What you get: YouTube TV offers access to live TV from up to 50 providers, including all the major networks. It also has a cloud DVR with unlimited storage, and you can set up to six individual accounts. Thanks to a recent expansion, the service is now available in most national markets. With YouTube TV you also get the original programming on YouTube Red Originals. You can add Showtime for $7 per month, Starz for $9 per month, CuriosityStream for $3 more per month, or AMC Premiere for an additional $5 per month.
I saw in Windows Media Center that if you have a TV tuner you could connect an antenna to it and use Windows Media Center as a DVR for your Antenna. I got a decent one for Christmas, but for some reason the TV tuner and Windows Media Center was not picking up the signal as well as it showed up on my television so I was never able to use it as a DVR. The idea sounds very intriguing to me, and hopefully, we can get a better antenna one of these days.
Streaming live TV services are still in their infancy, and the industry is still in flux. Since launch every service has increased prices by $5 a month, channel selections and cities with local channel access are changing all the time, and reports persist about some services losing money. While streaming is undoubtedly the future, it will be some time before both prices and the services offered settle in.
If you don't already have one, you'll need an over-the-air HDTV antenna with a coax connector that is able to work as a receiver in your area. Depending on how far away you are from your local channel broadcast center, you might only need an indoor antenna, which you can get for about $15 - $30, or you might need an attic or outdoor mounted antenna, which could cost as much as $150. You can figure out which type of antenna you'll need by using TV Fool's signal locator.

Both of us have managed to survive without a cable subscription for years, but the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. If you’re going to take the plunge, you’ll need a device—or multiple devices—to stream through. Thankfully, the cost of a media streamer is far less than it was even just a few years ago, so adding a few around your residence is easy to do. Over the past several years, we’ve found that Roku makes the best media streamers for most people, but we’ve tested streaming boxes from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Nvidia and have recommendations for any type of viewer.
We watch hulu and subscribe to Netflix for the streaming video, and have not had cable in about 6 years. We have an antenna to pick up the local channels and we also make the most of our library card (so that’s what our $70/year property tax bill library line item is paying for!). I really like the Netflix just for kids channel, it makes it a no-brainer to decide what is/isn’t age appropriate for little ones. We are not big sports fans (would rather be out playing them than inside watching it on TV), but if there’s ever a game worth watching like the Superbowl or Olympics we can either go to a friend’s house or the sportsbar down the street to watch some of it.
Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are the best-known subscription-based services, and for good reason. They have excellent selections of TV shows and movies, both modern and classic, and the services are quite inexpensive. Each one costs between $8 and $12 per month, depending on what kind of options you need. Even if you subscribe to all three, this will represent a substantial price break over cable.
Google’s new video and music streaming device. It is the size of a USB flash drive, and it costs only $35. It runs the apps most people use: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Google’s Google Play movies and music. It is powered by the Chrome OS, and it supports HDMI streaming. Your phone, tablet, or computer can work as a remote. It is powered by most HDMI ports that it can be plugged into. There is an optional USB cable to power the device. You might already have this in your house, but if you’removing out on your own or have a vacation house and you want to be able to watch some tv without a huge investment this device would be great. #1 in electronics sales on Amazon. (I added this to update the post, so it makes 13 alternatives, fyi)

If we wanted to bike ride, do some writing, getting some form of exercise, or etc then we would be doing that already..and many people already do those things along with watch television. The real issue is replacing cable with a better and more cost effective form of television watching. Unlike most of the “non tv viewing” alternatives you have posted..with the exception of travel, television allows us to see the “whole” world without us having to spend extra money on a plane ticket. That fact actually opens the door to more people wanting to travel. The real questions are at what cost are we willing to pay, which tv shows are best in showing us the treasures of the world (which will actually persuade us to travel more and learn about places to travel to that we have not heard of before) and which provider gives us the best options for cable alternatives. You mentioned Roku, and that is a great option although a bit pricey. Check out Google Fiber at https://fiber.google.com/about/, and also Google TV.
If you want to watch all the NFL games, you have to buy DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package ($335) -- available only if you’re a DirecTV customer. (One exception: If you can’t get DirecTV -- say, because your condo prevents you from using a satellite dish -- DirecTV allows you to buy Sunday Ticket and stream to your computer without subscribing to a TV package.)
It’s worth noting that you likely can’t just hook up any old CRT TV in the basement to a set of rabbit ears and expect to pick up the game. TVs that are too old can’t handle the digital signal, which took over in 2009. You can still get a digital conversion box, but hooking up a nice OTA antenna to your flat screen will give you a much better experience on the whole unless you’re really into the retro TV vibe.
Other important factors include cloud DVR and the interface itself. Yes, most of the services above allow you to record and play back shows, just like a traditional cable or satellite DVR, but they often come with restrictions. Some services have a traditional, cable-box-like menu system, while some are more experimental (read: they have a steep learning curve).
Because the content you get with any of these cable-replacement services, especially local channels, can vary by region, you should go to each company’s website, plug in your ZIP code, and see which channels are available in your area. These video streaming services have been adding more local broadcast channels, such as ABC and CBS, but they’re not always available in smaller markets.

