If you don't feel like paying exorbitant cable or satellite fees, but still crave the sweet pablum of basic cable programming, you can always try a cable-replacement service. These online streaming subscriptions deliver live (and on-demand) channels over the internet, and while they're not cheap, they're not as hellaciously expensive as traditional cable or satellite fees. If streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video aren't enough for you, read on to find out how you can reintroduce live TV into your home without signing your life away to an onerous cable contract.
For vast libraries of movies and TV content prior to the current season, I recommend getting the 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime. Another big reason to get Amazon Prime is the option of adding Showtime and Starz with your subscription. For just $8.99 per month, you have every TV show and movie offered by Starz and Showtime just as if you had the network with a cable provider.
If you don't feel like paying exorbitant cable or satellite fees, but still crave the sweet pablum of basic cable programming, you can always try a cable-replacement service. These online streaming subscriptions deliver live (and on-demand) channels over the internet, and while they're not cheap, they're not as hellaciously expensive as traditional cable or satellite fees. If streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video aren't enough for you, read on to find out how you can reintroduce live TV into your home without signing your life away to an onerous cable contract.
I was already planning to write about watching local channels, and one person sent in just the right question:  "One thing I uncovered in my research was that while some streaming services offered some traditional broadcast network content (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), what I really wanted was the local channels for local news, weather and sports.  DirecTV Now, for one, seems to offer local channels.  Do any of the others?  Seems easier to get this with my streaming service than to have to connect an antenna for broadcast reception."
If you're one of the 10 people who still have a regular TV, you'll need to buy a digital converter box to watch TV in conjunction with your antenna, and once you get one, you will then get tons of crystal clear TV stations for free!  When we switched to watching Digital TV years back we instantly gained about 5-10 TV stations because some channels have the main channel, and then sub channels as well.
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 ?
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.
Sling TV is the perfect budget streaming TV option, starting at just $25 for 29 cable channels and a selection of local channels depending on your area. Thankfully Sling TV also has a local channel page that lets you see which channels are offered with your plan. Sling is a budget plan, so you should expect to be drowning in channels here, but the ability to follow local news and watch ESPN and Comedy Central is worth $25 per month. Be aware. However, not every area gets the same access. Sling TV users in Los Angeles CA only get two streaming local channels while Chattanooga, TV can’t stream any local channels. Sling TV is still building its arsenal of local channels, so if you don’t see your favorite right now check back in a few months. But 100% check before paying. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels.)
If you like premium channels like HBO: DirecTV Now is definitely the best choice. You have a number of bundles to pick from and HBO is $10 cheaper per month to add on than with any of the other services or if you bought HBO Now as a standalone. PlayStation Vue is a close second, though, with HBO and Showtime included in the $74.99/mo "Ultra" bundle.
The biggest plan to get is $11.99, dubbed the “Premium” plan, which gives you Ultra HD and the ability to watch on 4 screens. This particular plan could be advantageous for families who want to watch a lot of different things at once, but is the extra $4/month or $48/year worth it? It all depends on your situation, but something to consider. They do offer one month free, so there is the option to test out whatever plan you want as well before finally deciding.
The general rule for digital antennas is the higher, the better. Structures such as floors, cabinets, and walls may impact TV signal reception, so placing your antenna high in a window is ideal, as long as it's free from exterior obstructions (trees, buildings, billboards, and so on). Indoor antennas should not be installed behind a TV or electronic equipment, next to metal objects, or near high-traffic areas, as TV signal reception may be impacted.
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.
This is pretty cool, especially if you are an AT&T member. If you’re an AT&T Mobility customer, DIRECTV will pick up the tab for data to help you achieve all your binge-worthy goals. Data Free TV means you won’t use your AT&T mobile data for watching DIRECTV NOW or FreeVIEW in the App. This means that you can watch Direct TV From ANYWHERE for free if you are an AT&T member. (Think long car trips mommas!)
After the 1-week free trial, the service costs $44.99 per month. You can opt to just subscribe to the Hulu library instead of the Live TV service for just $7.99. Hulu also offers loads of original content and a decent back catalog of many past seasons of cable and network TV shows. You can test the live service or the on-demand service by using this 1-week free trial to Hulu Live TV. For more details check out my full review of Hulu.
PS Vue is a solid streaming service that offers over 200 local channels for subscribers. There’s just one problem if you want to research before you subscribe; you can’t check what channels are available in your area. While other companies have a zip code service that lets you see which markets are available, or like FuboTV just cover almost everyone, PS Vue has a “trust us we can probably do it” attitude. For subscribers in major metropolitan areas you’re going to be covered, but if you live in a smaller town, you’ll need to subscribe to PS Vue before you know your local options. Your subscription comes with the standard channels you’d expect from a basic cable package, but without the ability to easily see what local channels are included in each area we have a hard time recommending it for Roku users. (Here’s a complete guide to PlayStation Vue channels.)
Sling TV is the streaming service that also offers live TV over the internet. It’s essentially cable TV without the contract or the massive bill. Currently, if you sign up for Sling TV you get a Free Roku. They also offer a free 7-day trial membership to try out their service. The service works on every major OTT streaming device and recently began offering a cloud DVR. Sling TV also streams NBC live online along with Fox and ABC in select markets.
Cable companies have also begun to introduce apps that let you turn a streaming box, phone, tablet or computer into your cable box, so you don’t need to rent one at all. The first of these apps was introduced by Time Warner Cable and then spread to former Charter and Bright House subscribers when the three merged into Spectrum in 2016. Other cable providers are starting to offer similar options, and it’s worth checking if yours will soon, though there might be additional fees to take into account.

