So, you’re finally fed up with the ever-increasing cable bills for the continuous decrease in program quality? Believe me when I tell you that you’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of hard-working individuals who have better things to spend their money on than a bill that provides them with limited TV shows.
“Regular cable has become so stale. I’m paying so much for so little, but what can I really do?”
I think it may be time to cut the cord, my friend. The evolution of streaming has brought to the forefront a great variety of services that house a much larger and more diverse library of choice films and TV shows. Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle are just the tip of the iceberg. Even normally cable-focused paid programming such as HBO and Cinemax have gotten in on the mix over the years to where you can watch their shows directly over the internet.
Cutting The Cord
First things first, you’ll need to figure out if cutting the cord is right for you before actually pulling the plug. If you were to go ahead with it but in the future, feel you made a mistake, the costs of new activation fees and contracts could get rather expensive.
To begin down the path to cord cutting, take a look at the monthly statement for your cable or satellite bill. Chances are good that it’s already too high or you likely wouldn’t be looking into other options. This bill will be a great reference of comparison to what you’ll be willing to spend on streaming options moving forward.
You might do yourself a favor and check into the cheaper bundle packages that your cable company offers. Cord cutting has made a dent in their sales and in doing so, these companies have been pushing out slimmer, more cost-friendly bundles. This is a better option for those who enjoy the list of TV programs offered by their service but feel the bill is a bit outrageous.
A list of things to do if you feel that streaming is the better option:
- Ensure that your current internet speed can handle it. Yes, if it wasn’t already obvious, you will still need internet access. Your cable provider may have bundled it into your cable service. If this is the case, you can look into a new internet provider or find a standalone internet package offered by your current ISP.
- Run an internet speed test to check the bandwidth that you’re receiving. The better the speed, the better your viewing experience will be.
- Examine all of the alternatives. Streaming services aren’t the only game in town. There are also streaming devices and even TV antennas that allow you to watch TV over the air in crystal clear HD for free. It’s worth it to look into everything before making a full commitment.
- Cancel your current cable or satellite subscription. Though you may be really into a program on TV at the moment, it’s likely you’ll find it, in its entirety, on the new service you choose. Quit your bill today and start saving. If in the end, you realize that cutting the cord isn’t for you, I’m sure your cable company will welcome you back with open arms.
For the rest of the article, I’ll delve into the various services in which you can watch TV without the hefty monthly bill.
Watching Live TV
You’ve got it in your mind to ditch cable but are wondering about your favorite live televised programs. If live TV is a priority, there are several options available to you, with more and more coming every day.
As mentioned before, you have the option of installing an antenna to watch your programs over the airwaves like the old days or subscribing to a streaming service that includes a live TV option. Just know that if you choose the streaming option, you’ll need to make sure that you have access to it. This can be done using a streaming stick like the Amazon Fire, a set-top box, gaming consoles like a PlayStation 4, or a smart TV. You can also watch them directly from the source if you have a laptop or your home PC is connected to your TV set via an HDMI cable.
Using An Antenna To Watch Local TV
New technology has turned a relic of the past into a marvel of the future. No longer the rabbit ears you once knew (for those of us old enough) the cheapest way to get your local stations live and free of charge is by hooking up an antenna. The only purchase made being the antenna itself.
All of the channels available will be determined by those being broadcast in your local area. Just follow the directions that come with the device and you’ll be set to surf through live TV in no time. If you can’t catch what you want at the moment the show goes live, DVRs are available at varying price points to help you record those shows for later enjoyment.
Live TV With A Streaming Service
There are a few streaming service packages that come bundled with live TV. Hulu, Sling, DirecTV, and even YouTube are among some of the services that offer you live television.
Choosing the Hulu With Live TV subscription option allows you to view live local TV channels, sports, news, content for children, as well as access to their extended streaming library. It will run you about $40 a month which includes a cloud-based DVR to rewatch live TV if necessary.
Sling TV gives you three different packages from which to choose, ranging from $25-$40. The best part about it is that there are zero contracts and you can add on additional mini bundles for specific genres, premium channels, and even international channels as well. Similar to Hulu, it comes with a cloud DVR so that you can record your shows and watch them at any time you want.
DirecTV has gotten into the online streaming service game by providing you with DirecTV Now. No contract to sign, just an online streaming service that lets you access live TV channels and will run you around $40-$75 depending on the chosen package.
There’s also the option of YouTube TV, but it’s not available in all areas. You can use YouTube TV on just about every device for one easily affordable monthly package of $40. Watch live streaming TV from dozens of networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other cable channels with the option of adding Showtime, Starz, Fox Soccer Plus, Sundance Now, Shudder, and other networks for an additional fee. Yes, it too has DVR capabilities with unlimited storage.
