This year alone, some 6 million people are expected to ditch satellite and cable, causing a major pain point for the providers of digital entertainment. Welcome many of the same companies (DirecTV and Dish Network), along with YouTube, Hulu and Sony, in a different sort of offer. A smaller collection of channels, along with broadcast TV locals, no equipment required, and an average price of around $40 monthly. (Along with your internet subscription.)
While I cannot vouch for the legality or the quality of all of these websites, here are 35 a lot of different ways you can still catch your favorite shows and web videos without paying for cable or satellite TV. And while I haven’t tried each and every one of them out for any extended period of time, the first 5 I list are my favorites, to help guide you to some of the ones that work well. I have either given my own opinion of each one or when possible I have taken a blurb from each site’s “About” page to give you a little more info. And if you have a favorite, or you use a site that isn’t listed here, please be sure to mention it in the comments so everyone can check it out!
One of the great dreams of cord-cutting is that it will allow consumers to pick only the channels they actually want, rather than paying for programming they never watch. But the services above essentially operate more like traditional cable, providing packages of channels, not all of which are widely desirable. It’s unlikely that any one of these subscriptions will offer everything that a given consumer is looking for, and it will require viewers to scroll past a lot that they don’t.
On June 11, 1998, News Corporation sold TV Guide to Prevue Networks parent United Video Satellite Group for $800 million and 60 million shares of stock worth an additional $1.2 billion (this followed an earlier merger attempt between the two companies in 1996 that eventually fell apart). At midnight on February 1, 1999, the Prevue Channel was officially renamed to the "TV Guide Channel," and new graphics were implemented. With the rebranding, the hourly segments featured on the channel were revamped, with some being retitled after features in TV Guide magazine – including TV Guide Close-Up (which profiled a select program airing that night), TV Guide Sportsview (which maintained the same format as Prevue Sports, making the segment more similar in format to the listings section's sports guide than the color column of that name in the magazine), and TV Guide Insider (a segment featuring behind-the-scenes interviews).
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.
I am 81 years old. Am tired of paying $66.98 per month for cable.. also pay $51.99 per mo. for internet… and the e-mail has been down for 3 days now. I am in the Atlanta metro area. there is no way I could understand or know how to do what you have. Is there any business in this area that you know of that could set me up. A one time fee would be worth it … my main recreation is the TV and computer. Hopefully Charter will have e-mail fixed so I can receive and send soon. I appreciate any help you can point me to. Thank you.
By 2015, Wall Street had changed its tune. With about 40 million U.S. subscribers, Netflix was becoming a clearer threat. Analysts started pushing media companies to reclaim those old episodes from Netflix to make cable TV more attractive, which could slow the rise of cord-cutting. That year, Todd Juenger, an influential analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, estimated that big media companies, including Viacom, Fox, and CBS, would have been worth a total $45 billion more if they hadn’t done business with Netflix in the first place.
We know that many of our visitors are looking for an all-in-one guide to cord cutting with an as-simple-as-possible explanation of how to watch TV without cable. So that's what we're setting out to do here. In this guide, we'll explain the importance of learning how to watch TV without cable after – or, preferably, even before – you cut the cord. We'll cover the main ways to replace live TV and on-demand content, the best devices to use to stream that content, and the pros and cons of each type of service and device. We'll wrap things up with a summary, plus a reminder of why we run this site and where you might want to go next. So read on: this is how to watch TV without cable.
Have you ever wondered how to watch local TV without cable? Do you think it’s not possible to get your favorite network shows? You’re not alone. Watching TV without cable is possible, and you can save loads of money at the same time. Many don’t know how to watch local channels without cable because they think a pricey cable contract is the only way to get local TV.
With the exception of Sling, all five services continue to add local channels in an attempt to sign up viewers. Because most local stations, aka network affiliates, are owned by companies other than one of the big four networks in question, they usually require separate contracts with providers like streaming services, cable systems and satellite networks.
Once only concerned with soccer channels, fuboTV has expanded its focus to include a broad range of entertainment, albeit with a bit of a sports-centric focus. fuboTV now has deals in place with every major network except for ABC, so depending on your region this service may be able to net you live local feeds of CBS, F0x, and NBC. Regional sports networks, including college football conference networks and the New York-area MSG family of channels and YES, are also peppered throughout fuboTV base and add-on packages. For more on fuboTV, check out our complete review of the service here – or just try it for yourself by checking out fuboTV's week-long free trial via the link below Click the link below to sign up for a free trial of “fubo” ($44.99 per month) or “fubo Extra” ($49.99 per month), both of which have local channels.
I literally watch 90+% of my TV on Hulu for the past several years. I quit cable in 2006. Subscribed to Netflix streaming, and then Hulu Plus as soon as it came out in 2010, but found myself watching most stuff on Hulu. I even quit Netflix for 3 years from 2014 to 2017 because I never watched it. I watched everything on Hulu and signed up for the commercial free subscription as soon as Hulu rolled it out. I signed back up for Netflix for 4K content, but I still hardly watch it. In the last 6 months the only things I’ve watched on Netflix were Better Call Saul season 3, a few episodes of Arrested Development, a couple of episodes of The Break with Michelle Wolf, and Thor Ragnarok. Still watch most stuff on Hulu.
