Smart TVs – A smart TV is going to cost you more than a streaming device 99 times out of 100 because, well, it's a TV, too! But a smart TV with a great platform can be an awesome choice. Be a little wary of lesser-known platforms. They can be clumsy to use, and if you're not actually using your smart TV's smart-ness, that's a waste (and might lead you to buy one of the devices above in the end anyway). Another important consideration: the bigger the streaming platform, the better the app selection. You can watch Netflix on anything, but support for smaller SVOD services and skinny bundles is a bit rarer. Last but not least, it's worth noting that fans of simplicity who are planning to use an OTA antenna to watch TV without cable may find they prefer smart TVs, since the input selection will be built in and everything can be handled with one remote (by contrast, using an OTA antenna and a separate streaming device will mean using the TV remote to watch OTA TV and the streaming device remote to stream – and the TV remote again to switch between the two inputs). Examples: Sony Smart TVs (many run the Android TV platform), Roku TVs (manufactured by TCL and others), Fire TV Edition TVs (manufactured by Element).
Credit: ShutterstockTom's Guide compared all three services head-to-head-to-head, and discovered that Netflix is generally the best of the three. However, the services do not offer exactly the same thing. Netflix is a good all-purpose service, while Hulu focuses on recently aired TV, and Amazon Prime is part of a larger service that also offers free shipping on Amazon orders, e-book loans and other perks. (Viewers who just want Amazon Video without any other perks can now subscribe to it for $9 per month.)
Thanks for the list! I’ve been living without cable for 2.5 years and it’s great! I am surprised so many people continue to pay for cable, especially with prices for everything else going up. I watch a few broadcast shows, and then any shows I miss I can usually find online. I started out using fanpop.com but think I’ll check out a few of the above to compare. As for LM&M’s comments about talking about the shows at work….I think that you (David) work from home. 🙂 I say try the no-cable route for a while. You can always buy a package later…

This one’s easy: Get FilmStruck for sure, and then consider Mubi, Fandor and SundanceNow if you never want to run out of challenging foreign films, indie films and documentaries. And while cinephiles who decry Netflix’s paucity of older movies may be shocked to hear this, that service’s teeming library of recent art films from around the world (in July 2018 they included “Aquarius,” “Nocturama” and “Staying Vertical”) is maybe its best-kept secret.
In November 2016, after the US Presidential Election, The Washington Post reported that RT and Sputnik were "state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports" and also that "RT, Sputnik and other Russian sites used social-media accounts to amplify misleading stories already circulating online".[260] The Post was criticized by The Intercept, Fortune, and Rolling Stone for relying in part on an analysis by PropOrNot, an anonymous organization with no reputation for fact-checking.[261][262][263]

As you might expect from its namesake satellite TV service, DirecTV Now is one of the most traditional offerings here. Its base $40 package has more worthwhile channels than any of the others, and you can get pretty much any channel (except NFL Red Zone, absent from many competitors too) as you step up. A recent redesign brought with it a DVR and enhanced on-demand options. During our DirecTV Now review, the Roku app didn't work as we expected -- we couldn't pause live TV, for example -- but in its defense, the service does offer the very cable-like ability to channel surf by swiping left and right. It also offers deals on streaming devices and benefits for AT&T Wireless customers, including discounts and being able to stream on your phone without using mobile data.

And even though the monthly price generally starts off higher than satellite, you won’t see the same kind of second-year price hikes with cable. This makes it easier to budget for up front since you won’t be falling for sweet promotional deals that come back to haunt your bank account in 12 months. Also, because cable doesn’t require contracts, you have a lot more flexibility than satellite. Unfortunately, if you live in a rural area, you may not have cable as an option.
If you (and your significant other) are comfortable with a larger, more industrial design, the $100 ClearStream 2 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that boasts a 50-mile range. The benefit of the more powerful Clearstream 2 is that I could place it anywhere in the room and pull in 70 channels, ranging from the major networks to PBS affiliates and local Spanish and Chinese language broadcasts.

Feature-wise, Philo is similar to the other services above (and cheaper, to boot). DVR access allows for recording and storing content, though, like Playstation Vue, your DVR content will only stick around for a limited time — 30 days, in this case. Another feature Philo includes is the ability to access content from pay-walled apps for channels carried by Philo. For example, since Philo’s channel packages includes AMC and Nickelodeon, you’ll be able to download and watch through the dedicated AMC and Nickelodeon apps at no extra charge by signing in with your Philo account.


