Hulu is a great option if you want to watch Hulu original series or currently airing shows soon after they broadcast (along with many past seasons). The only catch? Unless you want to upgrade to the commercial-free version ($12), you’ll have to sit through some repetitive ads. So if you’d rather not wait to keep watching, maybe cough up the extra four bucks. Still, it's one of the best alternatives to cable tv on the market.
Television manufacturers have been moving toward “smart TVs” that connect to the internet and provide access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and the like. The selection of apps on these sets vary depending on licensing agreements made between the manufacturers and the O.T.T. services. (O.T.T. is short for “over the top,” a term applied to any streaming media provider to which a consumer can subscribe directly.) Also, not all of them will let you plug in and get a seamless, cable-like TV experience without any other hardware. The technology and interfaces are certain to improve in the years ahead, but for now, for the best results, you’re better off just investing in a set-top box. 

You've voted on your favorites before—and many of you voted for one of these five—but we decided to test all five for ourselves and see what they can do. Each device has its own niche and advantages, but they all aim to serve your movies and TV shows to you without the need for a cable subscription or library of discs. Here's a quick rundown of what each box supports:
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.
Google TV is, quite literally, the Android of streaming boxes. It's available on a number of different devices from different manufacturers, in different price ranges, and with different remotes. As such, we can't talk too much about the hardware here (though the VIZIO Co-Star, shown at the right, is a great looking model available for preorder now). The software, however, is very reminiscent of an Android tablet...because that's exactly what it is. You have a wall of icons representing your media, live TV, apps like Netflix and Amazon, and others. You can download Google TV-optimized Android apps from the Google Play store and put them on your home screen.
You’re the reason that I sit in and personally interview even the techies at my company, not just the C level executives. I don’t want any condescending know it all assclowns like you slipping by my HR department. Deacon is right: THAT is what they are called. He doesn’t need to do his homework, but please, stay in the server room or your parents basement away from the adults.

Join the club! Some of us at Lifehacker HQ have already left or are ready to leave the cable company for 24/7 live TV streaming, too. We get this question all the time, and we've examined ditching the monthly bill in favor of watching programs online occasionally in the past, and we've also looked at ways to get your TV fix with apps like Boxee and Hulu, plus there are cool set-top devices like Roku and TiVo, but this is a good opportunity to get exhaustive. There are so many great options for catching a show here or there, but can you rely on them to replicate the cable TV experience? Well, yes and no.
The interface is very pretty and shockingly easy to use. Plug in your USB drive and go to "Files" to start playing them. Have some files stored on the network? Just go to Movies or TV shows and add it as a source. Head to Services for streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu movies, MLB, and a few others. The remote is a traditional remote that feels a little cheap, but works as well as you'd expect. The interface is also somewhat configurable, letting you view your movies and shows in a few different list formats.
I returned several before I tried this ClearStream 4V. This time, however, I did pair my antenna with an amplifier. Now I'm not sure if that actually made a difference, but I was finally picking up some channels so I didn't want to mess with it anymore! I am getting 16 digital channels, which I know isn't much compared to what most people are able to pick up, but given the fact that I live in the middle of no where (we don't even have cell phone service at home), I am happy.

I have Comcast for internet but included the basic TV package since our OTA antenna does not pick up all local stations well in our area. PBS does not come in at all. Playon is a great addition to our Roku which we use with Hulu Plus to catch up on the TV shows we don’t have time to watch when they are on (I’m a Castle addict). I try to keep up with new private channels and plugins periodically. I also have a Touchpad and downloaded a wonderful app for $2 called Video Flood HD to stream other shows I can’t get elsewhere, including HGTV. Not sure if something like it is available for other platforms, but it would be great if a similar app was available to integrate into Roku or Playon.
Sports nuts would have to spend more money on another service to get a portion of the channels offered by FuboTV, but there is one glaring omission to its sports listings: ESPN. The service does not currently carry ESPN or ABC channels, and can’t be used to access ESPN+ through the ESPN app, so if those are a staple of your sports coverage consumption, FuboTV isn’t going to satisfy your appetite.

