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.
Livestream TV services have no hidden fees, and if you ever decide to cancel, it’s easy and painless — a refreshing change from the hassle of dealing with cable and satellite call centers, even if prices are on the rise. There are many services out there, however, and they all have different prices, channels, and features. To help you sift through the chaos, we’ve put together this handy guide detailing the pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice for you.
Whether you’re a good candidate for cutting the cord depends in large part on what and when you watch. Before considering cancelling your cable subscription, first spend some time evaluating your viewing habits. How often do you actually sit down and watch television? When you do, what are you actually watching? Live sports? Prime-time reality television? The Cooking Channel? Do you like being able to channel surf or do you usually only turn on your TV to watch Game of Thrones?
The ClearStream Eclipse has some of the best-rated performance in its class. The antenna is multi-directional, powerful, and surprisingly versatile. The Eclipse comes in four separate versions: 35, 50, 60, and 70-mile variations, so you’ll be able to snag a model that best suits your location. The double-sided adhesive mounting surface is black on one side and white on the other, and it can be painted over so you’ll be able to integrate it into any decor. The circular design of the antenna is unique and provides an advantage in being better at picking up UHF signals (a type of HD TV signal) than most other indoor antennas. Plus, it’s multidirectional, so finding an ideal configuration where the signal is clearest is easy.
PS Vue’s biggest selling point is just how many channels you get, boasting the most of any services out there. Plus, you can bolster your services with add-on channels and features. Subscribers to PlayStation Plus (Sony’s premium online service for PS4 and PS3) will get discounts on some of those packages, and some channels are exclusive only to Plus subscribers in the first place. Similarly, PS Vue ties directly into the PS4 interface and the PlayStation ecosystem at large, which makes adopting it almost a no-brainer for PlayStation players looking to add online TV — provided the pricing and channel listings meet your needs.
Most HDTVs made these days have a built in digital tuner. If you bought it a few years ago before the new digital tuners were as common, and it was only advertised as an HDTV monitor, that could be the only caveat. Basically if it has a tuner built in usually it will have a video source on the unit called “TV” or something along those lines. Just plug in an antenna, go to the menu, and have it scan for channels. If you have a tuner those options should be there.
So when people ask “how to cut the cord,” it's pretty clear that they're not really asking how to cut the cord. They're actually asking how to watch TV without cable. They're asking how they can replace all of their favorite shows, how to watch the latest movies, and how to fill the void that channel-surfing, live NFL games, or whatever else they liked about cable has left in its wake. That's what we dedicate the most time to here on the site. We call out site Cordcutting.com because all of the topics we cover are related to cord cutting in some way, but if we really wanted to name it after what we cover most, we'd call it HowToWatchTVWithoutCable.com. Not quite as catchy, we know.
Pretty ubiquitous among the streaming hubs, Sony-owned Crackle offers an eclectic selection of content for free, mostly with ads. We are talking really bad commercials cut in at odd moments in movies—sometimes in the middle of a scene—as if an algorithm handles it rather than a human. The movies tend to be pretty craptacular with occasional gems. It's trying more and more to do original content, like TV show version of the movie Snatch, Start Up with Ron Perlman, and the new cop series The Oath with Sean Bean. It once could brag about having Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee but lost it to Netflix.
But if you get “Gotta Have It!” and then also sign up for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and then sign up for MLB.TV, too, and then you still have to pay for internet, which is more expensive now that you've canceled your cable bundle… well, all of that is going to add up. You might end up writing one of those dumb articles saying that cord cutting doesn't really save cash (no, we're not going to link to them, but trust us – they're out there). Here's the truth: cord cutting always saves cash. It's replacing all the content that could cost you, so now is the time to decide what you think is most sensible.
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.
Every cable-replacement service has strengths and weaknesses. This list is presented in order from the strongest overall (PlayStation Vue) to the weakest (DirecTV Now). While your preference among services may depend on what you want to watch, which programs you want to record and how much you're willing to pay, this guide should help you decide what's worth your money.