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.
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?
First, let’s look at the benefits. Since these services stream over the Internet, you can access them using all sorts of devices. For example, a Roku box supports each of them, and apps are available for many other devices—though the quality of those apps varies depending on the platform. You also can use apps on a smartphone or tablet or stream the content through your computer. You have the same freedom to watch where you want as you do with the channel apps covered above.
NFL Game Pass provides on-demand access to all games —including the postseason—after they air. It also gives you access to an NFL Films archive, including past episodes of classic shows like A Football Life, Hard Knocks, and America’s Game. The subscription fee has been knocked down to $50 for the rest of this season (it’s normally $100 per year), and that will give you access through July 31.
What you get: DirecTV Now should appeal to anyone who wants DirecTV service but not the satellite dish. The company recently hiked prices by $5 on its various plans. The company’s Live a Little plan, which provides 60 channels, now costs $40 per month, and the Just Right package has gone to $55 per month. Go Big jumped to $65 per month, and the top 125-channel plan, Gotta Have It, costs $75 instead of the previous $70. The good news is that the NFL Network has been added to all DirecTV Now’s packages starting with Just Right and above, at no additional cost. Also, you can add HBO for just $5 per month. The company will be launching a next-generation version of the service this spring that bumps up the number of simultaneous users from two to three.
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.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled on you guys and your progress, and try to follow your lead! By the way you have all been most informative,and Peter, thanks for starting the subject you truly have helped my frame of mind. I know I threw in a bit of southern humor to keep you all entertained but buy God I am going to overcome this so-called generational gap and get in there with you all. I won’t be a tech. but perhaps I’ll learn how to better utilize my equipment…
I think they like to scare you by moaning and groaning about how high much your internet bill will be if it is not bundled. I just checked and currently the “introductory” price for bundled service is $29.99 each for your internet, phone and cable. That’s for a year and then it skyrockets, as usual. If I recall correctly, the price doubled for each service so in the long run you’re looking at perhaps an increase of $5-$10. Hmm… So is the stand-alone price higher, sure but it is not through the roof. Yes, you may pay a bit more for internet service but you have to look at the big picture. When we cut the cord, our overall savings per month (when you included subscription services), was well over $100/month. Is it worth paying a few dollars more for unbundled high-speed internet service in order to save $100 or more each month? You bet it is!
If you want to take advantage of streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth — you'll need a way to display them on your TV. If you have a recent TV from a major manufacturer, you may not need to get anything at all. Smart TVs usually have these apps built in, and almost every high-end TV sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities.
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.)
There is NO WAY to get FREE CABLE TV over the air, with an HDTV antenna. It is not possible to get HGTV, The History Channel, AMC, CMT, TVLand, and those other types of channels over an HDTV antenna! I wish these websites and these phony ads would stop fooling people into buying these “magic sticks” and “magic TV” antennas claiming that they will be able to watch CNN, TNT, TBS, The Science Channel, Biography, National Geographic, etc. without paying a cable company. It is NOT TRUE. They can stream whatever with a subscription, but guess what? THEY STILL NEED TO PAY THE CABLE COMPANY FOR INTERNET ACCESS AND THAT COSTS ABOUT $80 A MONTH WHEN YOU CANCEL THE BUNDLES!
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.
After 2009, over the air TV signals became digital and old analog tuner TVs stopped working. Did you know that you could still get over the air signals? In fact, you can watch local channels without cable, and they are available free and in a clear beautiful high definition picture. Those signals are bouncing off your house as you read this. If you own a TV sold in the U.S. made after March 1st, 2007, it has a digital tuner as mandated by law.
If you’re only interested in the Super Bowl, you can still watch it free even without an antenna. CBS announced at the start of the NFL season that its streaming coverage of the game will be available online at CBSSports.com and on the CBS Sports app, and that it will lift its cable-login requirements so anyone can view it. The game will also be streamed live on the CBS All Access service.
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! 🙂

