Join the club! Some of us at Lifehacker HQ have already left or are ready to leave the cable company for 24/7 live TV streaming, too. We get this question all the time, and we've examined ditching the monthly bill in favor of watching programs online occasionally in the past, and we've also looked at ways to get your TV fix with apps like Boxee and Hulu, plus there are cool set-top devices like Roku and TiVo, but this is a good opportunity to get exhaustive. There are so many great options for catching a show here or there, but can you rely on them to replicate the cable TV experience? Well, yes and no.
DirecTV Now ($35/mo. - $70/mo.): The breadth of channels and the reasonable pricing tiers will make DirecTV an attractive option to a lot of cord-cutters — especially those who already have AT&T mobile phone plans, which offer heavy discounts on this service. As always, the availability of local channels varies. And unlike the live TV services above, DirecTV Now is not the best place for watching a show after it airs. The service has DVR cloud storage, but it is still being developed, and at the moment it is relatively limited in storage and functionality when compared with many of its competitors.
No, really. For the cool price of zero dollars a month, Pluto TV will provide you access to select content from more than 40 live channels, including CNBC, MSNBC, Sky News, movie channels, and live sports, plus 15 music-streaming channels. Newest additions include Pluto TV Sitcoms, offering a selection of aging comedies like 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Lucy Show, and Spanish language channel Pluto TV Cine. Users will also enjoy a library of on-demand content.
Showtime has made itself an add-on with just about any service that offers the option. It's available through Hulu, Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access, plus the live TV streaming services (below). Or use the apps on Apple TV, iOS, Android, Roku, and Xbox One. The price to get Showtime those services is generally a couple buck lower per month, a $24 a year savings.
You can also watch free broadcast TV with an antenna — no cable needed. The major US broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and CW — are all available for free over-the-air. Most people can pick up these channels, and 20-30 of others, in crystal-clear HD with a decent indoor antenna. Deciding what kind of antenna you need, however, can be difficult. This antenna guide will help you find which type you need for your home and location in just two easy questions. If you want an even faster answer, this antenna will make most people very happy. It has a great range (50 miles) and will pick up all the best over-the-air channels, plus lots of other features.

In terms of bonus features, Sling TV is pretty standard, but it does have some unique standouts. The first is Game Finder, a search feature on the Sling TV website that finds live and upcoming sports content available for your channel package and region. There’s also a bandwidth limiter, which will help keep you from going over your data limits — streaming video content can eat up data quickly, after all, so this is a welcome feature.
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.
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.

Sling is a good deal for serious TV fans, but if you’re not going to watch at least eight different shows on those channels per year, it’s cheapest to just get your Mad Men/Walking Dead fix by buying individual seasons on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video. That strategy, ironically, is pretty much what Dish Network’s chairman recommended back in 2012—before his company owned its own streaming business.


I can’t speak to those channels specifically as I’m not really sure. Typically though if you use PlayOn, as long as the channel is available in the software or as a plugin you’ll be able to watch shows from that network. Not all networks make online streaming available, however, so it really depends. There is a link in the article above to the PlayOn site mentioning which channels are available.

