Local TV in the streaming era (with AppleTV)

Recently got rid of my Spectrum TV subscription, but would like to link my AppleTV to a device to get local stations.

I know of YouTubeTV (which has local stations, though I am hesitant about handing for data to Google) and then there is Hulu+ that seems to be similar. I also know I can put up an antenna, but then would need a receiver and some way of feeding it to the Apple TV. Last, there is PlexTV?

I don’t know much about these systems but would love to hear from people who use them and what channels they have access to.


Fubo TV is pretty good and I think is a few dollars cheaper than YouTubeTV (YTTV from now on), and it has a few more local channels than YTTV has for me (well, the biggest in New England News Channel, NECN, which YTTV used to carry but stopped and is a weird omission, as it’s owned by the local NBC station here), but it does have the glaring omission of the local PBS stations. It’s more known for carrying local sports channel that YTTV doesn’t carry (NESN here in New England, YES in New York, etc.), though it doesn’t carry TBS or TNT, which was a problem this year during the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals.

Both have really decent DVR options; Fubo allows up to 1000 hours of recordings. I can’t recall what YouTube’s limits are.

I honestly don’t watch a lot of broadcast TV myself - mostly the local news, we watch Jeopardy usually, though my wife watches a lot of the HGTV and Food channel types of shows.

I’m ok without PBS stations, as I am a contributor to PBS so I get access to the PBS app that way.

Usually it’s the local news if there is a severe weather event, or during the election year (is it 1 year or 3?) my wife likes to watch some news. We are also PBS members, so I will see if we can get live feeds. Sports are not an important part of the decision. But looking for some of the cable channels that do not seem to be accessible through subscription or over the air.

For fubo, it’s best to go to their web site and look at the list of channels. Here, we have the local CBS station, the local NBC station, the local FOX station, two local ABC stations, the local CW station, plus a pretty good list of cable TV channels. One relatively popular independent broadcast channel is not included, but YTTV doesn’t have it, either.

If you get a tuner and an antenna, it can be a pretty simple setup. I have a SiliconDust HDHomeRun tuner. It connects to an antenna in the attic and the home network. There’s an associated AppleTV app I could use to watch TV.

I actually use another app called Channels which offers a nicer TV-watching experience. It works with a variety of tuners as well as other sources, if I recall correctly. The main reason I use it, though, is because with Channels DVR Server, I get DVR capabilities. I run the server on a Synology NAS, but you can also run it on a Mac or other computer.


I just use an indoor digital antenna and run it to the TV input provided for that purpose. Consumer reports currently recommends and ranks this one #1:


If you’re using a tv that already has a digital tuner, you could just hook up an antenna and get the local stations available to you. If you’re not sure what you might receive, put in your address or a close one at this site to get a list of what’s available and the ease or difficulty of reception:

If some of the stations are VHF channels, then a flat antenna is not the best unless you’re close to those towers. An old rabbit ears type would work better for those.

The problem with any flat antenna is that they don’t receive VHF channels well. If the OP has any available and they’re more than 15-20 miles away, then a better antenna like a Clearstream 2 would be beneficial.

And that works great if you only have one TV. If you have several, then you may need a distribution amplifier (or a signal booster before your splitter). Of course, some antennae include built-in amplifiers, which can also help enormously.

The only downside to this (vs. cable TV service) is that you need to provide your own DVR if you want to record content for later viewing. Fortunately, there are devices you can buy for this although it appears that most of them require you to supply your own hard drive and require a subscription to unlock all of the device’s features.

For me, I need a service like YTTV or Fubo because we get only three channels with an antenna, and two of them are iffy (they used yo be static before digital, now it’s just unwatchable most of the time), there is no cable TV company in town, and we’d need a tower to mount a satellite dish to get a signal.

