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.
"Being a fan of anime used to mean that you were subject to the whims of media importers or your friend who had a high-bandwidth Internet connection and shady IRC contacts. For years, the only anime I saw was on bootlegged VHS tapes I made myself. Crunchyroll puts all previous methods of watching anime outside Japan (legal or otherwise) to shame. Devoted exclusively to anime and live-action Asian television, Crunchyroll offers 950 shows, over 25,000 streaming episodes, and simulcasting from across the Pacific. It's a dream for fans, so they'll probably forgive its problematic interface. I do."
(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!)
Otherwise, it’s fairly standard. Sling Orange subscribers will have access to a single stream, while Blue allows for up to three streams simultaneously. As for other features, VOD (video on demand), pause/rewind/fast forwarding and “catch-up watching” are content specific. For DVR, users will have to add another $5 for 50 hours of cloud DVR. Despite the extra cost, the good news is that cloud DVR is available on just about every Sling TV-supported device except for the Xfinity X1. You can get the gist of everything Sling TV has to offer by reading our Sling TV guide.
For those looking for "cable lite" in the form of small packaged cable subscriptions from services like Sling TV and DirectTV Now, we've got a list of the best streaming live TV services. Keep in mind, though, that most of these services don't offer unlimited access to broadcast channels like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. What I'm referring to is the ability to watch any broadcast channel available in your area.
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.
Streaming video on demand is a great way to replace content from TV: you can watch your favorite shows and movies online whenever you want! But is that really the same thing as being able to watch TV without cable? To some people, sure – but others might find that their favorite things about TV are missing. What about brand-new episodes of the latest network TV shows? What about channel surfing and “just seeing what's on?” What about live sports?
Apple’s most recent version of its streaming box, the Apple TV 4K, added the long-awaited support for 4K UHD resolution and 4K content. The Apple TV 4K uses an intuitive touchpad remote, which is designed to operate more like an iPhone, and it can even be used as a gaming remote. The system is also faster than previous models, and the inclusion of 4K makes it a viable alternative to the other options on this list for Apple users.
There are two basic ways to stream on your TV: you can use an external streaming device or you can simply use a smart TV. In practice, these two things are really just the same. Either way, a little computer is streaming the content and telling your TV what to put on. Whether you opt for the all-in-one solution (the smart TV) or the plug-and-play one (the external streaming device) is really up to you.
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.
Way back when, cable and satellite TV were initially sold to consumers as an add-on: Get all of your local channels, along with uncut movies, more televisions programs and additional sports. But pulling the plug on cable doesn’t necessarily mean you can just go back to broadcast networks only. Modern homes and apartments are no longer wired-up with antennas the way they were 30 years ago. Indoor HDTV antennas are available at prices ranging from under $20 to move than $150, but the quality of the signal and the number of channels that come in clearly vary depending on external factors, like whether you live near mountains or skyscrapers.
Active: Active HDMI cables have a small chip built into the cable that takes a little power from the device's connector, and uses it to boost the signal. These cables cost a little extra, but are far more likely to work. A long passive cable might work for you, but it might not. It depends on your gear. Since they're not significantly more expensive, they're worth considering for any long run.
A few of the previous services have been notable for their sports content (YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV, in particular), but if sports is one of your primary concerns, you’ll want to look into FuboTV. This is another relatively new service that has been gaining some recognition for the niche it appeals to, especially after it was advertised as a way to easily watch Super Bowl 52 with its free trial. It is quickly on the rise, too: The service announced that as of September 2018 it was approaching 250,000 subscribers, up from 100,000 in September 2017. That may not be the millions of subscribers boasted by Sling TV and DirecTV Now, but it is substantial growth.
For original programming, it started weak, but upped it a notch with Casual, which got the critics interested and earned Hulu its first Golden Globe nomination. Now it's got a real cool factor thanks to the multi-award-winner A Handmaid's Tale. It's also made itself the exclusive place to watch the entire back catalog of classic shows like Star Trek, South Park, Seinfeld, the original CSI, and a bunch of Cartoon Network/Adult Swim shows. It has a smattering of movies, but really, Hulu is all about the TV shows.