NFL Network – Though this is actually the National Football League's official cable channel, its website has a ton of post-game video footage for fans to check out. Due to licensing and TV restrictions, finding a legal way to live stream NFL football is next to impossible unless you live outside the US, but at least you can listen live to every game of the season with an NFL Field Pass.
Beware of free trials with Sling TV. I have had a bad experience with them in this regard. They offer them, but give you know way to get out of them until after you have already received your first $19.99 charge. They will refuse to refund your money and are not at all customer friendly. I find their “Take the Money and Run” tactics shady, at best.
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.
I have a Fire TV box in the house. I had an extra computer monitor, so I thought I would use the Fire Stick to make it smart. I read a few horror stories about these refurbished units, but I have used refurbs before with no problem, so I thought I'd give it another go. Absolutely perfect. Plugged it in to my only HDMI port and fired it up. Updated, came back on with no problems. I bought an HDMI signal extractor so I could get "audio out" to a little amplifier and speaker set I have out in the garage. In case I need to watch a Youtube video to help me through a vehicle problem, I don't have to go inside to the tv or watch on my tablet. This really allowed me to get a 'no initial cost' tv out to the garage, and turn a ... full review
Finally, though you probably already know this, you can watch your home teams, local news, and, yes, even LOST without cable. In fact, these are the easiest types of shows to get because they're free and just require a TV antenna to capture. If you have an HD-ready TV, you can even pick up high-def channels. Not sure what kind of antenna gives you the most bang for your geographical buck? AntennaWeb will help you figure out which antenna works best for your house based on where you live, and even tell you which way to point it. But you're here to watch TV online, so let's get to it.

Cable stinks, but it didn't always stink, and its channel bundles include some great stuff. That inspired the companies behind the major live TV streaming services to set out to beat cable at its own game. They began to offer pay TV “multichannel” services – industry lingo for cable- and satellite-type pay TV bundles – only they slashed the size and the price of cable's bulky bundles and offered folks a key selection of channels for less. And since these services stream online, you can watch them anywhere and on almost any device.

What you get: PlayStation Vue can be configured to resemble an expansive, if somewhat pricey, cable-TV-style programming plan. After recent price hikes, packages range from a $45-per-month basic option to an $80 Ultra plan with about 90 channels, including premium channels such as HBO and Showtime. You get local channels in many major markets and a cloud DVR for recording shows. Vue supports up to five simultaneous users. There’s now also a mobile option, so new users can sign up and start watching the service directly from mobile phones, tablets, or PCs even when they’re outside the home.


