Local Now could be part of your solution. It’s a free streaming app that features local news and weather content based on your location. It also has on-demand movies, TV shows and some non-locational specific streaming channels.
Sounds promising, but is it better than purchasing an antenna to get your local channels over the air? And do the on-demand movies and TV shows match up with top free streaming apps like Pluto TV and Tubi TV?
I downloaded the Local Now app on an iOS device to test it out and provide answers to these questions!
This article was written in August 2023 and I will review it every six months. Detailed notes on all updates will be provided.
Table of Contents
This review is one of many Team Clark has conducted as a part of our free streaming TV series. You can learn more about our strategies for getting free streaming TV here:
What Is Local Now?
Local Now is a free streaming TV service that markets itself as a way to find local news and weather, as well as movies and entertainment. All within one app.
The content is available as both livestreams and on-demand. Since there is no charge for the service, you will be subject to advertisements.
This app is a standalone product, but it does feature some of the news, weather and traffic elements that are featured on the channel.
How To Watch
Good news! You’re not going to need a credit card to check out Local Now, and you’re probably going to own at least one device that has access to the service.
Sign-Up Is Optional
Some free streaming apps require that you to hand over information like your name and email address. Local Now makes this an optional part of the process.
If you want to dive right into streaming content without setting up a user account, you can do that.
However, if you want to set favorites, track progress on shows and make general customizations to your experience, you may find it worthwhile to set up a user profile.
Devices and Apps
There is a Local Now app available on the following devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Apple iPhone or iPad
- Roku TV
- Google TV
- Vizio smart TVs
- Samsung smart TVs
If you have a smart TV, tablet or wireless phone that uses one of these platforms, you should be able to download the Local Now app.
You also can stream live and on-demand content via web browser by visiting the Local Now website.
Content Available on Local Now
Local Now has a variety of live and on-demand content options that span from news and weather to movies and TV shows.
But since the premise of the app is built around local content (it’s right there in the name, after all), let’s start by talking about the local options you’ll find on this app.
The first thing you’ll be asked to do when you download the app or visit the website is to provide your location. You can do this by allowing the app to track your location, or you can opt to enter your ZIP code manually.
Once you have this information set, you’ll automatically receive local content that is curated for your region. This will include content both from local TV affiliates and Local Now itself.
For example, since I live near Nashville, Tenn., I received a Local Now feed that prominently featured content from Nashville.
This included a “Local Now Nashville” channel that featured news blurbs, weather updates and traffic alerts for my area. It also included livestream content from my CBS affiliate (News Channel 5) and my local public television (Npt).
It’s worth noting that the content I received from my CBS affiliate was not actually the live broadcast you’d find on cable or via an antenna. Instead, it was segments, highlights and clips of content produced by the local affiliate itself.
So, if you’re expecting to stream the latest NBC drama or FOX comedy via this app, you’re likely to be disappointed.
However, if you’re just looking for a quick update on the weather forecast and news headlines for your area, this could be a useful app.
Non-Local Streaming Channels
In addition to the local content, you’ll also get access to hundreds of national livestream channels. Again, these are not top-tier cable networks or anything like that, but it is on par with what you might expect to see from rival free streaming services.
This creates a more robust experience that could keep you on the app a bit longer.
Some of the livestream channels you may recognize include:
- NBC News Now
- PBS Digital Studios
- Bloomberg Originals
- Cheddar News
- Yahoo! Finance
- The Hill TV
- AFV Family
- Dove Channel
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
On-Demand TV and Movies
You’ll also have on-demand access to TV shows and movies via the Local Now app.
These titles, which rotate often, are not the “latest and greatest” the entertainment world has to offer. But, then again, you’d probably expect to pay for a video streaming service like Netflix or Max to receive that type of content.
Movies are sorted by genre, and there are helpful categories like “Hollywood Legends” and “Our Most-Watched Films” that lead you to some of their “best” content available.
At the time of this article, there were movies that starred household names such as Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.
The television show menu has mostly dated or obscure titles. You may be better served perusing the on-demand library of a service like Amazon’s Freevee for some more recognizable options.
Local Now does have a section for original content, though, that includes shows like “All About Pets” and “Game Hub.” These are titles that you’ll only find on this app.
Next, let’s take a look at the components of the user experience for Local Now viewers.
How Bad Are the Ads?
If you’re here for the local content streams, you can expect a normal linear television commercial experience.
Since much of the content is assembled in short segment blocks, you can expect to have a 2-3 minute “commercial break” between them. My experience with these advertisements was a traditional 30-second commercial block for things like new cars, fast food restaurants and homeowners insurance.
If you’re streaming on-demand content, you’ll have a little different experience.
I encountered non-skippable advertisements that lasted for 62 seconds before each on-demand movie or TV show that I streamed. That was a little annoying out of the gate, but your patience with that initial wave of commercials will likely be rewarded. I rarely encountered advertisements after the content began.
Though you can’t skip the ads, you can track your progress in the bottom left corner of the screen. That makes it easy to predict when you need to return if you choose to use these commercials for a snack or restroom break.
The design of this interface is clean and the app is simple to navigate, but I did encounter a few issues during my test run with Local Now.
There were several times that on-demand content was deemed “unavailable” to watch due to an error that the app claimed they were working to resolve. I received the same message on a couple of different days on different pieces of content, so I’m unsure about the sincerity of that message.
I also encountered a “double audio” situation on the app where I received audio from an auto-start content preview that bled over into the movie I clicked to watch. The result was audio from two different sources on the same app. Not good.
When it comes to actually watching content, the app’s performance is very solid. I was able to pause, rewind and fast forward with ease.
Final Thoughts on Local Now
Are you still trying to decide whether or not you should add Local Now to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
Local Now: Pros and Cons
|FREE!||Local programming is not live broadcast of local channels|
|No sign-up required||On-demand streaming content library is underwhelming|
|Content curated for your location||Inconsistent app performance during testing|
As someone who has tested quite a few free streaming services over the years, I believe there’s a place for Local Now in the “cord-cutting mix” for many people.
But it’s as a bit player, not as the main event.
Local Now could match perfectly with those services to give you some exposure to what is going on in your community.
That’s the beauty of free streaming: You can add as many apps as you’d like without upping your monthly expenses!
Do you have experience watching Local Now? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Clark.com community!