I’m sorry that you are disgusted, but I understand why you are wary. Keep in mind that some of these options let you try their services for free before you commit to anything. Also, if you have a few friends, as most people do, there’s a possibility one or more of them is already using one of these cable alternatives. Why not ask around to see if any of them do? That would give you the opportunity to receive a review from someone you know and trust to tell you how things really are. I wish you luck and encourage you not to give up on finding a replacement for cable.
On 4 March 2014, Breaking The Set host Abby Martin, speaking directly to her viewing audience during the show's closing statement, said that even though she works for RT, she is against Russia's intervention in Ukraine. She said that "what Russia did is wrong", as she is against intervention by any nation into other countries' affairs. Later, Martin asserted that RT still supports her despite her differences of opinion with the Russian government. RTs press office suggested that Martin would be sent to Crimea and responded to accusations of propaganda, stating "the charges of propaganda tend to pop up every time a news outlet, particularly RT, dares to show the side of events that does not fit the mainstream narrative, regardless of the realities on the ground. This happened in Georgia, this is happening in Ukraine". Glenn Greenwald said that American media elites love to mock Russian media, especially RT, as being a source of shameless pro-Putin propaganda, where free expression is strictly barred. Agreeing the "network has a strong pro-Russian bias", he suggested that Martin's action "remarkably demonstrated what 'journalistic independence' means".
The Atari-based EPG Jr. units were encased in blue rack enclosures containing custom-made outboard electronics, such as the Zephyrus Electronics Ltd. UV-D-2 demodulator board, which delivered data decoded from the WGN data stream to the Atari's 13 pin Serial Input/Output (SIO) handler port (the EPG Jr. software's EPROM was interfaced to the Atari's ROM cartridge port).
Launched in 1981 by United Video Satellite Group, the network began its life as a simple electronic program guide (EPG) software application sold to cable system operators throughout the United States and Canada. Known simply as the Electronic Program Guide, the software was designed to be run within the headend facility of each participating cable system on a single, custom-modified consumer-grade computer supplied by United Video. Its scrolling program listings grid, which cable system operators broadcast to subscribers on a dedicated channel, covered the entire screen and provided four hours of listings for each system's entire channel lineup, one half-hour period at a time. Because of this, listings for programs currently airing would often be several minutes from being shown. Additionally, because the EPG software generated only video, cable operators commonly resorted to filling the EPG channel's audio feed with music from a local FM radio station, or with programming from a cable television-oriented audio service provider such as Cable Radio Network.
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:
Hulu and CBS All Access are the best places to start here, with Netflix as a potential add-on. You also may want to invest in an antenna to see if you can pick up a local channel that carries MeTV or a similar retro television service. Also, since the Philo live TV service has Nickelodeon and TV Land (and is super-cheap, starting at a bare-bones package for $16 a month), it might be worth subscribing to that as well.
DirecTV Now has deals with all four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), and some customers will be able to access local feeds of these channels. There's more to DirecTV Now than local channels, of course – it divides its service up into paid tiers with different numbers of channels available. You're free to get whichever bundle calls to you, but you'll only need the smallest one (“Live a Little,” which costs $40 per month) to get all of the major networks that can be streamed in your area. You may also be able to snag regional sports networks if you move up to the “Just Right” package ($55 per month) and beyond. Read our review of DirecTV Now here.
“We have Netflix, Amazon, Vudu and the T1 from Xfinity (with their best package) plus internet and sports packages. We would definitely cut cable as there is enough with Netflix, Amazon and Vudu ... BUT my husband HAS to have the football and baseball packages and local channels. That’s the only thing keeping us from cutting completely as we only pay about $30 a month combined for streaming compared to almost $300 a month for cable.” ― Anna Day
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.
We do not want to watch TV on a computer screen. We do not like any current movies or the HBO and Netflix series. We want Fox News, MSNBC, and our local news. We want to watch Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Josh Gates’ programs, Diners drive-ins and Dives, Pitbulls and Parolees, Roll Back the Oceans, Ancient Aliens (it’s hilarious). shows about people living in Alaska. And others of that ilk. Also must have PBS. And NHL and NFL and soccer games and volleyball.
