These lower-cost services have won back some people who quit cable, providing hope for the likes of ESPN or CNN, whose channels are included. But the skinny bundles haven’t won back all the departed. They have only about 6 million customers so far. And companies whose channels have been excluded from them have little recourse to make up lost ground.

The WD TV Live isn't as popular as the other devices on this list, but it's actually a pretty good device, especially for users that have a lot of ripped or downloaded movies already (and it supports quite a few formats). WD TV Live comes in two flavors: a small, cheap, Wi-Fi-enabled box designed for streaming, and a more expensive, Ethernet-enabled box with a 1TB drive for all your local movies. The small box can play files off a USB drive, and the big box can still stream, but they're clearly aimed at two different types of users.
For Amazon Fire TV users (no coincidence that it requires an in-house device), a small selection of these channels can be browsed via a “Live Now” menu, which includes a programming guide so you can see what’s on next. As of this writing, only a small number of premium channels — including HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and Showtime — will show up on the “live now” section, and only if you’re subscribed to them through Amazon Prime’s “Channels.” The number is growing, however, and we’re hopeful for a more varied selection in the near future.
Because of Gemstar-TV Guide's dominant position within the television listings market, listings for TV Guide Channel's own original programming began to appear on the topmost lines of most television listings websites to which the company provided listings data, regardless of which channel number any given cable system carried it on. This also became the case with the print version of TV Guide (which had first begun including the channel in its log listings upon the 1999 rebrand to TV Guide Channel, before moving it exclusively to the grids in 2004, where it remained after the magazine switched to national listings the following year).
It wasn’t until 2015, when Ergen introduced Sling TV, that the floodgates truly opened. Sling TV is a so-called “skinny bundle,” giving online subscribers the option to buy just a few channels and pay a much lower monthly fee—in this case, about a fourth of the average cable bill. Since its arrival, at least six more online TV services have entered the market.
"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."
There are drawbacks, most having to do with content licensing restrictions. Netflix still has a good number of films in its vast library that are unavailable for streaming. With Hulu Plus, TV shows are generally embargoed until at least the day after their original network air dates. And there can also be restrictions on which seasons of a show are available. Perhaps most frustrating, licensing terms for some shows stipulate that while they can be watched on a computer or mobile device for free on Hulu's website, they are prohibited from being viewed on the TV even with a paid Hulu Plus subscription. But remember, an antenna gets you free OTA network channels, so if you're able to work your schedule around the networks' (like in the old days) you can minimize this inconvenience.
Direct TV Now is a streaming service from AT&T that offers live TV programming over the Internet. It gives you access to over 60 live channels for $35 per month. This includes popular stations, such as CNN, the Hallmark Channel, ESPN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, TBS, Discovery, Bravo, Animal Planet and Bloomberg, among many others. But you can also choose to add HBO, Starz or Showtime for an extra $5 to $8 per month.
Installed outside on my existing tv tower. I live in Ohio between Cleveland and Toledo. Toledo towers are 40-50 miles to the west and Cleveland towers are 50-60 miles to the east. My wife is originally from the Cleveland area and wanted to have the ability to receive the Cleveland channels. Although this antenna is multidirectional, I mounted it facing east (towards Cleveland). It came with enough cable to run down tv tower into my basement. I then unhooked the direct cable from the splitter that runs to 3 tv's. Each tv had a dvr so I also unhooked each extra cable to those. I then turned on each tv and did the channel search. I get a total of 53 channels.
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.
