Cutting cable TV and going streaming-only is becoming more and more popular. In 2022, over 7 million Americans cut the cord, bringing the total to over 50 million cord-cutter households according to Leichtman Research Group. One of the few things holding some people back is losing easy access to local channels. Thankfully, there are a number of great options for getting local news, weather, sports and network TV on your Firestick without cable.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll cover six different methods to get local channels on Firestick:
- Using the Amazon News app
- HD antenna for over-the-air channels
- Locast (limited availability)
- Live TV streaming services like YouTube TV
- Individual channel apps
- Changing location with a VPN
By the end, you‘ll understand the pros and cons of each approach so you can decide the best way to get local programming tailored to your needs and budget. Let‘s get started!
Why Local Channels Matter
Before diving into the how-to, let‘s look at why accessing local channels is important to many cord-cutters:
Local News – For timely updates on weather, traffic, elections, crime and events in your city. 72% of U.S. adults follow local news closely according to Pew Research.
Emergency Alerts – Get emergency alerts for severe storms, natural disasters, AMBER alerts and other public safety notices affecting your area. These are sent over local channel broadcasts.
Local Sports Teams – Don‘t miss your home team‘s games! Local sports networks carry pro, college and high school action.
Local Programming – Morning shows, news magazines, late night programs and other content unique to your city‘s channels.
Network TV – Local affiliates provide access to national broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and more without cable.
Losing easy access to these local channels is one of the only drawbacks of cutting the cord. Luckily there are great options for streaming local news, weather, sports and programming on your Firestick.
Method 1: Amazon News App
The quickest and easiest way to get local news channels on your Firestick is by using the pre-installed Amazon News app.
The Amazon News app comes on every Fire TV device, so there‘s no downloading required. You simply add your desired local city and news channels which then stream live through the app.
Here are step-by-step instructions to add local news using the Amazon News app:
From your Firestick home screen, use the remote to select the Amazon News app. The icon looks like a newspaper with the word "News".
Once the app opens, scroll down using the remote and navigate to "Preferences" in the left sidebar menu.
Next select "Channels" from the Preferences menu.
Choose your local city. You‘ll see a list of major metro areas to pick from. Add up to 2 cities.
On the next screen, select the local news channels you want to add for that city. Your options will include things like Local ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc.
After picking your preferred news channels, use the Firestick remote‘s back button to return to the main News app screen.
You should now see the live streams of the local news channels you added ready to watch! Select one and the live broadcast will begin.
It only takes a few minutes to add local news channels this way and the streams are completely free. The only limitation is you can only add local news stations, not other types of channels.
But if you want quick access to live local news and weather, the built-in Amazon News app is by far the easiest option for Firestick owners.
Pro Tip: If you live between two cities, add news channels from both metros to get expanded coverage.
Method 2: HDTV Antenna for Local Channels
In addition to streaming local news through the News app, you can also use an HDTV antenna to get free over-the-air local channel access.
This method gives you all of your local broadcast stations, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, independent channels, subchannels like MeTV, sports networks and more.
Here‘s an overview of how to use an antenna for local channels:
Buy an HDTV Antenna – Get either an indoor or outdoor antenna depending on your needs. Prices range from $20-$150.
Connect Antenna – Hook antenna to your Firestick via USB port or HDMI. Outdoor antennas use a coax cable.
Scan Channels – Open channel scanner on Firestick to automatically find and add local OTA channels.
Watch TV – Tune to local channels just like cable, except completely free! Change channels with Firestick remote.
The main benefit of using an antenna is you get far more local channels than just news. In my testing, indoor antennas pull 50+ free local channels in most urban areas. Outdoor antennas can get even more.
The only real downside is signal reliability depends on your distance from the TV broadcast towers. Reception gets spottier the farther out you live.
But for most suburban and urban areas, pairing an HDTV antenna with your Firestick is a cost-effective way to replace cable and still get all your local channels.
For specific antenna recommendations and setup tips, check out my Complete Guide to Getting Local Channels on Firestick with an HDTV Antenna.
