Cord cutting isn't just a millennial fad. Ditching cable allows you to save hundreds per year without being completely clueless about what's on TV. Nothing will you decide which service is best for you better than physically trying it for yourself. Each of the eight streaming services we've picked all offer free trials, so there's no reason to not take advantage of them — and all together, that's like two months of free TV.
To get OTA TV channels directly onto the Xbox One you need a tuner that runs between the aerial and the console. They aren't expensive, but depending on where you live they will look a little different. In Europe, for example, there is an official Xbox-branded tuner that's still available, while in North America it's produced by Hauppauge. (That same version is also now available in Europe, too.)
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.
FilmStruck ($6.99/mo, $10.99/mo., $99/yr.): A cinephile’s paradise, this service offers a range of classic, independent and foreign films from around the world, including (at the higher-tier subscription) most of what’s been released by the boutique home video company the Criterion Collection. (Lower tier subscriptions include a rotating selection.) FilmStruck, which is developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies, has been adding hundreds of classic titles since February from the Warner Archive, which until recently had its own streaming service. Tons of Old Hollywood favorites like “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane” and “Rebel Without a Cause” are now available on FilmStruck as result. What’s more, its home page is one of the best-curated, best-updated of any streaming site.
If you aren’t close enough to the TV towers to use an indoor antenna you may need an outdoor solution. Furthermore, today’s digital TV signals require a TV with a digital tuner. If your TV was made before 2007, it may not have one. For solutions to these issues, check out my post How To Get Local Channels Without Cable. I also expand on this a bit in the TV Antenna section later in this guide.
We think it’s worth the upgrade to the Hopper though, because along with all the other awesome Hopper features, DISH has integrated Amazon Alexa voice commands into its DVR experience. No longer must you sift through the couch-cushion chasms to find your lost remote. You can simply tell Alexa to turn on This Is Us and cry your eyes out with the rest of us.
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.
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.
Connect an end of the long cable to the remaining threaded end of the cable splitter while making sure to tighten the head, then connect the other end of the long cable to the threaded coaxial port of the second TV and tighten the head. Turn the TVs on, you will be able to independently watch different channels from each TV. The splitter splits the same signal, but it is the TV that determines what channel is being viewed.
Another approach to cord cutting is an online streaming package similar to traditional cable or satellite TV plans. Several companies now offer variations of this idea: PlayStation Vue from Sony (which works without a PlayStation console, despite the name), Sling TV from Dish Network, DirecTV NOW, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV (not to be confused with YouTube Red), Philo, and Fubo.tv. Their services cost $16 to $40 per month, for their most basic plans, and they offer largely the same variety of channels as cable but give you a different experience than cable or satellite—one with both benefits and disadvantages.
“We did it! Finally cut the cable cord. It was an oddly empowering moment. However within a few weeks of basking in our joy and anticipation of the savings we were going to experience we started getting some rather concerning emails from our former cable company about data overages! We could stream to our hearts content while we paid exorbitant rates for cable that supplied us with an endless supply of channels we never used. The minute we took charge that old pesky cable company somehow infiltrated our lives again with the promise of extra fees. We started getting a daily deluge of emails letting us know for a few more drops of blood ... I mean dollars ... we could keep our overages in check and be safe and complacent again. We were floored. But alas we caved but in our small protest we vowed to neva-eva-eva-eva go hungry again... I mean pay for cable again!” ― Lucy Fellows
Offer ends and new service must be installed by 4/9/18. Rewards must be redeemed online within 60 days of new activation and are subject to change. New or qualified former DISH customers must provide a valid, original certificate number at time of order for service, prior to installation and activation. Certificate is nonrefundable, not redeemable for cash, nontransferable and may not be combined with other Reward offers. Certificate(s) may be deactivated and referral eligibility may be revoked. Other restrictions apply. Visit mydish.com/refer for full details. All prices, fees, packages, charges, features, functionality and programming subject to change without notice.
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.
Our top pick for the best streaming service on a budget is SlingTV: Sling has made a serious mark in the streaming service world, as it was one of the first major live TV streamers and has been able to make significant updates throughout the years. For as little as $20 a month (and no more than $40), Sling offers an impressive variety of up to 50 channels and offers great customization with add-on bundles to make your experience exactly how you want it. Supported by a wide range of devices, SlingTV is an ace cable replacement for those who want to cut their bill in half and then some.
Smart TVs – A smart TV is going to cost you more than a streaming device 99 times out of 100 because, well, it's a TV, too! But a smart TV with a great platform can be an awesome choice. Be a little wary of lesser-known platforms. They can be clumsy to use, and if you're not actually using your smart TV's smart-ness, that's a waste (and might lead you to buy one of the devices above in the end anyway). Another important consideration: the bigger the streaming platform, the better the app selection. You can watch Netflix on anything, but support for smaller SVOD services and skinny bundles is a bit rarer. Last but not least, it's worth noting that fans of simplicity who are planning to use an OTA antenna to watch TV without cable may find they prefer smart TVs, since the input selection will be built in and everything can be handled with one remote (by contrast, using an OTA antenna and a separate streaming device will mean using the TV remote to watch OTA TV and the streaming device remote to stream – and the TV remote again to switch between the two inputs). Examples: Sony Smart TVs (many run the Android TV platform), Roku TVs (manufactured by TCL and others), Fire TV Edition TVs (manufactured by Element).