Hulu ($7.99/mo., $11.99/mo.): Hulu’s original content isn’t as copious or as impressive as Netflix’s, but it did just win the first ever “Best Dramatic Series” Emmy for a subscription streaming service, courtesy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Hulu is also becoming more and more of a boon to TV buffs, thanks to a growing library of classic older shows, as well as some current ABC, NBC, and Fox series. (In fact, one of Hulu’s main selling-points for cord-cutters is it has deals to allow subscribers to watch the most recent episode or episodes of much of those networks’ programming.) The lower price tier includes commercial breaks. The higher tier kills the ads. Hulu also has an option to add live TV (starting at $39.99/mo.), covered further down.
Then there's the multistream issue. If you want to watch more than one program at the same time -- for example, on your living room TV and on a bedroom TV, or the main TV and a tablet -- you'll want to make sure the service you're watching has enough simultaneous streams. Some of the least-expensive services only allow one stream at a time, and if you try to watch a second, it's blocked.
Netflix – Best for catching episodes of your favorite shows from last season or from the last decade. While Netflix doesn't typically offer recently aired episodes of popular shows, it's perfect for streaming episodes from previous seasons, or for getting your "Murder She Wrote" groove on. There's a monthly fee to subscribe to Netflix but once you're signed up, you can stream an unlimited amount of shows.
You no longer need a cable or satellite TV subscription to watch your local TV channels. You can now watch your local networks through the internet through streaming services that now stream local broadcast affiliates in several markets. You can even get a device like a Roku and watch them on your TV set. If you live in on near a major metro area, you can likely receive all of you local channels online. Here are some of those services:
On September 18, 2014, CBS and Lionsgate announced that TVGN would be relaunched as Pop in early 2015, with the rebranding later announced to occur on January 14 of that year. with its focus shifting toward programming about pop culture fandom. The network would carry 400 hours of original programming following the rebrand, including a reality show starring New Kids on the Block and the Canadian co-production Schitt's Creek. Pop was made available on AT&T U-verse on March 1, 2016. On November 19, 2015, it was announced that Impact Wrestling, the flagship show of what was then known as TNA Wrestling, would move from Destination America to Pop beginning January 5, 2016. That series departed Pop at the start of 2019 for the Pursuit Channel after Pop declined to continue airing it.
This type of service is also used to circumvent sports network blackouts or simply to mask your identity online from would-be identity thieves. Of course, check with your content provider’s terms of service to make sure you are not breaking any end-user agreements. To learn the differences between a Smart DNS and VPN check out my post on VPN vs Smart DNS.
You'll want an Omni-directional antenna if the TV broadcast towers are scattered around the home. An Omni-directional antenna is typically round-shaped like a disc and receives TV signals equally from all directions (360 degrees). If the TV broadcast towers are in the same general direction from the home (example: all towers are located north of the home), then a directional antenna can be used instead. An advantage of a multi-directional antenna is that it is usually rated for greater distances from the TV towers, and it can be pointed to receive maximum reception of these signals.
Remember, the cable TV is cheaper than internet for me. I’m more willing to pay $17 a month for cable TV, but not $52 for the internet. There are certain places like Panera Restaurants and public libraries that have free wifi. Places I steer clear of are Borders, Barnes and Noble and Starbucks because they have an agreement with T-Mobile and charge for access.
If you're going to unplug from the cable company, prepare to exercise some patience when it comes to watching your favorite shows as soon as they air—it can take anywhere from a day to a week for them to appear online. Also, be ready to do some digging around to find who's streaming special events, sports, and other programming outside of the drama/sitcom variety. Let's take a look at ways to find certain types of programming without relying on your cable company.
The general idea: Just like DirecTV is a flagship satellite provider, DirecTV NOW is their no-dish-needed streaming service that, not surprisingly, is a front runner in the market with the largest channel selection we've seen from any service. It's basically everything that DirecTV offers without the hassle of setting up a satellite. (Though the Cloud DVR and app aren't the best, so if you're really into recording or aren't super tech savvy, this may not be the right choice for you.) The baseline package starts at 60 channels (nuts) with access to an impressive variety of channels including ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, Disney, FX, Lifetime, and more.
Those who want to see non-British foreign television have ample options, too. In addition to the aforementioned Acorn (which also features programs from Canada and Australia, among other countries), both MHz Choice and Walter Presents have well-curated collections of European series, with a particular emphasis on the many great Scandinavian crime dramas. And the increasingly popular TV coming out of South Korea is available on DramaFever, Viki, and Kocowa.
