How to get local channels on a smart TV

Did you know you can get all your local channels on a smart TV without spending money on any monthly subscriptions? With over-the-air TV (OTA), you can catch all your favorite live shows, sports and events — for free! While smart TV manufacturers spend a lot of time showcasing their screen resolution, they often neglect to highlight the built-in features that make OTA reception a breeze.

If you’ve been wondering how to get local channels on a smart TV, you’ll either need to purchase a high-definition digital TV antenna or download a free app or two from your TV’s app store. You can also obviously get them through cable and streaming services, for a monthly fee, whereas using an antenna only has a one-time cost and doesn’t even require an internet connection.

While smart TVs typically come with built-in antennas, they are used for Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity — not for picking up free-to-air channels. You can always try using a less sophisticated analog antenna, but there’s a good chance you’ll experience signal problems.

How To Get Local Channels on a Smart TV With Free Apps

If you has a strong internet connection and prefer watching TV that way these days, you might be surprised to know that there are apps that allow you to catch your local networks for free. Depending on what media market you live in, your local broadcasters will likely each offer dedicated apps for their station. Open your smart TV’s app store and run a search for the city where your local channels operate and you should get a list of apps from various channels that will allow you to watch their broadcast feed live online.

If you’re only interested in catching the local news, you can also download the NewsOn app to watch live and recorded broadcasts from your local networks on your smart TV.

How To Get Local Channels on a Smart TV With An OTA Antenna

If you’re interested in trying OTA TV as a way to get local channels on your smart TV, you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to get into. If you’re worried about making the switch before you’re sure, simply get an antenna, set it up, and try it out before ending your subscription to cable, satellite or live-TV streaming. Use our handy tool to find out which type of antenna might grant you the best results.

Getting started with watching free, over-the-air TV using an antenna is fairly simple. In most cases, you can take the antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan, adjust the antenna for optimum reception and you’re good to go! But other times you might need to do a little more finagling with the antenna’s precise location to optimize its performance. To make sure you’re getting the most channels for free, it’s a good idea to run a rescan on your TV every three to four months.


Here’s a look at some of the equipment that can help you get started with free OTA TV viewing, including ways to record the shows and watch them whenever you please.

If you live in an urban area or nearby suburb:

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified TV Antenna

$49.99 from Amazon

This highly-rated indoor antenna is designed to receive frequencies 50+ miles away from broadcast towers. It easily grips smooth surfaces like walls or windows for optimal placement to pick up as many channels as possible.

Recommended antenna if you live in a far suburb or rural area:

Antennas Direct ClearStream 4V TV Antenna

$130.20 from Amazon

This powerful antenna has a range of 70+ miles and can be installed inside, outside or in the attic. It has UHF and VHF multi-directional elements designed to deliver reception in remote areas.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR to record your favorite shows:

Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

If you have an external hard drive sitting at home collecting dust, consider these options as cheaper alternatives. Simply connect your antenna and portable hard drive to these Tablo DVR devices and you’re ready to go.

  • Tablo DUAL Lite: Equipped with built-in Wifi, it lets you position the antenna and DVR for the best signal reception.
  • Tablo QUAD: Record up to four OTA channels simultaneously. This model connects to your router rather than your TV, giving you the option to stream live TV to any device.

If you need to purchase a portable hard drive, we recommend USB-connected portable hard drives (USB 2.0 or 3.0, 1 TB to 8 TB in size). These are the ones we recommend: WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive and the WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive.

Now that you know how to get local channels on a smart TV, are you interested in trying it for yourself? The monthly savings could really add up!

Get in the know

Let’s chat

Not sure what to do or have more questions? Chat with us now