We cut the cord nearly 10 years ago and have no regrets. My husband built an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire hangers (there are plans online for this) for the last house we lived in, and mounted it in the attic. We got approximately 50 over-the-air channels that way. When we moved, we did use Sling for a little while, and while that was great, we opted to install an antenna on the roof of the current house and cancel Sling. That said, I highly recommend Sling for popular channels. Currently my lineup is Amazon Prime TV (comes with my Prime membership), Netflix, and I pay the $5/month for AcornTV, because I love my British shows. Thanks for summing these up—I’ve been preaching cord-cutting for a long time, it’s great to see a blogger I respect touting the same thing! 🙂
If you haven't cut the cord yet, you can watch live TV online very easily. DVR boxes from companies like Slingbox, TiVo, Dish, Verizon and lots of other providers can usually stream content from your primary TV to a computer or mobile device. The ways of doing so vary, depending on whether your box is from your service provider or a third party. But if you have a cable or satellite subscription, you have lots of options.
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.
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 ?
For many people, the main reason to subscribe to cable or satellite is sports. (The huge licensing fees that sports leagues command, by the way, are a big reason you can’t watch sports without such a subscription—and why subscription fees are so high.) Watching live sports without cable used to be easier, but more and more sports programming has shifted from OTA broadcast to cable. For example, of 38 college-football bowl games in the 2015–2016 season, only four aired on OTA networks. Even the NCAA basketball tournament has moved its semifinal games onto cable networks. For the sports fan, watching all the important games without cable has become impossible.
Overall, Amazon is still playing catch-up when it comes to Netflix and other streaming services just because they don’t have as much content. However, at technically $8.25 / month it is a bit cheaper than your typical $8.99 or $9.99 package, and you get free, 2-day shipping as a perk. If you shop online a lot, that could end up swinging your choice.
What you get: With recently updated pricing, Sling’s Orange package is now $25 and includes about 30 cable channels but no broadcast TV. It supports one user at a time. Sling Blue, also $25 per month, supports three users and a different mix of about 40 channels, including local broadcasts and regional sports. (Among other differences, Sling Orange includes ESPN.) A combined plan costs $40. Themed add-on packs cost $5 per month, and you can add HBO, $15; Showtime, $10; and Starz, $9.
Perhaps KMSL is expressing her disgust for an “unsightly antenna” on someone else’s property. All utilities are underground, and there is this terrible obstruction to a clear sky view, lol?. Growing up, it was a sign of distinction and prosperity when someone had an antenna on their roof, because it suggested they had a television! I remember, when some of us 16-year-olds would drive around with the windows up in the heat of summer to make others think we had air conditioning in our cars.. it’s interesting how status symbols have changed..
The reason? The recent emergence of new streaming services like Dish Network’s Sling TV, which includes a sampling of the most popular “basic” cable channels, and HBO Now, the only streaming service to include HBO shows, has coincided with Amazon and Netflix coming into their own as producers of serious television. The result is that virtually every class of TV watcher can find most of what they need without paying a cable bill.

Playstation Vue is a relatively new TV option and lesser known service on the radar of cord-cutters, even though it’s offered by Sony. And along with Sling TV, they very well may have the most transparent pricing and sign-up process. The Playstation Vue channel lineup also includes 50+ channels in their base package dubbed “Access Slim” for $29.99 / month (this used to be $50 and they dropped the price).
Sony's cable-replacement service began life as a PlayStation exclusive, but now you can find PlayStation Vue just about anywhere. Viewers can choose from among four packages, ranging in price from $45 per month to $80 per month (although these prices can vary by location). Each plan will land you staples such as Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery, Disney Channel, FX, Syfy, TBS and a variety of broadcast networks, depending on where you live. You can also record hundreds of programs and hang onto them for 28 days at a time. What really puts PS Vue at the top of the list is the service's interface, which is sleek, fast and instantly comprehensible. The service's DVR feature is also simple and robust.
You can search elsewhere for lesser-known or older movies at a discount. Look for 99-cent movie specials from CinemaNow and iTunes. Vudu offers a different 99-cent special every day, and you can choose from thousands of movies to rent for $2 for two nights. Amazon Instant Video has special deals on movies and TV shows, and it compiles movies into price categories. Recently, for example, the first six movies in the Harry Potter series were available to rent for $2.99 each. Hulu has a collection of free movies and documentaries but no new releases.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, with some pay-per-view exceptions, you can’t buy live sports programming à la carte. Sports programming is one of the main reasons for big cable bills—ESPN and other sports channels demand the highest per-channel fees from cable and satellite services, and those fees get passed on to you even if you don’t watch sports. So cord-cutting combined with à la carte is more feasible for non-sports fans. If you do watch sports, we have more about your options below.

