Perhaps the biggest selling point for DIRECTV NOW is that you get a DIRECTV experience without the contract or setup fees. There’s no need to install a satellite dish, so you don’t have to pay for that, and though the streaming service isn’t quite as robust as its satellite counterpart, you don’t have to sign a contract. It really makes it easier to stomach some of the higher-priced packages from DIRECTV NOW because, guess what? You can cancel anytime.
1. Buy an HDTV antenna. Since 2007, local TV stations have been broadcasting digital signals so crisp that the reception is better than that of cable TV. Plus, despite all the hype about shows on niche networks, 19 of the top 20 TV shows in 2016 aired on over-the-air broadcast networks. That’s why Step 1 is to buy an antenna. These are not your father’s antennas. No rabbit ears necessary. A modern digital TV antenna can be so sleek it will match your decor or so skinny you can mount it out of sight. When Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80, it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary.
It’s really not that big of a shock that a major TV provider has inconsistent customer service at best. We pitted DIRECTV and DISH against each other in the customer service department, and DISH falls short on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI1). From our experience, you can expect longer hold times with DISH’s customer service department.
What you get: YouTube TV offers access to live TV from up to 50 providers, including all the major networks. It also has a cloud DVR with unlimited storage, and you can set up to six individual accounts. Thanks to a recent expansion, the service is now available in most national markets. With YouTube TV you also get the original programming on YouTube Red Originals. You can add Showtime for $7 per month, Starz for $9 per month, CuriosityStream for $3 more per month, or AMC Premiere for an additional $5 per month.
In hindsight, some TV executives believe the industry would be much healthier now if everyone—programmers and distributors—had agreed to make all episodes of shows available to cable subscribers on any device. That was the dream behind TV Everywhere, an idea hatched in 2009 by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. But in those crucial early days, TV Everywhere struggled to get off the ground.
John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus says he appears on RT as well as the U.S.-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, commented "I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about military expenditures in a way I haven’t been given in U.S. outlets". On the fairness issue, he said: "You're going to find blind spots in the coverage for any news organization".
While we haven't paid for cable TV, we haven't exactly been deprived, or had to watch only the shows offered by the over the air networks. There are tons of free video options out there! In fact, we actually still watch a lot of the same shows that our friends do. How do we do it you ask? Through a combination of free over-the-air digital TV, free online video services (the legal kind), a video streaming software, super low-cost internet service from FreedomPop, and a Xbox. FreedomPop is a low cost alternative to larger Internet service providers. Right now their plans might be too small for heavy video streaming users, but they're definitely on their way to bigger and better offerings – and they're definitely good enough if you only stream shows a few times a month. You can read more about them on their site.
3. If you would prefer to pay less than $19.99 per month and don't mind watching most major TV shows a day after they air, consider Hulu Plus which is $7.99 per month and can be used on more than one device at a time (unlike Sling TV). Amazon Prime is another good way to go if you're a movie buff and want other perks like free music, books and kindle books for around $8 per month.
General idea: Crunchyroll is Netflix for anime. And it's seriously awesome. With a premium account, you'll get access to over 900 anime shows (for reference, Netflix only has 50 titles). Find old favorites like One Piece, new releases straight from Japan like Megalobox, as well as a wide selection of manga and even a number of live-action J-dramas. If you're an anime newbie, check out Mashable's full rundown on Crunchyroll and our resident anime expert's suggestions on the best shows to watch.
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.
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.
While DirecTV Now is more for the type of customer who is looking to replace their cable service, AT&T WatchTV is more like Philo. You shouldn’t look at it as a replacement for all of your live TV needs. Instead, look at it as a supplement to on-demand streaming services like Netflix. If you’re mainly a binge watcher but want the occasional bit of live TV, WatchTV might be for you. Throw in an HD antenna and you’ve got a pretty good setup.
With Spectrum TV, for example, you get access to live TV streams for any of the networks in your tier of service. There's also lots of on-demand content for individual shows and some movies. It integrates channel guides and search for select shows/movies. If a channel (or show on a channel) that isn't available to you shows up on a menu, it's generally grayed out. And you can mark shows as favorites so they're easier to follow. But what's annoying is it takes a lot longer for a show to appear in the on-demand section—three or four days, instead of just one with a show on Hulu or even a network's own app, for example.
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.
These do require additional hardware, running extra cables from your TV, and waiting at least a day to watch the newest episodes of cable network shows. And if you're hoping to sever all ties with your cable provider, that's not going to be an option in many regional markets, as you'll still need them for the high-speed Internet service that makes this all work. But the cost savings of dropping the TV package can be substantial, and there have never been as many good choices available as there are today in both hardware and content. Here's what you'll need.
RT is one of several international channels to challenge the United States media's global news coverage. In 2010 Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the U.S. Government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia), called for more money to invest into the programs because, "We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies," mentioning specifically Russia Today, Iran's Press TV and China's China Central Television (CCTV) in the next sentence. He later explained he actually was referring to "enemies" in Afghanistan, not the nations he mentioned. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States was "losing the information war" abroad to foreign channels like RT, Al Jazeera and China Central Television and that they are supplanting the Voice of America.
Depending on the range of viewing habits, some people will have to utilize more of the below options than others. If you decide to cancel your cable subscription, you’re more likely going to have to subscribe to several different services to access all of the shows that you want. For some, this might not actually save money, which is usually the purpose of cutting the cord. Before making any decisive actions, first see if you can utilize our tips for saving money on your existing subscription.
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.)
Cons: Those unlimited screens come at an extra cost. Available only to Hulu With Live TV subscribers, the add-on costs an additional $14.99 per month, nearly twice the price of the basic subscription itself. One of users' biggest gripes with the service is that it doesn't allow for offline viewing. A lot of subscribers also recommend the no commercials add-on.