If you aren’t close enough to the TV towers to use an indoor antenna you may need an outdoor solution. Furthermore, today’s digital TV signals require a TV with a digital tuner. If your TV was made before 2007, it may not have one. For solutions to these issues, check out my post How To Get Local Channels Without Cable. I also expand on this a bit in the TV Antenna section later in this guide.
For many people, the main reason to subscribe to cable or satellite is sports. (The huge licensing fees that sports leagues command, by the way, are a big reason you can’t watch sports without such a subscription—and why subscription fees are so high.) Watching live sports without cable used to be easier, but more and more sports programming has shifted from OTA broadcast to cable. For example, of 38 college-football bowl games in the 2015–2016 season, only four aired on OTA networks. Even the NCAA basketball tournament has moved its semifinal games onto cable networks. For the sports fan, watching all the important games without cable has become impossible.
With the exception of Sling, all five services continue to add local channels in an attempt to sign up viewers. Because most local stations, aka network affiliates, are owned by companies other than one of the big four networks in question, they usually require separate contracts with providers like streaming services, cable systems and satellite networks.
Commercials – often for psychic hotlines – and featurettes produced by Prevue Networks, such as Prevue Tonight, that were voiced by Larry Hoefling (who served as the network's announcer from 1989 to 1993), were also delivered via this satellite feed. For commercials, as well as overnight and early morning infomercials, the top half of the feed's video frame would be completely filled out, with local cable system Prevue Guide installations letting it show through in full in a pillarboxed anamorphic widescreen format (some direct response ads that were compartmentalized to one area of the video frame featured contact information in the opposing feed that was blocked out, in addition to that provided in the advertisement). The satellite feed also carried a third audio channel containing Prevue Guide theme music in an infinite loop. Local Prevue Guide installations would switch to this audio source during the display of local top-screen advertising, and when they crashed. Prevue Guide could additionally signal cable system video playback equipment to override the Prevue Networks satellite feed entirely with up to nine minutes of local, video-based advertising per hour. Few cable systems utilized this feature, however, owing to the need to produce special versions of their local advertisements wherein, as with the satellite feed itself, all action occurred only within the top half of the video frame.
Not sure what saying those in debt shouldn’t pay for cable has to do with being a Christian? Do you really think it is a good idea for someone in debt to be paying for a premium cable package? People are obviously free to do what they want, but paying for a ton of extras while trying to get out of debt probably isn’t the best of ideas in my opinion.
I was a loyal cable TV customer for all of my adult life, paying about $34/month for basic cable (which sounds ludicrously cheap now). Then I moved to a different city where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was just surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV. Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” ended and my cable bill went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but that was the last straw. After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable” and try broadcast digital TV. The first thing I tried was an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days… Read the rest of my story here.
The yellow grid also eliminated the optional red and light blue background colors that local cable operators were previously able to assign to various channels of their choices. In their place, universal, program genre-based background colors were introduced. Sporting events appeared with green backgrounds, and movies on all networks were given red backgrounds. Pay-per-view events additionally appeared with purple backgrounds. The light grey backgrounds which had formerly appeared in channel- and program genre-based summaries were also eliminated, with the aforementioned red, green, and purple color-coding now applying to those summaries as well.
Another approach to cord cutting is an online streaming package similar to traditional cable or satellite TV plans. Several companies now offer variations of this idea: PlayStation Vue from Sony (which works without a PlayStation console, despite the name), Sling TV from Dish Network, DirecTV NOW, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV (not to be confused with YouTube Red), Philo, and Fubo.tv. Their services cost $16 to $40 per month, for their most basic plans, and they offer largely the same variety of channels as cable but give you a different experience than cable or satellite—one with both benefits and disadvantages.
Although HBO and Showtime are perhaps better-known these days for original programming, they still show recent theatrical releases, and they make them available through their subscription services. Starz is also excellent for anyone seeking current blockbusters. Consider tacking on a subscription to one, two or all three of these to an Amazon Prime Video account. Video-on-demand rentals are also an option, facilitated by multiple retailers. And if you’re interested in owning digital copies of your movies, the service Movies Anywhere is a helpful way to manage and view your library.
