While I cannot vouch for the legality or the quality of all of these websites, here are 35 a lot of different ways you can still catch your favorite shows and web videos without paying for cable or satellite TV. And while I haven’t tried each and every one of them out for any extended period of time, the first 5 I list are my favorites, to help guide you to some of the ones that work well. I have either given my own opinion of each one or when possible I have taken a blurb from each site’s “About” page to give you a little more info. And if you have a favorite, or you use a site that isn’t listed here, please be sure to mention it in the comments so everyone can check it out!
The major network channels are all broadcast in HD. And you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that the quality of uncompressed HD video in an antenna feed is actually superior to what you've been getting with your cable box. Cable operators have to deliver hundreds of channels, plus broadband and phone service over a single connection to your home, so the TV signal is usually compressed to conserve bandwidth. Not so with your OTA feed. The difference is immediately noticeable. Outside of a Blu-ray movie, this is the best output I've ever seen on my TV. And did I mention the channels are free?
The savings are all tied to a service that is in a sense revolutionary. Sling TV, a new live TV streaming service from Dish provides you with access to networks like ESPN 1, ESPN 2, HGTV, Food TV,TBS, Disney and more for $19.99 per month. All you need is an internet connection to watch Sling TV on a television, phone or tablet. With a deal I found, just for signing up, you get a FREE Fire TV Stick.
Editor’s note: Each service has the conditional inclusion of the major networks it carries. Some markets have access to live network channels, including local programming, while others will be on-demand only. In some select locations, one or more of the networks — or even an entire service — may not be available. Check each service’s website for availability in your area.
However, even if you do have to pay for internet, that doesn’t mean you can’t save a ton by ditching your television service subscription. Just be aware that cable and satellite companies will tout their service bundles to try and convince you to commit to multiple services. While the promo or introductory prices may look attractive, they will go up when the initial period ends, so think long and hard about the potential consequences, especially if you have to sign a contract.
Hulu’s single $40-per-month plan (called simply Hulu with Live TV) gives subscribers around 60 live channels (the exact number will be dependent on your market). You will get ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, either live or on-demand depending on your location, plus dozens of other popular channels, which Hulu lists in full on its website. The service also added ABC News Live, CBSN, and Cheddar, bolstering its news lineup.
Marcin Maczka writes that RT's ample financing has allowed RT to attract experienced journalists and use the latest technology. RT anchors and correspondents tend to concentrate on controversial world issues such as the financial and banking scandals, corporate impact on the global economy, and western demonstrations. It has also aired views by various conspiracy theorists, including neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and Holocaust deniers (presented as "human rights activists"). News from Russia is of secondary importance and such reports emphasize Russian modernisation and economic achievements, as well as Russian culture and natural landscapes, while downplaying Russia's social problems or corruption.
Start with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, tack on an HBO subscription to the latter, and consider paying for the Brit-centric streaming service Acorn as well. You’ll have plenty to watch, all commercial-free, and if you hear a lot of buzz about a show that isn’t available through any of those platforms, you can always pay for them on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon (or iTunes, Vudu, or whichever digital retailer you prefer).
FuboTV offers two plans. The first, “Fubo, includes more than 70 channels for $45 per month, and the second, “Fubo Extra,” bumps the package up to 80-plus channels for $50, though your first month on either plan will be discounted by $5. Both plans include a healthy mix of both sports and nonsports channels, such as NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, and the Pac-12 Network on the sports side, along with staples like HGTV, FX, and widespread local network channel support on the other. In August 2018, FuboTV signed a multiyear deal bringing the Turner networks — including TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TruTV, TCM, and HLN — to the service. Not only did the service add these channels, but it did so without upping the price.
The comments about Spectrum DVRs are not accurate based on our experience. We have Spectrum (previously Time Warner) and our DVR allows us to record 4 channels simultaneously (not 2) while watching a fifth channel. Also, our DVR can store substantially more than 21 hours of HD content as the review claims. I’m only guessing, but I’m sure we are able to store at least 100 hours of content. Overall, we’ve been satisfied with the Gold package. There are lots of channels including premium channels (HBO, Showtime, NFL Network, etc.) and there are decent mobile viewing capabilities. The Spectrum app allows you to watch all content and manage DVR settings when you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi. Substantially fewer channels are available on the Spectrum app when accessed via the internet; however, this is shortfall can largely be made up by downloading the apps for individual channels such as HBO Go, Show Anytime, Max Go, etc. On the negative side, Spectrum is expensive and the internet speeds never measure up to what they advertise. Instead of getting 100Mbps we get about 50 down/35 up. In fairness, most people I talk to all seem to have the same complaint about their service provider. And, of course, the customer service generally stinks.
In December 2018, the British media regulator Ofcom ruled that seven programmes broadcast by RT between 17 March and 26 April of that year, in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attacks, had breached the UK's impartiality rules and that it was considering what sanctions to take; the BBC reported that RT was "extremely disappointed by Ofcom's conclusions".