Since current seasons of CBS aren’t available on Hulu, CBS All Access is one option to get CBS Shows the day after the initial broadcast as CBS isn’t a part of Hulu. The basic service costs $5.99 per month and does air commercials. However, they offer a commercial-free plan for $9.99 per month. The service also offers live local CBS in over 150 markets. For more details, check out my review of CBS All Access.
In my Google Chromecast Review, I stated Chromecast is the best option for pure cost-cutting. At $35.99 there isn’t much out there that will beat that price point. You will need an existing smartphone, tablet or laptop to use Google Chromecast. Chromecast allows you to stream content from apps on the device to your television. Installation is easy as all you do is plug it into your TV’s HDMI port and set it up on your Wi-Fi network.
Assange said that RT would allow his guests to discuss things that they "could not say on a mainstream TV network."[69] Assange said that if Wikileaks had published Russian data, his relationship with RT might not have been so comfortable.[64] In August of that year, RT suffered a denial of service attack for several days by a group calling itself "Antileaks". It was speculated that the group was protesting Assange and/or Russia's jailing of members of the activist music group Pussy Riot.[70]
An obvious choice, and one that is nearly essential to any cord-cutting list, Netflix’s streaming service costs $8 for the basic plan (one stream at a time, no HD or UHD content), $10 for the standard plan (up to two simultaneous streams, includes HD video) and extends up to $14 per month for a premium plan that allows up to four users at once, with the added bonus of access to 4K content with HDR. Netflix’s catalog offers full TV series from other networks (past seasons only), scores of movies both licensed and produced in-house, and hit original series like Stranger Things, The House on Haunted Hill, and so many more, all of which come commercial free.
Shaun Walker, the Moscow correspondent for The Independent, said that RT had "instructed reporters not to report from Georgian villages within South Ossetia that had been ethnically cleansed."[48] Julia Ioffe wrote that an RT journalist whose reporting deviated from "the Kremlin line that Georgians were slaughtering unarmed Ossetians" was reprimanded.[12] Human Rights Watch said that RT's claim of 2,000 South Ossetian casualties was exaggerated.[231][232]
Pluto TV: Pluto turns online video sources into cable-like channels that you can flip through, and many of those sources cover the news. Install this app, and you can tune into round-the-clock feeds from NBC, CNBC, TYT Network, NewsmaxTV, Newsy, RT America, Sky News, Bloomberg, and Cheddar. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast
I can’t think of any no contract TV services that don’t require an internet connection, the only thing you can get as far as I know without internet is cable TV or over-the-air TV – and over-the-air isn’t going to have a lot of the TV stations you mention. For those you’ll have to pay for cable TV, or for a service that requires an internet connection.
(Side note: you can also, of course, buy or rent digital movies or TV show episodes from services like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. That's a bit removed from “watching TV without cable” in the sense that we mean it in this article, but it's worth noting that you can use purchase and rental apps with the same streaming devices – see Part II for those – that work with the streaming apps we're about to talk about here in Part I. Owning digital copies and subscribing to streaming services go together like peanut butter and jelly: switching between a movie you own on Amazon and a show you're streaming on Netflix is much more convenient than switching between cable an a Blu-Ray disc. You won't even have to get off your couch!)

It’s these little things, plus the channel offerings, that make PlayStation Vue feel more like a traditional TV service (even though it’s not). You also get free DVR service with PlayStation Vue and can store an unlimited number shows for up to a month before they get automatically deleted. We really like the recording features that PlayStation Vue offers, but the downside is that you can only record one show at a time.
In November 2016, after the US Presidential Election, The Washington Post reported that RT and Sputnik were "state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports" and also that "RT, Sputnik and other Russian sites used social-media accounts to amplify misleading stories already circulating online".[260] The Post was criticized by The Intercept, Fortune, and Rolling Stone for relying in part on an analysis by PropOrNot, an anonymous organization with no reputation for fact-checking.[261][262][263]
We are die hard LSU fans and for years we kept our Dish satellite because we wanted the games 3 months a year. I finally had enough of the kids watching mindless television and we called to shut it off. Dish let us keep the equipment and for $5 a month we keep our service contract and are allowed to fire it up for the college football season. We didn’t think we’d have ANY channels but there are a ton of shopping channels and a few feel gooders like OWN and UP. Nothing I have concern over for the kids. If I find something that allows me to stream the games we will cut it off entirely but it’s not a horrible solution. We also use Amazon Prime which we love.
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.
We mentioned before: YouTube TV is not YouTube Red. Red is more like an advanced, commercial-free version of regular ol' YouTube. The YouTube TV option costs more and has a lot of catching up to do to rival the other live TV streaming services. It's in limited cities, has limited channels, and is available on limited devices (Chromecast, Android, iOS, LG and Samsung TVs, Xbox One, and browsers on PCs). It doesn't even bundle in YouTube Red as part of the service—you'd have to spend another $10 a month on Red to keep ads out of your regular YouTube streaming. Premium channel add-ons include $11-a-month Showtime, $5-a-month Shudder, and $7-per-month Sundance. The big plus: unlimited storage in the cloud-based DVR option.
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.