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Another way to watch FOX News streaming live is PlayStation Vue, a product of Sony. You can stream FOX News and dozens of other pay TV networks for one monthly fee. FOX News and the rest of the FOX family of networks are all available on the basic package with options depending on your location. Vue starts at $45 per month. No contract is required, so you can cancel PlayStation Vue at any time.
Grasshopper provides a business number for your cell phone that delivers the business phone functionality you need and more at an unbelievable price. Just mentioning the 2nd number for your cell phone doesn’t really explain what they do. Their service turns the personal phones of you and your employees into a full blow PBX. Read my review of their small business phone system for more information.
To some executives, no company offers a more egregious example of how the value of sports has spiraled out of control than Time Warner Cable. In 2013 the cable company, now owned by Charter Communications Inc., agreed to pay an average $334 million a year to broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers games for the next 25 years on its cable channel, SportsNet LA. That’s roughly eight times what Fox reportedly paid in the previous Dodgers deal. To cover the cost, Time Warner Cable initially charged almost $5 per month per subscriber, making it one of the most expensive in the bundle.
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.
"Who wouldn't like to go from a $100+ cable TV bill with a bunch of channels we never watch to $25 for basically the ones we *do* watch? Yes, there are limits (mainly local TV, but it appears that may be coming soon). We're just glad that we no longer have to be affected by the cable stranglehold and the lack of response to customers who are looking for choice. Do it."
Note: Several premium cable channels offer standalone monthly subscriptions to their original programming for people who don’t subscribe through cable or satellite providers. The most popular of these are HBO Now ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.). These (and others) are also available as add-on channels to Amazon Prime Video; of those three, only Showtime is cheaper as an add-on ($8.99/mo.).
My take is that they are focused on the areas that get NO cable service because they know it’s a slam dunk so they charge rates that are more expensive for what they offer because they can. It’s like this, if they want my business, they have to have the same TV channels for less and they are so far from it. Also, if they do undercut any pricing, it’s marginal because they are trying to maximize their profits exponentially. Take a look at the free trials they all offer. They’re almost all the same: 1 week, or maybe 5 days, and then the monthly rate kicks in. What a joke. They’re greedy.
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."
A Pew Research survey of the most popular news videos on YouTube in 2011-12, found RT to be the top source with 8.5 percent of posts. However of these, 68 percent consisted of first-person video accounts of dramatic worldwide events, likely acquired by the network rather than created by it. In 2013, RT became the first television news channel to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. In 2014 its main (English) channel was reported have 1.4 million subscribers.
These antennas are compatible with all televisions made since 2007 (when built-in digital tuners became a federal requirement) and they plug directly into the coaxial port in back of your TV. Once plugged in, you simply have your TV scan for available digital signals. Most TVs have a signal meter display that shows just how well each channel's signal is being received.
DIRECTV also offers more full-time high-definition (HD) channels than anyone, and it has the ability to record up to 200 hours of HD video content. So whether you’re tuning in to see Tom Brady’s piercing baby-blue eyes or just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.
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.
Remember the days when you could watch network television for free? (those under 25, ask your parents). Well those channels are still available at no cost...if you have an antenna. And no, we're not talking about the clunky rabbit ears of old. Antennas have changed substantially in looks and performance over the last several years. Breakthroughs in technology spurred by development of the tiny but powerful digital antennas in smartphones have been adapted to the realm of TV reception. The result? "TV antennas today are 10% of the mass they were decades ago," says Richard Schneider, president of Missouri-based manufacturer Antennas Direct. "And the move to an all digital transmission that the FCC mandated back in 2009 has put those TV signals in a higher frequency which means a better signal with less noise".
