If you (and your significant other) are comfortable with a larger, more industrial design, the $100 ClearStream 2 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that boasts a 50-mile range. The benefit of the more powerful Clearstream 2 is that I could place it anywhere in the room and pull in 70 channels, ranging from the major networks to PBS affiliates and local Spanish and Chinese language broadcasts.
Netflix – Best for catching episodes of your favorite shows from last season or from the last decade. While Netflix doesn't typically offer recently aired episodes of popular shows, it's perfect for streaming episodes from previous seasons, or for getting your "Murder She Wrote" groove on. There's a monthly fee to subscribe to Netflix but once you're signed up, you can stream an unlimited amount of shows.
The reason American consumers are abandoning their cable subscriptions is not a mystery: It’s expensive, and cheaper online alternatives are everywhere. But who exactly is responsible for the slow demise of the original way Americans paid for television? That’s a far trickier question. The answer can be traced to a few decisions in recent years that have set the stage for this extraordinarily lucrative and long-lived business model to unravel: licensing reruns to Netflix Inc., shelling out billions for sports rights, introducing slimmer bundles, and failing to promote a Netflix killer called TV Everywhere.
Hulu ($7.99/mo., $11.99/mo.): Hulu’s original content isn’t as copious or as impressive as Netflix’s, but it did just win the first ever “Best Dramatic Series” Emmy for a subscription streaming service, courtesy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Hulu is also becoming more and more of a boon to TV buffs, thanks to a growing library of classic older shows, as well as some current ABC, NBC, and Fox series. (In fact, one of Hulu’s main selling-points for cord-cutters is it has deals to allow subscribers to watch the most recent episode or episodes of much of those networks’ programming.) The lower price tier includes commercial breaks. The higher tier kills the ads. Hulu also has an option to add live TV (starting at $39.99/mo.), covered further down.
For the base price, you get on-demand stuff from almost all of the networks (but not The CW) and even get them live in some markets. There are lots of basic cable stations (minus Viacom-owned stations like SyFy and Comedy Central). Each new tier of service adds more channels, going up to $44.99 to add some sports programming, and $54.99 for 90 channels, ending with $74.99—that Ultra package has those 90 channels plus paid cable services HBO and Showtime (but no Starz) for a little less than adding them separately.
Roku ($29.99 - $99.99): One of the pioneers in the concept of cheaply and simply turning any TV into a streaming portal, Roku offers a wide range of products, from simple sticks to bigger (yet still compact) boxes. Because it’s been around so long, Roku has agreements with pretty much every major and minor streaming video service, and it is even integrated into some smart TV models. The company has also been giving its customers more power to control the sound of what they’re watching, with features like “night mode” (which mutes explosions and amplifies whispers) and “private listening” (which allows viewers to watch a show or movie on their TVs but listen to it through headphones).
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! 🙂
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.
Many local libraries have movies and television shows on DVD, and some even offer BluRay. Borrowing one is completely free as long as you are eligible for a library card, and you usually have a generous return window too. The only caveats are that your selection may be limited and other borrowers may not have been kind to the DVD when they borrowed it, so some of them may not work. But, when the cost is $0, it isn’t as painful when that happens.
In addition to its main English language channel RT International, RT UK and RT America, RT also runs Arabic language channel Rusiya Al-Yaum, Spanish-language channel Actualidad RT, as well as the documentary channel RTDoc. RT maintains 21 bureaus in 16 countries, including those in Washington, D.C., New York City, London, England; Paris, France; Delhi, India; Cairo, Egypt; Baghdad, Iraq; and Kiev, Ukraine. It employs over 2,000 media professionals worldwide.
Even so, no service we've reviewed is incomplete enough to discourage you from using it outright. If a service sounds like it might be a good fit for you, your best bet is to investigate which channels that service offers and see if it falls within your price range. Most of these services give you anywhere from a week to a month to evaluate them before charging you, and none of them require a contract. At worst, you'll be stuck with a service you don't like for a month.
The moment for me when the idea of dropping TV service became a long term prospect rather than just a short term experiment so I could write this article, was when I plugged in the antenna. The fact that I can get such high quality output, for network and PBS channels I had been paying for makes it hard for me to envision going back to a cable TV subscription. In addition, I have to sit through far fewer commercials (though I suspect that may change over time). Watching Netflix movies on the TV is much more satisfying than on the smaller computer screen and of course the freedom to watch current TV programs on my own schedule is a huge benefit when juggling the demands of work and family. I know there will be times during the year when a sports event I want to watch will be unavailable. But there's just no arguing with the dramatic cost savings. Pay TV is undeniably a richer experience, but is it worth a 330% premium? Not for me.
Netflix: Offer available 1/31 – 4/3/2019 and must be redeemed by 8/31/2019. Valid for 12 months of Netflix service on the Netflix Premium UHD streaming plan for $15.99/month (total value of $191.88) with subscription to eligible Verizon Fios plan. Must maintain qualifying Fios services for 31 days after installation, with no past-due balance to receive a one-time bill credit of $191.88 applicable directly to customer’s Netflix account. A Netflix compatible device (manufactured and sold separately) and broadband internet connection are required. 4K Ultra HD availability subject to device capabilities and content availability. Not redeemable or refundable for cash. Value may be applied to a different Netflix streaming plan; exchanges in this manner may alter the duration of the offer. Netflix Service price plans subject to change. Not available to subscribers billed through iTunes or Google play unless subscriber begins a new subscription billed via alternate payment provider or via Netflix.com. See www.netflix.com/termsofuse
Perhaps KMSL is expressing her disgust for an “unsightly antenna” on someone else’s property. All utilities are underground, and there is this terrible obstruction to a clear sky view, lol?. Growing up, it was a sign of distinction and prosperity when someone had an antenna on their roof, because it suggested they had a television! I remember, when some of us 16-year-olds would drive around with the windows up in the heat of summer to make others think we had air conditioning in our cars.. it’s interesting how status symbols have changed..