Although HBO and Showtime are perhaps better-known these days for original programming, they still show recent theatrical releases, and they make them available through their subscription services. Starz is also excellent for anyone seeking current blockbusters. Consider tacking on a subscription to one, two or all three of these to an Amazon Prime Video account. Video-on-demand rentals are also an option, facilitated by multiple retailers. And if you’re interested in owning digital copies of your movies, the service Movies Anywhere is a helpful way to manage and view your library.
I know about Netflix I don’t know much about Hulu or sling. I want to be able to watch the cw, AMC, ion, TLC, animal planet and a few more. Is that available with sling. And what is that antenna for me that’s rabbit ears lol. Whoever pays $100 for cable its not bad I hate to say I am paying $186 a month I am also on a fixed income. Obviously I need help. Any advice would be appreciated.
Local major network affiliates have their own transmitters, so it's likely that your area gets channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC free over the air – and that's not to mention other common over-the-air channels like PBS and Univision. How many channels are available and how big of an antenna you'll need to pick them up will vary by region, but getting the answers to these questions is pretty simple. Check out our free over-the-air TV explainer and our complete guide to choosing an antenna and getting free HDTV over the air for more important information. There's a reason that this is the classic solution to the problem of how to watch local channels without cable or satellite.
“My internet slowed down to a crawl and no amount of resetting the box helped. Turned out it was something wrong with the box and it was replaced. However, it was still occasionally cutting out. When we moved from Los Feliz to Boyle Heights [in Los Angeles], connection with these services greatly improved. I think it’s due to it being adjacent to downtown so that connections are underground and stronger.” ― Ruby McNeil
The only real downside of the Roku is that it can be a little slow from time to time. The interface, while easy to use, isn't nearly as fluid as devices like the Apple TV. Plus, the remote (at least the one for the XS model) is really, truly awful. It feels more like a Wiimote than a TV remote, which is fine when you're playing games on the Roku, but it just seems big and clunky when you're using it for TV. Overall, though, the Roku is a killer device for streaming content, and its easy enough for nearly anyone to use.
Don’t let them tell you that you need more! If you buy the Rokus(maybe the firestick works too?) and hook them up to tvs in your house, you can avoid the fees for the stupid little boxes that you have to rent now for digital cable. You just download the time warner app on the roku and enter your timewarner/spectrum id and password and all your channels are there!
Other features of Prevue Guide that were unavailable in the earlier full- and split-screen EPG Sr. versions were colorized listings backgrounds and program-by-program channel summaries. Between its already colored grid lines, which alternated blue, green, yellow and red with each half-hour listings cycle, each cable operator could choose to enable either red or light blue (rather than black) background colors for multiple channels of their choice. These backgrounds were usually used to highlight premium channels and pay-per-view services. Additionally, program-by-program channel summaries with light grey backgrounds, for up to four channels of each cable operator's choice, could be included within the scrolling grid. Appearing between each four-hour listings cycle, the names of channels (rather than times) would scroll up and slide into the grid's header bar one at a time (similar to the time bar that scrolled into the header at the start of each listings cycle), each followed by up to four hours worth of program-by-program listings for that channel alone. Prevue Guide could also display graphical weather icons, accompanied by local weather conditions, within its scrolling grid (as part of a segment known as Prevue Weather). These inserts were available to cable operators for an additional fee and appeared after each four-hour listings cycle.
No cable service truly offers a la carte cable TV. However, through VUDU, iTunes and Amazon (even if you’re not a Prime Instant Video subscriber) you can buy episodes of entire seasons of shows a la carte. This includes shows currently airing. At first, that might seem expensive, but shows are $1.99 an episode and you can get a discount on the season pass. I saved a ton of cash this way when my family cut the cord. My family purchases only 3-4 season passes a year, keeping it under $10 a month.
Always take a moment on a new TV to switch off any special features that are meant to reduce motion-blurring. (These go by different names depending on the manufacturer, but the setting typically has the word “motion” in it, as in Sony’s “Motionflow” or LG’s “TruMotion.”) These settings tend to make movies and even most modern television shows look more flat and artificial, in what’s often called “the soap opera effect.”