You no longer need a cable or satellite TV subscription to watch your local TV channels. You can now watch your local networks through the internet through streaming services that now stream local broadcast affiliates in several markets. You can even get a device like a Roku and watch them on your TV set. If you live in on near a major metro area, you can likely receive all of you local channels online. Here are some of those services:
Watching professional sports without cable is a tougher nut to crack and, depending on the event, you may have no choice but to head to your local sports bar. Even with cable, however, there's no guarantee you'll be able to access your favorite team's game. Fortunately, professional sports associations are getting in on the online action and streaming some or all of their televised games via paid subscriber network.
If you watch only a few favorite shows, it may be cheaper to purchase and download seasons of the shows you like from Amazon, Google, or iTunes. This strategy works especially well if you don’t need to watch particular shows immediately, if you prefer to binge-watch, or you buy, rent, or borrow the DVD or Blu-ray box set when available. For example, a full season of Game of Thrones at the Google Play store was $30 at the time we checked, while season two of Mr. Robot was only $20.
If you find that most of your television diet consists of reruns of old sitcoms and dramas or movies, an on-demand video streaming service will probably meet most of your needs. By this point, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime video are widely understood and fairly ubiquitous. In fact, as of June 2017, Netflix has more US subscribers than cable TV.
Charter Availability: Charter’s service area is within the states of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
That is far from an exhaustive list. You may find some of these on your big TV streaming hub (Roku has a great list of apps), but not all—some may only be on mobile devices. Remember, a lot of the shows that you watch on these stations end up on other services—specifically Netflix, Hulu, or Prime Video. So you may not have to suffer through watching these on small screens with un-skippable advertising.
Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don't have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.
The Sling TV local channel offering is dependent on your level of service, your geographic location, and Sling TV’s contractual and other rights to distribute local channels. Not all local channels may be purchased from Sling TV today, and some local channel content may include blackout restrictions. Explore our channels and discover what service you need to receive them here.
I literally watch 90+% of my TV on Hulu for the past several years. I quit cable in 2006. Subscribed to Netflix streaming, and then Hulu Plus as soon as it came out in 2010, but found myself watching most stuff on Hulu. I even quit Netflix for 3 years from 2014 to 2017 because I never watched it. I watched everything on Hulu and signed up for the commercial free subscription as soon as Hulu rolled it out. I signed back up for Netflix for 4K content, but I still hardly watch it. In the last 6 months the only things I’ve watched on Netflix were Better Call Saul season 3, a few episodes of Arrested Development, a couple of episodes of The Break with Michelle Wolf, and Thor Ragnarok. Still watch most stuff on Hulu.
I cut the cord about 12 years ago and have never looked back! Live in Western Massachusetts. I have over-the-air-waves TVs after the one-time cost of antennas, of course. I only get 6 channels. The four PBS channels, ABC & FOX, because of where I live, lowland, 1st fl. rental so can’t get my antennas anywhere up high enough. Friends w/same set up who live in a higher elevation get over 20 channels.
What I love about using Playon is that it integrates very nicely with my xbox 360. I can use my regular remote to watch tv shows, movies/etc through playon, just like i would with a regular dvd player or network media player. i don’t have to have a keyboard and mouse sitting on our coffee table at all times, i can just navigate to the playon folder on the xbox, and start watching shows on the big screen. I also have an old media computer hooked up to our big tv, but i rarely turn it on anymore because of the nice setup with playon.
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.
Great! You’re already half way there! What I would do next is take a look at Hulu, Sling TV, CBS All Access, etc. to find out which option has the majority of what you want to see. If that company does not cover sports you may have to purchase an add on for it. As far as local sports, you might consider an antenna if you can’t get coverage otherwise.
Laura M. LaVoie resides in a 120 square foot house in the mountains of Western North Carolina. There she has a solid internet connection and access to some of the best craft beer in the country. Email her at [email protected] Disclosure: Streaming Observer is supported by readers. Articles may contain referral links. For more information, see the disclosure at the bottom of the page.