5 Best Services to Watch PBS Local Channels Without Cable

PBS has always been an accessible educational resource for TV viewers of all ages, and that hasn't changed in the streaming age. The free-to-air service's broadcasts and local live streams are available almost everywhere, including on their website, PBS.org. 

But when it comes to streaming services, the best way to watch PBS local channels is through live TV platforms like DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV. They might be on the pricier side, but their solid interface and extensive lineup of both live and on-demand content justify the price. Meanwhile, the cheapest way to watch local channels is via PBS' free and downloadable app. You can watch it on major streaming devices, and if you want to extend your selection to include exclusive films and TV shows like the award-winning series Finding Your Roots, then you can purchase PBS Passport for an additional monthly fee. 

You can read more about the best streaming services that carry local PBS channels below.

Our recommended best services to watch pbs local channels without cable:
DirecTV Stream $79.99 Watch
YouTube TV $72.99 Watch
DirecTV Stream Ultimate $94.99 Watch
PBS App free Watch
Air TV free Watch
Read also:

DirecTV Stream is a Live TV streaming platform with a twist: you can download the app on any of your existing devices, or for a $120, you can get a box with a custom remote control for the service. But without the box, DirecTV Stream functions like a Netflix or Hulu, allowing you to stream Live TV from anywhere by downloading the app. Within your home, you can stream on up to 20 devices (!), and from outside your home you can stream on up to three devices.

Price: $79.99/month

Free Trial: 5 days

Device availability: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Roku TV, Samsung TV

Channel lineup: AccuWeather, AMC, Anger Management, Animal Planet, Are We There Yet?, AXS TV, Baby First TV, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg Television, Boomerang, Bravo, C-SPAN, C-SPAN2, Cartoon Network, CBS local channels, Cleo TV, CMT, CNBC, CNN, CNN en Espanol, Comedy Central, Court TV, Daystar HD, Discovery, Disney Channel, Disney Jr, Disney XD, E! Entertainment, EarthxTV, Ebony TV, El Rey Rebel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, FMC, Food Network, FOX, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, FOX SOUL, Fox Sports 1, Fox Weather, Freeform, FUEL TV, Fuse Music, FX, FXX, Galavision, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Mystery, HerSphere, HGTV, HLN, Home Shopping Network, HSN, IFC, Investigation Discovery, ion Television, Jewelry Television, MotorTrend, MovieSphere, MSNBC, MTV Classic, MTV2, NBA TV, NBC local channels, News Nation, Nick Jr., One America News, Ovation, Oxygen True Crime, Paramount Network, PBS Kids, PBS local channels, Poker GO, Pursuit Channel, QVC, QVC2, QVC3, Racing America, REELZ, REVOLT, RFD-TV, RSNs, Scientology Network, Shop LC, Somos Novelas, SportsGrid, SundanceTV, SYFY, Tastemade Home, Tastemade Travel, TBS, TCM, TeenNick, Telemundo local channels, The First, theGrio, TLC, TNT, truTV, TV Land, TV One, Univision, Up TV, USA Network, VH1, WE tv, Women’s Sports Network

If you enjoy using the DVR option, Youtube TV is arguably the best option in the market for you: it gives you unlimited DVR storage on the Cloud (accessible from any of your devices), and it saves each of your recordings for 9 months. Also, you can share Youtube TV with up to six accounts, so if you have a big family, this is a much better option than getting a bunch of cheaper Live TV subscriptions. Youtube TV allows up to three accounts of the six to watch at the same time.

Price: $72.99/month

Free Trial: 7 days

Device availability: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, LG TV, PlayStation, Roku, Samsung TV, Sharp, Vizio, Xbox

Channel lineup: ABC, ABC News, ACCN, Adult Swim, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, BET Her, Big Ten Network, Bounce, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CBS local channels, CBS Sports Network, Charge!, Cheddar, Cheddar News, CMT, CNBC, CNBC World, CNN, Comedy Central, Comedy TV, Comet, Court TV, Cozi TV, Dabl, Discovery, Disney, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Docurama, Dove Channel, E!, ESPN, ESPN U, ESPN2, ESPNews, Food Network, FOX, Fox Business, Fox News, FOX SOUL, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Weather, Freeform, FX, FXM, FXX, Galavision, Game Show Network, Get TV, Golf Channel, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Family, Hallmark Mystery, HGTV, HLN, HSN, IFC, Investigation Discovery, ION, Justice Central TV, LAFC Channel, Law & Crime, Live Now, Local Now, Localish, MotorTrend, MSNBC, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Classic, My TV, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, NBA TV, NBC, NBC local channels, NBC News Now, NBC Universo, NBCLX, NBCSN, NECN, Neon, News Nation, NFL Network, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Orlando City Channel, OWN, Oxygen, Oxygen True Crime, Paramount, PBS, PBS Kids, PBS local channels, PC Mag, Pop, QVC, Recipe.TV, Scripps News, SEC Network, Smithsonian Channel, SNY, Start TV, Sundance TV, SYFY, Tastemade, TBD, TBS, Teen Nick, TeleHit, Telemundo local channels, Tennis 2, The CW, The Great Courses, The Walking Dead Universe, The Weather Channel, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, Tru TV, Turner Classic Movies, TV Land, TYT, Unimas, Unimas local channels, Universal Kids, Univision, Univision local channels, USA, VH1, WE tv, YouTube Originals

Over 140 channels, unlimited DVR and RSNs included - DirecTV Stream Ultimate is one of the most complete cord-cutting streaming bundles out there. Think of every sports network for example, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NHL Network, etc, you name it, you got it. You also get over 55,000 (15,000 more than the base Entertainment package, mainly from Starz Encore) of on-demand movies and shows included. Of course, there is a price tag that comes with all of this that will rival the most expensive cable packages: over $100 a month.