The truth is that you have a bunch of ways to watch local channels online and over-the-air. Thanks to the rise in skinny bundles and the resurgence in popularity of over-the-air TV, cord cutters are once again enjoying local news and other local programming without having to go crawling back to traditional pay TV providers like cable and satellite companies. This is our complete guide to watching local channels without cable.
Sling TV is one of the better value options out there, because you can get a lot of the most popular channels for only $25 a month. However, if you’re a binge-watcher, you’ll love Hulu with Live TV’s huge on-demand library, which currently has 10 full seasons of Adventure Time (aww yeah homies!). YouTube TV is great, but it may not be available in your area just yet.
We mentioned before: YouTube TV is not YouTube Red. Red is more like an advanced, commercial-free version of regular ol' YouTube. The YouTube TV option costs more and has a lot of catching up to do to rival the other live TV streaming services. It's in limited cities, has limited channels, and is available on limited devices (Chromecast, Android, iOS, LG and Samsung TVs, Xbox One, and browsers on PCs). It doesn't even bundle in YouTube Red as part of the service—you'd have to spend another $10 a month on Red to keep ads out of your regular YouTube streaming. Premium channel add-ons include $11-a-month Showtime, $5-a-month Shudder, and $7-per-month Sundance. The big plus: unlimited storage in the cloud-based DVR option.
Next, there's the U Must Have HD Antenna for $69.95 (often on sale for as low as $27). It works much like the aforementioned antennas with mounting and scanning for channels. However, when it comes to picture quality, it really shines. As long as you can bring in the best signal within 80 miles, this antenna can output at 4K. Now you obviously need a 4K TV in order to handle that kind of picture quality, but that speaks to the quality that antennas are capable of today.

I am not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. I just love listening to music while on my (bluetooth-enabled) computer and I was tired of wires getting in my way while wearing headphones. After doing a lot of research on bluetooth headphones, I originally bought another pair of headphones that were advertised as over-ear headphones but were actually on-ear headphones. On-ear headphones do NOT work for me. They hurt my ears and are very uncomfortable to wear.
Many of the top channels are now starting to offer subscriptions to their individual channel. Much like HBO with HBO Go, CBS has their own All Access channel, and a channel for the Hallmark streaming service was launched last year. Some even offer some of their content for free via individual Roku channels like NBC and ABC. Our local news channel has their own individual channel on the Roku so you can watch the local news live through their app. Make a list of all the channels you can’t live without and find out if they have a Roku channel or app with free content.

“I’m really disappointed in the slow deterioration of popular film offerings from the Big 3 (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon). I remember when they started up, Netflix had an amazing selection. But now it seems like they never have any of the films I’m looking for. I have Amazon Prime, but any of the movies I really want to see inevitably require that I pay extra to rent them. The number of B and C-grade movies that are on these services is quite remarkable. That’s a lot of chaff to pad their offerings.” ― Susan Houston

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This is not to say that only PlayStation users should adopt PS Vue; the service’s robust channel listings will appeal to anyone who wants lots of stuff to watch, and it could be a good option for larger families sharing one account. PS Vue lets users create up to 10 user profiles, with up to five streams at a time. It’s also worth looking into if you’re an Apple TV user. In October 2018, the service became the first to be integrated into the TV app available on Apple TV and iOS devices. This lets you access all the entertainment options you have installed — PlayStation Vue included — from one place, including upcoming games for sports fans.
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.
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 ?
In the sports arena, you can use fuboTV to watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA basketball, NCAA football, soccer, racing, and more on channels including FOX, NBC Sports, NBA TV, NFL Network, and many others. One of the biggest draws of fuboTV is that you get tons of regional sports channels. That means you can watch your home team games without cable on fuboTV — something the other streaming services don’t provide without the workaround described below.
Sling is a good deal for serious TV fans, but if you’re not going to watch at least eight different shows on those channels per year, it’s cheapest to just get your Mad Men/Walking Dead fix by buying individual seasons on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video. That strategy, ironically, is pretty much what Dish Network’s chairman recommended back in 2012—before his company owned its own streaming business.

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.


If you (and your significant other) are comfortable with a larger, more industrial design, the $100 ClearStream 2 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that boasts a 50-mile range. The benefit of the more powerful Clearstream 2 is that I could place it anywhere in the room and pull in 70 channels, ranging from the major networks to PBS affiliates and local Spanish and Chinese language broadcasts.
Even if you can’t easily cut the cord, you might be able to reduce your cable costs. For example, renting a cable box for your TV often costs at least $10 to $15 per month—for each TV—to get HDTV and DVR capabilities, so a simple $35 cable plan can end up costing two to three times as much once you add hardware fees. Instead, many cable channels have streaming apps that let you watch programming on a Roku or Apple TV box as long as you’re paying for that channel through your cable subscription. In other words, you can pay for a single cable box in the living room while streaming episodes of The Americans or Mr. Robot to your streaming box, smartphone, or tablet for free. Reducing the number of cable boxes, while still being able to watch most programming, could save you a decent amount every month.

