Even so, no service we've reviewed is incomplete enough to discourage you from using it outright. If a service sounds like it might be a good fit for you, your best bet is to investigate which channels that service offers and see if it falls within your price range. Most of these services give you anywhere from a week to a month to evaluate them before charging you, and none of them require a contract. At worst, you'll be stuck with a service you don't like for a month.
This is the big issue for me, too. If you’re not into watching sports: good for you, cutting the cord is pretty easy. If you are, there are no real viable alternatives. ESPN streams online, but you have to have a cable subscription to access it. You can get pirated streams, but they’re very poor quality and not great for your computer, obviously. You could go to a bar, but then you’re forced to buying food and drinks for the length of a game, which could end up being close to what you’d pay for a month of Comcast.
Sling is the company that kickstarted the TV streaming category and still has the cheapest offering of the Big 5 (although sports-free options from Philo and AT&T Watch TV are cheaper at $16 and $15 monthly; see below). The main reason Sling can offer such low prices is it carries very few local stations (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), so many subscribers supplement the service with an antenna. Sling's interface isn't much to look at, but it offers all of the options you need without cluttering the screen. The only real letdown is its arcane live pause and DVR exceptions (you can't record Disney-owned channels like ABC, for example). Its options are myriad, including two base channel lineups (Orange and Blue) and numerous add-ons, so check out Sling TV: Everything you need to know for all the details.
Channel Master's SMARTenna+ is the industry's leading indoor TV antenna. The SMARTenna+ features a sleek, modern design that can fit effortlessly into your home. The antenna houses seven “virtual” antennas inside to provide you with a maximum signal range. It also features both automated and by the button scanning so you will always be in control of your antenna. Did we mention the SMARTenna+ has been called the world's smartest indoor TV antenna? And it is for good reason. The SMARTenna+ features Active Steering Technology which enables virtual antenna steering, giving you the maximum number of channels available and the best reception quality.
While Netflix ($8-12 per month), Hulu ($8-12 per month) and Amazon Prime ($119 per year) are the most recognizable streaming services, they are not the only ones available. In fact, traditional streaming services — wherein you pay a monthly fee to consume as much content as you like on-demand — are only a small part of the market. Depending on how much you're willing to spend (from nothing up to hundreds of dollars per year), you can get just about anything you used to enjoy on cable.
I just watch tv with an antenna. I get every network channel except cbs,. There are some extras like METV, QVC, HSN, Buzzer, Laff,, Hero, etc. About 40 channels in all. Not bad for a $30 antenna. I get the season of Big Bang Theory on DVD at Christmas. And cruise the used DVD store for Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and whatever else I might want to watch. I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy on ABC online on my laptop if I missed it airing (no Tivo or anything) until I started to hate the show. I’d totally get one of those plans like Sling or Netflix , but I have satellite internet and only have so much data per month.
1. Buy an HDTV antenna. Since 2007, local TV stations have been broadcasting digital signals so crisp that the reception is better than that of cable TV. Plus, despite all the hype about shows on niche networks, 19 of the top 20 TV shows in 2016 aired on over-the-air broadcast networks. That’s why Step 1 is to buy an antenna. These are not your father’s antennas. No rabbit ears necessary. A modern digital TV antenna can be so sleek it will match your decor or so skinny you can mount it out of sight. When Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80, it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary.
So, I really appreciate all this information and the clear explanations you’ve given, as in where to get the channels I do watch and the cost. I really miss 3 local stations, but my favorite one which I’ve watched all my life and depended on for weather was already dropped from the cable lineup a few months ago. Luckily, I just learned of the new version of “rabbit ears” and have ordered one (2019 version) that claims to have a 120 mile range, which would bring me my lost station if it works. It’s gotten a solid 5 star review from many customers on Amazon, so I’m hopeful.
Great! You’re already half way there! What I would do next is take a look at Hulu, Sling TV, CBS All Access, etc. to find out which option has the majority of what you want to see. If that company does not cover sports you may have to purchase an add on for it. As far as local sports, you might consider an antenna if you can’t get coverage otherwise.
