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.

The antenna seems well-made and it works. I tried it initially indoors on the first floor. I wasn't expecting too much, as the TV stations are around 50 miles away. I only got a few stations set up this way. It makes a difference where in the room the antenna is located. Sitting in a window that faces the direction of the TV stations is the place to start. Or maybe in an attic. This antenna is also designed for outdoor use. I mounted it outside on an eave-mounted TV mast. If you have a mounting mast, it is VERY easy to install.
You can watch most of your favorite network shows by simply streaming them directly from the networks' web sites. They're often available a few hours after they air, and regularly have additional goodies like behind-the-scenes footage or teasers for upcoming episodes. In addition to official network sites, more and more useful tools are popping up every day to help you get your TV fix online.
Different Internet Service Providers, known as I.S.P.s, have different tiers. The various streaming services make different recommendations — typically available on their individual sites — as to the minimum requirements that allow their content to look sharp and run smoothly on different devices. Averaging their recommendations out, you’ll probably want to make sure that you have a minimum 4 Mb/s (that’s megabyte per second) connection, which, be warned, isn’t available in some of the more rural areas of the United States.
Req. compatible device and Fios® TV. Content restrictions may apply. Fios Internet req’d for in-home use. Full channel access and DVR streaming require Fios Multi-Room DVR Enhanced or Premium Service. Max. combined 4 simultaneous Live TV and/or DVR streams per media server. Verizon Wireless Data-Free Streaming: Req. postpay 4G LTE service. Non-streaming activity and app diagnostics (e.g., app downloads, starting/restarting the app, going off airplane mode and transitioning from Wi-Fi to 4G LTE) will incur data charges. For Verizon Unlimited customers, app data usage will be counted, not billed.
Another drawback is that you usually don’t get your local networks with these services. Since most TVs include an integrated HDTV tuner, adding an antenna will give you access to those channels, but you won’t be able to record or time-shift them. Streaming services lag behind satellite and cable by 15 to 60 seconds, too, so if you’re watching sports and trying to avoid spoilers, you’ll probably have to stop checking your Twitter timeline. You can also run into buffering issues, but those are usually due to problems with your Internet connection rather than the streaming service. (Some people have encountered issues during peak shows such as Game of Thrones, but Wirecutter staffers haven’t personally experienced them—it may depend more on your Internet connection and local network speed.)
It’s these little things, plus the channel offerings, that make PlayStation Vue feel more like a traditional TV service (even though it’s not). You also get free DVR service with PlayStation Vue and can store an unlimited number shows for up to a month before they get automatically deleted. We really like the recording features that PlayStation Vue offers, but the downside is that you can only record one show at a time.
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.)
A reader of the blog informed me that WOW! now offers Internet access in Knoxville Tennessee. They offer speeds of 30 Mbps for just $25 and 60 Mbps for just $40 a Mbps. If anyone has any experience with their Internet-only service them please post in the comments. They appear to offer service in parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.
A couple years ago, some services decided it wasn't enough to just provide some a la carte streaming of shows. They wanted to provide what is pretty much a full cable-television subscription experience over the internet. These are those services. They won't necessarily give you super-granular control over content like you'd have with a regular streaming service, or even moreso with a DVR recording stuff off the air, but they give you access to a lot of content you might not otherwise get without a cable subscription—especially news and sports.
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.
I just received my satellite bill after my 2 year contract was up and it went from $70 to 130 and I only have the basic package. I can’t justify the cost. I have Netflix and Hulu that we watch through our DVD player. I work a crazy 12 night shift and I rely on my DVR for the shows I miss. My question is regarding my options for recording shows because Hulu is the closest option for the shows I watch but it doesn’t always have the current shows. I’m thinking about trying sling but not sure if I can still use my DVD player or will have to get a Roku device.
Hi to everyone tuned into this conversation here. First off, Peter I have to thank you for sharing your advice and putting it out on here for all of us to benefit from. I’m just beginning to embrace this shift in the way TV is consumed. (I’ve admittedly but proudly been without TV and cable for the past 3 years). I just had a projector, a dvd player and a super nes.

In 2008, Heidi Brown wrote in Forbes that "the Kremlin is using charm, good photography and a healthy dose of sex appeal to appeal to a diverse, skeptical audience. The result is entertaining – and ineffably Russian." She added that Russia Today has managed to "get foreigners to at least consider the Russian viewpoint – however eccentric it may be..."[140]
Apart from the basic packages, add-on packs like Sports Extra, News Extra, Kids Extra, and other bundles can be added on top. There’s even a respectable selection of movies for rent in HD for $4 each. While the picture may not be quite as reliable as cable or satellite TV (often dependent upon your device), Sling TV is affordable and easy to use, and the reliability has improved remarkably since launch.