You're going to start seeing products touting the next-generation HDMI connection, called 2.1. This is a huge leap forward in terms of bandwidth, capable of up to 8K resolutions and beyond. There will be new cables needed to handle these higher resolutions, called Ultra High Speed, but unless you're buying an 8K TV, you don't need them. Actually, even if you are buying an 8K TV, you probably don't need them. 
“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
I have just started disability retirement. After figuring out the bills, I come up short. I called Spectrum to drop the HD channels and was informed that starting next month, all tvs must have a digital box. That forced me to drop one of the tvs. I have been paying Time Warner for 100mps for years but did a speed test to discover the speed is below 50 so I figure I will negotiate with them for the lower speed. My main question is: Blu Ray players have come way down in price and I know they have wi-fi capability. What options should I look out for? Will I have to buy a player for each tv? Are there conversion cords that will work with 20+ year televisions to connect blue ray?
By 2012, however, Time Warner’s investors were demanding to know why the company wasn’t selling its reruns to Netflix, according to one former Time Warner executive. “We sat out for a few years, and all of Wall Street said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing? You’re leaving value on the table for your shareholders!’ ” the former executive said. “So we relented. That was the beginning of the end.”
Philo ($16/mo. - $20/mo.): This new cut-rate service is cheap for a reason: It eliminates all sports, major networks and premium movie channels, delivering instead what amounts to a stripped-down basic cable package with the likes of History Channel, A&E and TV Land. Philo also has limited DVR storage and can be watched on multiple devices simultaneously. It’s a good starter option for people who want a solid array of traditional cable channels to supplement with subscriptions to Netflix, HBO Now and others. 
A study involving Professor Robert Orttung at George Washington University states that RT uses human interest stories without ideological content to attract viewers to its channels. Also between January and May 2015, the Russian-language channel actually had the most viewers, with approximately double the number of the main channel, despite only having around one third the number of subscribers.[99]
Sling TV currently offers the most flexibility of all the live TV streaming services out there, at least when it comes to your content and pricing options. Sling TV uses an à la carte model, with base channel packages and a bevy of add-ons. The base packages, while largely similar, do have some major differences — namely that ABC and Disney-owned channels (including ESPN, and therefore support for ESPN+) are only present in Orange, while Blue carries NBC, Fox, and other sports channels like NFL Network and NFL Redzone.
we have not had a pay tv service since 2009 it just kept going up it started at 45 dollars a month then went all the way up too 142.00 dollars a month for just 2 tv’s in the house it was insane one day I called up comcast and told them either they make me a deal on the tv service or I was cancelling they told me they could knock it down to 99 dollars a month for two years as long as I wanted to sign up for a 4 year service plan and I had to add on there Voip phone service and after 2 years it would go up to 199.00 a month
The upper echelon of antennas starts with the 8 Element Bowtie. It boasts lots of features like a 70-mile range, and is 4K ready out of the box. But where this antenna really shines is in its design, which allows for multi-directional signal pickups. The bracket allows for both sides to be adjusted to catch multiple signals, if possible, which will only help with channel clarity and numbers.
The WD TV Live isn't as popular as the other devices on this list, but it's actually a pretty good device, especially for users that have a lot of ripped or downloaded movies already (and it supports quite a few formats). WD TV Live comes in two flavors: a small, cheap, Wi-Fi-enabled box designed for streaming, and a more expensive, Ethernet-enabled box with a 1TB drive for all your local movies. The small box can play files off a USB drive, and the big box can still stream, but they're clearly aimed at two different types of users.
In the past decade, the Federal Communications Commission and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona attempted to force media companies to offer their channels individually. Neither effort went very far. The cable industry argued prices would rise if consumers could choose only certain channels, and channels aimed at minority groups, for instance, wouldn’t survive without every subscriber paying for them—regardless of whether they watched.
HI Peter, i am not knowledgable about this, i am trying to learn. Could you help guide me? The xbox ‘hooks’ to the t.v. and i run Playon on my laptop… am i right to assume they communicate to each other ‘through the air waves’, to show the programing? i won’t have to run any ‘cables’ from my laptop to my t.v.? thank you for helping me out and to understand. steph.