Let’s get some of bad news out of the way. If your goal in cord-cutting is to save money — but you’d prefer not to lose access to anything you’re currently watching via your cable or satellite subscription — then you should be aware that the money you save on one bill may be immediately redistributed to another. Additionally, unless you want your “Game of Thrones” episodes to look blurry and choppy, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper internet package.
Hood Canal’s cable offers something for everyone. The major networks that carry all the shows you want; specialty channels to appeal to your personal tastes; premium channels with great movies and original programming; Pay-Per-View channels and 50 digital music stations. So no matter what you are looking for – you will find it on Hood Canal Communication’s Cable TV.
In 1991, Prevue Networks launched Sneak Prevue, a spin-off barker channel that was exclusively used to promote programming on a provider's pay-per-view services; it displayed full-screen promos (augmented by graphics displaying scheduling and ordering information) and a schedule of upcoming films and events airing on each pay-per-view channel based on either airtime or genre. The channel was also driven by Amiga 2000 hardware, and its software was as crash-prone as the Prevue Guide software itself. TV Guide Network ceased operations of Sneak Prevue in 2002.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled on you guys and your progress, and try to follow your lead! By the way you have all been most informative,and Peter, thanks for starting the subject you truly have helped my frame of mind. I know I threw in a bit of southern humor to keep you all entertained but buy God I am going to overcome this so-called generational gap and get in there with you all. I won’t be a tech. but perhaps I’ll learn how to better utilize my equipment…
Plans: For $39.99 per month, users get more than 40 channels of popular live TV with the Access plan. One step higher up the ladder is the Core plan, which adds sports to the mix for a total of $44.99 per month. The $54.99 per month Elite plan throws in movies, and the priciest subscription is the $74.99 per month Ultra plan, which includes all of the above plus premium networks like HBO and Showtime, for a total of more than 90 networks.
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.
(Side note: you can also, of course, buy or rent digital movies or TV show episodes from services like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. That's a bit removed from “watching TV without cable” in the sense that we mean it in this article, but it's worth noting that you can use purchase and rental apps with the same streaming devices – see Part II for those – that work with the streaming apps we're about to talk about here in Part I. Owning digital copies and subscribing to streaming services go together like peanut butter and jelly: switching between a movie you own on Amazon and a show you're streaming on Netflix is much more convenient than switching between cable an a Blu-Ray disc. You won't even have to get off your couch!)
Lastly, Google TV's streaming services are pretty good, since it has most of the Google Play store at its disposal. You can watch Netflix, Amazon (however crappily), and some sports channels, but a lot of content is missing—like Hulu and other TV channels. It does, however, have the movies and TV section of Google Play, which like iTunes lets you download and rent videos to your TV. Prices are comparable for movies, costing about $15-20 to buy, with a pretty good selection. Shows are cheaper at $20-$40 per season, but the selection leaves a lot to be desired. That said, other apps like the Chrome web browser, the occasional video game, or the awesome Plex media center make Google TV a bit more appealing.
Between the late 1980s and 1999, local cable operators could configure listings for certain channels to appear with alternate background colors (either red or light blue, depending the provider's preference). Light grey backgrounds were additionally used for channel- and program genre-based listings summaries, when enabled by local cable operators. Beginning with the introduction of the yellow grid in 1999, all such coloring was discarded in favor of program genre-based coloring which affected all channels and summaries. Listings for movies featured red backgrounds, pay-per-view events bore purple backgrounds, and sporting events featured green backgrounds. Starting in 2004, light blue backgrounds were additionally applied to listings for children's programming.
