While we haven't paid for cable TV, we haven't exactly been deprived, or had to watch only the shows offered by the over the air networks.  There are tons of free video options out there! In fact, we actually still watch a lot of the same shows that our friends do. How do we do it you ask? Through a combination of free over-the-air digital TV,  free online video services (the legal kind), a video streaming software, super low-cost internet service from FreedomPop, and a Xbox. FreedomPop is a low cost alternative to larger Internet service providers. Right now their plans might be too small for heavy video streaming users, but they're definitely on their way to bigger and better offerings – and they're definitely good enough if you only stream shows a few times a month. You can read more about them on their site.

We bought the adapter boxes for our old analog TV’s and watch broadcast digital. Our favorite channel is Retro TV. They broadcast old TV series (we’re old, too). Some good stuff. We have been disappointed in the quality of broadcast digital, however. The picture is constantly breaking up. We get “No Signal” way too often. Maybe it’s the cheap adapter or cheap antenna. Anyway, “not as advertised” by the government. The quality and reliability of broadcast analog was much better.
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. 
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.

I used to have my computer hooked up to my TV and stereo, but that drove me crazy because in addition to the sound from what ever program or video i was enjoying at the time I would also get every system sound blaring through the room. Every time an email came, “ding”; every instant message, “ding”. I am much happier watching the same stuff through my xbox 360.
Maybe your TV is broken or you just want to be around other humans so you can chant, yell, and otherwise participate in a collective social unit. Then, your best bet is to find a place showing the game. Pretty much every bar and restaurant with a TV will likely show the game since it’s on broadcast TV and not pay-per-view, which can cost an establishment thousands of dollars if they show it without the right permissions. Bonus: you can order wings.
You forgot Playstation Vue. It’s way better than Sling (Sling’s app is terrible), has full function cloud DVR and OnDemand access, and has access to local Comcast SportsNet channels (DirecTV Now doesn’t in Philly). I’ve been using Vue for 6 months and I did a trial of DirectTV Now and Sling. DirecTV probably has the best app (Amazon Fire), but Vue has the best content if you’re a sports fan. Sling is a distant 3rd, worst app and worst performance.
Hey David, I actually wasn’t sure on that one either. I would recommend checking out this portion of their FAQ and seeing if that answers your question. Apparently there might be another service level that you would have to subscribe to in order to allow streaming to 3 devices. http://help.sling.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/Can-I-watch-Sling-TV-on-multiple-devices-at-the-same-time-13
You don’t need a cable subscription for everything, but lately I’ve noticed they are blacking out more and more marquee events on ESPN3. I would have cut the cord long ago if it wasn’t for my love of sports. There are illegal streams for most sporting events now, but if you want to go legit you don’t have many options. You could do MLB.tv and things like that, but once you factor in those costs plus going out to bars or friends’ places for NFL games, etc. it’s getting almost as expensive as a cable plan.
You forgot Playstation Vue. It’s way better than Sling (Sling’s app is terrible), has full function cloud DVR and OnDemand access, and has access to local Comcast SportsNet channels (DirecTV Now doesn’t in Philly). I’ve been using Vue for 6 months and I did a trial of DirectTV Now and Sling. DirecTV probably has the best app (Amazon Fire), but Vue has the best content if you’re a sports fan. Sling is a distant 3rd, worst app and worst performance.

I need to be able to watch POWER on STARZ….LBVS I pay $255.00 to ATT a bundle deal, too much, for a land line I don’t use, cable channels I don’t watch and the internet. I need the internet to connect to other options…right??? They don’t seem to appreciate your membership. They don’t offer suggestions, advice and/or options. You tell what your need, they let you do all the talking. It’s like they are not interesting in keeping you as a valued customer. IJS
Charm, just to be fair, cable and satellite both give “free” viewing of select channels at various times. I would get an email notice from my satellite provider, which of course I routinely ignored because “it’s advertising”. Then I’d discover the channel and LOVE it and it would disappear. Well, that’s because it was a tickler and I would have to pay extra to get it regularly. So, when you say they take it away and you still get charges, you misunderstood their program. They let you have a free peek and if you love it, you can pay to have it all the time. It’s actually great marketing! We ended up with ID Discovery because my husband and I fell in love with Joe Kenda and let me tell you we paid for it!
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 a loyal cable TV customer for all of my adult life, paying about $34/month for basic cable (which sounds ludicrously cheap now). Then I moved to a different city where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was just surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV. Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” ended and my cable bill went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but that was the last straw. After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable” and try broadcast digital TV. The first thing I tried was an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days… Read the rest of my story here.
For years now, I have DSL High Speed Enhanced for $39.99/Mo. and NETFLIX for $10.99/Mo. I’m online researching all the time and have watched documentaries & movies for hours and hours on my tablet or laptop with Netflix with no problem and it streams beautifully after a short delay at the beginnings to load. Netflix on my Smart TV is not so good. It must be set up for cable speed not for DSL. Keeps stopping to load more, these interruptions are annoying. Screens are smaller but, Kindle tablet or Laptop work great. Still, so glad I cut the cord.
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.
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?

Wow, you took it a step further. Even though cutting the cable is temporary, I don’t think my husband would allow it. I think TV is overrated and was paying the $90/month for Internet and cable. I didn’t completely cut cable, but lowered the package to $15/month and supplement with Netflix, which we LOVE! We are still saving about $30/month, so I’m happy.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Hey Vince – I’ve been meaning to add Playstation Vue to this list! They are good. They have a higher minimum price point, but you do get a lot of value for it. But I will disagree about Sling – on my Android, my wife’s iphone, and our Roku 3, SlingTV’s app has been great on all platforms. About a year ago when they were first starting out, buffering was horrible sometimes. But they’ve cleaned it up, increased their bandwidth and I have had no issues at all in the past 9 months.

Hi Peter, I think I need your help…I am so glad I came across your article and as I believe it will save me a lot of money too. I just got express internet service at my new home and would like to be able to see at least basic TV stations (Fox, cbs so on) and I heard of this ‘free over the air’. I am not very good with regards to technical matters and I would like it to be as simple as possible for me to execute :). I have an old TV (won’t get a newer one any time soon) and would like to use the ‘free on air’ option everyone is talking about over the past few comments. So do i just walk into a electric store and get a digital to analog box with an antenna, connect it to my tv and i can just like that receive the channels? Or is there more? Thank you in advance!
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!)
It kind of depends on what you’re using to watch Playon? Are you using a game console like xbox 360? If so, you’ll need to get a wireless router that is connected to your PC in some way to transmit to the xbox 360 – which will also need to have a usb wireless adapter (unless it is one of the new Xbox units that has wireless built in). Otherwise, if you buy one of the new TVs that have a media player built in that can play streaming media, you’ll just need to make sure it has wireless built in as well. I guess it really depends on what setup you’ll be using – and what you’ll be using to play the streaming media.
I just recently "cut the cable"when I moved. Having been immersed in the world of satellite and cable TV for over 20 years, I have to admit I was a bit clueless about how to go about it. I got my Amazon Prime- check, Netflix-check, Hulu-check. Now how the heck do I go about watching my local channels without having to subscribe to a provider? I happened upon a "Cut the Cable" website and there it was- dud! Get an antenna! Go figure.....So, I searched through Amazon and found this amazing little device. Hey- I was expecting rabbit ears (told you I was out of touch). Here's this nifty antenna- a little larger than a mouse pad and and thinner. So! I plugged this little gem into my antenna thingy on my TV- set the find channels. Seriously the set ... full review
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