Cable companies have also begun to introduce apps that let you turn a streaming box, phone, tablet or computer into your cable box, so you don’t need to rent one at all. The first of these apps was introduced by Time Warner Cable and then spread to former Charter and Bright House subscribers when the three merged into Spectrum in 2016. Other cable providers are starting to offer similar options, and it’s worth checking if yours will soon, though there might be additional fees to take into account.
1. Buy an HDTV antenna. Since 2007, local TV stations have been broadcasting digital signals so crisp that the reception is better than that of cable TV. Plus, despite all the hype about shows on niche networks, 19 of the top 20 TV shows in 2016 aired on over-the-air broadcast networks. That’s why Step 1 is to buy an antenna. These are not your father’s antennas. No rabbit ears necessary. A modern digital TV antenna can be so sleek it will match your decor or so skinny you can mount it out of sight. When Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80, it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary.
Amazon Prime Video is similar to Netflix (but has a lot more TV and movie titles, they claim). If you’re an “Amazon person” this is the best TV deal out there. For a monthly subscription, you get unlimited access to stream everything in the Prime Video library — including the growing selection of popular Amazon Originals like Sneaky Pete, Transparent, and The Man in the High Castle.
DirecTV Now ($35/mo. - $70/mo.): The breadth of channels and the reasonable pricing tiers will make DirecTV an attractive option to a lot of cord-cutters — especially those who already have AT&T mobile phone plans, which offer heavy discounts on this service. As always, the availability of local channels varies. And unlike the live TV services above, DirecTV Now is not the best place for watching a show after it airs. The service has DVR cloud storage, but it is still being developed, and at the moment it is relatively limited in storage and functionality when compared with many of its competitors.
“My internet slowed down to a crawl and no amount of resetting the box helped. Turned out it was something wrong with the box and it was replaced. However, it was still occasionally cutting out. When we moved from Los Feliz to Boyle Heights [in Los Angeles], connection with these services greatly improved. I think it’s due to it being adjacent to downtown so that connections are underground and stronger.” ― Ruby McNeil
Sadly, we can’t get signals via an antenna due to buildings and trees. Antennas require line of sight. Cable and streaming are our only options, but streaming is very limited when it comes to local news. We’re seriously considering cutting the cable and watching PBS News Hour for national and international news, but local news is, at this time, the problem. I remember when cable TV first started and we were told we’d have options and it would be affordable. For us, neither has come to be. Now with HDTV we are unable to receive signals through the airwaves.