Beginning in late March 1993, Prevue Networks overhauled the Prevue Guide software, this time to modernize its appearance. Still operating on the same Amiga 2000 hardware, the old grid's black background with white text separated by colored lines gave way to a new, embossed-looking navy blue grid featuring 90 minutes of scheduling information for each channel. Arrow symbols were added to listings for programs whose start or end times stretched beyond that timeframe, and for viewer convenience, local cable operators could now configure the grid's scrolling action to momentarily pause for up to four seconds after each screenful of listings. Additionally, local cable operators could enable light grey sports and movie summaries within the grid. Appearing between each listings cycle, these showed all films and sporting events airing on any channel during the next 90 minutes.
With HBO Now, however, the need for a pilfered password is removed. It's the only option if you don't have someone from whom to pilfer. Anyone with internet and supported hardware can subscribe and watch original HBO programming like GoT, Divorce, Big Little Lies, Insecure, Westworld, Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Silicon Valley, plus the entire back catalog of shows: The Sopranos and The Wire forever! Try it free for an entire month.
Gawker.TV - Okay, so our association aside (Gawker.TV is the all-video site of our blog network's namesake, Gawker), Gawker.TV was the go-to online destination we fired up every day during the recent Late Night debacle for comprehensive coverage of all the drama—and we didn't have to stay up all night to keep up with the latest. Gawker.TV isn't the only site out there that posts clips and synopses from shows and news events, but it's got a quick turnaround and can really fill a gap you miss when you don't have access to the regular cable lineup.
Showtime Online has a unique service of being able to be added on to other services that you may already subscribe to. For $9 a month, it can be added to Amazon Prime and Hulu and for $11, Playstation Vue. Showtime offers you award-winning series like Dexter, Weeds and House of Lies as well as a large selection of movies including action, comedies and dramas added each month. The stand-alone service is $11 and it offers both live viewing and streaming.
I would love to cut the cord! I have direct tv and att bundled and pay almost $500/month! 6 cell phones and 6 dtv boxes with hd channels, but still only use a basic package i.e. no sports packages or movie channel packages, is almost stupid anymore and dtv keeps raising prices for what I already have (no upgrades). I only bundled the two to get unlimited data at a little better rate because with 4 kids we were burning through the limited data plan we had in about two weeks each month and I got tired of turning off the kids data plans each month until the next billing cycle. Anyway, my only hang up is that I love college sports (football, basketball, baseball, etc…) and I’m not sure if I can get sports channels on one of the options you listed. I live for bowl games and march madness!! Any idea if any internet streaming services offer an sports packages?
If you’re looking to watch FOX News without cable and you’ve heard of Sling TV (one of the most popular cable alternatives), you may be wondering if you can get FOX News on Sling TV. Unfortunately, Sling does not currently carry the channel, although they may in the future. The services listed above are good alternatives that does let you stream FOX News, though!
Executives couldn't agree on how long to make old episodes available for subscribers. Some gave viewers only a day to catch up on a show they missed because the broadcasters had sold the reruns to another service. Others made past series available to subscribers for a month. Consumers became confused about where to go and how long they had to binge-watch a show. Some TV networks were slow to make their channels available online.
Currently, you can try DIRECTV NOW free for 7 days. I find the best option to be their “Live a Little” package. It is priced at $40 per month and contains Fox News, CNN, Nickelodeon, MSNBC, Hallmark Channel, ESPN, Disney, HGTV, USA, ID, TNT, Food, TBS, History, Discovery, Disney Jr, TV Land, Nick Jr, AMC, FX, FXX, Bravo, Lifetime, A&E, Animal Planet, BBC America, Bloomberg, BET, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, Comedy Central, Disney XD, E!, ESPN2, Fox Business, FS1, Galavision, HLN, MTV, MTV2, Paramount Network, Syfy, TCM, TLC, Univision, VH1, and more
We cut the cord nearly 10 years ago and have no regrets. My husband built an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire hangers (there are plans online for this) for the last house we lived in, and mounted it in the attic. We got approximately 50 over-the-air channels that way. When we moved, we did use Sling for a little while, and while that was great, we opted to install an antenna on the roof of the current house and cancel Sling. That said, I highly recommend Sling for popular channels. Currently my lineup is Amazon Prime TV (comes with my Prime membership), Netflix, and I pay the $5/month for AcornTV, because I love my British shows. Thanks for summing these up—I’ve been preaching cord-cutting for a long time, it’s great to see a blogger I respect touting the same thing! 🙂
It needs to be stated clearly that antennas are extremely location specific. Your home receiption will be different from everyone elses – period. Anyone recommending any antenna without specific facts is not helping at all. Those $20 “leaf” antennas only work when you are close to the transmitters and all the stations are in about the same direction. If you have any antenna at all, connect it to a DTV and scan for channels. You could be surprised at what can be received. When it comes to difficult antenna reception – a few tips:
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.
