Those who want to see non-British foreign television have ample options, too. In addition to the aforementioned Acorn (which also features programs from Canada and Australia, among other countries), both MHz Choice and Walter Presents have well-curated collections of European series, with a particular emphasis on the many great Scandinavian crime dramas. And the increasingly popular TV coming out of South Korea is available on DramaFever, Viki, and Kocowa.
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.
"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."
On July 1, 2010, TV Guide Network's scrolling grid was given an extensive facelift; the grid was shrunk to the bottom one-quarter of the screen, the channel listings were reduced from two lines to one (with the channel number now being placed to the right of the channel ID code), the color-coding for programs of specific genres (such as children's shows, movies and sports) was removed, synopses for films were dropped and much like with the featured included in the Amiga 2000-generated grid, a four-second pause for the grid's scrolling function was added after each listed row of four channels. Despite the change, the non-scrolling grid (which was the same height as the restyled scrolling grid) continued to be used for primetime programming for a time. Later that month on July 24, TV Guide Network introduced a new non-scrolling grid used for primetime programming, which was later dropped with providers using the scrolling grid during the time period. On August 3, 2010, the scrolling grid was changed again, with the pausing function being applied to each channel, and size of the listing rows returning to two lines (in some areas, the grid with remained three lines, thus cutting off half of the second listing). On October 17, 2010, the color of the scrolling grid was changed to black the listing rows reverting to one line (although some cable systems still used the previous grid as late as 2014).
I just bought Roku box ($99). I also have a dvd player that has the capability to browse netflix, hulu, etc. I have to say that I am dissappointed in Roku. there are hardly any free channels to stream through. Everything is a paid subscription. Also its not live streaming tv, you have to constatnly go through all the episode to select one, which in itself makes watching tv stressfull. I think most people want to watch whats on tv. they want to come home and just see whats on, and space out. Roku and netflix are cheap but certainly do not match up to cable or dish tv. I am very techincal, so finding channels and configuring the boxes was not at all an issue for me. Most of the channels on Roku are paid. There are some free, but that have garbage on it. The free movies are crap, and are rated 1 or 2 stars. I was not able to find any free shows on roku, and the ones i found were horrible, hence they were on roku. I also found some documentries on roku, but who the hell wants to watch that crap. there is also an hunting channel on roku! common, they could do a lot better then that. This weekend I was over a friend’s house and she had cable. Man I miss cable. Yes its more expensive then Roku and netflix, but its a lot better then them. Channels such as discover (the realy discovery), netgeo, hgtv, tnt, tbs, bravo, movie channel, etc are just not on any of these boxes or netflix. the search capability on netflix really sucks, and they keep on removing movies constantly. I have tried, dish, cable, netflix, hulu plus, roku, but i have to say nothing beats cable tv or dish.
I use a combo of Roku, a Mohu Leaf antenna (excellent picture quality) to get OTA signals and a Tivo Premiere box as I wanted the option of recording the OTA signals and the convenience of watching them when I wanted to. The Tivo service is $20 a month, but has lots of great features (season pass, Tivo Desktop, online programing to name a few) and is LESS than 1/3 the price of my FORMER dish bill :)
Grasshopper provides a business number for your cell phone that delivers the business phone functionality you need and more at an unbelievable price. Just mentioning the 2nd number for your cell phone doesn’t really explain what they do. Their service turns the personal phones of you and your employees into a full blow PBX. Read my review of their small business phone system for more information.
The setup I talked about above is only one way to get free or low cost TV content. Another way we get free content at home is through the free over-the-air HDTV channels that are now available to everyone who has a HDTV tuner and an antenna. Did you know that 94 of the top 100 watched shows are shown on network television – that you can get over-the-air?
Looking back, some TV executives express regret for doing business with an up-and-coming Netflix, and they struggle to justify their decision to do so. Had they withheld shows from the companies, TV executives might have been vulnerable to lawsuits by the Hollywood talent who have a financial stake in a show being sold to the highest bidder. Netflix frequently offered the most money.
Not everyone thought this was a good service when it debuted, but it's so far stuck with that "introductory" price that would put it in line with icky cable subscriptions. If you've got an AT&T phone plan, you can add DirecTV Now for just $10 a month; HBO is included if you've got an AT&T Unlimited Choice or Plus plan. You can watch DirecTV Now on your PC via browser, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, ChromeCast, Roku devices, iOS, and Android—it's not on any game consoles. Lacking however: DVR options. There's plenty of video on demand, but not for every show.
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".
The answer to that will depend on what you’re specifically looking for from television. If your answer is “I want it all,” then honestly, you may be better off sticking with cable or satellite, because getting it “all” piecemeal will likely be prohibitively expensive. But if you have particular areas of interest, cord-cutting is definitely feasible and probably cheaper. (More advice on how to cut your bill without fully cutting the cord can be found in this guide from Wirecutter.)
"Many streaming services cost as much as a regular cable subscription, which defeats the purposes of ditching cable in the first place. Philo, on the other hand, a lifestyle and entertainment-focused service, comes in at a very affordable $16 per month for 40+ channels of live and on-demand content. It lacks higher-end features such as offline playback and does not offer a native Android app, but Philo still might make sense for you, if you enjoy its lineup of channels."