With this package DirecTV is saying: if you want cheap, go to Sling. This is not cheap, but it has everything a family could need from a TV package.

Price: $94.99/month

Free Trial: 5 days

Device availability: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Roku TV, Samsung TV

Channel lineup: A&E, ABC, ABC News Live, ACC Network, AccuWeather, AHC, American Heroes Channel, Animal Planet, Aspire, BBC News, Bein Sports, Bein Sports 4, Bein sports 5, Bein Sports 6, Bein Sports 7, Bein Sports 8, BET Her, BET Jams, BET Soul, BIG Network, Big Ten Network, Big Ten Network, Bounce, Bravo, CBS, CBS local channels, CBS Sports Network, CBSN, Cheddar, Cheddar News, CMT, CNBC, CNBC World, Comedy Central, Comet, Cooking Channel, Cozi TV, Curiosity Channel, CW, Destination America, Discovery Channel, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, DUST, E!, ESPN, ESPN U, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNews, ESPNU, Estrella TV, Fanduel TV, FMC, Food Network, FOX, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, FOX SOUL, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 2, Freeform, Fuse, FX, FXM, FXX, FYI, Galavision, Game Show Network, Get TV, GetTV, GINX Esports TV, Golf Channel, GRIT, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Family, Hallmark Mystery, Heroes & Icons, HGTV, History, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime Movie Network, Local Now, Logo, Magnolia Network, MLB Network, MotorTrend, MSNBC, MTV, MTV Classic, MTV Live, MTV2, MTVU, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, NBA TV, NBATV, NBC, NBC local channels, NBCLX, NBCSN, Newsmax, Newsy, NFL Network, NHL Network, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickMusic, Nicktoons, Olympic Channel, OWN, Oxygen, Oxygen True Crime, Pac-12 Network, Paramount Network, PBS local channels, People TV, Pop, Pop TV, Pursuit Channel, REVOLT, Revry, RSNs, Science Channel, SEC Network, Showtime FamilyZone, Smithsonian Channel, Sony Movie Channel, Sportsman Channel, Stadium, SYFY, Tastemade, TeenNick, Telemundo, Telemundo local channels, Tennis Channel, The Weather Channel, TLC, Travel Channel, TV Land, TVG, Unimas, Universal Kids, Universo, Univision, UPtv, USA, VH1, Vice, WGN America, Zona Futbol

PBS channels around the country are free on television, and thanks to the PBS app, they're now free to stream as well. The PBS app gives you on-demand access to many of the network's famously educational shows, including Nova and PBS News Hour, as well as the nearest local station in your area. You don't need an account to start watching on the PBS app, although you might have to activate it beforehand. Again, PBS is free, but if you want to support your local PBS station and gain extended access to even more films and TV shows, then you can purchase a PBS Passport membership, which costs around $5/month or $60/year.

Price: free for channels available

Device availability: Amazon Fire Tablet, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Comcast, iOS, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Vizio

If you have an Air TV streaming device, you'll automatically have free access to 1oo local channels from affiliates like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS all in HD. To be clear, the local channels are free in the sense that you don't have to pay a monthly bill to watch them, as you would on a cable or live TV subscription, but you do have to pay a one-time fee that sets you up with an Air TV device and an HD antenna. Depending on the bundle you pick, that can cost you anywhere from $150 to $250. It seems like a lot, but it makes sense when you consider that it comes with DVR, the ability to watch local channels anywhere, and for Sling TV subscribers, seamless integration in all your devices. 

Although you don't need to be a Sling TV subscriber to start using Air TV, the two are perfect complements that save you a lot of money, in the long run. Sling TV has live TV channels equipped for sports, entertainment, and nationwide news, while the one-time-payment Air TV gives you constant and uninterrupted access to your local channels. If you do combine them, Sling takes care of any overlaps to ensure you're getting the best of both streaming worlds in all compatible devices.

Price: free for 3 channels available

Device availability: AirTV Mini, AirTV Player, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, Roku

Channel lineup: CBS local channels, NBC local channels, PBS local channels

Ready to cut the cord? Here are the 14 live TV streaming services that offer a free trial.

More lists

The streaming services on this page were chosen by our editors. If you choose to subscribe to a streaming service we recommend as a result of our research, analysis, and curation, our work is sometimes (but not always) supported by an affiliate commission from the streaming service when you make a purchase.

That's all from us for the 4 Best Services to Watch PBS Local Channels Without Cable!