The first step to cutting the cord and getting free cable tv legally is to start using a HDTV antenna as you can potentially get every channel you currently watch for free over the air or with an on-demand streaming device from Roku. If that still isn’t enough, you can supplement with a contract-free online streaming plan that offers on-demand or live TV for a fraction of the cost you’re currently paying.
Even if you can’t easily cut the cord, you might be able to reduce your cable costs. For example, renting a cable box for your TV often costs at least $10 to $15 per month—for each TV—to get HDTV and DVR capabilities, so a simple $35 cable plan can end up costing two to three times as much once you add hardware fees. Instead, many cable channels have streaming apps that let you watch programming on a Roku or Apple TV box as long as you’re paying for that channel through your cable subscription. In other words, you can pay for a single cable box in the living room while streaming episodes of The Americans or Mr. Robot to your streaming box, smartphone, or tablet for free. Reducing the number of cable boxes, while still being able to watch most programming, could save you a decent amount every month.
If you need a cheap alternative to a gaming system I’d highly recommend the $35 Google Chromecast. I did a full review of it here: Google Chromecast review. Basically you can use it in conjunction with services like Netflix, Hulu, Google Play and others for cheap entertainment. It can also stream online shows in your Chrome web browser from your computer over the wi-fi connection. We’ve been using it a bunch lately and love it.
Netflix – Netflix has loads of content at a low price. Most TV shows wind up on streaming after a season airs. There are also movies and a whole host of children’s programming available. The pricing is reasonable at $8.99 a month for unlimited HD streaming to two TVs simultaneously. If you are comfortable waiting a few months for a TV series, Netflix may be all you need.
DIRECTV NOW was DIRECTV’s way of keeping its satellite TV service available for users who don’t want a dish installed or multi-year contracts. You can use the Just Right package and add HBO (Game of Thrones and Westworld for only $5 more per month instead of $15? Yeah, we’re in). Consider also that you can get your favorite networks like HGTV, Sundance TV, and the Travel Channel. Plus, you can also record up to 20 hours of TV to hold onto for 30 days with the included cloud DVR.
I’m hesitant to cut the cord with cable tv due to my husband’s sports. He watches ESPN (a couple of different ones), and the Big 10 Network. Other than these sports channels, we mostly only watch the regular network channels. If I had the food network and HGTV I would watch them, but I can do without them just fine too. Hubby does like the DVR feature that our ‘big name’ cable company provides. But the monthly prices keeps climbing! Any suggestions you have for us?
There are commercials and advertising. You can interact with the commercials so they focus more on your interests, so at the very least they are semi-interesting. And, if you are lucky, you can watch one long commercial at the beginning to have an interruption-free viewing. However, they recently starting offering a commercial-free package, which is awesome.
If these services offer the channels you want and the limitations won’t be an issue, they are more affordable than cable or satellite; you’re not locked into a long contract, either, and you can watch TV at home or on the road. Right now, we can’t say if any of these services is clearly better than the others, as channel offerings, prices, and apps are continuously changing. If you think a cable package might be for you, it’s a good idea to look at all the options and try a few out with any early subscriber discount in consecutive months. Once you’ve found the best fit for your viewing habits, you can sign up at the full price—and still be saving money compared to a traditional cable package.
Select the "TV" input option using your remote and press the channel "+" or "-" buttons to surf through your free digital high-definition TV broadcasts. If the antenna doesn't match your room's decor, or messes with your feng shui, just tuck it away when you're not using it. Depending on the reception you may even be able to hang on the wall behind a painting -- or disguise it as a drink coaster.
There are three main types of Mohu antennas: Leaf, Sky and Curve. Leaf antennas are extra thin and can be mounted on windows. Long range Sky Mohu antennas are designed to be mounted outside and can pull in feeds from 65 miles away. The Curve line of antennas are for people who live closer to cities and are designed to be mounted on shelves and desks.
The most popular HD antenna rebroadcasters are the Channel Master DVR+ ($250), the Tablo ($220) and the Simple.TV ($200). (All models listed are the basic designs.) Each one functions a bit differently, but the bottom line is that you can watch whatever live broadcast TV you receive in your home, on whatever device you choose. Even Plex has gotten in on the action, offering recording functionality to anyone with an HD antenna and an HDHomeRun box.
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PlayStation Vue is a streaming service similar to Sling TV, offering channels like AMC, TBS, Syfy and much more. However, this service starts at $44.99 per month. Check out this comparison of Sling TV Channels vs. PS Vue for the difference in each services channel lineup. You don’t need a PlayStation gaming console to use the service either. While the service is available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, you can also use the service with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, Android, iPad, and iPhone. Check out my review of PlayStation Vue for more details.
2. Get a decent Internet deal. Dennis Restauro, who runs the cord-cutting website and podcast Grounded Reason, says that to stream high-definition TV shows, you need a speed of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) per TV set. Restauro suggests you spend no more than $70 a month for your Internet service. Calls to Internet service providers in the Washington area revealed that it is possible to hit that goal, with regular prices at HughesNet and RCN and introductory prices at Verizon Fios. Also be on the lookout for fees that aren’t included in the base rate. The website BroadbandNow reveals most providers’ introductory prices, regular prices and added fees. Bonus tip: Many providers charge extra to rent you a router, but you may be able to buy your own.
I live on the West Side of Manhattan and watch only local channels using an antenna. Unfortunately the signal is periodically interrupted so that I get sound but not a picture (gray and white horizontal stripes appear on the screen). Is there any way to determine the source of this interference or to counteract it? The timing of it has led me to wonder if the use of cable or streaming in the area is creating the problem.
Of course, there’s never a bad time to reexamine your cable package and determine if you still need the one you’re on. Perhaps when you signed up, your provider gave you a premium package at a low rate, but that rate has expired and you’re now paying the regular price—do you really need those premium channels? Similarly, as nice as having 200-plus channels at your fingertips can be, many people spend the majority of their TV time watching just a few select stations. See if your provider offers a less expensive package that has the stations you want.
My take is that they are focused on the areas that get NO cable service because they know it’s a slam dunk so they charge rates that are more expensive for what they offer because they can. It’s like this, if they want my business, they have to have the same TV channels for less and they are so far from it. Also, if they do undercut any pricing, it’s marginal because they are trying to maximize their profits exponentially. Take a look at the free trials they all offer. They’re almost all the same: 1 week, or maybe 5 days, and then the monthly rate kicks in. What a joke. They’re greedy.
Hauppauge TV tuners are solid, but they are not nearly as flexible as HDHomeRun. For example, you have to buy a specific type of Hauppauge if you want to use it with Xbox One – but you can use HDHomeRun on any platform that has an HDHomeRun app. Additionally, Hauppauge tuners are USB devices and have to be plugged in directly. HDHomeRun tuners connect to your network via WiFi, so you can set them up anywhere in your home.
Local library might also have access to hoolpa which has tv and movies available to “check out” digitally and stream on computer or through Roku. Love Roku for its ability to connect to so many free options. Roku has their own channel with free content that changes each month. Pluto tv is another great one. It has channel structure. Has a mystery science theater 3000 and a riftrax channel. Both legal; heard of it from riftrax guys.