If you're looking for a little more flexibility, Mujay might be just the antenna. The double-sided antenna is similar to the VICTONY antenna in that it can be mounted by simply placing it behind the TV, on the wall, or on a nearby window. After mounting, set the antenna to either 0-35 miles or 35-80 miles to bring in the most channels. Just keep in mind that if your TV doesn't have an HDTV tuner, you'll need a digital converter to make sure the signal is coming through properly. It's also often on sale, making it an even more affordable option.
One of the toughest things for cord-cutters to give up is sports content, since cable and satellite TV give access not only to home games, but also to matches from all around the world. An HD antenna will keep you covered for local games. Otherwise, you have two options: a cable-replacement service, or a streaming sports service. Every major sports organization offers some kind of streaming package, from MLB.TV to NFL Live to NBA League Pass. These services are expensive compared to streaming subscriptions, and can cost between $100 and $200 per year.
If you aren’t willing to spend the money for any of the above options, some of the networks will stream events like the Superbowl for free on YouTube or within their own app for smart TVs and mobile devices. The top networks know that people are cutting off their cable subscriptions in droves, and in order to keep them interested in the sports they broadcast, they are coming up with new ways for you to watch. So, just check with the channel that will be airing the event you want to see and find out if they are going to allow the public to stream it for free, with commercial interruptions, of course.
General idea: Need we say more than nearly 50 channels for $20 a month? That's unheard of, guys. We have yet to find a streaming service that offers that much for that little, and it's really all we need to say about Philo. The channels aren't news or sports oriented, but if you don't care about that, the variety is pretty legit: Featuring BBCAmerica, Cheddar, The Food Network, GSN, TLC, and more. There's a seven day free trial that you can try, and the coolest part is that they don't require your credit card information to set it up. Just enter your mobile number and you're ready to watch. They'll text you and ask for a payment later when your week runs out, but at least you know you won't be charged if you accidentally forget to cancel.
Consensus: Aside from the base plan, DirecTV NOW's packages have the highest prices that we've seen, and spending $60-$70 a month on TV watching just may not be a priority. However, if you've got a bit of disposable money and have a wide range of interests, DirecTV's insane channel selection is about to make you a very happy camper. (Regardless, it's cheaper than a $200/month cable bill.)
FuboTV ($34.99/mo.): Although it is best known for its wide array of international sports networks — it’s particularly ideal for fans of soccer and college athletics — FuboTV also includes a solid package of basic cable outlets and some local network channels. The service offers 30 hours of cloud DVR storage and a “three-day replay” function, giving subscribers three days to watch broadcasts that they forgot to record (with some exceptions because of licensing limitations).
United States – The US Department of Justice compelled RT to file paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the United States in September 2017. Previously, the United States Secretary of State John Kerry had referred to RT as a state-sponsored "propaganda bullhorn" and he continued by saying, "Russia Today [sic] network has deployed to promote president Putin's fantasy about what is playing out on the ground. They almost spend full-time devoted to this effort, to propagandize, and to distort what is happening or not happening in Ukraine." RT responded that they wanted "an official response from the U.S. Department of State substantiating Mr. Kerry's claims." Richard Stengel from the U.S. Department of State responded. Stengel stated in his response, "RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization," concluding that "the network and its editors should not pretend that RT is anything other than another player in Russia's global disinformation campaign against the people of Ukraine and their supporters". However, Stengel supports RT's right to broadcast in the United States.
Cable TV was once the ultimate entertainment necessity. The over-the-air days of VHF/UHF television signals couldn't keep up with voracious viewers who needed more, more, more channels. Having a cable directly pumping all that content into your home became the norm, and the cable providers—which likely provide your high-speed broadband internet access as well—knew they had you on the hook.
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.
I can’t think of any no contract TV services that don’t require an internet connection, the only thing you can get as far as I know without internet is cable TV or over-the-air TV – and over-the-air isn’t going to have a lot of the TV stations you mention. For those you’ll have to pay for cable TV, or for a service that requires an internet connection.
Let's not fool ourselves, the media companies go where the money is, and right now that's still the cable/satellite/telco providers by a wide margin. But according to Steve Shannon, Roku's General Manager of Content and Services, the tide is turning in negotiations between content providers and cable distributors with more rights becoming available for streaming services. "As each contract comes up for renewal, digital rights are becoming more valuable," he says. "Content creators recognize that there's value there and as cable companies are looking to reduce programming costs, some are giving up the digital rights."
Local broadcast channels are still available for free over the air. All you need is a digital TV antenna and a TV with a digital tuner (which is standard on pretty much any TV purchased within the last decade). If you’ve got a TV older than that, you can still receive broadcast channels, but you’ll need a digital-to-analog converter box along with your digital antenna.
A reader of the blog informed me that WOW! now offers Internet access in Knoxville Tennessee. They offer speeds of 30 Mbps for just $25 and 60 Mbps for just $40 a Mbps. If anyone has any experience with their Internet-only service them please post in the comments. They appear to offer service in parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.