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.
Many online services limit the amount of time you have to watch a rental to one to two days after you begin to play it. Netflix, however, lets you keep discs as long as you wish, and its streaming content is available to view anytime. Netflix is getting heat from customers for changing its pricing model, charging separately for disc-rental and streaming subscriptions. But if you watch several movies in a month, a subscription service could still save you money. If you’re primarily interested in newer, popular movies, stick with disc rental. If you’d rather browse for less-current movies, documentaries and TV shows, Netflix’s streaming service has a broad selection.
YouTube is the most popular streaming-video platform online; it was only a matter of time until YouTube tried its hand at providing live TV, too. For $35 per month with this service, you'll get almost 40 channels — which is, admittedly, not that many. Still, there are some good networks, especially for sports fans: multiple stations from ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. YouTube TV's biggest draw is the service's unlimited DVR feature, which lets you record as much as you want and keep it for up to nine months. The integration with the rest of YouTube feels half-baked, though.
Another way to watch TV for free is FTA (Free To Air) satellite. Receivers can be bought for as little as $50.00 on Ebay and if you have a bid C band dish or a Ku system 36″ dish you’re in business. Companies like Galaxy marketing, Sadoun Satellite Sales,and Satellite AV sell complete systems. I watch ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX.CW, This, AMG, White Springs, RFD, and many religious stations in English and Spanish. All For Free.
Since current seasons of CBS aren’t available on Hulu, CBS All Access is one option to get CBS Shows the day after the initial broadcast as CBS isn’t a part of Hulu. The basic service costs $5.99 per month and does air commercials. However, they offer a commercial-free plan for $9.99 per month. The service also offers live local CBS in over 150 markets. For more details, check out my review of CBS All Access.
Unlike some of the other streaming services available, Fubo.tv is marketed directly at sports fans. It has access to most of the standard sports channels, like NBC Sports Network, and Fox Sports 1, but it notably does not include ESPN. In lieu of the worldwide leader, Fubo.tv includes the most robust combination of specialized sports stations. Fans of international soccer and major college football conferences with their own networks, in particular, should be satisfied by the service’s access to the Big Ten Network, Pac 12 Network, and BeIN Sports. Fubo.tv also provides access to certain regional sports networks, depending on where you live. In New York, we found that Fubo.tv subscribers could stream programming from the YES Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games.
So why recommend an HTPC over a set-top box? Full keyboard/mouse lets you actually use the device as a computer, allowing you to type and navigate comfortably. You can play games on it (a PC has always been a better gaming device than consoles, for my money). You can view Hulu on it without paying for Hulu+ (which, in addition to unlocking certain content and providing HD streams, allows you to view Hulu content on mobile and set-top devices). Bringing full computer functionality to your big screen is a big win.
While it doesn’t brag about its reach, DirecTV Now offers a surprisingly robust number of local channel options for cord-cutters. Covering more than 400 local channels across the United States, there’s a good chance DirecTV Now has your local NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates available for streaming. You can see what local channels DirecTV supports in your area with their handy zip code search feature. Of course, local TV isn’t the only place DirecTV Now shines, offering a 65+ channel live TV package and DVR for the same cost per month as their competitors providing few channels. With AMC, ESPN, CNN, and more of the biggest channels around, DirecTV Now is a great streaming TV solution, with great local support to boot. (Here’s a complete guide to DirecTV Now channels.)
Then there's the multistream issue. If you want to watch more than one program at the same time -- for example, on your living room TV and on a bedroom TV, or the main TV and a tablet -- you'll want to make sure the service you're watching has enough simultaneous streams. Some of the least-expensive services only allow one stream at a time, and if you try to watch a second, it's blocked.
I NEVER thought I’d get rid of cable until I bought an old house that had never been wired for it. It was going to cost a lot more to have the whole house wired for the first time (versus just activating it) and having just bought a house, I didn’t really feel like spending extra money. I decided I’d wait six months or so until I got my savings built back up to a comfortable level and then go for it. That was almost two years ago and I haven’t missed cable for one moment.
