The Roku Channel Begins Rolling Out Free Local News for Streamers

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If you have cut the cord on your cable TV and are looking for a way to watch your local news, The Roku Channel may be a new destination for you.

The Roku Channel, which already is considered one of our top picks for free streaming TV, recently announced that it has struck an agreement with NBCUniversal to stream local news content with no subscription required.

While the initial rollout is limited to just eight markets, it appears as though this may be a long-term option for streamers who are looking for local channel content.

Let’s check out the details.


Roku and NBCUniversal Announce Deal for Local News

The Roku Channel now features NBC local news channels among its more than 300 free livestream options.

These channels will feature the latest local news, breaking updates, weather forecasts and live events.

Channels available now on The Roku Channel are:

  • NBC New York News 
  • NBC Los Angeles News 
  • NBC Chicago News 
  • NBC Philadelphia News 
  • NBC Dallas Ft. Worth News 
  • NBC Washington, D.C. News 
  • NBC Connecticut News 
  • NBC South Florida News 

NBCUniversal Local covers 31 U.S. markets, so there is the potential for expansion to more markets in the future.

NBC New Local on The Roku Channel menu

It’s important to note that this is not a livestream of the over-the-air local channel but rather curated content that is delivered from the local NBC affiliate.

For example, you may be able to see breaking news updates from your local NBC affiliate, but you won’t see the hit TV NBC show that it airs during primetime. You’ll likely still need either an antenna or a Peacock subscription to enjoy that content without cable or a live TV streaming subscription.

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What Roku and NBCUniversal Are Saying About This Project

Team Clark often fields questions about finding local news content from people who are considering cutting the cord. And it appears that The Roku Channel is hearing your concerns.

This agreement marks the first time that Roku will provide local news content on its streaming platform.

Here’s what executives from each company said about the announcement in a news release.

“Audiences are increasingly opting to consume news through streaming, and local news has consistently been one of the top requested categories by our users. We’re excited to work with NBCUniversal Local and the NBC Stations to expand our relevant live TV offering for streamers and to bring news from multiple major cities to millions of viewers across the country to easily access and enjoy.”

Ashley Hovey, The Roku Channel

“Local news has never been more vital to helping our audiences stay informed about what’s happening in their communities. We look forward to bringing our NBC local news channels and our stations’ best-in-class journalism to the millions of people The Roku Channel reaches and to launching more of our NBC local news channels to expand streamers’ access to our local news content.” 

Meredith McGinn, NBC Universal Local

Early Reviews: What Can You Expect?

I decided to check out the NBC News Local options available on The Roku Channel to help you know what to expect from this free streaming option.

The channels, which include eight local markets and a national feed, are easily accessible by searching for NBC News in the search bar (see below).

The Roku Channel

From there, I poked around to see what each of the local news channels offers to get a flavor of the type of content you can expect on these livestreams.

I found a mix of things you might expect to see covered by your local news: crime in the city, weather reports, a feature story on a local art exhibit and sit-down interviews with local personalities.

The commercial breaks were interesting in that they typically did not feature advertisements but instead NBC-produced public service announcements. It also featured some “we’ll be right back” graphics with countdowns to the return of content.

Here are some screen grabs from my tour of the available channels.


Other Options for Free Local News

Team Clark has researched the options for free local channels at great length, and local news is a focus of that article.

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If you don’t see your market in the initial wave of the new free channels from NBCUniversal and The Roku Channel, you may have some other options.

Amazon News, for example, offers free news updates from local channels in 158 U.S. markets.

To access this feature, you’ll need the Amazon News app that is located on Fire TV streaming devices.

Once you’re on the app, you’ll be able to choose from a menu of local channel news feeds. Typically, you’re offered the channels that are closest to your location.

In my case, I was able to get news and weather from my local CBS affiliate for free.

Amazon News provides streams from different television markets.

Keep in mind that this is not actually a livestream of the channel’s over-the-air broadcasts. Instead, it’s highlights and clips from newscasts and other local programming.

If you’re unable to access Amazon News on your device, there is a similarly interesting option called NewsON that touts access to more than 275 local news sources across the country.

NewsON screenshot

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