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.
I used to have “can’t miss” shows, but then my wife and I started talking about cable TV and whether or not we really need it. We were getting ready to move to a new state, so we did what many people would think is impossible – we cut cable and sold our TVs. That might be a bit extreme for some people, and I’m not saying you should do that. We have since bought a new TV (we have one in our home), but we have not subscribed to cable TV again, and we have no plans to do so.

Believe it or not, you can still have all this for significantly less than the price of cable. Even after subscribing to HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, and Amazon Prime Video, you’ll still be more than $250 in the black. Don’t care for Girls or Game of Thrones? You can replace the HBO option with Sling TV for $60 more per year ($5 more per month); about the same price as buying two individual TV seasons.


The third type of app allows you to access their shows by paying monthly to stream any offering from that channel, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. The most high-profile of these is HBO Now, and right now, this type of app is most common for other prestige cable channels like Showtime and Starz. These become more worth it as you watch more of the shows offered by that network. For example, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Insecure, Veep, and Silicon Valley, HBO Now might be worth the monthly fee. CBS All-Access is similar to this third type of app, providing online access to the back catalog of the network’s shows that are broadcast over-the-air for free. The app is also the only place to find some original shows that need not conform to broadcast TV's FCC standards, the first two of which were The Good Fight (a spinoff of The Good Wife) and Star Trek: Discovery.

Many services offer on-demand shows from the big four majors, often with a day or two delay, even if the live network affiliate isn't available. But that doesn't help much if you want to watch the local news or live sports, such as football. (Many local stations throughout the country also offer apps on Roku and other devices that deliver live or tape-delayed on-demand versions of just the local news, too.)
If any of these options think they are worthy to cause one to cut the cord they are all sadly mistaken. Once you add the total cost these options charge, just to get the more highly desirable stations most people expect, you run into limitations: how many devices you can stream simultaneously, how much bandwidth you would need to even maintain stability, and how much more speed you’ll have to pay for with your internet provider to get it. It’s almost as if they are pushing potential cord cutters right back to their cable providers. Not to mention, Comcast/Xfinity, as much as I despise them, gives more reasonable offers for less cost, with anywhere DVR – both local and cloud based.
There are many differences. SlingTV is the cheapest, but it's missing many channels unless you pay extra for them. And If you're a fan of Nickelodeon or PBS, you won't be able to see the kids' TV favorite on YouTubeTV, SlingTV, Sony PlayStation VUE or Hulu with Live TV, but you can get Nick with DirecTV Now. And if you have an Amazon Fire TV Stick as your streaming device to bring Internet to your TV, you can't see YouTubeTV. 
The second change is our budget. Our cable and internet package was roughly $90 per month, and this was about 7 or 8 years ago. Prices have since risen quite a bit in most markets. That was too expensive for what we got out of it (the base TV package, with no premium channels, was over $50 a month after the introductory price expired). We only rarely watched TV, and then it was usually limited to a few channels. We cut the cable TV service and elected to pay for faster internet service. We pay a lot for Internet service, but we are paying for a service we use.
Way too much info for me to swallow. Good stuff; but being “technically challenged”, I am in a quandry. I bought three TV BOX 4K and have never made it operate??? I also have two different ROKU boxes and pay exhorbitant Dish TV for their most channels, including premiums. Now I read your articles and others about Skylink antennas. I am a TVaholic and record many shows; but the DVR comes with Dish – I have one main box and three smaller boxes (must have main box on in order for others to work). What kind of DVR should I get when I cancel Dish? Sign me totally confused. Duhhhh
Currently, the best way to watch live TV online is — ironically — to have an existing cable or satellite subscription. Slowly but surely, though, cord cutters are gaining access to real-time channels in addition to pre-recorded content. Live TV could be the next big frontier for streaming video, but until then, watching shows as they happen requires a little dedication and creativity.
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