Smart TVs & Local Channels: 12 Answers (For Beginners)

Smart TVs are taking over home entertainment. Not only do they offer video-on-demand services and connectivity with external media devices, but they are now blurring the line between streaming and local channels.

Yes, local TV networks are now embracing streaming on the Internet.

So if you are considering cutting the cord in favor of streaming, then read on.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Smart TVs and Local Channels.

Smart TVs allow users to access different content, such as video-on-demand and even local channels, from different sources, such as apps and streaming platforms, external hard drives, antennas, cable, or satellite.

1. How Do You Get Local TV Channels on a Smart TV?

There are many ways of accessing local TV channels on your smart TV.

The first way is through an HD antenna.

  • Getting an HD antenna is the cheapest way to get local TV channels on your smart TV. They usually cost around $20.
  • Antennas have improved in quality, and you will rarely encounter grainy images with HD antennas today.
  • Remember that the antenna needs to be mounted outdoors with minimal interference or structures surrounding it. Thus, if you set up an HD antenna by your window but are surrounded by buildings taller than your position, you won’t get decent broadcasts. And in some cases, weather conditions can interfere with the stability of the broadcast.

You can also get local channels through cable TV subscriptions.

  • A cable TV subscription is one of the most stable ways of getting local channels on your smart TV. You don’t need to worry about high buildings or weather interferences, as you would with antennas.
  • The disadvantage of a cable TV subscription is the cost. You’re probably going to end up watching only 10 percent of the channel selections of your cable TV plan, but you’ll be paying for the full suite.

And there’s also Satellite TV for local channels.

  • Like cable subscriptions, Satellite TV also offers local channels. Unfortunately, it is also prone to unclear quality during weather disturbances, and you will be paying for channels you don’t need.

Check our Smart TVs & DStv answers if you’re looking to know more about satellite TV.

You can also use your Internet connection to access some local channels. 

  • Some local TV channels also have their own apps that let you watch live broadcasts.
  • Some local channels also use social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube to stream their live feeds. You may use the search function of these sites to check their pages for any live streams.
  • The disadvantage with this setup is it relies a lot on a stable Internet connection. Bandwidth is your number one issue, especially if other people are connected to the same network.

You can check the different streaming platforms that offer live TV channels.

  • Platforms like Hulu Live, Sling, and YouTube TV, offer a selection of live TV channels on their platforms for a minimum fee.
  • The disadvantage to this system, aside from relying on Internet connectivity, is that some of these services have prerequisites, such as having an existing subscription to a related service, and they can be expensive.

Here are also some user demographics and stats on Cable TV users.

2. Does a Smart TV Need an Antenna for Local Channels?

Thanks to newer technologies today, you don’t necessarily need to get an antenna for local channel access.

While a TV antenna is the cheapest way to get local channels, there are other services that can access local TV channels, such as cable TV subscriptions and services like YouTube TV, Hulu, and Sling TV, to name a few.

Refer to Question 1 for more information on local channel options.

3. Does a Smart TV Need a Digital Box to Get Local Channels?

Modern smart TVs are already digital and do not need a digital box to access local channels.

4. How Do You Scan for Local Channels on Smart TVs?

To scan for available local channels on your smart TV, make sure the source—or the port your TV is reading (e.g., HDMI, AV, TV)—is set to TV.

The scanning process is the same for most smart TVs, but here are the steps for some of the popular TVs on the market.

Scanning channels on a Samsung smart TV

Samsung smart TVs feature an Auto Program mode that lets you look for available channels in just a few minutes.

  • Access your TV settings and go to Broadcasting.
  • Under Broadcasting, click on Auto Program.
  • Select Start and choose Air if you are using an antenna. You can also choose cable if you have an existing cable TV subscription.
  • After you select your scanning filter, your TV will begin looking at the available channels for your smart TV.
  • Once you get the channels available, you can exit the function and watch the channels your smart TV has found.

Here are data on user demographics for broadcast tv users.

Scanning on an LG smart TV

If you own an LG smart TV, you can begin scanning for channels by following these steps:

  • Go to the Settings of your TV.
  • Go to Advanced Settings and go to Channels.
  • Under Channels, click on Channel Tuning, which will begin the scanning process.