Price: The basic plan, Live A Little, has over 60 channels for $35/month. The Just Right plan has over 80 channels for $50/month. The Go Big plan has over 100 channels for $60/month. And finally, the Gotta Have It plan has over 120 channels (what) for $70/month. Kinda pricey, but damn, having that many choices sounds nice. There's also a Spanish plan, Todo Y Mas, with over 90 channels for $45/month.
DirecTV Now offers a base DVR for free, with 20 hours of recording per month, and will store recorded content for up to 30 days, after which it will be deleted to make room for new recordings. If that’s not quite enough for you, an upgrade is available for $10 per month that increases your DVR allowances to 100 recording hours and up to 90 days for storage. While these DVR features are better than most, it’s worth noting that DirecTV Now’s True Cloud DVR has a severe limitation on channels that can be paused, fast-forwarded, or rewound compared to other services. On the plus side, though, you’ll be able to watch all your DVR content from any device, even when on mobile devices outside your home Wi-Fi network. Recent updates also now allow HBO and Cinemax programming on the DVR service.

Remember the days when you could watch network television for free? (those under 25, ask your parents). Well those channels are still available at no cost...if you have an antenna. And no, we're not talking about the clunky rabbit ears of old. Antennas have changed substantially in looks and performance over the last several years. Breakthroughs in technology spurred by development of the tiny but powerful digital antennas in smartphones have been adapted to the realm of TV reception.  The result? "TV antennas today are 10% of the mass they were decades ago," says Richard Schneider, president of Missouri-based manufacturer Antennas Direct. "And the move to an all digital transmission that the FCC mandated back in 2009 has put those TV signals in a higher frequency which means a better signal with less noise".

Consensus: We'd pay for Hulu just for access to the originals. The thought of that, plus access to live TV and most of the classic channels you'd want from cable anyway (except for Viacom, RIP) isn't a bad gig. However, other premium services like DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer more channels in their base package for the same price (or less), so if you weren't with Hulu in the first place for the non-live stuff, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if all you want are some basic news channels plus a few extras, Hulu is where it's at.
A study involving Professor Robert Orttung at George Washington University states that RT uses human interest stories without ideological content to attract viewers to its channels. Also between January and May 2015, the Russian-language channel actually had the most viewers, with approximately double the number of the main channel, despite only having around one third the number of subscribers.[99]
On October 5, 1999, Gemstar International Group Ltd. purchased United Video Satellite Group.[16] Finally, throughout December of that year on cable systems nationwide, a new, modernized yellow grid began replacing the navy blue grid that had presented channel listings to viewers for the past six years. The old navy blue grid was completely phased out by early January 2000. With the arrival of TV Guide Channel's yellow grid, all remaining vestiges of Prevue Channel had been eliminated: its Amiga-based hardware infrastructure was decommissioned, and purpose-built, Windows NT/2000 PCs employing custom-designed graphics/sound expansion cards were installed. With this new infrastructure additionally came the ability for local cable companies to perform silent remote administration of all their installations' locally customizable features, making live, on-screen guide maintenance interruptions by cable system technicians a thing of the past.
Prime ($8.99/mo., $119/yr.): If you shop a lot on Amazon, it’s already worth it to pay the hundred bucks a year (or $12.99/mo.) for Prime, which includes the streaming Prime Video service, the Prime Music service, some free Kindle books and free two-day shipping on many products. If you’re not big on yearly commitments, you can still get just the video service for $8.99 a month. 
In my Google Chromecast Review, I stated Chromecast is the best option for pure cost-cutting. At $35.99 there isn’t much out there that will beat that price point. You will need an existing smartphone, tablet or laptop to use Google Chromecast. Chromecast allows you to stream content from apps on the device to your television. Installation is easy as all you do is plug it into your TV’s HDMI port and set it up on your Wi-Fi network.
It kind of depends on what you’re using to watch Playon? Are you using a game console like xbox 360? If so, you’ll need to get a wireless router that is connected to your PC in some way to transmit to the xbox 360 – which will also need to have a usb wireless adapter (unless it is one of the new Xbox units that has wireless built in). Otherwise, if you buy one of the new TVs that have a media player built in that can play streaming media, you’ll just need to make sure it has wireless built in as well. I guess it really depends on what setup you’ll be using – and what you’ll be using to play the streaming media.