Perhaps no one deserves more credit for threatening the old TV business model than Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. As the driving force behind the world’s largest streaming video service, with about 130 million subscribers, he’s taught consumers to expect an abundance of old and new shows and movies, without the irritation of commercial interruptions, for just $8 a month.
For decades, consumers who wanted just a few channels had to pay for all of them. Comcast or DirecTV couldn’t offer, say, MTV without also including Viacom’s less popular channels such as TV Land. While consumers wanted to pay for single networks on an a la carte basis, the industry fought attempts to break the bundle into smaller, less expensive pieces.
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.
These services will generally run you $10 a month, give or take, and each might appeal to slightly different types of viewers. For instance, Netflix has stronger original content, while Hulu allows you to stay up to date with new episodes as they air. Depending on your taste and preference, you’ll want to investigate the content each service has to offer. Also, consider the internet speed you need in order to get the best quality picture.
You most likely already know, at least vaguely, how streaming video works: it comes in over the internet, bit by bit, and is played on a screen by a computer. But when we say “a computer,” we don't mean that you have to use a desktop or laptop. You smartphone is a computer, too, and so are all the devices that you can use to stream TV without cable on your TV itself.
Even if you watch a dozen or so shows a year, buying those seasons may be less expensive than paying for a cable subscription—and you’ll be able to watch on your TV, computer, phone, or tablet. We looked at 16 of the most popular TV shows across different networks back in 2016 (including Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot, The Blacklist, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and the average price for a full season of these shows from the Google Play store was just under $25. On iTunes they were just under $32 a season, while on Amazon they were just about $29. Given that the average monthly cable bill at the start of that year was $99 per household, you could afford to buy between 38 and 48 TV-show seasons a year, depending on where you buy them, for the same price as cable, and have more flexibility in watching them. (This calculation doesn’t include shows that are exclusive to Netflix or Amazon, as you would have to subscribe to those services even if you have cable.)
Another way catch to prime-time network television is the combination of Hulu On-Demand and CBS All Access. This combination will provide several hit prime-time shows on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW. You can try a one-week free trial from Hulu to see if you like the service. If you’re looking for PBS shows, they can be accessed through the PBS app. It is available on almost any device.
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!
Feature-wise, Philo is similar to the other services above (and cheaper, to boot). DVR access allows for recording and storing content, though, like Playstation Vue, your DVR content will only stick around for a limited time — 30 days, in this case. Another feature Philo includes is the ability to access content from pay-walled apps for channels carried by Philo. For example, since Philo’s channel packages includes AMC and Nickelodeon, you’ll be able to download and watch through the dedicated AMC and Nickelodeon apps at no extra charge by signing in with your Philo account.
Most sports leagues also have their own streaming services for games: NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, MLB.tv, and NHL.tv let you watch games on your streaming device or computer. Unfortunately, due to blackout rules, you often don’t get access to your local team, which is what many people want to watch most. If you’re a big fan of the sport overall, or if your favorite team isn’t your local team, these services give you access to (almost) all games anywhere you are. Though somewhat expensive, they're priced similarly to getting the games in your cable TV package.
Philo does lack the comprehensive app and device support of its rivals. For a long time only Roku, iOS devices, and the Chrome browser were supported, but the service came to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices in July 2018. Philo claims even more devices are on the way, but for now, the truncated device support is a drawback. That said, if you have a supported device and don’t mind skipping sports and the big networks (or can find them with an antenna), Philo is the most affordable way to get live TV. For more on the service, check out our Philo guide.
Armed with technology that makes a smaller antenna possible and a digital protocol that makes the signals easier to capture over longer distances, antenna companies are now delivering powerful long-range units with home decor as a design directive, resulting in small, unobtrusive and even fashionable indoor models. Mark Buff, CEO of antenna maker Mohu says that with cable TV having been the norm for so long, "many people had forgotten that OTA (over the air) signals still exist. But we're now seeing increased interest by cord cutters. And even customers who aren't cancelling subscriptions are using antennas for second and third TVs as well as for their vacation homes, saving the cost of additional cable boxes."
Price: The basic plan, Live A Little, has over 60 channels for $35/month. The Just Right plan has over 80 channels for $50/month. The Go Big plan has over 100 channels for $60/month. And finally, the Gotta Have It plan has over 120 channels (what) for $70/month. Kinda pricey, but damn, having that many choices sounds nice. There's also a Spanish plan, Todo Y Mas, with over 90 channels for $45/month.
I have an older model tv/monitor that I've had hooked to my pc's vga since '09. Well the monitor is getting kinda buggy & expect it to give out soon but newer tv/monitors no longer have vga inputs so I thought I'd get ahead of the game to have something ready for when the time comes to replace it. My old monitor has an hdmi input so I hooked it up to see how good this works & so far it seems fine. Good & sharp picture & for the price you can't ask for more. Happy camper here!
"2018 review: Fubo has come a long way in a year. The streams are much more stable, the channel lineup has solidified, and VOD and DVR options keep improving. Fire TV now has the Video On Demand options you'll find on other platforms along with updated support for the 500 hour DVR. Yes, the interface is clunky on Fire TV and there is no quick way to flip between channels. This isn't like watching cable tv, and it's not supposed to be."