Method 3: Locast (Limited Availability)
In certain metro areas, Locast provides another free option to stream local channels over the internet.
Here‘s an overview of how Locast works:
Visit Locast.org to see if they service your city. Currently in 35 US TV markets.
If available, sign up for a free account. No credit card required.
Install the Locast app on your Firestick from the app store.
Log into your Locast account in the app to start streaming local channel feeds.
Locast is able to provide this free service by operating as a nonprofit. However, there are some downsides to be aware of:
Only available in select metro areas – see their site for market list
Requires "donating" periodically to keep your account active. Minimum of $5.
Local channel streams can suffer lag, pixelation and other issues.
But if you are located in one of the regions Locast serves, it does give you another free choice for streaming local channels on Firestick alongside the News app. Just temper expectations for video quality and account limitations.
Method 4: Live TV Streaming Service
For the most robust access to local channels, a live TV streaming service is a great option. Major providers like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, fuboTV and others offer local channels from multiple broadcasters as part of their channel packages.
Here‘s an overview of the benefits a live TV streaming service provides:
Get all your local broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS, etc.
Regional sports networks – watch local pro, college and high school sports.
Local subchannels like Antenna TV, CourtTV, ION, etc.
Optional cloud DVR to record local news and shows.
The catch is that these streaming services come with a monthly cost. Pricing ranges from $40-$75 per month depending on the provider. But that‘s still cheaper than cable!
Most services offer free trials so you can test out their local channel selection and features. I recommend evaluating a few options to compare channel availability and picture quality.
Some top choices to consider with excellent local channel support include:
- YouTube TV ($65/month)
- Hulu Live TV ($70/month)
- fuboTV ($70/month)
- DirecTV Stream ($70/month)
For the most seamless cable-like experience, a live TV streaming service makes it easy to access both national channels and local programming. The only trade-off is the monthly cost.
Method 5: Individual Channel Apps
In addition to the options above, many local channels also offer their own dedicated streaming apps on the Firestick app store.
For example, you can often find apps like:
- ABC News Live
- CBS News
- FOX NOW
- PBS Video
- The CW
Installing these free apps provides on-demand access to local newscasts, shows, sports, weather reports and more. However, they generally don‘t provide full live channel streams.
But having your local network apps on Firestick is useful for quickly catching up on news highlights, watching shows you missed and checking weather radars.
I recommend installing 2-3 apps from your most-watched local channels to supplement other methods for getting live TV access.
Method 6: Use VPN to Stream Other City Locals
A final way to access out-of-market local channels on Firestick is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
The process involves:
Signing up for a VPN service like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Connecting your Firestick to a VPN server location from another city. This masks your actual location.
Launching streaming services or apps will now pull in that city‘s local channel feeds instead!
The advantage of using a VPN in this manner is you can watch local programming from other major metro areas, not just what‘s available in your location. Great for sports and news.
Requires technical skill to setup VPN streaming correctly.
Local channel availability varies across streaming providers.
Some services block VPN access.
While taking more effort, a VPN does give you the ability to stream local channels from other cities on Firestick. Helpful for displaced fans wanting to watch their hometown team.
Recommended Firestick Accessories
To improve your Firestick and make streaming easier, here are some handy accessories I recommend:
Protective Remote Case – Guards against drops and damage.
USB OTG Cable – Connect external devices like a mouse, keyboard or antenna.
HDMI Extender – Keep ports accessible if TV is wall-mounted.
Power Strip – Provides extra outlets and surge protection.
Losing access to local programming doesn‘t have to be an obstacle to cutting the cord. As you can see, Firestick owners have multiple options including the Amazon News app, HDTV antenna, Locast, live TV streaming, individual channel apps, and VPNs.
Take some time to evaluate each method based on your budget, channel preferences, technical skills and location. Many cord cutters find using a combination provides the most robust local channel experience.
No matter if you prefer free solutions or premium streaming, you should be able to get the local news, weather, sports and shows you want without the high cost of cable. Cut the cord and start streaming hometown channels on your Firestick today!