How to Watch WCVB Live (Channel 5 Boston) Without Cable

New Englanders can cut the cord, and still watch Boston’s local ABC station, WCVB, using a TV antenna or live TV streaming service.

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New Englanders have two clear paths to watch WCVB and other local channels: through a TV antenna for free over-the-air broadcasts or via various streaming services. 

This guide outlines both methods, helping you cut the cord from cable TV and enjoy your favorite shows and news without the cable subscription.

WCVB: A Decade of Free Viewing

Living in Boston for over ten years, I’ve consistently watched WCVB without cable. A reliable TV antenna is all it takes to watch ABC (Channel 5) and others like NBC10 Boston, WBZ, WHDH, and FOX25, free of charge.

Antenna Use: Clear, Cost-Free Broadcasts

For those new to over-the-air television, or returning after years, the landscape has vastly improved. Today, a TV antenna can unlock a world of free programming. Major broadcasters, including WCVB, have towers in Newton and Needham, making it especially easy for residents of Greater Boston and MetroWest to receive channels.

If you do get WCVB as an OTA channel, you will like get its sub-channels, MeTV and Story as well.

Using an antenna is straightforward. Once connected, a simple channel scan is all it takes to start watching. You’ll find that the variety and quality of available channels can rival paid services, with the added benefit of no monthly fees. From news and live sports to prime-time entertainment, the airwaves are rich with content.

For the best reception, a visit to the map tool at Antennas Direct can provide specific guidance on antenna types and placement. Remember, the right setup can mean access to not just WCVB but also NBC10 Boston, WBZ, WHDH, and FOX25, all in stunning High Definition clarity.

Streaming Services that carry WCVB

In my experience, all of these live TV streaming services carry very similar lineups when it comes to local channels. 

In Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, you’ll find WCVB (Channel 5 Boston), WBZ (Channel 4), WFXT (FOX 25), My38, NBC Boston, WMUR (Channel 9), NECN and Telemundo. 

There will be slight variations to this with each service. And if you are a New Englander looking for local channels like WCVB with NESN, then you are limited to Fubo and DIRECTV STREAM.

These streaming services are supported across most major brands of Smart TVs such as LG, Sony, and Samsung. These streaming services also support Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, game consoles, iPhones (with current iOS), and Android smartphones.

Hulu + Live TV

  • Sign up & get Disney+ and ESPN+ included
  • Unlimited Cloud DVR (9 mos.)
  • Two simultaneous streams
Hulu + Live TV$76.99/month90+
Device support: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast with Google TV along with Smart TVs by Samsung, VIZIO SmartCast, Sony Bravia, PlayStation, XBox, Xfinity Flex and Xumo TV.

At $76.99 per month, Hulu Live TV is a comprehensive service that offers 90 live TV channels, ESPN+, and Disney+.

The channel lineup has ESPN, A&E, History, TBS, TNT, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, and USA Network are among the entertainment channels on Hulu.

You can watch live TV on up to two screens at once. Subscribers get more than just live TV channels to watch. You’ll also have full access to ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu’s on-demand library.

Hulu with Live TV comes with unlimited Cloud DVR so you can record sports, news, movies or whatever else you want.

My experience with Hulu Live TV has been that it gives you a well-rounded channel lineup for sports fans, and people who want news and entertainment channels.


  • Free trial
  • 1,000 hours Cloud DVR
  • 10 simultaneous streams
Elite $84.99/month241
Premier$94.99/month250 & Showtime
Device support: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Xbox One, along with Smart TVs by Hisense, Samsung, LG, Sony Bravia and VIZIO SmartCast TV. Android, iPhones and iPads with current iOS.

Fubo has local channels, including local ABC (WCVB), CBS, NBC and FOX stations along with NESN. 

The Pro package has 176 channels, including ESPN, NESN, HGTV, Big Ten Network and Comedy Central.

For $74.99 per month, I could stream on 10 devices and never worried about space with 1000 hours of Cloud DVR. Fubo’s device compatibility made it a versatile choice because it is supported on Smart TVs and major streaming devices such as Roku.

As a subscriber to Fubo, I like its sports-focused coverage, especially with NESN so I can watch Boston Red Sox and Bruins games. 


Device support: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast with Google TV along with Smart TVs by Samsung, Sony Bravia

With DIRECTV STREAM, I felt like I was back to being a cable subscriber given the big, diverse channel lineup. There are four plans you can pick. 

At $79.99 per month, the Entertainment package has 75 channels, including locals like ABC, CBS and NBC. ESPN, ESPN2, A&E, C-SPAN, CNN, and History are among the cable networks.

To get NESN, you have to get the Choice plan, which is more expensive at $108.99 per month. Subscribers get unlimited Cloud DVR and you can watch on as many screens in your household as you like. 

If you are just looking to stream local channels, I thinkHulu Live TV is a better deal and gives you a couple more streaming services. 

YouTube TV

  • Free trial
  • Unlimited Cloud DVR
  • Three simultaneous streams
YouTube TV$72.99/month128
Device support: Android TV, Google TV, Smart TVs by Samsung, LG, VIZIO, Hisense, Sharp and Sony; Chromecast, Google TV, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation and Google Nest Hub; Android and iOS devices.

YouTube TV stands out as a robust option for cord-cutters in Boston and beyond. At $72.99 per month, subscribers gain access to a comprehensive suite of 128 channels, including a live feed of ABC, allowing you to watch WCVB in real-time.

The service offers a well-rounded selection of local networks, such as CBS, NBC, and FOX, ensuring that you stay connected with local news and events. 

The channel lineup is diverse. It features key networks like ESPN for sports enthusiasts, Oxygen Network for true crime and drama, USA Network for a mix of movies and series, and Comedy Central for a dose of humor.

YouTube TV’s unlimited Cloud DVR is a game-changer for those who don’t want to be tied to a broadcast schedule. Record your favorite shows, sports events, or movies without worrying about storage space. The on-demand library of ABC shows means you can catch up on episodes at your convenience.

With support for three simultaneous streams, your household can enjoy varied content on different devices at the same time. This flexibility is perfect for families or housemates with diverse viewing preferences.

In my experience, YouTube TV provides a comprehensive, flexible, and user-friendly streaming service. It is a strong contender for those looking to watch WCVB and a wide array of other channels without a traditional cable subscription.

Sling TV: A Non-Starter for WCVB

In my experience, Sling TV falls short for Boston locals—it doesn’t offer WCVB. For ABC access, I’ve found the other services mentioned to be more reliable.

FAQ: Your Questions Answered

Can I watch WCVB without cable?

Yes, with an antenna or streaming services like Hulu Live TV, Fubo, DIRECTV STREAM, and YouTube TV.

What other local channels can I receive with an antenna?

Besides WCVB, you can get NBC10 Boston, WBZ, WHDH, and FOX25.

Are there free trials for these streaming services?

Yes, most offer a trial period, like YouTube TV’s 7-day free trial.

Is Sling TV an option for watching WCVB?

No, Sling TV does not provide WCVB in the Boston area.

What channel is ABC in Boston?

The local ABC station in Boston is channel 5, WCVB-TV. It broadcasts on the UHF band for over-the-air reception and is also a NextGen TV station.

Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.