The thing about internet-delivered TV is that you need a broadband connection that’s copacetic with the streaming lifestyle. This may seem like a foregone conclusion, but we want to make it clear that if you’re going to bet your precious entertainment future on your network, you best have a solid hookup. Netflix and other similar streaming video services suggest a minimum downstream speed of 5Mbps for HD streaming, but that simply is not going to hack it for most folks, especially those with families streaming more than one show or movie at a time.
On January 5, 2009, Lionsgate announced its intent to purchase TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online for $255 million in cash. Lionsgate closed the transaction on March 2, 2009.[23] The following April, Lionsgate announced plans to revamp the network into a more entertainment-oriented channel, including plans to discontinue the bottom-screen scrolling program listings grid that has been a part of the channel since its inception in late 1981;[24][25][26] this was partly because internet-based TV listings websites, mobile applications and the on-screen interactive program guides (IPGs) built directly into most modern cable and satellite set-top terminals (such as TV Guide's own IPG software, TV Guide Interactive, which is visually similar in its presentation to the channel's pre-2015 listings grid) as well as into digital video recorders like TiVo eliminated the need for a dedicated television listings channel by providing the same information in a speedier manner, and often in much more detail and with greater flexibility. Even so, the channels that were listed in the grid, long after many providers began offering digital cable service, were usually limited to those within their expanded basic tier, with only select channels on its digital service appearing in a separate grid towards the end of the listings cycle. Following the announcement, Mediacom announced that it would be dropping the network;[27] Time Warner Cable also dropped the network from its Texas systems.[28]
The third type of app allows you to access their shows by paying monthly to stream any offering from that channel, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. The most high-profile of these is HBO Now, and right now, this type of app is most common for other prestige cable channels like Showtime and Starz. These become more worth it as you watch more of the shows offered by that network. For example, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Insecure, Veep, and Silicon Valley, HBO Now might be worth the monthly fee. CBS All-Access is similar to this third type of app, providing online access to the back catalog of the network’s shows that are broadcast over-the-air for free. The app is also the only place to find some original shows that need not conform to broadcast TV's FCC standards, the first two of which were The Good Fight (a spinoff of The Good Wife) and Star Trek: Discovery.

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.
On either device, using just Netflix and Hulu Plus (each require $8 per month subscriptions) gives you a good variety of popular programming. Between the two you can binge on previous seasons of everything from Breaking Bad to Downton Abbey, watch current episodes of The Daily Show and Parks and Recreation and make a dent in your bucket list of must-see film classics.
I have the exact same problem as Cara, which just started today. Everything was working perfectly yesterday. All I had to do was plug in my hdmi cable, set my tv to hdmi & I could get video & audio (didn't have to change any settings to get audio). Now today, suddenly, I've got no audio. I didn't make any changes or do anything different b/w last night and today, yet the audio stopped working. I did e/thing Cara did, except her "fix" didn't work for me (ie. changing the default audio to tv in the control panel of my laptop). Even when I "tested" the speakers, the sound came out of the tv, just like it did for Cara. So some setting somewhere got changed w/o my knowledge, I just can't figure out what it is. Ugh. My laptop is a Lenovo ideapad & I have a Vizio smart hdtv if that makes a difference. Can ANYBODY help those of us still having this problem? Please. Thank you
I have the exact same problem as Cara, which just started today. Everything was working perfectly yesterday. All I had to do was plug in my hdmi cable, set my tv to hdmi & I could get video & audio (didn't have to change any settings to get audio). Now today, suddenly, I've got no audio. I didn't make any changes or do anything different b/w last night and today, yet the audio stopped working. I did e/thing Cara did, except her "fix" didn't work for me (ie. changing the default audio to tv in the control panel of my laptop). Even when I "tested" the speakers, the sound came out of the tv, just like it did for Cara. So some setting somewhere got changed w/o my knowledge, I just can't figure out what it is. Ugh. My laptop is a Lenovo ideapad & I have a Vizio smart hdtv if that makes a difference. Can ANYBODY help those of us still having this problem? Please. Thank you
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.

Not so long ago, blogs like ours tended to be a bit skeptical about smart TVs. The reason for that was that external streaming devices had an edge, generally speaking, in ease of use and in their app libraries. Like your smartphone or tablet, streaming devices and smart TVs tend to connect you with services through individual apps rather than through an internet browser. Also like your smart phone, apps for one platform don't work on another – so each platform has its own “app store,” just like iPhones and Android phones have different app stores. services have to make apps for each platform separately, and streaming platforms that traditionally came on external devices, like Roku, have the most apps available.
Price: A premium account goes for $6.95/month and has unlimited access to all content as well as discounts on merch like plushies and shirts at the Crunchyroll store. The Fan Pack, which goes for $9.99/month, gets you Crunchyroll content plus funimation and simuldubs ad-free and in HD on VRV.  Finally, for $14.99/month, the Super Fan Pack will give you all of the previously mentioned perks, plus free shipping at the Crunchyroll store and special access to events.

But cable providers didn't factor in that the internet they provide would become their worst enemy via access to streaming video. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are the most well-known names in what's become known as "cord cutting"—doing away with pay TV and using over-the-air (like the old days) or internet-based services to get all your "television" programming. That means no more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don't watch (in theory). Instead, you pay individual services for a la carte programming. It's a lot like paying for just what you watch. Almost.