“I realized that I missed my Live TV. I bought an HDTV antenna, however the only channel I could get was NBC because I’m not close to the towers. I researched all of the live streaming options including Hulu Live ($40/month), Sling TV ($20, $25 or $40) and DIRECTV NOW ($35). I got free trials for all three. I liked Hulu Live, however the live user interface took me awhile to get used to. Plus it was the most expensive at $40, still for a bunch of channels I don’t watch. Also it did not have Animal Planet or TLC, channels that I watch. Next I was excited about Sling because of the price, however even with Sling’s $40 option, you don’t get all of the major broadcast networks. So my final selection for live streaming TV is DIRECTV NOW (Live a little package). It has the best value at $35/month with all of the major broadcast networks plus TLC and Animal Planet. Plus I like the user interface for browsing live TV. It has a nice channel guide similar to cable. The only channel that I don’t have live and would like is the OWN network, but I’m not going to pay an extra $15 a month for the next higher package that includes it.” ― Angela L. Lee
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.)
One last point on what to watch: If you really want to pay only for what you want to watch and nothing else, don’t forget that iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Fandango Now, Cinema Now, Google Play and others will gladly sell or rent you movies and episodes of TV series, to watch on your computer or TV. If you’re thinking of your various subscriptions as an analogue to cable, then think of this option as akin to the old-fashioned “pay per view.” The fees can add up if you watch a lot, but these vendors have some free videos, too. 
You are looking at your monthly expenses and that pesky cable bill has caught your eye once again. You can't help but wonder: "Can you still get local channels without cable?" The answer is yes! You read that right. There are a variety of different viewing options that allow you to cut out that cable bill, get your TV freedom back and still enjoy the local channels you know and love. Check out our list of ways to get local channels without cable below!
I’m hesitant to cut the cord with cable tv due to my husband’s sports. He watches ESPN (a couple of different ones), and the Big 10 Network. Other than these sports channels, we mostly only watch the regular network channels. If I had the food network and HGTV I would watch them, but I can do without them just fine too. Hubby does like the DVR feature that our ‘big name’ cable company provides. But the monthly prices keeps climbing! Any suggestions you have for us?
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.
“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 
Also, all of the channels available from any of these cord cutting options are not offered by Comcast. The premium line-ups have to be purchased separately. So, trying to get multiple TVs with full DVR functionality, as well as keeping enough bandwidth for those times when a household is very busy, means not one of these cord cutting choices make any sense. They are over-priced, unless you are a single TV household or live in an area where OTA TV, cable, and phone service is very limited. I hate that Comcast has the upper hand. Verizon was blocked from putting FIOS in my area because I live in Comcast’s backyard. They have all the local politicians in their pocket. These companies like Sling, VUE, and the rest of them, want to see more cord cutting. They need to start putting all the preferred channels in their line-ups and making some offers where packaging premium stations gives a discount. This ala-cart pricing sucks to high heaven. It only benefits those who NEED a cord cutting option. But, it does nothing special for those who are using Comcast.
However, please note that I'm not advocating doing ALL of these! If you did, you'd wind up spending more than you were paying for cable. That would be dumb. We currently subscribe to Sling TV, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.  We are switching over to DIRECTV NOW starting next month because we have one AT&T phone and can use the data from that phone to watch for free.
The first step to cutting the cord and getting free cable tv legally is to start using a HDTV antenna as you can potentially get every channel you currently watch for free over the air or with an on-demand streaming device from Roku. If that still isn’t enough, you can supplement with a contract-free online streaming plan that offers on-demand or live TV for a fraction of the cost you’re currently paying.

Hardware question. We are renters and can’t cut holes or run wires. TV is upstairs (old TV but we want to get a 46″ flat panel on a black Friday special). Computer using comcast is downstairs. We currently have the $12 cable upstairs. Don’t want it any longer. How do I get the “network” to work without drilling holes and running wires. Do I have to get a wireless transmitter for my computer and a wireless receiver for my new TV in order to stream from the playon software to my TV? What external ports do I need to make sure to have on my new TV? Thank You So Much!!!!
Next, connect the HDHomeRun box to your home modem or router using the included ethernet cable. Just plug one end of the ethernet cable into the box and the other end into the ethernet port on the modem or router. The HDHomeRun will always need to stay connected to the modem or router, so make sure you've got room nearby to set up the box and antenna. You could also invest in a longer ethernet cable if you need to.
