How to watch the news without cable TV: 2017 edition

You don't need a cable subscription to catch up on the news, and you might even be better off without one.


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One question I often get from potential cord cutters is whether they can still watch the news without cable. These days, it's easier to accomplish than ever, as more companies invest in streaming the news, and streaming channel bundles emerge with access to major cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

I first wrote about cable-free news options in 2015. Here's an update that includes all the best services and apps to emerge since then;

National broadcast news networks

cbsn CBSN

CBS News: Not to be confused with CBS's nightly and weekly broadcasts, this round-the-clock streaming service provides anchored news coverage throughout the day and live broadcasts of major events. In a sense, it's an antidote to cable news, with a heavy emphasis on reported stories instead of talking heads. For cord cutters, it's a must-see. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Xbox

CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4

NBC News: This app is worth considering if only for its full Nightly News broadcasts, which become available for streaming the day after they air. Clips from Meet the Press and MSNBC programs are also available for good measure. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV

Local news

newson NewsOn

NewsOn: This local news venture provides live and on-demand broadcasts from more than 170 stations across 111 U.S. markets. These are the same newscasts that air on local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox stations, and they're free with ads. You can even tune into stations outside your area to see what's happening elsewhere in the country. Available on: Roku

Antenna: Over-the-air antenna remains an excellent way to watch the local news, provided you can get reception in your home. You'll find TechHive's top picks here.

CBS All Access: The $6-per-month streaming service provides local channel feeds in many markets, so you can watch live newscasts from your local station. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4

The wild world of standalone apps: Your local news station may offer its own app for streaming devices, but not all of these apps have live feeds, and the quality of each app can vary by area, network, and station owner. I recommend searching your device's app store for the name of your nearest city or the call signs of your local stations to see what's available.

Alternative streaming news sources

haystack Haystack This slick app lets you create your own personalized newscast based on the topics and sources that interest you. It also includes local news clips in some areas. Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast

Roku News: For quickly catching up on national stories, the often-overlooked built-in news feed on Roku players is surprisingly useful. On the home screen, just scroll down to "News," then push your remote's play button for a quick succession of clips from various sources. Available on: Roku players and Roku-powered smart TVs

Pluto TV: Pluto turns online video sources into cable-like channels that you can flip through, and many of those sources cover the news. Install this app, and you can tune into round-the-clock feeds from NBC, CNBC, TYT Network, NewsmaxTV, Newsy, RT America, Sky News, Bloomberg, and Cheddar. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast

Newsy: The nice thing about Newsy's TV app is how it immediately launches into a brief rundown of the latest top stories. You're then free to peruse the rest of the Newsy app, which includes a live news feed and an assortment of clips, all explaining the news with a bit of useful context thrown in. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast

Cable news networks

slingtvcnn TechHive / Jared Newman

Sling TV: Both the $20-per-month Sling Orange plan and the $25-per-month Sling Blue plan include CNN and Bloomberg, but not Fox News or MSNBC. The $5-per-month News Extra add-on includes several other news networks, including HLN, Fusion, and BBC World News. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Xbox

PlayStation Vue: With the $30-per-month Access Slim plan, you get CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox Business, and CNBC. In some markets where local broadcast feeds are available, that price jumps to $40 per month for the Access plan. BBC World News requires an Elite plan for $15 per month more. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and PlayStation consoles

DirecTV Now: The $35-per-month "Live a Little" plan includes CNN, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, Fox Business, CNBC, and Bloomberg. To get BBC World News, you'll need the $60-per-month "Go Big" plan. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV

CNN: The moocher's route: Unlike the other big cable networks, CNN offers a streaming app on TV devices with a live feed, though you need a cable login to access it. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV

Any news sources I missed or streaming services you like? Let me know on Twitter.

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