DIRECTV also offers more full-time high-definition (HD) channels than anyone, and it has the ability to record up to 200 hours of HD video content. So whether you’re tuning in to see Tom Brady’s piercing baby-blue eyes or just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.


I have been using “No subscription required” for three months. It’s amazing to watch brand new movies for nothing. On the down side of it, I have lost Microsoft xp in the process. I use Linux on the other side so, I have been doing all my email and all with Linux. I don’t know whether “No subscription required” is safe or not. I am about to take my computer in for repair obviously and, I was told it might be because of this site. That would be a shame. Most of the movies are first run. But most of all, they are for free! I guess something has to give afterall.
John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus says he appears on RT as well as the U.S.-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, commented "I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about military expenditures in a way I haven’t been given in U.S. outlets". On the fairness issue, he said: "You're going to find blind spots in the coverage for any news organization".[142]
Assange said that RT would allow his guests to discuss things that they "could not say on a mainstream TV network."[69] Assange said that if Wikileaks had published Russian data, his relationship with RT might not have been so comfortable.[64] In August of that year, RT suffered a denial of service attack for several days by a group calling itself "Antileaks". It was speculated that the group was protesting Assange and/or Russia's jailing of members of the activist music group Pussy Riot.[70]
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.)
HI Peter, i am not knowledgable about this, i am trying to learn. Could you help guide me? The xbox ‘hooks’ to the t.v. and i run Playon on my laptop… am i right to assume they communicate to each other ‘through the air waves’, to show the programing? i won’t have to run any ‘cables’ from my laptop to my t.v.? thank you for helping me out and to understand. steph.
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Spectrum cable TV packages enable you to watch more quality TV with less payout. Your subscriptions to bundle packages are not just about the number of channels, but the significant FREE HD. The on-screen picture is so realistic and immersive that you experience 3D cinematic picture at home. The Spectrum cable prices also provide access to TV App and TV on-the-go. Whether your home or on-the-go, Spectrum TV™ App gives you access to a complete line of up to 10,000+ On Demand TV shows and movies - on your mobile or home screen. There’s always something more for someone of every taste. Get yourself hooked to one of the Spectrum cable plans and find the difference!
Hulu is one of the most affordable alternatives to cable and satellite tv. Not only is there original content, but you can also view shows from local channels and some cable networks soon after they air. The baseline service comes in at a reasonable $8 per month, though you do have to tolerate some highly repetitive ads if you choose this option. If the ads get under your skin, for a $12 a month, you can upgrade to the commercial-free service.

Sling TV offers two base channel monthly packages: Sling Orange ($25) and Sling Blue ($25). Sling Orange offers popular channels like ESPN, but is limited to a single stream — meaning subscribers can only view on one device at a time. Sling Blue offers many of the same channels as Orange along with a whole lot more, but is also missing some key channels, ESPN among them. On the flip side, Sling Blue offers NFL RedZone as part of the Sports Extra add-on package, a must-have channel for NFL fans. Viewers can sign up for both packages and get a discount, bringing the total to $40 per month.
Good to know, especially for those senior citizens (like me), who have free access to the internet in senior housing but are not allowed to stream anything on their computers! No Netflix, no tv shows, movies, documentaries etc…We survive on email and text-news. Streaming is an “immediate shut-down” offense. Shame on cable networks. President Obama announced recently that all new public and public supported housing will, by law, offer tenents free internet access. Will be interesting if that “free” includes incarceration without streaming.
DIRECTV also offers more full-time high-definition (HD) channels than anyone, and it has the ability to record up to 200 hours of HD video content. So whether you’re tuning in to see Tom Brady’s piercing baby-blue eyes or just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.
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