Skinny bundles are over-the-top (streaming) solutions that resemble cable and satellite subscriptions almost everywhere except for on your monthly bill. Skinny bundles tend to be slimmer than cable packages (hence the name), ditching some of the less important channels and keeping a core group of popular networks available for far less than the cable giants charge. Among the key channels featured in these slimmed-down bundles are local major network (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC) affiliates from around the country. The bad news is that availability of live local major network feeds will vary by region, but the good news is that it's easy to check out the selection in your region by taking advantage of the free trials available with each of the services we've listed below.
For example, DIRECTV charges $20 a month for every month remaining on your contract. So if you need to get out of your contract but you still have nine months left, you’re looking at a cool $180 plus a $15 deactivation fee. It’s steep, for sure, but it’s all in the contract agreement. Make sure to ask your provider about early termination fees before you sign, just in case.
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.
We just bought – and returned – what you refer to as a “networked media device,” an LG “wi-fi ready” blu-ray player. Turns out it wasn’t what I’d call “wifi ready” since you had to buy a proprietary wireless adapter from LG to get it connected to a wireless LAN. (To be fair, if you don’t mind 100′ of CAT6 cable running through your house or drilling a lot of holes and fishing cable, you could hook this thing up that way. But, that’s not what we had in mind.) Anyway, it was on sale for $300.
You can use a TV antenna to watch live TV, sure, but this isn't the 1970s. You need a DVR (digital video recorder). Consider the Tivo Bolt Vox (above), a system with six tuners and 75 hours of recording on a 500GB drive for $199.99, or get 150 hours for $299.99. Four of the tuners support OTA recording. (Don't get the high-end $499.99 version—that's cable-ready only.) The companion Vox Mini box sold separately lets you expand DVR coverage to other rooms. As the "vox" implies, you utilize voice control through the remote to run the DVR. Plus, it has plenty of built-in streaming apps. TiVo has a few other OTA DVRs, as do companies like Tablo and Channel Master.
In addition, there are lesser-known services to consider, such as ESPN Plus and Crackle, as well as the highly anticipated Disney Plus, which will lead off with a live-action Star Wars series produced by John Favreau, The Mandalorian among multiple Marvel Cinematic Univers spinoffs. That’s just the start, too. We’re also anticipating AT&T’s new three-tiered service with content from Warner Bros. and HBO, Apple’s new service, a new service from NBCUniversal, and more. We’ll be monitoring these new options and updating our list as they come online and compete for your dollars.
PS Vue’s biggest selling point is just how many channels you get, boasting the most of any services out there. Plus, you can bolster your services with add-on channels and features. Subscribers to PlayStation Plus (Sony’s premium online service for PS4 and PS3) will get discounts on some of those packages, and some channels are exclusive only to Plus subscribers in the first place. Similarly, PS Vue ties directly into the PS4 interface and the PlayStation ecosystem at large, which makes adopting it almost a no-brainer for PlayStation players looking to add online TV — provided the pricing and channel listings meet your needs.
Do you have a bundle? If you are currently bundling your internet with your cable — and possibly your cellular plan, you may have a bigger complication. The major communications companies like AT&T have spent the past several years building and marketing systems designed to keep their customers “in the family” by packaging a variety of necessary services and then sending one bill. Before you embark on this cord-cutting adventure, be sure to do some comparison-shopping in your area to find the right I.S.P. for you that accounts for your entire internet, phone and cable bundle.
Next, there's the U Must Have HD Antenna for $69.95 (often on sale for as low as $27). It works much like the aforementioned antennas with mounting and scanning for channels. However, when it comes to picture quality, it really shines. As long as you can bring in the best signal within 80 miles, this antenna can output at 4K. Now you obviously need a 4K TV in order to handle that kind of picture quality, but that speaks to the quality that antennas are capable of today.
At the beginning of January 2009, the print edition of TV Guide quietly removed its listings for TV Guide Network (and several other broadcast and cable networks) over what the magazine's management described as "space concerns". In actuality, the two entities had been forced apart by their new, individual owners, with promotions for the network ending in the magazine, and vice versa. TV Guide magazine journalists also no longer appeared on TV Guide Network. The top-line "plug" for the network did, however, remain intact on the websites of internet-based listings providers using TV Guide's EPG listings. TV Guide Network's program listings returned to TV Guide magazine in June 2010, with its logo prominently placed within the grids.
The light grey program-by-program summaries for individual channels, red and light blue channel highlighting, and graphical "Prevue Weather" forecasts that were previously available to cable systems as optional grid features and inserts remained available in the same manners as before. Closed captioning, MPAA movie rating and VCR Plus+ logos were additionally introduced by this version of the software, and unlike in prior versions, large graphical Prevue Guide logos appeared within its grid, between listings cycles. The old, synthesized interstitial music that had been used since 1988 was also replaced with a more modern piece called "Opening Act," from the defunct James & Aster music library.
“We cut out cable and tried to replace it with just streaming options, then with those plus PlayStation Vue (because they were the only option for live sports). That was a bust because the internet streaming couldn’t keep up with the speed of most sports, plus the DVR options were abysmal [which made missing live game broadcasts not an option]. So we went back! We are the proud payers of a DIRECTV bill and I’m not even sad about it.” ― Stephanie Bowen Earley
DIRECTV NOW is another great way to watch Fox News online without a cable subscription. DIRECTV NOW is a live streaming service that offers a minimum of 65 channels for just $40 a month. If you’ve been holding on to cable afraid to cut the cord, you’ll find that DIRECTV NOW is a true cable replacement. The only difference is that DIRECTV NOW is much cheaper than cable and the only equipment you need is a streaming device, computer, or mobile device. You won’t need a cable box or satellite dish.
ClearStream's final entry is the 4MAX, which is an improvement on the 4V when it comes to range and general setup. Quality-wise, this offers what you'd expect from the previous ClearStream antennas with a 70- mile range and 4K capability. That said, the 4MAX is able to bump up the range a bit in the right conditions. And it does use a more streamlined design over the 4V, making the overall setup much easier and saving a bit of space.