General idea: As you can tell by the name, CBS All-Access is a clutch streaming service to have if you really like CBS shows like Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Doctor, and Criminal Minds (but let's be real, most people pay for it specifically for Star Trek). This service is a little different as it's not giving you a selection of different channels, but you will have access to over 10,000 episodes of classic shows as well as news from CBSN. CBS is also the channel that covers a lot of sports (like NFL games) and award shows (like the Grammys), so an All-Access subscription is nice to have in your back pocket when important live events like those are coming up.
If you want to take advantage of streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth — you'll need a way to display them on your TV. If you have a recent TV from a major manufacturer, you may not need to get anything at all. Smart TVs usually have these apps built in, and almost every high-end TV sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities.
If you’ve already signed up with a cable replacement service and you’re unhappy with its local TV coverage, you may want to consider adding OTA capture functionality to fill in the gaps. With a TV tuner and an antenna, you can watch local TV channels on just about every major entertainment platform. Once your system is able to access local TV, you can use the free or inexpensive software mentioned above to add DVR capabilities.

Feature-wise, Philo is similar to the other services above (and cheaper, to boot). DVR access allows for recording and storing content, though, like Playstation Vue, your DVR content will only stick around for a limited time — 30 days, in this case. Another feature Philo includes is the ability to access content from pay-walled apps for channels carried by Philo. For example, since Philo’s channel packages includes AMC and Nickelodeon, you’ll be able to download and watch through the dedicated AMC and Nickelodeon apps at no extra charge by signing in with your Philo account.


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!


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.
“I’m really disappointed in the slow deterioration of popular film offerings from the Big 3 (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon). I remember when they started up, Netflix had an amazing selection. But now it seems like they never have any of the films I’m looking for. I have Amazon Prime, but any of the movies I really want to see inevitably require that I pay extra to rent them. The number of B and C-grade movies that are on these services is quite remarkable. That’s a lot of chaff to pad their offerings.” ― Susan Houston
By 2012, however, Time Warner’s investors were demanding to know why the company wasn’t selling its reruns to Netflix, according to one former Time Warner executive. “We sat out for a few years, and all of Wall Street said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing? You’re leaving value on the table for your shareholders!’ ” the former executive said. “So we relented. That was the beginning of the end.”

"Who wouldn't like to go from a $100+ cable TV bill with a bunch of channels we never watch to $25 for basically the ones we *do* watch? Yes, there are limits (mainly local TV, but it appears that may be coming soon). We're just glad that we no longer have to be affected by the cable stranglehold and the lack of response to customers who are looking for choice. Do it."
HI Peter, i am not knowledgable about this, i am trying to learn. Could you help guide me? The xbox ‘hooks’ to the t.v. and i run Playon on my laptop… am i right to assume they communicate to each other ‘through the air waves’, to show the programing? i won’t have to run any ‘cables’ from my laptop to my t.v.? thank you for helping me out and to understand. steph.

Once you have a TV that is “digital ready”, all you need to do is install a TV antenna. I installed the Mohu Sky 60 outdoor antenna on my roof and now I receive all the major local broadcast networks. Mohu also makes quality indoor antennas like The Mohu Curve and Mohu Leaf. If you are interested in purchasing a Mohu antenna, check my Mohu promo page for a big discount.


Hi Peter, I think I need your help…I am so glad I came across your article and as I believe it will save me a lot of money too. I just got express internet service at my new home and would like to be able to see at least basic TV stations (Fox, cbs so on) and I heard of this ‘free over the air’. I am not very good with regards to technical matters and I would like it to be as simple as possible for me to execute :). I have an old TV (won’t get a newer one any time soon) and would like to use the ‘free on air’ option everyone is talking about over the past few comments. So do i just walk into a electric store and get a digital to analog box with an antenna, connect it to my tv and i can just like that receive the channels? Or is there more? Thank you in advance!

