Unamplified – A signal booster gives amplified antennas up to 30% longer range from broadcast towers. Great for rural locations.
Omnidirectional vs. Directional – Omnidirectional picks up signals from all directions, while directional models aim at a single broadcast source.
Range – More expensive models boast 60-80 mile ranges. Aim for at least 30-50 miles of signal reach.
According to consumer reports, top-rated long-range outdoor antennas include the ClearStream 2MAX and Channel Master CM-4228HD. For indoor models, the Mohu Leaf Metro and Televes DAT BOSS Mix rank among the best.
Using an OTA antenna provides the simplest, most reliable way to access local TV on your Firestick. While streaming options do exist, they are more prone to issues like video buffering, quality loss or service outages. With an antenna, you get great uptime and performance.
Now let‘s examine using live TV streaming platforms as an alternative option for local channel access on Firestick.
Method 2: Subscribe to a Live TV Streaming Service
Live TV streaming services from YouTube TV, Hulu, fuboTV and others have exploded in popularity as cable TV alternatives. These over-the-top options stream 50+ live channels, including local stations in their supported markets.
The major services that provide local channel access on Firestick include:
- Plans start at $64.99/month
- Streams on up to 3 devices simultaneously
- Carries ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and others in over 90% of US markets
- Provides unlimited DVR storage
- Users can stream over 85+ channels
- Access to regional sports from CBS, ESPN, and more
Hulu + Live TV
- Packages from $69.99/month
- Allows 2 simultaneous streams per account
- Delivers CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC in over 90% of regions
- Includes 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage
- User get over 75+ live channels
- Watch regional sports from ABC, NBC, and ESPN
- Entry-level package is $69.99/month
- Enables streaming on up to 3 devices concurrently
- Provides CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox in 82% of US households
- 250 hour Cloud DVR included
- 105+ live channels available
- Robust regional sports with ESPN, FS1, and more
- Base packages start at just $35/month
- Allows streaming on up to 3 devices simultaneously
- Access to Fox and NBC in select metro regions
- 50 hours of DVR storage available for extra fee
- Users can choose from over 30+ channels
- Sports coverage including ESPN, FS1, TBS, and NFL Network
The major downside of live TV streaming is the recurring monthly costs. But the convenience, ease of use and reliability keep these services popular with cord cutters seeking local channel access. Most offer free trials so you can test if their offerings warrant the ongoing costs.
Now let‘s examine some methods of watching local news and content for free on your Firestick.
Method 3: Use the Amazon News App
The pre-loaded Amazon News app provides an easy way to watch local news and some live content on your Firestick without any subscriptions or fees.
Here are some of the benefits provided by the Amazon News app:
100% Free – Amazon News is totally free and included on all Fire TV devices.
Local News Channels – Video streams from local affiliate partners in many metro areas.
Live and On-Demand – Watch live newscasts or previously aired clips on-demand.
Personalization – Customize preferred cities, topics, teams and video quality.
Intuitive Interface – Easy to navigate menus and content streams directly on Firestick.
Follow these steps to start watching local news through the Amazon News app:
From your Firestick‘s home screen, scroll down and select the Amazon News app icon.
Browse the available channels and select your desired city or region to see local news stations.
Pick a live news stream or video clip to start watching local broadcasts.
Use the integrated controls to pause, rewind or resume as needed.
Head to Preferences to personalize your local cities, news topics, sports teams and video quality.
The Amazon News app provides local content from media partners like ABC, CBS, Bloomberg and Cheddar. However, it won‘t give you full 24/7 access to entire local affiliate stations and schedules. But as a free first-party Fire TV solution, it‘s a helpful tool for watching local news on the go.
Method 4: Try Locast for Local Channel Streaming
Locast.org is a nonprofit service that streams local broadcast stations over the internet to designated market areas across over 35 cities.
Here are some of the benefits provided by Locast:
100% Free – Totally free access with ability to donate to support operations.
Major Networks – Streams ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and other local affiliates.
Wide Availability – Covers over 35 US TV markets reaching 43% of US households.
Multi-device Streaming – Supported on Firestick, Roku, iOS, Android, web browsers.
Data Savings – Streams at 480p quality unless 720p is enabled for data usage.
To use Locast, first check if they offer service in your city at www.locast.org. If available, you can then:
Create a Locast user account online or via their mobile app.
Tune to your desired local channel using the website or app.
Make an account donation if possible to support their nonprofit service.
Stream to your heart‘s content!
Locast essentially enables place-shifting of over-the-air local TV via the internet. As a nonprofit, they rely on user donations rather than subscriptions or ads. Definitely worth checking out!
Method 5: Get Local News with NewsOn
NewsOn is a free streaming app for Fire TV and other devices offering live and on-demand local news from around the country.
Here are some key facts on NewsON:
100% free access without a subscription
Streams local news from over 275 partner TV stations
Available in over 160 US media markets
Supported on Fire TV, iOS, Android, Roku and the web
To use NewsOn, simply:
Install their app on your Firestick from the Amazon App Store.
Allow location access or select your available local region/city.
Browse live and recorded local newscasts for playback.
NewsOn has affiliate agreements with major broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to stream local partner station content in many regions. It won‘t provide full local channel access but is great for watching local news.
Tips for Streaming Local Channels on Firestick
Here are some tips and best practices when streaming local TV:
Check that your internet speeds meet minimums for streaming (25 Mbps+ recommended)
Enable location permissions so apps display your available local stations
Consider antennas as a fallback for when streaming apps have outages
Position antennas high up with clear line-of-sight to broadcast towers
Use amplified antennas if you live far from metropolitan towers
Upgrade to faster internet plans if you experience frequent buffering
Take advantage of free trials to test streaming services before paying
Invest in services with DVR storage to record your favorite local shows
The ability to stream local programming on Firestick is a huge perk for cord-cutters. With the options outlined in this guide, you can stay connected to hometown news, weather and entertainment without expensive cable or satellite subscriptions. Just decide whether free apps or paid services best fit your needs and budget. Happy local channel streaming!