Not so long ago, blogs like ours tended to be a bit skeptical about smart TVs. The reason for that was that external streaming devices had an edge, generally speaking, in ease of use and in their app libraries. Like your smartphone or tablet, streaming devices and smart TVs tend to connect you with services through individual apps rather than through an internet browser. Also like your smart phone, apps for one platform don't work on another – so each platform has its own “app store,” just like iPhones and Android phones have different app stores. services have to make apps for each platform separately, and streaming platforms that traditionally came on external devices, like Roku, have the most apps available.
Beyond the DVR issue, DirecTV Now is one of the stingiest services we’ve seen when it comes to simultaneous screens. You can only stream on two devices at a time, regardless of which channel package you choose. So even if you put down good money to get the $70-per-month “Gotta Have It” channel package with 120 channels, you still won’t get any additional streams added to your account.
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.
Hey Vince – I’ve been meaning to add Playstation Vue to this list! They are good. They have a higher minimum price point, but you do get a lot of value for it. But I will disagree about Sling – on my Android, my wife’s iphone, and our Roku 3, SlingTV’s app has been great on all platforms. About a year ago when they were first starting out, buffering was horrible sometimes. But they’ve cleaned it up, increased their bandwidth and I have had no issues at all in the past 9 months.

Similarly, if you have a monthly data cap on your Internet service, purchasing TV shows and downloading them can significantly eat into that cap—you may even need to pay for a higher level of Internet service to handle the downloads each month. A single hour of streaming video can eat up 5 gigabytes of data, making a 250 GB data cap seem fairly small.
We just started using PlayStation Vue. So far we really like it. I looked into Sling TV when we were getting ready to cut the cord, but then I came across PlayStation Vue and it had more channels and more of the channels we as a family wanted. My husband gets a ton of his sports channels, including the Golf channel and we still get Disney Jr. for our son. We also have Netflix and a HD antenna for local channels. PlayStation Vue was only $5 more a month so it was worth it for us. We access it through the Amazon Fire stick.
The interface is great. It's fast, smooth, and incredibly simple. You have all your basic channels on the front page in a grid, letting you access your movies, TV shows, and music from iTunes, as well as streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and sports sites like MLB.tv, NBA, and NHL. It even has a list of recent and popular movies along the top if you aren't sure what you want to watch, which is kind of fun. Anything else you want to play can be shot to the Apple TV through AirPlay on an iOS device, or via AirPlay mirroring on a Mac. It isn't ideal, but it'll get the job done for just about anything you want to watch.

Unlike some of the other streaming services available, Fubo.tv is marketed directly at sports fans. It has access to most of the standard sports channels, like NBC Sports Network, and Fox Sports 1, but it notably does not include ESPN. In lieu of the worldwide leader, Fubo.tv includes the most robust combination of specialized sports stations. Fans of international soccer and major college football conferences with their own networks, in particular, should be satisfied by the service’s access to the Big Ten Network, Pac 12 Network, and BeIN Sports. Fubo.tv also provides access to certain regional sports networks, depending on where you live. In New York, we found that Fubo.tv subscribers could stream programming from the YES Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games.

The moment for me when the idea of dropping TV service became a long term prospect rather than just a short term experiment so I could write this article, was when I plugged in the antenna. The fact that I can get such high quality output, for network and PBS channels I had been paying for makes it hard for me to envision going back to a cable TV subscription. In addition, I have to sit through far fewer commercials (though I suspect that may change over time). Watching Netflix movies on the TV is much more satisfying than on the smaller computer screen and of course the freedom to watch current TV programs on my own schedule is a huge benefit when juggling the demands of work and family. I know there will be times during the year when a sports event I want to watch will be unavailable. But there's just no arguing with the dramatic cost savings. Pay TV is undeniably a richer experience, but is it worth a 330% premium? Not for me.

Philo is unique among the other skinny bundle internet TV services in that it does not offer any sports channels. That means if you love both MTV and ESPN, Philo is not the service for you. By eschewing sports channels, Philo is able to offer entertainment-only networks for a low cost, but this does ultimately create a more niche service, compared to other options like Sling TV and DirecTV Now. You won’t get any sports coverage at all with Philo.


If any of these options think they are worthy to cause one to cut the cord they are all sadly mistaken. Once you add the total cost these options charge, just to get the more highly desirable stations most people expect, you run into limitations: how many devices you can stream simultaneously, how much bandwidth you would need to even maintain stability, and how much more speed you’ll have to pay for with your internet provider to get it. It’s almost as if they are pushing potential cord cutters right back to their cable providers. Not to mention, Comcast/Xfinity, as much as I despise them, gives more reasonable offers for less cost, with anywhere DVR – both local and cloud based.
Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don't have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.

Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don't have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.
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.
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!
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.
I take it you have done your homework and it sounds as though you know your stuff! However, I do not know who you are or if you are a “plant” by the cable industry to down talk these alternative methods to cable. Having said that, I need to do my own research and I know I have to start somewhere, so I consider your remarks and opinions as that start. The problem I see in doing research is “who to trust”! Call me cynical if you wish. However, I detest these things about cable: 1) The major cable companies (Comcast, Spectrum, et al) control the perimeters of choice for consumers by, as you stated, “blocking” given areas; 2) If you want to watch a given number of channels, the cable companies mentioned control the “plans” for the channels that include my favorites like sports, local channels, documentaries, etc… I could not care less for the so-called movie channels that show hardly anything but smut movies. I have to pay an astronomical monthly fee to get the preferred channels and pay for channels I do not want or watch. I suppose I could list much more disgust that I have for cable. However, all I would be doing is frustrating myself more. The task of searching for the best solution is to me, much too tedious and not as trustworthy as is being touted by these “cable cutting” enterprises. So, until I can find a more realistic alternative, I will stay with the blood-sucking cable company which I currently have.
The three aforementioned services are the most popular and have fairly similar offerings. Though their libraries are constantly changing, Netflix currently tends to have the deepest library of previously aired shows. A Hulu subscription also gives you access to current seasons of shows that are still on the air. And if you already pay for an Amazon Prime subscription, you should definitely see if they offer the shows you’d want to watch before subscribing to anything else.
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.
Sling TV offers two base channel monthly packages: Sling Orange ($25) and Sling Blue ($25). Sling Orange offers popular channels like ESPN, but is limited to a single stream — meaning subscribers can only view on one device at a time. Sling Blue offers many of the same channels as Orange along with a whole lot more, but is also missing some key channels, ESPN among them. On the flip side, Sling Blue offers NFL RedZone as part of the Sports Extra add-on package, a must-have channel for NFL fans. Viewers can sign up for both packages and get a discount, bringing the total to $40 per month.
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?
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.
I live on the West Side of Manhattan and watch only local channels using an antenna. Unfortunately the signal is periodically interrupted so that I get sound but not a picture (gray and white horizontal stripes appear on the screen). Is there any way to determine the source of this interference or to counteract it? The timing of it has led me to wonder if the use of cable or streaming in the area is creating the problem.

The majority of cable and satellite TV providers offer customers packaged deal pricing on a contract basis. Generally, rates are locked in for two or more years, although companies may include an increase in cost after six or 12 months. Customers should ensure they do research about their contract and what it entails before locking in service with one company.
The intro package, called Live A Little, offers more than 60 channels for $40 (following a $5 price rise in July 2018). For $55, the Just Right package offers over 80 channels. The package given the most attention by DirecTV Now during its launch event was the $65/month Go Big package, offering more than 100 channels, but if you’re looking for everything you can get, the Gotta Have It packages dishes up more than 120 channels for $75 per month. As with PS Vue, these packages and prices are always changing, so check out our DirecTV Now explainer piece for more details.

Many local libraries have movies and television shows on DVD, and some even offer BluRay. Borrowing one is completely free as long as you are eligible for a library card, and you usually have a generous return window too. The only caveats are that your selection may be limited and other borrowers may not have been kind to the DVD when they borrowed it, so some of them may not work. But, when the cost is $0, it isn’t as painful when that happens.
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.
Spectrum is now requiring a box for all TVs to receive their signal. I have a TV in the basement that I use while exercising and watch only news programs. Is their a way I can use one of your suggestions that will allow me to watch the news. Or are MSNBC, CNN, FOX etc by definition only cable channels. We have Amazon Prime and Netflix and would love to cut the cable if there were a way to also get these news channels. Thanks.
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.
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.
Someone mentioned using a splitter with the high speed internet service to get free cable tv. That can’t work. I already had such a splitter (and still do) when I had cable tv, and the cable line went into a cable box. I had to return the box when I cancelled service. Our cable company is switching everyone including the basic cable tv customers to digital which means that everyone must have a cable box in order to get cable tv.
Cable stinks, but it didn't always stink, and its channel bundles include some great stuff. That inspired the companies behind the major live TV streaming services to set out to beat cable at its own game. They began to offer pay TV “multichannel” services – industry lingo for cable- and satellite-type pay TV bundles – only they slashed the size and the price of cable's bulky bundles and offered folks a key selection of channels for less. And since these services stream online, you can watch them anywhere and on almost any device.
With the Digital Starter package starting at $49.99 per month, Xfinity comes in with the best all-around package out of all our recommended TV providers. The channel selection for Xfinity’s entry package is pretty similar to DISH’s base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, AMC, and Discovery). It’s also a better bargain than the satellite service (and the next-closest cable TV provider, Spectrum) by about  $10 per month.
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