On May 2, 2008, Gemstar-TV Guide was acquired by Macrovision (now TiVo Corporation) for $2.8 billion. Macrovision, which purchased Gemstar-TV Guide mostly to boost the value of its lucrative VCR Plus+ and electronic program guide patents, later stated that it was considering a sale of both TV Guide Network and the TV Guide print edition's namesake to other parties. On December 18 of that year, Macrovision announced that it had found a willing party for TV Guide Network in private equity firm One Equity Partners. The transaction included tvguide.com, with Macrovision retaining the IPG service.
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 also offers more full-time high-definition (HD) channels than anyone, and it has the ability to record up to 200 hours of HD video content. So whether you’re tuning in to see Tom Brady’s piercing baby-blue eyes or just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.
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.
If you prefer to pay for only what you watch, and nothing more, you can buy single episodes of shows, as well as movies, a-la-carte. There are a lot of different sources for this: GooglePlay, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and more. The prices are pretty much the same from one to another. Expect to pay $2-3 per episode, depending on the show.
Here’s where it all begins: You’re sick of paying an exorbitant cable or satellite bill, and you have a strong sense that if you just limited your spending to a few streaming subscription services, you would be much more satisfied with your home entertainment experience. So let’s say that you already have a good TV, a speedy internet connection and a set-top box. (If you don’t, we’ll get to that later.) Who gets your money?
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.
A few years after Prevue Channel completed its transition to TV Guide Channel, the programming it featured changed drastically. Full-length shows were added, moving away from the typical model of showing television previews and other information. Starting in 2005, Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers began providing coverage for televised awards ceremonies such as the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards. In 2007, the mother-daughter duo were unceremoniously dropped by TV Guide Channel in favor of actress/host Lisa Rinna. Later, in 2007, Rinna was joined by fellow Dancing with the Stars alumnus (and former N*SYNC member) Joey Fatone during awards coverage. On July 29, 2009, TV Guide announced that Rinna and Fatone had been replaced by the hosts of the channel's entertainment news program Hollywood 411, Chris Harrison (host of The Bachelor) and Carrie Ann Inaba (who serves as a judge on Dancing with the Stars).
RT has been frequently described as a propaganda outlet for the Russian government and its foreign policy. RT has also been accused of spreading disinformation by news reporters, including some former RT reporters. The United Kingdom media regulator, Ofcom, has repeatedly found RT to have breached its rules on impartiality and of broadcasting "materially misleading" content. RT's editor-in-chief compared it with the Russian Army and Defence Ministry, and talked about it "waging the information war against the entire Western world." September 2017, RT America was ordered to register as a "foreign agent" with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Under the act, RT will be required to disclose financial information.
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.
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.
If you want all of those channels, you’ll need to spring for the $40 package, which includes everything in Blue and Orange, or you can augment either package with add-on channels. Add-on packages also vary in pricing and included channels, depending on which package you’re subscribed to, but you can expect to pay between $5 and $20 per month for each. In addition, a dispute over licensing with AT&T has resulted in a blackout of HBO and Univision channels on Sling TV and its parent company, Dish Network.
Today you've got plenty of options. Six major services -- DirecTV Now, Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV -- stream multiple channels of live TV over the Internet, including local channels. Each has its plusses and minuses, including pricing (starting at $25 per month), features (like cloud DVRs) and user interface, but the biggest differentiator is channel lineup.
That six-or-nine bucks a month gets you access to some of the most popular shows on TV the day after airing, including The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Elementary, Survivor, Amazing Race, even daytime shows. There are also a few thousand old TV shows streaming here, such as Cheers, all the versions of Star Trek (the rights are owned by the CBS Corporation), Brady Bunch, The Twilight Zone, and Hawaii Five-0. You can insert your own joke here about how the Tiffany Network is for your grandparents, because I already made mine above.
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…
Laura M. LaVoie resides in a 120 square foot house in the mountains of Western North Carolina. There she has a solid internet connection and access to some of the best craft beer in the country. Email her at [email protected] Disclosure: Streaming Observer is supported by readers. Articles may contain referral links. For more information, see the disclosure at the bottom of the page.
The only choice out of the top three that plays commercials, Hulu is best loved for its selection of current seasons of popular TV shows, most of which show up on the site soon after their original air date. For those who want to have their cake and eat it, Hulu also offers a luxurious, commercial-free way to stream its growing catalog of original shows, network content. It will cost you $6 more a month, but we think it’s well worth it if you’re leaving behind the bonds (and ads) of cable.
Usually, the apps themselves are free. However, some networks offer paid subscription options to access certain shows or old episodes. But that doesn’t mean the cost isn’t potentially reasonable, depending on how many shows you may watch. For example, CBS All Access is available for as little as $5.99 per month (plus tax), which isn’t bad in comparison to the cost of cable.
Because neither version of the EPG software was capable of silent remote administration for its locally customizable features, cable company employees were required to visit their headend facilities in order to make all necessary adjustments to the software in person. Consequently, EPG channel viewers would often see its otherwise continuous listings interrupted without warning each time a cable company technician brought up its administrative menus to adjust settings, view diagnostics information, or hunt-and-peck new local text advertisements into the menus' built-in text editor.