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.
The Sling TV local channel offering is dependent on your level of service, your geographic location, and Sling TV’s contractual and other rights to distribute local channels.  Not all local channels may be purchased from Sling TV today, and some local channel content may include blackout restrictions. Explore our channels and discover what service you need to receive them here.
Trim is one of the neatest tools I’ve found for saving money, and it’s free. It’s a simple app that can sift through your spending habits, find subscriptions you should probably cancel and it can even negotiate your cable bill, find you better car insurance, and more. If you hate making that annual phone call to your cable company where you pretend you’re leaving (so they will cut your price), definitely give Trim a shot.
I’ve been thinking about cutting the cord when my current contract expires. I see that there are definitely savings to be had. The one thing holding me back is access to live sports (mostly college football in the fall). I could see purchasing a digital antenna to pick up the games on the broadcast channels but what suggestions are there in regards to ESPN or Big 10 Network?
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.
PlayStation Vue is the slickest of all the major streaming TV providers, with a pleasant, evolved interface that is also easy to use. Its DVR is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip commercials on any show -- although unlike YouTube TV, shows in Vue's DVR are deleted after 28 days. The biggest knock is that it's one of the most expensive basic packages (Hulu is now also $45), but it has fewer channels than any of the Big Five aside from Sling TV, and local channel coverage is less comprehensive, too. You don't need a PlayStation 4 to watch it -- just like the others, Vue has apps for numerous streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV as well as phones and PCs -- but a PS4 is the only way to get its sweet multiscreen view.

Approximately 10 percent of American TV patrons have canceled cable TV to reduce household costs, and statistics show the number of people cutting the cable cord doubles every year. If you are tired of surfing through hundreds of channels and paying high subscription fees, examine your current TV usage, buy a streaming device and opt for media streaming from your TV or computer.

All carry national channels such as AMC, CNN, ESPN and Nickelodeon, but they also offer local channels too, including the Big Four networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) as well as My TV and The CW in many cities (Note: CBS is the parent company of CNET.) The problem is, not every city gets all four networks, especially if you live outside a major metropolitan area.
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
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.
My college age kid went into a bit of shock for the first few days and then found time to spend at a local bookstore (I see that as an improvement). I did invest in a regular ole’ antenna for the TV, so I can catch the local channels (which are about 50 here in TX), and after reading your article purchased a Roku 3. My kid has an Xbox, Wii, and PS3 so streaming online content was already possible, I got the Roku for the main television and not to cause another issue of “shell shock” by taking over the kid’s PS3.

Many local libraries have movies and television shows on DVD, and some even offer BluRay. Borrowing one is completely free as long as you are eligible for a library card, and you usually have a generous return window too. The only caveats are that your selection may be limited and other borrowers may not have been kind to the DVD when they borrowed it, so some of them may not work. But, when the cost is $0, it isn’t as painful when that happens.


For me, it means i don’t have to have the computer hooked up to my TV, i can stream the shows over the network and have my computer in another room. It also means I can watch the shows full screen, using my remote and/or Xbox controller, to pause, skip, select shows, etc. It’s also more convenient for me than having to navigate to a website, and surf around using the keyboard/mouse, and having all that computer hardware sitting on my coffee table.

A lot of people pay a lot of money in order to be able to watch the TV shows that they want, when they want.  In the process they end up spending upwards of $500-1000 a year, mostly for programming that they don't watch.  If they would just look a little deeper they might find that there are a lot of free or low cost options out there, and they can get a lot of the same TV shows, movies and other video content for free.

The sports-centric cable replacement service Fubo TV has deals with FOX, NBC and CBS. However, those deals only apply to stations the networks own directly. If the station in your area is an affiliate station, you may not be able to watch your local team play unless a regional sports channel is broadcasting the game. For example, if you’re a Chicago Bulls fan there’s a 45 percent chance that you won’t be able to watch the game on Fubo TV due to licensing restrictions. Click here to find out whether or not you can see your local team play if you get Fubo.
Hi Kayla! I think I’ve read EVERY word on this particular blog! It has been HIGHLY informative! I’m too wanting to cut cable. These prices . . . man! Who can afford this stuff? I know I can’t anymore. From what I’ve gathered, with a Smart Tv, looks like I can stream Netflix and Hulu. For other channels I and my son like to watch I’ll need Sling. And for local channels an antenna. My question is for internet or streaming, do I HAVE to have an ISP? Can I purchase a modem and/or router? I know internet only plans are much cheaper but if I can get outta paying for that as well I sure would like to!! MUCH thanks to you!! I am now your FAN ?
So – with OTA antenna, major networks and sports on those networks are handled. We are missing “other content” that can usually be found through 1 of the 3 most popular paid services. Each of these services run about $90/yr … that was less than 3 months of CATV costs here, so we are still much, much, much less. Plus, with these paid services, there aren’t any commercials, so an hour show is about 40 minutes, saving time.

This streaming service Hulu is known for helping binge-watchers catch up on their shows, but it also offers a live tv option. The Hulu Live TV feature allows viewing of major networks with access to the local channels for around $40 per month. Hulu Live TV is commonly available in addition to the regular monthly streaming cost. However, there are often promotions where they offer one without the other. Something to keep in mind: the local programming is subject to regional restrictions. Check out their website to see which local channels your area is eligible for.


There is also this thing called broadcast television, which anyone can watch as long as they have a TV that supports digital television (or a digital conversion box) and an over-the-air (OTA) HDTV antenna. The thing about broadcast television is that I couldn't watch it on Apple TV. I'd have to switch my TV input over, and then flip through the channels until I found something to watch. I rarely watched broadcast television because I tend to stick with Apple TV for my TV and movie watching activities.

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. 
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