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.
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.
General idea: CuriosityStream, or as Mashable called it, "the Netflix of non-fiction," is a unique streaming service that wants to help viewers explore their universe through non-fiction documentaries. Hashtag edu-tainment. (And yes, you read that right. Three bucks a month.) Instead of offering a mix of different channels like traditional streaming services, CuriosityStream offers over 1,500 science, history, and technology documentaries that wouldn't be found on many popular channels. Topics include famous assassinations, nature, evolution, and a whole lot of space stuff. It's like your own personal museum, but you don't have to blow all your money for a ticket and don't have to deal with someone's kid running around. Unless it's your kid, that is.

You don't need to put together an extremely detailed accounting of this right from the get-go, but it's helpful to keep what you want in mind as we examine the services and devices that promise to deliver it. All of the cord cutting world's services and devices are setting out to solve certain problems and deliver on certain promises. You should have at least a vague idea of whether you care about the problems they address or should be excited by the promises they make!


The hardware is nice, even though it's a bit bigger than other similar devices. The remote is also quite good, acting as a minimal, Apple TV-like remote on one side with a mini keyboard on the other. The keyboard makes a huge difference, but doesn't feel like it makes the remote overly complicated. If I had one complaint, it's that the keyboard is a little hard to type on—especially because it requires you to hold down Alt or Shift to get numbers or capital letters, unlike similar keyboards you'd find on phones. It's just a little off-putting at first. But overall, the remote is really great.

When talking to people who are interested in cutting the cord, the issue that continually crops up is how to find affordable internet access. Many ask how to obtain internet access without a cable TV bundle. While market competition between internet service providers in the U.S. is extremely low, you can still find deals on high-speed internet only plans without a TV bundle.

Prime Video is a nice hybrid of an all-you-can-eat streaming service like Netflix, plus a video-on-demand store, with plenty of original content to go with it. It's "free" to anyone with a Prime account, which is best known for giving customers free two-day shipping—but you can also get Prime Video for $8.99 a month as a standalone service, with none of the other Amazon extras.
* It is possible to build an antenna for less than $20 that can receive stations from over 50 miles away. Google for “M4 DB4 antenna DIY” for plans and instructions. A home-built antenna can be specificly tuned to the RF channels in your area. My area still has 5 very important stations in the Hi-VHF range – I suspect most metro areas are in a similar situation, though many stations are broadcasting on UHF now.
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.
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.
WOW you get all that for $157 per month. I should be so lucky. We are paying $328 per month and are livid. Although we do rent 2 DVRs and have HBO, MAX. SHOW and STARZ . This cable company is horrible and its only competition is satellite and the internet options Kayla has explained. On top of that we live 50 miles south of DC and an antenna up to 20 feet high gets us poor reception on 3 channels with a quality hdtv antenna. I mam checking into these alternatives but the hard part is getting our favorite channels.
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.
Great! You’re already half way there! What I would do next is take a look at Hulu, Sling TV, CBS All Access, etc. to find out which option has the majority of what you want to see. If that company does not cover sports you may have to purchase an add on for it. As far as local sports, you might consider an antenna if you can’t get coverage otherwise.
But seriously, DIRECTV is where it’s at if you’re a sports fan. On top of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV offers à la carte programming for most major sports leagues, including MLB EXTRA INNINGS®, NBA LEAGUE PASS, MLS Direct KickTM, and NHL® CENTER ICE®. Also, when you upgrade to the ENTERTAINMENT package, you’ll get ESPN, TNT, and TBS—which carry Monday Night Football, Inside the NBA, and the majority of college hoops (including March Madness) between them.
Perhaps the biggest enabler for those aiming to quit cable for good — without giving up live TV — is the growing list of live TV streaming services available, all of which come with free trial periods and no contracts. There are several to choose from, each with its own advantages (and disadvantages). We’ve got a detailed comparison piece that breaks down each of these services in finer detail, but below is a general overview.
I was very disappointed when the NBC-based channel US Sports went to cable on January 1st. I used to enjoy the gymnastics and skating there. Now, in an Olympic year, they decided to move from the free NBC channel 5.3 to a paid cable channel. It’s like those certain sports events are only available on paid cable, or video reruns on USsports.com. It’s really lousy in an Olympic year!
It could be true that choosing one of these options won’t get you all of shows you could get with cable. However, if you truly want to get rid of cable, knowing what some of the options are can help you choose the BEST one. Then you can make the decision of whether or not it is worth it to spend the additional money to get the extra one or two channels through cable OR sacrifice one or two shows to save a BUNCH of money. It just depends your priorities.
All that said, Google TV does have a feature that is—in my opinion—the Holy Grail feature of set-top boxes: universal search. If you enter the TV & Movies app and search for a TV show, it'll show you a list of seasons and episodes. Select an episode and it'll show you which services it's available on (like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube). You can then decide from there which service you want to use to watch it. It's a lot nicer than having to search each library separately for that show that's harder to find. Every device should implement this, and I really hope Google expands it to include other apps in the future.
Great! You’re already half way there! What I would do next is take a look at Hulu, Sling TV, CBS All Access, etc. to find out which option has the majority of what you want to see. If that company does not cover sports you may have to purchase an add on for it. As far as local sports, you might consider an antenna if you can’t get coverage otherwise.
I just watch tv with an antenna. I get every network channel except cbs,. There are some extras like METV, QVC, HSN, Buzzer, Laff,, Hero, etc. About 40 channels in all. Not bad for a $30 antenna. I get the season of Big Bang Theory on DVD at Christmas. And cruise the used DVD store for Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and whatever else I might want to watch. I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy on ABC online on my laptop if I missed it airing (no Tivo or anything) until I started to hate the show. I’d totally get one of those plans like Sling or Netflix , but I have satellite internet and only have so much data per month.
One note of caution: if you do decide to cancel your cable subscription, there is no perfect method to cut the cord and no magic configuration that will give you all the access that you’re used to with cable at a deep discount. You will likely have to subscribe to a patchwork of different services to get all the channels and shows you want to watch. And even then you might have to forgo watching certain shows live and decide to sacrifice access to channels you’re used to having.
Lastly, Google TV's streaming services are pretty good, since it has most of the Google Play store at its disposal. You can watch Netflix, Amazon (however crappily), and some sports channels, but a lot of content is missing—like Hulu and other TV channels. It does, however, have the movies and TV section of Google Play, which like iTunes lets you download and rent videos to your TV. Prices are comparable for movies, costing about $15-20 to buy, with a pretty good selection. Shows are cheaper at $20-$40 per season, but the selection leaves a lot to be desired. That said, other apps like the Chrome web browser, the occasional video game, or the awesome Plex media center make Google TV a bit more appealing.
Sometimes those contracts don't work out. A major case in point came in May, when Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a major owner of local stations nationwide, pulled its stations from Sony's PlayStation Vue service. Vue lost a good chunk of channels, moving from second-most in August of 2017 to second-to-last now, beating only Sling. Even Fubo TV has more local channels than Vue.
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.) 
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