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.
You might also be able to save by bundling your TV and Internet subscriptions: After a recent move, one of the authors of this guide, Chris Heinonen, discovered that with his new Internet provider, it was cheaper to get Internet service bundled with TV than without. However, once Chris added the cost of multiple cable boxes and DVR service, those savings disappeared. So Chris currently rents one non-HD cable box, which sits in a closet unused, and uses an Apple TV, Roku, or tablet to stream all his family’s favorite shows. This setup lets them start and finish shows on any TV, and it offers more flexibility than any cable box would. (The downsides to this strategy are that one can’t “record” shows for offline viewing, and each network you want to watch must provide an app with streaming support—but more and more networks are offering such apps.) In the end, Chris saves around $10 a month compared with paying for Internet alone while also being able to stream the Olympics, college and NFL football, Mr. Robot, The Americans, and more directly to his iPhone and various media streamers.
All three of the ones listed above allow you to record over-the-air shows and then watch them on your TV. On the Tablo and HDHomeRun you can also stream them to a tablet, phone or the TVs in your house using devices like the Fire TV, Roku or Chromecast (Adding a Slingbox 500 to the DVR+ will accomplish the same). Definitely worth looking into if you're a cord cutter.
AT&T's other multichannel live TV streaming service includes 30 channels such as AMC, HGTV and BBC America. It doesn't have any sports or local channels, and many of the shows on its channels can be watched on-demand with a Hulu subscription for less. It also doesn't work with Roku devices, but it is available on the other major streaming platforms. And some AT&T wireless plan customers get it for free.
The quality of your TV picture isn’t only dependent on the quality of your antenna. It also depends on where you live in relation to the signal towers. A quick and easy tool to figure out which channels are available to you is the Mohu Station Finder. It provides information on the stations available based on your address. It also provides an idea of the performance to expect from different antennas.
If you have unpredictable tastes, but only focus on one show at a time, it might be most cost efficient to just buy all your television a la carte. For the price of a year of cable, the average viewer can buy 26 seasons of TV. Assuming these are all 45 minute shows with 14 episodes, that’s almost 300 hours of content. If you can’t ever imagine yourself watching more than that, then this plan is for you. Don’t forget to grab a TV antenna for major live events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl, or if you just want the option of kicking back and watching prime time now and then.
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.
Sadly, we can’t get signals via an antenna due to buildings and trees. Antennas require line of sight. Cable and streaming are our only options, but streaming is very limited when it comes to local news. We’re seriously considering cutting the cable and watching PBS News Hour for national and international news, but local news is, at this time, the problem. I remember when cable TV first started and we were told we’d have options and it would be affordable. For us, neither has come to be. Now with HDTV we are unable to receive signals through the airwaves.
I teach financial planning to Soldiers transitioning out of the Military. I always bring this up when discussing how to cut expenses. While there are always people who cannot fathom living without their cable, I am always surprised to see how many in class have already started to do this. In the past 10 years, I have only paid for cable for a year, although I have had it provided free for a few others. I love being cable-free and with HD antennas, Netflix, and Hulu, I am never without something to watch when I want. And I don’t find myself watching the “best of the worst” since I have no qualms with shutting off the tv and doing something else.

The three aforementioned services are the most popular and have fairly similar offerings. Though their libraries are constantly changing, Netflix currently tends to have the deepest library of previously aired shows. A Hulu subscription also gives you access to current seasons of shows that are still on the air. And if you already pay for an Amazon Prime subscription, you should definitely see if they offer the shows you’d want to watch before subscribing to anything else.


An HD antenna won’t give you all of the channels you would have access to if you purchased a cable subscription. However, it will increase the number of channels you can watch on local TV. And the one-time cost (as opposed to an ongoing monthly fee) means you’ll save money. It can be another attractive feature of using antennas to expand your viewing choices.
PlayStation Vue: With the $30-per-month Access Slim plan, you get CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox Business, and CNBC. In some markets where local broadcast feeds are available, that price jumps to $40 per month for the Access plan. BBC World News requires an Elite plan for $15 per month more. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and PlayStation consoles
The setup I talked about above is only one way to get free or low cost TV content.   Another way we get free content at home is through the free over-the-air HDTV channels that are now available to everyone who has a HDTV tuner and an antenna.  Did you know that 94 of the top 100 watched shows are shown on network television – that you can get over-the-air?
One thing people should keep in mind is not to count services your already paying for when considering savings. For example I’ve had netflix and Amazon prime for several years and my internet wasn’t part of my satellite tv. So when we cut the cord we only added 10.00 month for Cricket on sling international and 130.00 a year for NHL the only sports we care for a total extra cost of 250.00 dollars saving 985.00 dollars a year which easily pays the one time cost of a antenna and the new tivo without fees
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