Amazon – This e-commerce giant has paired its streaming offerings with its Amazon Prime subscription service. Along with movies, TV shows, and original series, you'll enjoy perks unrelated to streaming, like free two-day shipping on some items sold through the site. Amazon also acts as a broker for other streaming services: you can add HBO, or instance, to your Amazon account and stream it through Amazon's app.
Streaming is hotter than ever these days, with on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu, and a litany of others, along with multiple live TV streaming services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue, all looking to capitalize on the cord-cutting phenomenon. If it’s available to see with your eyes and hear with your ears, there’s a good chance you can find it on the web — for a fee. Add in free HD broadcasts and there’s never been a better time to kick cable to the curb.
For special situations, an outdoor TV antenna is also a great option for those who want to get local channels without cable. Channel Master has a line of highly functional outdoor TV antennas that are designed for circumstances that include areas in low-range reception, dual-tower locations, or low-VHF signal reception. Channel Master's outdoor TV antennas vary from long-range directional to multi directional with a variety of signal distance ranges from 40 miles to up to 100 miles - and everything in between.
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.
We’re torn on this policy. On the one hand, you get a pretty good deal for the first year of service. But on the other hand, price hikes suck. Especially when your monthly price doubles for the second year. It’s a pretty big knock on DIRECTV. But as long as you’re aware of the jump up front, you can plan on it., and you still get a decent deal over the life of your contract.
Hulu got its start as an on-demand streaming service that competed with Netflix and the rest of the streaming video on demand (SVOD) crew. These days, Hulu is in the skinny bundle fray as well: its Hulu with Live TV service offers a single base package that costs $39.99/month and offers more than 55 channels, including live feeds of all four major networks in select regions. Hulu with Live TV also has regional sports networks in some markets. You can read our review of the service here.
Sony's cable-replacement service began life as a PlayStation exclusive, but now you can find PlayStation Vue just about anywhere. Viewers can choose from among four packages, ranging in price from $45 per month to $80 per month (although these prices can vary by location). Each plan will land you staples such as Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery, Disney Channel, FX, Syfy, TBS and a variety of broadcast networks, depending on where you live. You can also record hundreds of programs and hang onto them for 28 days at a time. What really puts PS Vue at the top of the list is the service's interface, which is sleek, fast and instantly comprehensible. The service's DVR feature is also simple and robust.
Again, streaming copyrighted content without the proper access is maybe not completely on the straight-and-narrow (depending on who you ask). Hey, we’re not here to judge. We’re just here to tell you how you can watch great TV on the cheap in the best way possible. (And, you know, we all use Kodi ourselves.) But if you’re squeamish about stepping on the toes of copyright holders (the channels you’ll be watching for nothing with Kodi), bypass this option and pay a small fee with one of the alternatives below.
This option is for you if you like to follow the latest network and non-premium cable shows, like The New Girl, The Voice, The Flash, or Modern Family. Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month) offers current programs from FOX, NBC, ABC, the CW, as well as delayed or archived content from cable channels like Comedy Central and FX. You can add CBS shows, like Big Bang Theory, for another monthly fee of $5.99.
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
DISH also has the best DVR available. The Hopper 3 Smart DVR lets you record up to 16 shows at once, and you can record 2 ½ times more HD content (500 hours) than the Genie from DIRECTV (200 hours). However, keep in mind that the advertised package price doesn’t include the DVR price. You’ll have to pay an extra $10 per month for the Hopper and an additional $5–$10 per month for each added receiver.
I’m a senior citizen on a very fixed income, living in subsidized housing. We are restricted from using anything outside, such as a dish or antenna. That leaves us residents with only one option, a well-known cable service for which I was paying $152 for internet and expanded basic TV. My upcoming payment was being raised another $5+, and before that there had been a $7 increase. I watch so few of the channels I get, so since I received a Firestick for Christmas, I called to cancel my cable and was told my internet would now cost double what it is! I was offered 2 different bundles to keep it from increasing, but they still weren’t affordable, and I called it quits on the cable. I’ll be paying $79 for internet now. (The rep told me I should increase my speed since I’d probably be streaming a lot more without cable.)
Following the March 2015 European Council summit which concluded that action was needed to "challenge Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns", the European External Action Service was tasked to respond. European Parliament briefing notes on the situation called RT "Russia's main international media weapon". The counter-propaganda strategy subsequently developed by the EastStratCom Task Force, a small group of eight officials, included launching the EU vs Disinformation website with a headline of "don't be deceived, question even more".
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!
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.
We like the Leaf Metro because its small profile easily tucks away, without sacrificing much functionality. Though its range is limited to approximately 25 miles, it’s perfect for those living in smaller apartments or rented rooms, especially in urban environments where over-air TV signals are plentiful. To compound the versatility enabled by its tiny size, the antenna comes in either black or white, and you can also paint it to match your interior. Plus, its adhesive coating means it will stick to most any surface and can be moved to other locations with ease. An included 10-foot coaxial cable allows for fairly flexible installation.
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.