Livestream TV services have no hidden fees, and if you ever decide to cancel, it’s easy and painless — a refreshing change from the hassle of dealing with cable and satellite call centers, even if prices are on the rise. There are many services out there, however, and they all have different prices, channels, and features. To help you sift through the chaos, we’ve put together this handy guide detailing the pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice for you.
In addition, there are lesser-known services to consider, such as ESPN Plus and Crackle, as well as the highly anticipated Disney Plus, which will lead off with a live-action Star Wars series produced by John Favreau, The Mandalorian among multiple Marvel Cinematic Univers spinoffs. That’s just the start, too. We’re also anticipating AT&T’s new three-tiered service with content from Warner Bros. and HBO, Apple’s new service, a new service from NBCUniversal, and more. We’ll be monitoring these new options and updating our list as they come online and compete for your dollars.
1. The good old fashioned antenna. Of course, this all depends on what kind of signal you can get inside your house. In my place here in CO, I can use an HDTV antenna and the channels come in beautifully. But I have lived in other houses where I couldn’t even get snow to show up on the TV (New Mexico, I am looking at you). Antennas mounted on roofs tend to be a lot better at pulling in those free signals, but remember that as of 2009 you need a special digital converter box, as the analog signals will no longer be broadcast (in most communities).
For Linda Stuart: Depending upon where you live (elevation) or access to attic or roof for antenna, you should be able to get all the major broadcast network channels that you mentioned without cable (ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, etc.) over-the-air-waves for FREE with a good antenna. Your local sports might be available on those stations or other local stations that you might be able to access. The major sports channels that are on cable could be premium and not readily available anywhere but on paid cable. (Like ESPN?) I don’t watch sports so I don’t know. Ask your cable company if they offer a minimal basic rate, really inexpensive, to only get a those few major sports channels. I doubt it because that is their BIG draw for cable to the many in our culture who are sports oriented. Good luck!
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.
But cable providers didn't factor in that the internet they provide would become their worst enemy via access to streaming video. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are the most well-known names in what's become known as "cord cutting"—doing away with pay TV and using over-the-air (like the old days) or internet-based services to get all your "television" programming. That means no more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don't watch (in theory). Instead, you pay individual services for a la carte programming. It's a lot like paying for just what you watch. Almost.
Google was comparatively late to the game, but it's carved out itself a nice little niche with YouTube TV. Its interface is no-nonsense, even drab, and yet it offers most of the features a cable service can give you -- namely, a robust channel lineup including local channels in just about every area it serves. It also has a very strong DVR, including unlimited storage, with one catch: If an episode you've recorded appears in YouTube TV's VOD library, it gets replaced by the on-demand version -- so you lose the ability to fast-forward through commercials. And unlike Sling and others, it's dead simple: one package, one price, done.
Basically, when you go to your xbox and select to view video, you can view video from the xbox’s hard drive (stuff you download from xbox live), or from one of the connected media servers. Playon would be one of the connected media servers (in addition to the built in media server in windows vista -which only has limited streaming capabilities). Does that make sense or did I just muddy the water even more?
In terms of bonus features, Sling TV is pretty standard, but it does have some unique standouts. The first is Game Finder, a search feature on the Sling TV website that finds live and upcoming sports content available for your channel package and region. There’s also a bandwidth limiter, which will help keep you from going over your data limits — streaming video content can eat up data quickly, after all, so this is a welcome feature.
Every major television broadcaster (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and the CW) has some kind of free content available on their website — some more than others. You might have to poke around a bit to find out if full episodes of your favorite show are available. Sometimes the full episodes are hidden behind a paywall, with only a smattering of episode clips available for free.
On the other hand, these services have clear drawbacks compared with cable. The first is that your ability to record programs or stream them later can vary from channel to channel. For example, Sling TV lets you watch content from up to seven days in the past on many channels, but ESPN and some other channels don’t allow you to rewind at all. And certain channels on Sling TV, including ESPN, allow you to stream to only one device at a time, whereas you can stream other channels to multiple devices at once. In a home with multiple users, people will likely get frustrated when their program stops because another person started to watch it in another room. Channel listings can also vary depending on your location, so you might gain or lose a local station or two if you’re using the service on the road. In addition, you don’t always get access to app streaming with any of these packages; you’ll be able to watch anything through the service’s interface, but not a network’s own app.
So when people ask “how to cut the cord,” it's pretty clear that they're not really asking how to cut the cord. They're actually asking how to watch TV without cable. They're asking how they can replace all of their favorite shows, how to watch the latest movies, and how to fill the void that channel-surfing, live NFL games, or whatever else they liked about cable has left in its wake. That's what we dedicate the most time to here on the site. We call out site Cordcutting.com because all of the topics we cover are related to cord cutting in some way, but if we really wanted to name it after what we cover most, we'd call it HowToWatchTVWithoutCable.com. Not quite as catchy, we know.