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.
Sling TV is the streaming service that also offers live TV over the internet. It’s essentially cable TV without the contract or the massive bill. Currently, if you sign up for Sling TV you get a Free Roku. They also offer a free 7-day trial membership to try out their service. The service works on every major OTT streaming device and recently began offering a cloud DVR. Sling TV also streams NBC live online along with Fox and ABC in select markets.
PlayStation Vue is a streaming service similar to Sling TV, offering channels like AMC, TBS, Syfy and much more. However, this service starts at $44.99 per month. Check out this comparison of Sling TV Channels vs. PS Vue for the difference in each services channel lineup. You don’t need a PlayStation gaming console to use the service either. While the service is available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, you can also use the service with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, Android, iPad, and iPhone. Check out my review of PlayStation Vue for more details.
You will see a map of your area. Wait a few seconds for the colored list of stations to appear on the left. You should be able to pick up the green and yellow channels with a good indoor flat antenna. The ones in orange will probably require an outdoor antenna. The list is not exact, but will give you a ballpark idea of the number of channels you should be able to get.

The sports-centric cable replacement service Fubo TV has deals with FOX, NBC and CBS. However, those deals only apply to stations the networks own directly. If the station in your area is an affiliate station, you may not be able to watch your local team play unless a regional sports channel is broadcasting the game. For example, if you’re a Chicago Bulls fan there’s a 45 percent chance that you won’t be able to watch the game on Fubo TV due to licensing restrictions. Click here to find out whether or not you can see your local team play if you get Fubo.


Netflix ($7.99/mo., $10.99/mo., $13.99/mo.): What HBO has been to premium cable, Netflix has been to subscription streaming services, offering buzzed-about programming that anyone who wants to be “in the know” regarding contemporary television needs to see. It got a head-start on its competitors by producing must-see original content, and it continues to expand its library every month with new series and movies that generate a lot of buzz. (Think “Orange Is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “BoJack Horseman” or “Jessica Jones”) The service has been licensing fewer older TV shows and films in recent years, but it still offers a lot of high-quality product from those realms, including great British television, recent CW and Fox series and a surprisingly healthy amount of contemporary foreign cinema.
For much of 2015, graduate students at Columbia School of Journalism took part in the RT Watch project, monitoring RT's (US) output. Casey Michel, who worked on the project, wrote "RT ignores the inherent traits of journalism—checking sources, relaying facts, attempting honest reportage" and "you’ll find 'experts' lacking in expertise, conspiracy theories without backing, and, from time to time, outright fabrication for the sake of pushing a pro-Kremlin line".[193][194] The results were compiled in a Tumblr blog.[195]
Our site publishes a ton of articles, though, so writing just one page on the same subject means we have an awful lot to cover. Thankfully, the best methods for watching TV without cable can be grouped together and simplified in pretty helpful ways. That's what we're going to do in the sections below – but, first, it's time for a brief moment of self-examination.
The Boxee Box is a good device for those that want a highly configurable, full-featured media center but don't want to deal with the hassle of building one and installing something like XBMC. If you're willing to put in the time setting it up (and you aren't sharing it with someone less tech-savvy), it can be a pretty powerful media center, but it definitely isn't for everyone.
I cut the cord TODAY! I purchased a $25 indoor antenna thru Amazon. Where I live, I cannot get Dish, DirecTV, or even Cell Service. I couldn’t wait to rid myself of TWC! So, I’m shocked that with this antenna I’m receiving 15 channels. Of the 15, two are for kids and eight are basically old, brought-back series I once loved but no longer hold my attention or interest. So, I’m left with 5 channels that are sorta-kinda decent. It’s not great, but it’s okay. Considering that I am saving $732 a year, I can live with that and thank God I still have the internet so I can watch live news and probably get some other live shows that I’ll miss watching on TV. I will see how that goes. I just WISH I had one decent World News channel, like CNN, MSN or Fox, and one decent renovations channel as well as one forensics/true crime channel. Then my TV watching world would be perfect!
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.
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