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.
Playon allows you to stream a wide variety of video sources to your TV via a connected device. If you already pay for and you’re fine with Netflix, Hulu and a couple of others you get through your Blu-ray player, you’re probably fine without Playon. But Playon would allow you to stream TV shows from networks, some cable networks, and a bunch of other places that you might not be able to otherwise (unless you regularly hook your laptop up to the TV).
Although HULU+ is a paid site you can still watch many FREE movies and tv shows on the regular HULU. Also, another site my husband and I watch a lot is crackle.com which is a legit FREE site for movies and tv shows. The tv shows aren’t of much interest to us but crackle have many good movies and some of their own original shows. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can’t watch a lot of live sports, we would do away with our cable provider altogether. Maybe in time this will be an option?
Hey I noticed that you keep mentioning you need internet, but haven’t said whether you need and internet device like a wifi hotspot etc, or whether having a wifi service via your phone service would suffice?? Tv, have it, phone with wifi have it. Can the 2 be connected with a fire stick or do we need an actual playstation or wifi hotspot, or internet service through a seperate company?? Thanks.
Hi , I think I might be interested in this because I’m tired of paying high cost of cable which just went up from 90.00 to 140 in about the last 6 months it just kept going up 10.00 every month, with them saying “its a cost of living increase?!?” , whatever. Anyhow I have done netflix in the passed for movies only though, but I do have some questions if anyone can answer them I would greatly appreciate it.

It's even easier to use apps for channels directly. Tons of paid channels, from Nickelodeon to FX to Syfy to National Geographic, have apps on mobile and streaming devices that only work (or only work at full capacity) if your cable provider gives you access. This could allow you to watch your favorite shows on the go, or simply buy a streaming box for a secondary TV rather than rent a second cable box at an exorbitant fee.
Network websites such as FOX.com, ABC.com, and NBC.com allow you to catch their respective TV programs on the same day they air. While you won’t get to see their content live, you’re still getting a good deal considering the fact that they’re offering the service free of charge. Besides, you can always watch episodes from previous seasons while waiting for the current episode to be released on the site.
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 ?
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.

Some services allow you to stream the newest movies. Vudu, for example, has a wide selection of high-definition movies available to stream the day they are released on Blu-ray. (You can also watch Vudu movies at Walmart.com.) Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, iTunes and Zune also stream new movies that you can watch on your computer or TV. Most of the services also offer a selection of movies (and TV shows) in HD, usually for an additional price. You may not be able to watch HD programming in all formats. Amazon Instant Video, for example, currently streams HD movies to your TV through compatible devices, but not to your computer.