DIRECTV NOW was DIRECTV’s way of keeping its satellite TV service available for users who don’t want a dish installed or multi-year contracts. You can use the Just Right package and add HBO (Game of Thrones and Westworld for only $5 more per month instead of $15? Yeah, we’re in). Consider also that you can get your favorite networks like HGTV, Sundance TV, and the Travel Channel. Plus, you can also record up to 20 hours of TV to hold onto for 30 days with the included cloud DVR.
I would love to save, although our cable bill for TV is not extraordinary. But I’m 75 and I don’t understand the details. We don’t want to watch TV on a computer. It sounds as if the cheaper options all require the internet. But the internet doesn’t connect to the TV set. I don’t think our TV can receive a wireless signal unless we add some kind of cable box to it (it has a separate cable going to it than the cable box for the computers). Also, my husband watches FOX news most of the day and also all the channels with food shows, Alaskan living, ancient aliens, Pitbulls and Paroles – so we don’t want to cut off his entertainment. We live in SE Iowa and our cable bill is $157 a month including: high speed internet, landline with free long distance, TV package, TIVO. The basic cost is $120 – the rest is fees and taxes, etc. The stuff tacked onto the bill is ridiculous! Also, we practically never watch a movie – never as far as newer movies go. And we aren’t interested in the shows produced by HBO or Netflix, etc. I’m thinking our current plan is our best option. Am I missing something?
In the past decade, the Federal Communications Commission and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona attempted to force media companies to offer their channels individually. Neither effort went very far. The cable industry argued prices would rise if consumers could choose only certain channels, and channels aimed at minority groups, for instance, wouldn’t survive without every subscriber paying for them—regardless of whether they watched.
2. Get a decent Internet deal. Dennis Restauro, who runs the cord-cutting website and podcast Grounded Reason, says that to stream high-definition TV shows, you need a speed of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) per TV set. Restauro suggests you spend no more than $70 a month for your Internet service. Calls to Internet service providers in the Washington area revealed that it is possible to hit that goal, with regular prices at HughesNet and RCN and introductory prices at Verizon Fios. Also be on the lookout for fees that aren’t included in the base rate. The website BroadbandNow reveals most providers’ introductory prices, regular prices and added fees. Bonus tip: Many providers charge extra to rent you a router, but you may be able to buy your own.
Loosen and remove the head of the cable wire from the wall cable outlet. Connect the short coaxial TV cable to the wall by placing the head of the cable over the threaded coaxial wall connector. Attach the head of the other end of the short coaxial cable to the single-sided end of the cable splitter. The cable splitter has a one-sided end, where there is a single-threaded coaxial connector for the cable to go in, and a two-sided end, where the cable is split up and transmitted out to two separate TV's.
You’d be surprised Vicki, many can’t part with either for some reason. That said, taking a look at that site there are very few series available on it so it wouldn’t be a good option for many. I’d also disagree that you can get most of what you want to watch online. For many they’ll want or need a streaming services to replace the channels/shows they watch most.
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.
I just dumped my cable tv service three days ago after they suddenly raised my monthly bill $25 to $194 per month for tv, internet, and phone. By dropping the tv and inquiring about a discount on my internet, my bill will be around $81 per month for 10Mps internet and VOIP phone. I am considering dropping my landline and using my tracfone cell phone only, which would shave off another $35 per month.
The only reasons not to get an inexpensive antenna are because you don’t want to fuss between different inputs, or you can’t find a suitable window or another spot in your home. Other than that, it’s the best way to ensure you get all your local channels, which many streaming services lack in some form. Read our comparison of the best antennas available right now.
Currently have Uverse which is great but uber epensive. Dropping it end of Feb when move into new home, Already ordered and received two Roku units; will subscribe to Netflix and HuluPlus at $7.99/month each. Putting antenna in attic for local OTA, which is free, of course. 6.0 mgbs ATT dsl $25/month, but that’s not just for TV. Phone,Internet and TV for about $66+tax/month. Currently pay $176/month. Saves me more than $1200/year and still provides almost all the programming I actually use. Ditch’em.
CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4
Showtime Online has a unique service of being able to be added on to other services that you may already subscribe to. For $9 a month, it can be added to Amazon Prime and Hulu and for $11, Playstation Vue. Showtime offers you award-winning series like Dexter, Weeds and House of Lies as well as a large selection of movies including action, comedies and dramas added each month. The stand-alone service is $11 and it offers both live viewing and streaming.
ClearStream's final entry is the 4MAX, which is an improvement on the 4V when it comes to range and general setup. Quality-wise, this offers what you'd expect from the previous ClearStream antennas with a 70- mile range and 4K capability. That said, the 4MAX is able to bump up the range a bit in the right conditions. And it does use a more streamlined design over the 4V, making the overall setup much easier and saving a bit of space.