I followed all the advice in the forum but still no audio. Finally I went to speaker properties for the HDMI & chose "ADVANCED" In here i was set to CD Quality. I scrolled down to each setting & "apply" to each one . Finally the last one "24 bit Studio Quality" click "apply" "OK" & TV audio came on instantly. I know nothing about computers, but it worked for me
If you want to join them but don't want to ditch live TV completely, you've come to the right place. Live TV streaming services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now let you watch most if not all of your favorite live TV channels -- from ABC to CBS to CNN to ESPN to Fox News to Nickelodeon -- streamed over the Internet. And the monthly fee is likely far less than you're paying the cable company for TV.
The problem with Netflix is that the catalog of (non-original) films and TV shows is constantly in flux as the studio and networks play games, look for better terms, or set up exclusives on other services. We can't guarantee an entire series or movie will be there forever. But original programming makes Netflix a destination, giving it not only market share, but mind share, the likes of which only HBO can rival.
TiVo – The granddaddy of DVRs, a TiVo device is great for streaming programs from Netflix, Blockbuster, and Amazon Video On Demand. It connects to your home's TV antenna so you can watch free network programming, and the HD TiVo units will even pick up your local high-definition channels. The drawback is that on top of the price of the device ($200 and up), you'll need a monthly $12 subscription to access TiVo's best features.
Subscribing to these services also gives you access to their exclusive content, which includes some of the most critically beloved and widely discussed shows on TV. Netflix is the only place you can watch Master of None, Stranger Things, or BoJack Horseman. Amazon is the only place you can watch Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, or The Man in the High Castle. And Hulu is the only place you can watch The Handmaid’s Tale, The Mindy Project, or Difficult People.

What you get: DirecTV Now should appeal to anyone who wants DirecTV service but not the satellite dish. The company recently hiked prices by $5 on its various plans. The company’s Live a Little plan, which provides 60 channels, now costs $40 per month, and the Just Right package has gone to $55 per month. Go Big jumped to $65 per month, and the top 125-channel plan, Gotta Have It, costs $75 instead of the previous $70. The good news is that the NFL Network has been added to all DirecTV Now’s packages starting with Just Right and above, at no additional cost. Also, you can add HBO for just $5 per month. The company will be launching a next-generation version of the service this spring that bumps up the number of simultaneous users from two to three.


As far as watching shows when they air, if it’s a show on one of the cable networks you may or may not get the show a day or two after it airs on a service like Hulu. Otherwise you might need to pay for that particular show on a service like Amazon – which in many cases is still cheaper than paying for cable. Or in some cases you can watch live shows on a service like Sling TV.
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.

On 19 January 2017, RT stated that it had been temporarily restricted from posting media on its Facebook page until 21 January, after the service claimed that RT had infringed on the copyrights of Radio Liberty's Current Now TV when broadcasting a live stream of Barack Obama's final press conference as president of the United States. Current Time TV denied that it had sent any specific complaints to Facebook, and both RT and Current Now TV stated that they had obtained their feed from the Associated Press. The restriction was removed after about 20 hours, but Facebook did not say officially if this was because of a technical error or a policy issue.[267][266]

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.


RT drew particular attention worldwide for its coverage of the 2008 South Ossetia war.[43][44][45] RT named Georgia as the aggressor[45] against the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which were protected by Russian troops.[46] RT saw this as the incident that showcased its newsgathering abilities to the world.[12] Margarita Simonyan stated, "we were the only ones among the English-language media who were giving the other side of the story – the South Ossetian side of the story."[44]
While live TV streaming services feel a little more like cable than Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, the cord-cutting experience is very different from what you’re used to, and you should expect an adjustment period. Quitting cable is like dealing with any other kind of lifestyle change: At first, it may be awkward, perhaps even frustrating, but once you’ve grown accustomed to it, it feels natural. No, you won’t be doing much mindless channel surfing anymore, but there’s something satisfying about being more deliberate about your entertainment choices. You get to pick your poison, not have it spoon-fed to you.
These antennas are compatible with all televisions made since 2007 (when built-in digital tuners became a federal requirement) and they plug directly into the coaxial port in back of your TV. Once plugged in, you simply have your TV scan for available digital signals. Most TVs have a signal meter display that shows just how well each channel's signal is being received.
Cons: Those unlimited screens come at an extra cost. Available only to Hulu With Live TV subscribers, the add-on costs an additional $14.99 per month, nearly twice the price of the basic subscription itself. One of users' biggest gripes with the service is that it doesn't allow for offline viewing. A lot of subscribers also recommend the no commercials add-on.
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