The premium cable channel Starz—home of some great shows like Counterpart, Power, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Outlander, and The Girlfriend Experience—is both streaming for those with a cable/satellite subscription to it, available as a discrete streaming service (Starz Streaming), or as an add-on to Amazon Video. There are many apps allowing Starz viewing on almost any hardware (except PS4, but you can get around that by using the Amazon Channel add-on option). The cost is the same no matter how you get Starz.
In general, streaming hardware all works the same way. The device connects to both the Internet (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and your TV (via HDMI), streaming content from channels that are either free or require a monthly subscription. You browse through channels directly on your TV screen via a remote. A large part of the appeal here is that you choose which channels you want to subscribe to. Netflix and Hulu Plus, the most popular channels (available on the Apple, Roku and Google devices) provide access to a robust selection of movies as well as current and past TV shows.
DIRECTV NOW was DIRECTV’s way of keeping its satellite TV service available for users who don’t want a dish installed or multi-year contracts. You can use the Just Right package and add HBO (Game of Thrones and Westworld for only $5 more per month instead of $15? Yeah, we’re in). Consider also that you can get your favorite networks like HGTV, Sundance TV, and the Travel Channel. Plus, you can also record up to 20 hours of TV to hold onto for 30 days with the included cloud DVR.
Unfortunately, beyond that, its streaming abilities are limited. The Apple TV was really built around iTunes, which means you need to buy and download your content from the iTunes store. On one hand, iTunes' selection is amazing. You have tons of movies and TV shows at your fingertips, to rent or to buy. On the other hand, it can get expensive quickly. HD movies cost $15-20, while a full season of a TV show ranges from $40-50 on average. Watch more than a few movies or shows, and the iTunes store becomes much more expensive than $10 a month for Netflix or Hulu Plus. Sure, you "own" those movies, but they all have heavy DRM and are only watchable on Apple devices...so let's be honest, you don't really own them.
This may not be for everyone, but if are in the US, and you already have a somewhat fast PC with a large enough hard drive, a home network, and an Xbox 360 on a TV, you can get an HD TV card with 2 tuners and record up to two TV programs at a time. I am using an HDHomerun, because I like the fact that it’s not physically in my computer, but there are cheaper alternatives. The Windows7 version of Windows Media Center has greater HD quality than most HD recorders offered by cable/satellite/ and others that cost over $400.00 per box if you were to buy one! Some cable companies deliver QAM signals also, so even if you only have the most basic cable signal, you may be getting free unencrypted digital signals over that line (check with your cable company), or you can also use an antenna for free, like me.
One of the great dreams of cord-cutting is that it will allow consumers to pick only the channels they actually want, rather than paying for programming they never watch. But the services above essentially operate more like traditional cable, providing packages of channels, not all of which are widely desirable. It’s unlikely that any one of these subscriptions will offer everything that a given consumer is looking for, and it will require viewers to scroll past a lot that they don’t.
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.
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).
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.
First, the best TV moved from networks to cable. Now a similar transition is moving top talent from cable to the streaming world. Netflix ($8.99 per month for HD streaming) has House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—all of which have received almost universal acclaim—and Amazon ($99 per year for video and a variety of other services) isn’t too far behind with comedy Alpha House, crime drama Bosch, and the Golden Globe-winning Transparent.
Pros: The most consumer-friendly terms (up to six screens, no DVR storage limits), best program guide navigation, easiest one-click for adding shows to DVR record list. Terrific app that makes it easy to watch the TV shows from bedroom, living room, office, park – anywhere. Plus, if YouTube TV doesn't have your show, the main YouTube website probably does have some variation of it. There's enough to keep you busy for days. The No. 1 choice for cord cutters – unless you live in an Amazon world. In which case,, buy a Roku streaming stick and get YouTube that way. It's that good.
The truth is that you have a bunch of ways to watch local channels online and over-the-air. Thanks to the rise in skinny bundles and the resurgence in popularity of over-the-air TV, cord cutters are once again enjoying local news and other local programming without having to go crawling back to traditional pay TV providers like cable and satellite companies. This is our complete guide to watching local channels without cable.
For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.
“We have Netflix, Amazon, Vudu and the T1 from Xfinity (with their best package) plus internet and sports packages. We would definitely cut cable as there is enough with Netflix, Amazon and Vudu ... BUT my husband HAS to have the football and baseball packages and local channels. That’s the only thing keeping us from cutting completely as we only pay about $30 a month combined for streaming compared to almost $300 a month for cable.” ― Anna Day
The most famous of the cheap HDMI brands, Monoprice has dozens of options to chose from. The linked cable is "Premium Certified," which is actually a certification. It basically means the cable is more or less guaranteed to work with 4K and HDR. The Premium Certified logo isn't required for 4K HDR, but if you see a cable that's Premium Certified and has the matching hologram and QR code, it's a pretty safe bet it will work.