Bear in mind that, if you’re on the ball, there’s also plenty you can watch for free — with no need to subscribe to anything. This may change in the future as major media companies put more of their products behind a paywall, but for now, some major channels (like ABC, Fox, the CW and PBS) make select episodes of their shows available online for nothing, for a limited time after their original broadcasts. You can watch them through a web browser or through an app on your set-top box.
There are drawbacks, most having to do with content licensing restrictions. Netflix still has a good number of films in its vast library that are unavailable for streaming. With Hulu Plus, TV shows are generally embargoed until at least the day after their original network air dates. And there can also be restrictions on which seasons of a show are available. Perhaps most frustrating, licensing terms for some shows stipulate that while they can be watched on a computer or mobile device for free on Hulu's website, they are prohibited from being viewed on the TV even with a paid Hulu Plus subscription. But remember, an antenna gets you free OTA network channels, so if you're able to work your schedule around the networks' (like in the old days) you can minimize this inconvenience.
The chart -- which is too big to fit on this page, so I made it a Google spreadsheet -- answers the question of which streaming local channels are available where. You see, just because a service like DirecTV Now offers Fox, that doesn't mean it offers your local Fox station live. If you live in Asheville, Las Vegas or Schenectady, for example, DirecTV Now doesn't carry your local Fox station. Hulu and YouTube TV do, however.
Sling TV organizes its content a little differently from most competitors: instead of a few different tiers, Sling TV starts you off with one of two base packages (you can also get both) and then invites you to build a custom package through its “add-ons.” The “Sling Blue” base package ($25 per month) will get eligible markets live streams from Fox and NBC. The Broadcast Extra add-on to Sling Blue will give subscribers in some markets access to ABC, Univision, and Unimas local broadcasts. Local and regional sports stations are available in various base and add-on packages, too – check out the link below to track down the ones you're most interested in.
Then there's the multistream issue. If you want to watch more than one program at the same time -- for example, on your living room TV and on a bedroom TV, or the main TV and a tablet -- you'll want to make sure the service you're watching has enough simultaneous streams. Some of the least-expensive services only allow one stream at a time, and if you try to watch a second, it's blocked.
The quality of your TV picture isn’t only dependent on the quality of your antenna. It also depends on where you live in relation to the signal towers. A quick and easy tool to figure out which channels are available to you is the Mohu Station Finder. It provides information on the stations available based on your address. It also provides an idea of the performance to expect from different antennas.
We interviewed about 20 current and former industry executives and analysts to understand why traditional television has started losing its foothold in America’s living rooms. Some blamed their peers for decisions that made cable too pricey or opened the door to online competition, and many declined to be identified for fear of angering business associates. In reality, almost everyone played a role in jeopardizing the business.
General idea: PSA for gamers: PlayStation Vue is a super easy way to seamlessly slide from gaming to that new episode you're trying to watch without switching outputs. (Many other streaming services don't support viewing on Playstation, and if they do, it's only on PS4.) Vue's channel lineup is pretty stellar, with the lowest tier plan offering nearly 50 channels including ESPN, Disney, TBS, and Discovery. Vue allows simultaneous streaming on five devices at once, including a PS4, PS3, plus three other devices — so the whole house can use it even if they've never touched a PlayStation in their life. This also means five virtually unlimited DVRs.
FuboTV is a live online streaming service that specializes in providing sports programming. Though they also offer a selection of regular TV programming, they provide live streaming of games in the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA, as well as major college sports and international sporting events. For $34.99 per month the service offers access to 68 channels. FuboTV is also offering a one-week free trial so that you can check out the service.
DirecTV Now offers a generous number of channels across four different packages, and it doesn't cost all that much, considering how much you get: $35 per month for more than 60 channels, up to $70 per month for more than 120 channels. While it's a good deal on paper, DirecTV Now itself has inconsistent video quality, a suboptimal interface and a haphazard selection of on-demand content. DVR options are still in their infancy, and platform availability is all over the place. If you want the largest amount of stuff to watch for the least amount of money, DirecTV Now works; otherwise, it's not the best choice.
DirecTV is another service with high channels counts and multiple package tiers. Like PS Vue, it’s close to the experience you’ll get with cable or satellite when it comes to available channels. In August 2018, DirecTV Now took a major leap forward for football fans, adding the NFL Network to several of its base packages. While competitors like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have offered the NFL Network for some time, it was one of just a few key channels missing from a service known for its channel count. Subscribers of the Just Right package and above now have the channel, meaning it’s only missing from the $40-per-month Live a Little package.
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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.
A couple years ago, some services decided it wasn't enough to just provide some a la carte streaming of shows. They wanted to provide what is pretty much a full cable-television subscription experience over the internet. These are those services. They won't necessarily give you super-granular control over content like you'd have with a regular streaming service, or even moreso with a DVR recording stuff off the air, but they give you access to a lot of content you might not otherwise get without a cable subscription—especially news and sports.
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.