A Focus On Sports
I know that being able to cheer on your local sports team from the comfort of your favorite chair can make or break the whole ‘cut the cord’ ordeal. Though, I believe it’s safe to say that finding what you need shouldn’t be a difficult task.
Local sports is local TV and therefore the over-the-air antenna will work just fine. National sports will take something a little bit different. Cutting the cord can be tough for fans of sports teams that aren’t available to be watched locally. This is precisely why you got that expensive satellite package in the first place.
For this minor obstacle, I suggest you look into any one of the major sports channels that also offer a streaming subscription. However, if you’re looking to take advantage of multiple sports channels, another service package may be in your best interest.
If you happen to own a Sony PlayStation (3 or higher), then PlayStation Vue is likely the best bang for your buck. For just $45 a month you get unmitigated access to your favorite NFL, MLB, and NBA teams and games.
None of these particular sports tickle your fancy? FuboTV has got you covered on soccer programming for the same $45 a month. It also includes a few non-sports channels in the package if interested.
Passion for the puck? The best NHL coverage you’ll find would be through YouTube TV. The $40 package includes every major channel that covers the NHL including NBC, NBC Sports, CNBC, and USA not to mention every FOX Sports affiliate out there.
For those who need every sport imaginable, and had it using your cable subscription, might want to just stick with the cable subscription. Cutting the cord for specific sporting fans is far cheaper than those who need them all. It could get rather expensive buying up all the packages just to get your fix.
There are also a few websites that will allow you to watch any sporting event you want to for free. These sites will provide you with a list of links to choose from in order to watch the event live. However, websites such as these tend to be rife with ads, pop-ups, and potential malware threats so it may be safer for you to go with one of the above options. In fact, just forget I said anything.
Network TV and Premium Channels
There are plenty of options to watch Network TV if that’s a priority for you. You won’t have to miss out on any of your favorites like FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, The CW, or PBS as they are available to you through their own websites. Crackle and Tubi allow you to stream a few network channels for free. You’ll just have to do a bit of exploring to find them.
CBS provides an all-access pass to their line-up of over 10,000 full episodes of shows you likely follow already if you’re a fan. CBS All Access will run you just $6 a month if you don’t mind commercials. If you do, it’s still only $10 per month. This includes live TV and some original programming.
As far as premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz go, they each have their own standalone subscription services to look into completely void of any cable or satellite contracts. Services such as HBO Now, Showtime Streaming, and Starz Streaming are all available to you and come with a free 7-day trial to boot.
Specifically Streaming Services
Love them or hate them, streaming services are making big waves and will likely be the future of televised programming. With tons upon tons of content readily available, it’s practically a no-brainer to want to get in on the action.
I mentioned the potential need for devices earlier and if you want to be able to stream, you’re going to need one or two. Visit each streaming service you feel that you may want to subscribe to and do a bit of research. If you don’t have the device necessary to stream, you’ll have to fork out the money to purchase one or forego streaming altogether.
The devices have already been mentioned, well, some of them. There are devices out there that are specifically designed with streaming services in mind like the Google Chromecast and Roku. Which device you prefer will be entirely up to you and what content you’re looking for.
Netflix has been the premier service for streaming TV shows and movies for quite some time now. It is by far the most popular streaming service available and you can choose from three different plans ranging in cost from $8-$14 (may go up). Each plan comes with different additions such as HD content, how many screens can be used to view the content simultaneously, and even 4K HD video availability.
I’ve already touched on Hulu as a live TV option, but if that isn’t something you consider necessary, the streaming package alone will run you $8 per month. This service is also a relatively popular one and pushes out its own original content, not unlike Netflix. The bulk of the library will vary differently than that of other services due to exclusivity in the networks’ contracts. You also have add-ons such as Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO that are available as separate packages when you choose Hulu.
Amazon Prime has yet another popular subscription-based streaming service called Prime Video. This includes access to TV and movie streaming for no additional cost to your Prime Membership. Enjoy their entire library of amazing programming on top of your featured 2-day delivery. Prefer something more physical? Amazon Prime allows you to rent or purchase newly released movies and TV shows right from within the Prime Video website.
Prime membership carries a hefty cost of $120 per year which translates into $12 per month if subscribed annually. Manual per month costs will run you at $13 a month. This may seem slightly higher than those streaming services previously mentioned, but Prime comes with additional perks such as on-demand music streaming, unlimited reading of thousands of books and magazines, free unlimited photo storage, and plenty more.
You can also go around the purchase of Prime Membership and simply acquire Prime Video alone for $9 per month.
Vudu is the more flexible option between those listed here as there is no subscription plan to worry about at all. Instead, you’ll pay for the movies and TV shows you love by renting or outright purchasing them for somewhere around $1.99 to $19.95. Vudu does offer plenty of free TV and movies for streaming as well if you find that to be your preferred option.