Q. I am outraged that I can no longer watch my channel 9 on DIRECTV. Is there anyway to keep watching it during this nonsense? — Bonnie, Arlington, Virginia.
Bonnie, as you know, Tegna, which owns WUSA-TV (your channel 9, a CBS affiliate) and roughly 60 other local TV stations last night pulled its signals from all AT&T-owned TV services because they could not reach a new carriage agreement. This includes DIRECTV, U-verse, AT&T TV Now, and AT&T TV.
Update: DIRECTV & Tegna sign new carriage pact.
It’s unclear how long the blackout will last. Both sides publicly say they are committed to reaching a settlement.
But carriage disputes sometimes last several weeks or more so you might want to consider these alternatives to watching your local channels via DIRECTV or any other pay TV provider.
1. TV Antenna
There are definitely some pros and cons to getting an indoor or outdoor antenna so allow me to offer a few here so you can determine whether this alternative will work for you.
Pro: Free Local Channels
Yes, your local channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Univision, etc.) are available via a TV antenna, and they are free. Not only that, they can deliver a better HD picture over an antenna compared to cable or satellite. The latter tend to compress the signals of local (and all) channels, which tends to dilute the picture quality. The TV providers do this for several reasons, including creating more system room to deliver more channels. The signal your antenna receives directly from the local channel is purer (layman’s term, folks and therefore a better one.
Pro: Antennas Are Not Expensive
The TV antenna, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, costs less than $100 with many indoor models well under $30. With local channels free, that’s a great deal for consumers looking to cut expenses. (Note: The outdoor antenna can normally pick up more channels than the indoor one. But indoor antennas are becoming more efficient every year with new models and new technology.)
Con: The Antenna May Not Work at Your Location
Before you run off to buy an antenna (and drop your cable or satellite service), you need to know that depending upon the location of your home, your antenna may not be able to pick up the signals of all your local channels. You may live too far away from the channel’s tower to get a decent signal, or you could have a major obstacle in the signal’s path, such as a high-rise office building or mountain.
Pro: The Technology Is Improving
As noted earlier, in the last few years, the antenna companies have done a great job of beefing up their products, offering indoor antennas that can pick up signals as far away as 75 miles. Yes, indoor antennas. If you had a bad experience with an antenna several years ago, you might be pleasantly surprised at how far they have come.
Locast is a free service that delivers local channels over the Internet in 25 markets, which represents roughly 45.6 percent of U.S. population. The markets include: Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, West Palm Beach, Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Tampa, Denver, Scranton, Los Angeles, Rapid City, San Francisco, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Seattle, and Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Bonnie, your local channels would be available in the Baltimore or Washington markets.
You download the Locast app on a computer, tablet or Smart TV device such as Roku, provide a name and e-mail address, and suddenly you are watching all your local channels. I can’t vouch for the reliability of the signals. I have used Locast a few times and found it to be a bit inconsistent. But it’s free so you can’t beat that.
3. Web site
Many local stations offer their news programs live and for free at their web sites. (WUSA-TV is one that does.) While this doesn’t permit you to watch the station’s primetime lineup, you can keep up with its newscasts.
4. News On
If you have trouble with the web site, News On is a streaming app that also offers local newscasts, both live and on demand. You can learn more about it here at NewsOn.
5. CBS All Access
CBS sells a streaming service called CBS All Access for $5.99 a month that includes a live feed of your local CBS channel as well as on demand programming from the network. Unfortunately, the other networks (Fox, NBC and ABC) do not have similar services, but if you are missing the local CBS station due to the dispute, this is a relatively inexpensive alternative. (And there is a seven-day free trial so if the companies settle within a week, you wouldn’t have to pay a dime.)
Bonnie, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this Amazon.com link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at email@example.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
The owners of local channels want the free cash (can I hear a cheer for $16 billion!) from “retransmission” fees for their free over-the-air signals. When they pull their channels from cable/satellite/streaming providers, they blame the providers as cover. That’s why they post those crawls on your TV screen claiming that the provider “is taking your channels away”. Quite the opposite. With each new contract the local channel owners jack up the price which eventually raids your wallet with higher rates from your provider. What to do? Get a good antenna and get your locals for free. Test the antenna around your house to see where the “sweet spot” is (most local channels come in). The main thing is to get the network affiliates (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) in your area. The other networks and sub-channels are a bonus. Tip: your antenna gets more channels if you put it in the highest level (floor) of your house. Powered antennas usually work better (i.e. Mohu is the one I use. $60 or so at Home Depot). I get 73 channels (for free) in Cary NC which is right near Raleigh and Durham. If you have multiple TV sets and a Roku, Firestick or Android TV device, you can get either a Silicon Dust HD Homerun box or a Tablo box which will connect to your antenna and WiFi your local channels to the other sets via their associated apps. If reception in your area is limited, check to see if Locast (they have an app) is available in your area. For a $6 donation per month, you’ll get your locals via various streaming devices. If Locast is not available in your area and your main concern is news and weather, look for apps like Haystack, Local News Now, Stirr and official apps for the local channel(s) in your area. Happy viewing!
“Con: Antennas Are Not Expensive”
Why is that a Con?
DirecTV might give you a rebate on your monthly bill for losing channels they did that for me
How did u get a rebate from direct TV? And what do u have to do to get it?
Locast not available in Portland, Oregon, and antenna’s weak in this location…. screwsd!
We left DirecTV April of last year. We bought 3 indoor HD antennas @$35 each and get 64 OTA channels, if you have access to decent broadband >25Mbs, there is a ton of streaming apps that you can play through Roku, or Amazon FireTV or other streaming device. We bought 1 Fire Cube and 2 Fire Sticks and haven’t looked back.
We watch anything we want, we have a couple streaming subscriptions for $30 a month and we’re saving $145+ a month and couldn’t be happier. We actually have more options for watching shows than we did with DirecTV. Fck cable AND Satellite, screw their exorbitant semiannual price increases. It is time to tell ATT, Comcast, Time warner, Spectrum to take a hike. Do it and you’ll thank me later.
I just bought an OTA DVR for about $300 and the cord cutting is now complete.
Tegna for more than 20 yrs I have faithfully paid my tv bills each month my wife and i are senior citizens and Tv is our entertainment especially since covid WKYC is our only morning channel from 60 to 8m and at nite 6 to 11 are you going to deny us the opportunity to watch the news , the voice and football games how dare you after i have been a loyal customer .Plus aren’t senior citizens supposed to be taken care of Please restore WKYC to ATT&T direct so we can enjoy what time we have left in life.
We lost our NBC affiliate on Wednesday through Direct TV in the Atlanta area. I am hoping they will settle the contract dispute very quickly.
Stupidest thing was Direct TV get involved with AT&T we never had any problems with losing local stations I am furious I lost my CBS station only watch it 1 day for 1 hour a week for Blue blood And I can’t see it because AT&T and Tegna have Incompetent ASSES working for those companies if they cared at all about people they would get the job done ASAP and stop interfering in People who pay big money for there Satellite channels.
Now get off your ASSES and get the job done.
Our area even Antennas don’t work and why should I have to go purchase anything when It’s YOUR COMPANY’S FAULT WE can’t see CBS and why should I have to purchase CBS on line when It’s AT&T and Tegna’s fault We shouldn’t have to sign up at all to watch a local station.
If your company hired competent people this would already be settled and people should have never lost any channels since they are the ones paying for those stations.
Just GET THE DAMN THING SETTLE Put the people first and not your own GREEDY ASSES