The second type of app allows you full access to all of its offerings with a cable subscription, but lets you watch some full-episodes without a cable login. These are fairly rare, but do exist. Currently, this category includes the Comedy Central app, where you can currently watch full episodes of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or Nathan For You a day after they air.


NFL Game Pass provides on-demand access to all games —including the postseason—after they air. It also gives you access to an NFL Films archive, including past episodes of classic shows like A Football Life, Hard Knocks, and America’s Game. The subscription fee has been knocked down to $50 for the rest of this season (it’s normally $100 per year), and that will give you access through July 31.
Most of these plans have different levels and options, depending on which plan you sign up for. My personal favorites for movies and documentaries include Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. If you want to watch more on-demand network television, then you may be better off going with Hulu. Hulu Plus and Hulu Live allow you to stream live network shows, including sports and other live events. You can compare Hulu and Hulu Plus in this review.
The best way to watch local content is by subscribing to a live TV streaming solution. If you were burned by cable, the idea of signing another contract might seem daunting. Thankfully streaming TV is a different world than cable, free of long-term contracts that screw you on the details. Each of these services allows subscribers to cancel at any time, so if a service isn’t right for you, make sure you try another one. You’ve got options and time to shop.

Of course, you don’t have to pay money necessarily to watch your favorite local channel. FOX25 Boston, WSB Atlanta, and WGN Chicago, among over a 100 other stations, have their own Roku apps. You can find these apps under the News & Weather section, of the Roku channel store. Just be careful with the News & Weather section of the Roku site and make sure not to download any news sources you don’t already have a reason to trust.  


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.
While some services like Hulu live TV provide NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS to many, you may still want to look into getting a TV Antenna. It allows you to watch free broadcast TV, with access to networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and more. The over the air broadcast TV available changes depending on where you live in relation to your closest TV towers. Thankfully, antenna maker Mohu has put together a tool that shows you which TV channels are available in your area. They also show which channels you should expect to receive for each of their antennas.
Is getting 129 over the air channels from a suburb of Houston worth a five star rating? I didn't even know there was so many channels OTA. Why would I even need to rotate it ? I guess because it looks cool to do it via remote. My only concern is the fact that the housing on the antenna is plastic and I wonder what heavy rain will do to the inside because it doesn't seem totally sealed. I had to buy a stand separate but who cares this thing is awesome . Bye Bye Xfinity!

For starters, the first two things any cord-cutter should get is a TV that has a digital tuner and some kind of antenna. Assuming you live somewhere near a metropolitan area, you should be able to pick up broadcasts from your local TV stations. For most people, that means you can get stations like PBS and your local CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX stations or affiliates.
Before deciding to cancel, you should also make sure you have a reliably fast Internet connection. Most streaming video services need 5 to 10 megabits per second in bandwidth for smooth streaming, and you’ll want an average speed of at least 15 to 20 Mbps to deal with pauses and buffering. Even with a true gigabit connection, you could still occasionally run into buffering issues.
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.
What you get: DirecTV Now should appeal to anyone who wants DirecTV service but not the satellite dish. The company recently hiked prices by $5 on its various plans. The company’s Live a Little plan, which provides 60 channels, now costs $40 per month, and the Just Right package has gone to $55 per month. Go Big jumped to $65 per month, and the top 125-channel plan, Gotta Have It, costs $75 instead of the previous $70. The good news is that the NFL Network has been added to all DirecTV Now’s packages starting with Just Right and above, at no additional cost. Also, you can add HBO for just $5 per month. The company will be launching a next-generation version of the service this spring that bumps up the number of simultaneous users from two to three.

We just started using PlayStation Vue. So far we really like it. I looked into Sling TV when we were getting ready to cut the cord, but then I came across PlayStation Vue and it had more channels and more of the channels we as a family wanted. My husband gets a ton of his sports channels, including the Golf channel and we still get Disney Jr. for our son. We also have Netflix and a HD antenna for local channels. PlayStation Vue was only $5 more a month so it was worth it for us. We access it through the Amazon Fire stick.
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