My TV is a dumb TV monitor hooked up to a receiver and Apple TV. There is no receiver. It is also in the basement, so I would have to determine the wiring involved to put the antenna as high as I can, maybe in the attic. Being able to record would be nice, if only for the ability to skip commercials. All these are very helpful ideas.

I was going to look at Plex TV live, but that seems more like Pluto, which is “stations” usually devoted to showing one show only. Do is not really live, local TV.

(Though I do love the Iron Chef channel on Pluto)

Looked at Fubo on the App Store and every other rating was 5 or 1. Do you subscribe to it and what do you like (and hate) about it?

I use Fubo on an Apple TV and the only thing that I dislike about it is that it asks which profile is watching each time I start the app. I just want to have an option to say it’s always the same profile and don’t ask the question.

I only use it the three months during the summer at the family summer cottage. Before this year I used YTTV the last two summers.

A tuner like the HDHomeRun doesn’t have to be near the TV because it talks to other devices, like your Apple TV, over the network. It just needs to be in a place where you can connect it to your LAN and the antenna.

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I’ve tried various things – HDHomeRun, Sling, etc – and none of them work as well (or as cheaply) as an antenna and just switching your TV over to that input when you want to watch a local channel.


I haven’t used a regular TV for many years - starting with EyeTV and its tuner on a retired iMac (running Front Row - which was dropped by Apple as it competed with the newly released Apple TV). I now use a HDHomerun tuner and Apple TV running Channels. I can also view “live” TV from any Apple device on my home network.

The Apple TV displays video on a TV or projector (using an HDMI splitter) and outputs audio to stereo Homepods (which currently have a volume control bug after the latest tvOS update - see a separate discussion: Apple TV audio & HomePod Siri woes - #6 by mpainesyd )

I too recommend Silicon Dust’s HDHomerun tuner. It just needs to connect to an antennae to pick up the free over the air signals, and be able to connect to ethernet, and power of course.
The benefit is I can watch free to air TV on any device connected to my wifi.
I also prefer the free Channels app over SD’s app. And an added bonus with the Channels app, which works on iPhones and iPads, is that it also runs on Macs with Apple Silicon chips (but not intel Macs, obviously). That’s one of the big (unsung benefits in my view) of Apple’s chips allowing iOS apps to work on Apple Silicon Macs without further coding by the developer (providing the developer ticks the box to allow it to compile).
Interestingly, when I searched for the Channels app in the App Store on the intel Mac it did not show any mention of it. But when I searched on the App Store on the M2 Mac Studio it did show as an available download.

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I went with YouTube TV because they had the channels I wanted. A couple of the services had the majors but not PBS. Nice thing is not having to pay extra for multiple TVs.

When I moved into the house 3 years ago Cox gave me a great introductory deal on TV. That expired last fall and the price was going to almost double. Switched to streaming and haven’t looked back. Hated their cable box - if it needed rebooting or a power glitch, it would take 5-10 minutes to start.

We have used YouTubeTV with a Roku Ultra since our cable company said they would be substantially increasing the price of our basic TV package. After doing some research it looks like they were raising prices to try to get rid of standard cable customers because cable TV costs the company more to run than to provide Internet service. Now our cable company is just our ISP. We chose YTTV because it carried our local network stations (including our PBS station) and we have very poor over-the-air signals so we couldn’t use an antenna. Sadly, it doesn’t carry the History Channel that we enjoyed, but we haven’t subscribed to that yet. Review the channels that YTTV does carry to see if it meets your needs.

We have quite a few shows set for recording every time they are on. I don’t think there’s a limit to the storage used, but recordings will expire after 6 months. You can fast forward through recordings but not while watching live TV. It’s nice to be able view YTTV any of our other devices. Also, when we travel YTTV switches our local viewing from our home stations to the local TV stations. It still records the shows on our local stations that we have set up, so we can watch those later if we want.

The time limit is 9 months which has never been a problem. They can offer unlimited recordings since they only need to store one copy of each show. Unlike a DVR where you have to store everything on your device.