Something to keep in mind is that not all of these alternative will have the latest and greatest shows. So, if you want to avoid spoilers and keep up with your friends who have still have cable, you’ll want to get something like Hulu that offers new shows right after they air on cable vs Netflix, where you have to wait until the entire season is over and that’s if they acquire the rights to the show.
The owners and marketers of sports content are not geniuses, they’re just hyper-competitive and smart enough to recognize that they’re selling a product that many people will pay almost anything for. If you are one of those people, do you ever ask yourself if there is any price you wouldn’t be willing to pay? What if they doubled the price of cable? Charged $500 a month? $1,000 a month? Surely at some point you walk away. For me, the list of things I would not immediately eject from my life in return for $1,000,000 is short and mostly consists of people.
You may need to check with your internet provider before you decide to switch to streaming only options and see what kind of usage limits they enforce. A friend of mine just got burned when he suddenly found out his ISP didn’t appreciate the bandwidth usage and cut off his service for the month after he streamed 10 hours or so of video. He had to ride out the rest of month with no cable and no internet.
I’m a 39 yr old single father, custody of my 3 year old, pay child support from my first marriage, (excessive amount in my opinion but I grit my teeth and persevere). Two divorces, debt from first marriage, legal fees. I’ve been swimming in debt for 10 years now. I’m fortunate to have a company match savings plan, and I consolidated all my debt by borrowing against my own retirement savings at 3.75 simple interest. Even having a good paying job doesn’t fix the debt problem quickly however. So I have cut every reasonable corner. Cable TV was gone a long time ago. I started out with my laptop and an S Video cable to my TV. For months I would just browse the web for anything free and entertaining. Then a friend with Netflix let me “borrow” her account for a while and I got hooked on the children’s content alone. $7.99/mo is a steal for the endless videos for my son, and most educational! Later I added the Hulu Plus subscription. I’m still paying only $16 a month plus $38/mo for broadband for my video entertainment vs the $120/mo I was paying for cable and Internet before. I also recently got the Roku player, and just recently downloaded PlayOn. Now a tip for computer users. You can get a USB remote keyboard and mouse. That’s what I did for a year to act as my “remote control”. I still have my laptop going to my S video and use the TV screen as a big monitor. But the various devices like Roku and XBox etc are also great for practical purposes. It makes it much more like watching cable. Another tip. I have a smart phone with YouTube. During lulls at work, I comb the Internet for various websites like “Chockadoc.com” that have a library of Documenaries that they link to from YouTube. I will find a title that interests me, go to YouTube and search it, add it to my favorites, and then when I get home in the evening I access YouTube through PlayOn and watch it. If it weren’t for kids programming on Netflix I’d be tempted to drop my subscription. Oh, another tip. Roku supports developers who create “private channels” similar to the way jailbroken iPhones have some great non iStore apps. One you can get is JustIn.tv …. I’m not promoting this, it’s a perfectly legal streaming service for creating private streaming channels. I’ve seen people stream video of their pet goldfish all day. And If you are easily offended, there are other things you will see, so avoid children in the room if you are browsing the channels. But some people do stream television content. Not promoting this, but if you just HAVE to watch the Superbowl :-) oh and for some sports, Southeastern Conference football comes to mind, some networks like CBS Sports will stream live premium games. And there are always sports bars and grills that have TVs if missing a game would ruin your weekend. Cable TV would not have lost me if they’d modernize their business model to adapt to the digital age. It’s too easy for them to offer packages that allow you to pick the channels that interest you and no more. Last thought. My provider allowance is 50 gigs a month. This is something you should check into because some providers have smaller allowances. Ive yet to consume all 50 in a month but I’ve used 80% before.
Hi Kayla, have you heard anything about EZ Digital? Want to cancel my cable and just saw this website offering EZ Digital. I guess it’s an indoor antenna you can buy for $30 to $50. and you can get 50+ channels. Looks good. You buy it so no monthly fee. Just a little skeptical because the don’t offer a link to get more info and there’s no phone number to contact. If it’s legitimate, would be great. Your thoughts? Thanks for all the great too!
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.