Scanning on a Vizio smart TV

For those using Vizio smart TVs, you can access the scanning option by following these steps:

  • Go to TV or Tuner Options.
  • Go to Tuner mode and select between Antenna or Cable.
  • Click on Auto Search or Auto Channel Scan.
  • Once scanning is complete, exit and go back to the menu.
  • You can then select the channels found.
  • Navigate using your Vizio remote control if going through the local, free channels, or use the remote control of your cable TV box if navigating cable TV channels.

Scanning on a Sony smart TV

Finding available local channels on Sony smart TVs is a straightforward process.

  • Go to Settings and look for Channels.
  • Go to Channel Setup or Watching TV.
  • Select Auto Program and your Sony smart TV will look for the available channels.

5. Do Smart TVs Have Built-in Antennas?

Smart TVs have built-in antennas, but they are not used for broadcast purposes. These built-in antennas are for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

6. Are There Any Smart TV Apps for Local Channels?

Some local networks have downloadable apps that you can use for your smart TV. 

Note that the availability of these apps depends on your smart TV operating system.

To give you an idea of what’s available on major platforms, here are some of the apps on different smart TV platforms:

  • Samsung: CBS, ESPN, ABC, NBC
  • Vizio: CBS, ESPN, ABC, NBC
  • Sony: CBS, ESPN, ABC, NBC

7. Can You Get ABC, NBC, and CBS on Smart TVs?

You can get ABC, NBC, and CBS on your smart TV through their apps or streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, and, in some states, Sling TV.

8. What About Local News Channels?

You can access some local news channels if they have an app with the streaming platform you are using, or if they broadcast on YouTube or Facebook.

Notable news channels available for streaming are BBC America, Fox News, and CNN, to name a few.

Here are stats also on demographics of BBC’s radio 1 in U.K.

9. What Streaming Services Have Local Channels?

The most notable streaming services that have access to local TV channels are YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV.  They have one of the widest channel selections, and they are the best options for streaming live TV if you don’t have cable.

While these services might have the most channels available, they are also some of the most expensive options. YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV cost around $65 a month, depending on your subscription.

Other services, such as Sling TV and Philo, are cheaper but do not have as large a channel selection as YouTube TV or Hulu Live.

Note that YouTube TV is a different service from YouTube, as the latter can be used for free and without an account. YouTube Premium is also different from YouTube TV; YouTube Premium does not have live TV channels.

10. Do All TV Channels Have Internet Streaming?

Not all TV channels have an equivalent app or availability on streaming platforms.

TV channels not available for web streaming are usually local ones or those based in a particular state only.

11. How Can I Watch Live TV on My Smart TV?

If you don’t want to get cable or Satellite TV and want to avoid setting up an HD antenna, you can consider getting streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo, Sling TV, or AT&T TV Now, to name a few.

These services let you use their platform (for a subscription fee) to watch your favorite live programs on your smart TV. In some cases, you can get live TV free as part of an existing subscription package, often with Internet plans.

The channels vary for each platform, but there are common networks, such as NBC and CBS.

12. What Are the Best Apps to Stream Live TV?

Two apps stand out when it comes to streaming live TV: Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

Hulu + Live TV has one of the most extensive channel selections available.

  • Channels included in the platform are Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, ABC, BBC America, Cinemax, CBS, and History, to name a few.
  • Hulu + Live TV is available on smart TVs running Tizen, Roku, Fire TV OS, Android TV, and streaming devices such as the Chromecast, Xbox One and 360, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch.
  • A Hulu + Live TV subscription costs $55 a month with the option to upgrade to an ad-free experience to $61.

YouTube TV is another option for watching live TV.

  • Like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV offers a wide selection of channels.
  • It also provides a cloud-based DVR storage that you can use to save programs for later viewing.
  • Some of the channels on YouTube TV include ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, HGTV, and TNT.
  • YouTube TV goes for a hefty price tag of $65 a month.
  • Smart TVs that can access the service are the Fire TV OS, Apple TV, Xbox One, Playstation, Roku TV, Samsung, and Vizio.

Final Thoughts

With TV networks now embracing Internet streaming, canceling your cable TV subscription is quite an understandable choice.

You can reduce the cost of your monthly home entertainment subscriptions and use a single platform for watching your favorite shows and movies.



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