You’re right. Cable TV and satellite TV costs have increased over the years and it’s out of reach for people who can’t afford it. Also, if you’re busy and don’t watch too much TV it doesn’t make sense to pay more than you should for the service. However, all is not lost. There’re many good deals out there. So do your research and the math before cutting the cord.
By late 1993, Prevue Guide was rebranded as "Prevue Channel," and an updated channel logo was unveiled to match. Beginning in early 1994 and up until its first couple of years as the TV Guide Channel, the network licensed production music (first at one-minute lengths, later at 15- and 30-second lengths) from several music libraries for use as interstitial music. The vast majority of these music tracks were licensed from the Killer Tracks and FirstCom production music libraries, both of which are subsidiaries of Universal Music Publishing Group. In 1996, the Prevue Channel logo was given a new eye-like design, and two years later, the classic Dodger-style typeface its logo had incorporated since 1988 was replaced with an italicized lower-case Univers, though Sneak Prevue continued to use the original logo font until it shut down in 2002. In 1997, Prevue Channel became the first electronic program guide to show formalized TV ratings symbols for Canada and the United States, which appeared alongside program titles within the listings grid, as well as in the supplementary scheduling information overlaid accompanying promo videos in the top half of the screen.
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.
Hi Kayla! I think I’ve read EVERY word on this particular blog! It has been HIGHLY informative! I’m too wanting to cut cable. These prices . . . man! Who can afford this stuff? I know I can’t anymore. From what I’ve gathered, with a Smart Tv, looks like I can stream Netflix and Hulu. For other channels I and my son like to watch I’ll need Sling. And for local channels an antenna. My question is for internet or streaming, do I HAVE to have an ISP? Can I purchase a modem and/or router? I know internet only plans are much cheaper but if I can get outta paying for that as well I sure would like to!! MUCH thanks to you!! I am now your FAN ?
“I tried Aereo before they lost their court case. Then I was a SlingTV user for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. Just switched to YouTubeTV in the last week. Mostly so we could get local channels. It’s okay but I am already missing A & E, HGTV and History Channel. We are going to give it a try for a while but may check out DIRECTV now because it has most of the channels we like as well as local options.” ― Sean Cook
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.
YouTube is the most popular streaming-video platform online; it was only a matter of time until YouTube tried its hand at providing live TV, too. For $35 per month with this service, you'll get almost 40 channels — which is, admittedly, not that many. Still, there are some good networks, especially for sports fans: multiple stations from ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. YouTube TV's biggest draw is the service's unlimited DVR feature, which lets you record as much as you want and keep it for up to nine months. The integration with the rest of YouTube feels half-baked, though.
I have been using “No subscription required” for three months. It’s amazing to watch brand new movies for nothing. On the down side of it, I have lost Microsoft xp in the process. I use Linux on the other side so, I have been doing all my email and all with Linux. I don’t know whether “No subscription required” is safe or not. I am about to take my computer in for repair obviously and, I was told it might be because of this site. That would be a shame. Most of the movies are first run. But most of all, they are for free! I guess something has to give afterall.
Netflix.com: Slightly more, but the added convenience of keeping the movies and TV shows as long as you want, and being able to stream a selection of movies and TV shows over the computer, or networked media device. Netflix is getting better all the time, now with great original series like House of Cards. Find all plans and how to maximize your return on this post: How Much Netflix Costs.