Free over-the-air TV solves some of the same problems as live TV streaming services do: it offers live TV and the channel-surfing experience, two things that SVOD solutions lack. It lags in content behind live TV streaming services, as many familiar channels are available on pay TV streaming services but not via free over-the-air TV. On the simplicity front, though, nothing beats free over-the-air TV: just plug the antenna into your TV, scan for channels, and watch. You won't need a streaming box, streaming stick, or a smart TV. You won't even need an internet connection!
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.
Sony PS4 (starting at $299.99) / Microsoft XBox ($299 to $499): One of the biggest unexpected players in this space has been the major video game console companies. The Sony PS4 and Xbox One X are state-of-the-art in terms of their streaming capabilities, and they’re even creating their own services that attempt to serve the same functions as traditional cable TV. (More on that later.) The Xbox One S, Microsoft’s previous model, was still for sale as of August 2018, at $200 less than the One X. Click here to compare the two on the Xbox website.
You might have a Blu-ray player or smart TV with streaming apps on board, but those offer a pretty dismal streaming experience. Newer TVs from Samsung and LG have pretty impressive smart interfaces, and Roku TVs like TCL’s 6-Series are fantastic for all-in-one streaming. Otherwise, if you’re going to transition to a full-time streaming entertainment plan you may want a separate device purpose-built for the job. Below is a small selection of some of our favorites. If you want more recommendations, we highly recommend sourcing our full list of the best streaming devices you can buy.
Unless you live near the center of Pennsylvania, you probably won’t be very interested in what USTVNow Plus offers in the way of local channels. USTVNow is a service designed to let Americans living outside the country access American broadcast TV channels, but the only feeds you can get originate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Additionally, we’re not sure if UTVNow Plus is even totally legal since it doesn’t seem to play by the strict sports licensing rules that other streaming services have to follow.
You'll never have to bug someone for their Xfinity password to stream a live channel again (because you'll have any channel you need and then some). Hulu, Vue, DirecTV NOW and FuboTV are our top picks for all-encompassing premium packages. These will all include local broadcast channels like ABC and NBC, so you won't have to worry about an HD antenna.
As these services begin to invest more of their money to create original programming and securing streaming rights to shows became more expensive, their back catalogs of old shows have started to suffer. For example, even as Netflix made new episodes of Arrested Development and a second season of Fuller House (no one asked them to do that, by the way), shows like Scrubs or the first six seasons of Futurama are no longer available. Because of this, it’s increasingly becoming a good idea to treat these services a bit more like individual networks than comprehensive libraries of all the TV and movies you’ll ever want to watch.
In September 2015, Ofcom found RT in breach of the impartiality rules in its coverage of the events in Ukraine and Syria. It also upheld the complaint by the BBC that allegations made in an episode of The Truthseeker that a BBC Panorama film, Saving Syria's Children, had faked a parts of a report on a chemical weapon attack in Syria were "materially misleading".
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.
Take your onscreen encounters to the next level with a standalone or bundled Spectrum TV packages. The Silver package equips you with over 175+ HD-enabled TV channels, including exclusive content from Premium Channels like HBO®, SHOWTIME®, and Cinemax® For those interested in a complete home entertainment solution, Spectrum provides 2-in-1 & 3-in-1 bundle packages. Spectrum TV™ packages feature exciting combinations of high speed internet, HDTV and/or voice services. The company's premier TV Silver + Spectrum Voice™ 2-in-1 package provides full Local & International calling coverage, in addition to all the perks associated with the Spectrum TV Silver package. Now, who knew watching television could be this much fun (and easy)? Subscribe to a Spectrum cable TV package TODAY!
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!
We ran into a weird issue when we tried pausing a live stream. It let us pause our show (because when you gotta go, you gotta go), but when we tried to resume and pushed play, the app skipped us ahead to the live stream. We ran into this problem only with live streams and not with on-demand shows and movies, We’re hoping this issue goes away when the cloud DVR feature launches, We’ll see. Right now it makes for a somewhat buggy experience.
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.
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6 – 10 p.m. weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood struggles under the strain of heavy traffic. For instance, if you routinely get around 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that figure takes a dive to about 3Mbps around dinner time, you’ll want to call your internet provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside of rural areas, but better to check ahead.
On both Roku devices and Apple TV, much of the best content does require a pay per view fee or subscription, so you'll want to keep an eye on how many you buy. And there are a growing number of apps like HBO Go that are restricted to those still with a cable/satellite TV subscription. But even if you never venture much beyond Netflix and Hulu Plus, you're getting a lot of content for very little money.
Perhaps no one deserves more credit for threatening the old TV business model than Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. As the driving force behind the world’s largest streaming video service, with about 130 million subscribers, he’s taught consumers to expect an abundance of old and new shows and movies, without the irritation of commercial interruptions, for just $8 a month.