How To Get Local Channels on an Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV stick is a remarkable way to get all sorts of streaming video content directly onto your TV without the hassle and expense of a cable solution. All you need is a good Internet connection, and you can watch a huge variety of free video content, as well as upgrade to paid channels and services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. About the only thing missing from the Fire TV stick is your local channels. However, there are ways to get your local channels on your Fire TV stick. In this article, I will lay out several different alternatives to get access to this content.
There are at least four ways to get access to local content on your Amazon Fire TV stick.
The most conceptually straightforward way is to buy a digital antenna, attach it to a computer running a media server solution such as a Plex Media Server, and then install the Plex client app on your Fire TV stick. This will let you access all those local channels via the Plex app on your Fire TV stick. Setting up a Plex server isn’t completely trivial, however, and how to do it is outside the scope of this article. Check out this tutorial on how to connect your Plex server to your Fire TV stick. The advantages of this approach are that you will get every local channel that broadcasts in your area, and it’s absolutely free once you’ve paid for the antenna. The disadvantage is that you’ll be dependent on the physical signal, so if there is bad weather or you are far away from the broadcaster, your picture quality may degrade.
The easiest way to get local programming is to buy access to it via what the TV industry has started to call a “skinny bundle”. If you’ve ever had cable TV, you know that the packages they sell you tend to be huge, with dozens or even hundreds of channels. While great in theory, these “fat bundles” usually included huge amounts of content that you didn’t want and would never watch, yet were forced to pay for. Today, non-cable providers have started to offer skinny bundles. Skinny bundles are selections of channels, usually curated around a theme or customizable by the user, that sell for a lot less than the cable companies charge. Skinny bundles are delivered over the Internet, so you don’t need a cable or satellite connection to get them – just a good Internet connection. The advantage of this approach is that you know what you’re getting, and it’s reliable and very easy to set up. The downside, of course, is that it costs money.
Third, many networks have their own Amazon Fire TV Stick apps. However, these apps only work for the one channel, so if you want to add all your local channels, you will have to hunt down all the separate apps. Still, this is a bargain-basement solution that will also be quite reliable. In addition, lots of cable channels have apps as well. Finding the apps is easy – in your Fire TV Stick, go to Apps -> Categories -> Movies & TV.
Finally, you can get access to some local programming via Kodi, an open-source media server solution that has a lot of repositories (add-ons) that offer local channels from all over the world. The disadvantage of Kodi is that the repository community is fairly anarchic – you’ll have to do a lot of searching and looking for the channels you want. The plus side is that it’s again free, and there are a LOT of channels of all sorts of content that you won’t find anywhere else. Of course we have a walkthrough on installing Kodi to your Fire TV Stick.
Since the skinny bundles are the most practical solution for most users, I’ll discuss several good ones and give more information about them. Note that for skinny bundles, your local IP address is very important, because that’s how bundles “know” which local channels to show you. Sometimes your ISP may give you an IP address that doesn’t match your physical location, so it’s important to check this before you order a local bundle. You can check what location your IP address is assigned to at Whatismyipaddress.com. If your address doesn’t match your locale, you’ll want to contact your ISP.
When selecting a service to use, check out their channel list before you sign up. Some services offer different channels in different regions. It makes sense to select the service that shows the most local content in your city rather than the service you like the look of best. It’s up to you though. Each service should have a page dedicated to channel listings.
For example fubo lists available channels and regions on this page. Sling TV lists theirs here, DirectTV Now here and so on.
Sling TV is a neat service that includes basic channels as a core package and then lets you add on the other channels you want. There are three main package levels, Sling Orange, Sling Blue and Sling Orange and Blue. All offer a range of channels and features depending on where you live. Sling TV offers a 7-day free trial.
Sling Orange costs $15 a month for over 30 channels and a single stream. Blue includes almost 50 channels and up to three streams for the same price while the top tier combines the two packages for $25 a month. (Prices as of April 2019.)
Hulu Live TV
Hulu Live TV has one of the widest channel selections of any of these services. Much depends on where you live and the main page requests your zip code to tell you exactly what you can expect. This service includes many of the local and national channels you pay a whole lot more from with cable and offers HD streaming to any device, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Hulu Live TV costs $44.99 a month, which includes a complete subscription to the usual Hulu content. Exact channel selections will vary as above. It is expensive but the amount of content available is huge. There is a 7-day free trial.
DirecTV Now is similar to Hulu in that it offers a huge selection of local channels and national ones. Again, it depends on your zip code but the selection should include your local networks as well as the national ones, plus lots and lots of sports and movies and pretty much anything you care to view.
DirecTV Now is priced similarly at $50 per month for 40+ channels, including HBO. There is also a “Max” option at $70 per month which adds HBO, Cinemax, 10 additional channels, and more sports coverage. There is a 7 day free trial and they often run discounts or promotions that can offer a little saving.
fuboTV is lesser known but a must-try for sports fans. Their local channel listings used to be non-existent but thanks to pressure from users and the competition the service is upping its game. It now offers a range of local TV channels as well as national ones within their packages. It is still sports-centric but has a wider product list now. fuboTV costs $44.99 per month or $49.99 per month for the ‘fubo Extra’ bundle. That gets you over 75 channels, two streams and Fire TV support. The fubo Extra gets you over 90 channels, two streams and the same Fire TV support. There is also fubo Latino that includes Spanish language content or Portugues with Portuguese language content. There is of course a free trial offer.
Individual networks also have their channels available through the Amazon Fire TV Stick but I think these services offer better value for money. What do you think? Do you use any of these services?
Want to do more with your Fire TV Stick?
Showbox is a movie and show app that many people swear by – we’ll show you how to add Showbox to your Amazon Fire TV Stick.
We’ve got a good overview of getting the most out of your Fire TV stick.
Here’s our tutorial on using your Fire TV stick with a Vizio TV.