This just in: You don’t need to fork over $150 per month to a cable TV provider in order to watch the news.
In fact, there are countless ways to watch local and national news on your television, computer, smartphone or tablet for free, or for a just small monthly fee. That’s a good thing, because even in a world of push alerts and social media, there’s still a need for live television, especially when it comes to breaking news. Want to watch the news online? Keep reading to learn how.
Here are some tips and services you can take advantage of today to watch the news online and over the air without breaking the bank.
Most people who don’t pay for cable but want to keep watching the news (CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc.) and big events like the Presidential Debate and VP Debate are going to opt for some kind of streaming service.
The major national news networks offer really good “TV anywhere” streaming services but require a cable login. Don’t steal or “borrow” a parent’s, an ex-girlfriend’s or whoever’s cable login. They pay the high cable bill each month and in return, they get the convenience of being able to watch those networks on-the-go from their device. Not you.
Of course, you can always go to CNN’s or FOX’s website and watch short videos that are accompanied with stories. Those are free to look at it and are supported by advertising.
But most people who want to “watch the news” want to watch the live, linear stream that people who pay for cable see when they flip to that channel.
Here are some services you can use (legally) to watch live news online:
Watch the News Online with Sling TV
Sling TV is probably one of the best streaming alternatives to cable on the market today, and one of the easiest ways to watch the news online. For $20 a month and no contract (cancel any time), you can get the Sling Orange package, allowing you to stream CNN and Bloomberg for live news online (and as a bonus, also get ESPN and ESPN2 for your sports news and events fix). Sling Orange is $20 a month and offers 25+ channels.
You can also go with the Sling Blue package, which offers CNN, BBC America, Bloomberg TV, Newsy, LocalNOW, Univision, and even NBC and FOX (NBC and FOX are only available in select markets). Sling Blue is $25 a month and includes 40+ channels.
If you’re a real news junkie, for an extra $5 per month, you can buy Sling TV’s “World News Extra” package, which includes live streams of MSNBC, CNBC, BBC World News, HLN, Euro News, France 24, NDTV 24/7, News 18 India, and Russia Today. And if you watch the news online on those six channels, you might also become an expert on global current affairs.
Sling TV (review) can be played on a bevy of devices including iOS and Android devices and all laptops and computers. Xbox One is the lone gaming system that offers Sling TV at this time. Amazon FireTV, Roku players (get a free Roku 2), Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast also are Sling TV compatible, letting you watch live news directly on your television.
For $20 per month, Sling TV’s TV package is significantly cheaper than cable TV offerings. Pair it with a good antenna and you may have everything you need when it comes to TV. Are you worried about keeping up to date on all of the latest news while you’re away from home? T-Mobile customers can do that and so much more with T-Mobile and Sling’s new partnership — for $14/month (30% savings), customers can watch their favorite news channels and so much more on their T-Mobile devices. And another perk of T-Mobile’s service is that Sling TV can be viewed at anytime and anywhere without counting towards your monthly data usage. You can cancel at anytime without penalty. Learn more about this T-Mobile exclusive offer here.
If you want to try it out, click here to get a 7-day free trial.
Use PlayStation Vue to Watch the News Online
PlayStation Vue is another great way to watch news coverage online. The service starts at just $29.99 a month, and there’s no contract like you get with cable, so you have the flexibility to cancel any time.
For $30 per month, you can watch national news networks CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and FOX News, which is more than enough for news junkies. In fact, Vue is the only streaming service to carry FOX News at this time. Not only that, it was just announced that Vue would be adding ABC and the ESPN networks, giving you more world news and sports news coverage.
The upside is that you get some of the major national news networks. The downside is that Vue is a bit more expensive than alternatives and that mobile viewing is restricted. Vue works on PlayStation consoles, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and iOS devices. Learn more in our review of the service.
Free Online News Channels
While it isn’t CNN or Fox News, there are a number of other online sources that allow you to watch live news online. Here are some of our favorite free channels to watch the news online:
CBSNews.com is the only major U.S. network to offer a 24-hour streaming newscast. You won’t see Scott Pelley anchoring the evening news, but the network has staffed the 24-hour news team with capable journalists and producers. (Show blocks are about an hour long, so if you tune in throughout the day, there’s a good chance you’ll see the same stories.) You can watch that newscast on Apple TV, Roku, iOS and Android devices and on the Web.
Huffington Post is also doing its best to offer a live newscast along with its stacks of aggregated news and commentary. Huffington Post journalists are often seen via Skype on the newscast, breaking down some of the day’s top stories. And when I say on Skype, there’s a very good chance you end up seeing someone talking about their story from their apartment — no matter how clean or messy it is. You can watch it on your smartphones, tablets, Roku, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. No Apple TV yet, but you can Airplay it from your iOS device.
Bloomberg TV is a live streaming newscast for those looking to see the biggest business stories of the day. Bloomberg is a machine that churns out a ton of content. Their streaming newscast, which is available on Apple TV, Roku and pretty much every other platform, is live throughout the day. Commercial breaks offer up the day’s stock prices, which can help pass the time.
Shift by MSNBC is like MSNBC, but with an even stronger focus on politics. It’s only available on the web, but it comes along with a pretty cool portal that allows you to comment live and flip between different views. If you’re bored with the live feed, MSNBC lets you click their best videos from the day below the player.
The best way to stay informed on what’s going on in your neighborhood is the local newspaper and the local evening newscasts. What many people don’t realize is that those local broadcasts are available for free, over-the-air and in crystal-clear high definition (in nearly every market) when you hook up an antenna to your television.
That’s right. Cable companies have been charging you to provide HD programming, all while it has been free over-the-air.
One of the main players in today’s antenna game is Mohu. The engineers at Mohu use defense-based military technology in their antennas, ensuring high quality signals and picture quality.
These aren’t your grandfather’s old rabbit ears. Mohu’s antennas can be easily hidden and actually look pretty good in the living room. Most people can get away with the Leaf , which can pull from broadcast towers in a 30- to 50-mile range, depending on which model you choose. No pointing is necessary. Just put it up high on a wall for best reception, plug it into the antenna jack using the provided coaxial cable and auto tune your TV. (For more rural houses, check out Mohu’s Sky 60 antenna ($150), which can be installed on top of your house or in an attic.)
Most people will pull down about 20 channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS. That also means in addition to your local news, you can watch the nightly national newscasts from the major networks. (And yes sports fans, local and national NFL football is also free over the air.)
Other antenna options:
- Amazon sells its version of Mohu’s popular antenna for $21 and an amplified version for $37.
- If you live way out in the boonies, look up a professional AV contractor on Angie’s List and get a price on how much it would cost to install an antenna on your roof. This may have a little bit of an upfront expense, but without paying for cable, you can recoup your cost in a very short time.
Anyone who’s following the cable industry knows the cable bundle is closer to bursting than ever before.
With Apple’s new Apple TV, the new Roku 4, new streaming services popping up, and the bigger emphasis on apps of channels, expect more news stations — including local broadcasters — to stream their content over the Web.
For now, the guide above can get let you watch the news online on all your devices without paying a big monthly cable bill.