Start with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, tack on an HBO subscription to the latter, and consider paying for the Brit-centric streaming service Acorn as well. You’ll have plenty to watch, all commercial-free, and if you hear a lot of buzz about a show that isn’t available through any of those platforms, you can always pay for them on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon (or iTunes, Vudu, or whichever digital retailer you prefer).
As we mentioned above, just because you're getting a new TV doesn't necessarily mean you need new HDMI cables, even if you're upgrading to something with 4K and HDR. Over short distances, say under 6 feet (2m), just about any recent "High Speed" HDMI cable should work fine. "High Speed" is the rating used by HDMI companies to indicate cables that have the bandwidth to handle 1080p and greater resolutions.
YouTube TV also falls a bit short in its device support, especially compared to the services we’ve previously covered. It does have the most flexible cloud DVR support, though, allowing users to store programming up to nine months after recording, with standard pause/rewind and catch-up features available. If you have a Google Home device and a Chromecast, YouTube TV can be controlled with voice commands via Google Assistant. Similarly, Google Assistant can even inform you of what content is currently saved to your DVR. If you’re an Android die-hard who utilizes Google’s ecosystem to its fullest, then YouTube TV may be the perfect addition. Read our YouTube TV guide for more info.
DirecTV is another service with high channels counts and multiple package tiers. Like PS Vue, it’s close to the experience you’ll get with cable or satellite when it comes to available channels. In August 2018, DirecTV Now took a major leap forward for football fans, adding the NFL Network to several of its base packages. While competitors like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have offered the NFL Network for some time, it was one of just a few key channels missing from a service known for its channel count. Subscribers of the Just Right package and above now have the channel, meaning it’s only missing from the $40-per-month Live a Little package.
The reason? The recent emergence of new streaming services like Dish Network’s Sling TV, which includes a sampling of the most popular “basic” cable channels, and HBO Now, the only streaming service to include HBO shows, has coincided with Amazon and Netflix coming into their own as producers of serious television. The result is that virtually every class of TV watcher can find most of what they need without paying a cable bill.
For example, DIRECTV charges $20 a month for every month remaining on your contract. So if you need to get out of your contract but you still have nine months left, you’re looking at a cool $180 plus a $15 deactivation fee. It’s steep, for sure, but it’s all in the contract agreement. Make sure to ask your provider about early termination fees before you sign, just in case.

“I realized that I missed my Live TV. I bought an HDTV antenna, however the only channel I could get was NBC because I’m not close to the towers. I researched all of the live streaming options including Hulu Live ($40/month), Sling TV ($20, $25 or $40) and DIRECTV NOW ($35). I got free trials for all three. I liked Hulu Live, however the live user interface took me awhile to get used to. Plus it was the most expensive at $40, still for a bunch of channels I don’t watch. Also it did not have Animal Planet or TLC, channels that I watch. Next I was excited about Sling because of the price, however even with Sling’s $40 option, you don’t get all of the major broadcast networks. So my final selection for live streaming TV is DIRECTV NOW (Live a little package). It has the best value at $35/month with all of the major broadcast networks plus TLC and Animal Planet. Plus I like the user interface for browsing live TV. It has a nice channel guide similar to cable. The only channel that I don’t have live and would like is the OWN network, but I’m not going to pay an extra $15 a month for the next higher package that includes it.” ― Angela L. Lee
With Spectrum TV, for example, you get access to live TV streams for any of the networks in your tier of service. There's also lots of on-demand content for individual shows and some movies. It integrates channel guides and search for select shows/movies. If a channel (or show on a channel) that isn't available to you shows up on a menu, it's generally grayed out. And you can mark shows as favorites so they're easier to follow. But what's annoying is it takes a lot longer for a show to appear in the on-demand section—three or four days, instead of just one with a show on Hulu or even a network's own app, for example.
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