We know that many of our visitors are looking for an all-in-one guide to cord cutting with an as-simple-as-possible explanation of how to watch TV without cable. So that's what we're setting out to do here. In this guide, we'll explain the importance of learning how to watch TV without cable after – or, preferably, even before – you cut the cord. We'll cover the main ways to replace live TV and on-demand content, the best devices to use to stream that content, and the pros and cons of each type of service and device. We'll wrap things up with a summary, plus a reminder of why we run this site and where you might want to go next. So read on: this is how to watch TV without cable.
One note of caution: if you do decide to cancel your cable subscription, there is no perfect method to cut the cord and no magic configuration that will give you all the access that you’re used to with cable at a deep discount. You will likely have to subscribe to a patchwork of different services to get all the channels and shows you want to watch. And even then you might have to forgo watching certain shows live and decide to sacrifice access to channels you’re used to having.
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.
In January 2013, it was announced that TV Guide Network would be renamed TVGN. The name change and new logo, which de-emphasizes the channel's ties to TV Guide magazine took effect on April 15, 2013. The immediate effect of the purchase by CBS saw the summer series Big Brother After Dark move from Showtime 2 to TVGN, along with same-day repeats of The Young and the Restless moving to the network from Soapnet, which ceased operations in December 2013. Fellow CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful soon also joined the TVGN lineup, along with eventual same-week repeats of Survivor and The Amazing Race, and repeats of CBS event programming such as the Grammy Awards. CBS Television Distribution's syndicated newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight began to package and produce all of TVGN's red carpet coverage as a cable extension of that program, though the network's existing programming agreements with competing program/website PopSugar continue to be maintained.
Not everyone thought this was a good service when it debuted, but it's so far stuck with that "introductory" price that would put it in line with icky cable subscriptions. If you've got an AT&T phone plan, you can add DirecTV Now for just $10 a month; HBO is included if you've got an AT&T Unlimited Choice or Plus plan. You can watch DirecTV Now on your PC via browser, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, ChromeCast, Roku devices, iOS, and Android—it's not on any game consoles. Lacking however: DVR options. There's plenty of video on demand, but not for every show.
A lot of these shows are from years ago, so binging one episode after the other is a go. However, if you're watching a new one and you're not in Japan, keeping up can get difficult with other services. While other streaming sites (like 123movies) may not have new episodes up until a day later, Crunchyroll posts them within the hour. PCMag's review writes:
Also put up 2 antennas in the attic – pointing in different directions to pick up 66 over the air broadcast stations. Almost half of those are religious, so not of any interest to our family, but I suppose folks on this site would like that. Also get 7 PBS subchannels, all the major networks, usually with 2-3 subchannels each, a number of Spanish, Vietnamese, Indian and a French news station. Some are extremely low quality (controlled by the broadcaster trying to have 12 subchannels on a single frequency), but the major channels are 1080i or 720p and fantastic. Visit tvfool.com to see which stations you should be able to get with different types of antennas and mounting difficulties. It also provides compass headings to point the antenna. For most people, the same antenna from 1970 works fine, so no added cost. There is no such thing as an HDTV antenna – only the digital change for signaling happened, nothing different on the RF side.
Free over-the-air TV solves some of the same problems as live TV streaming services do: it offers live TV and the channel-surfing experience, two things that SVOD solutions lack. It lags in content behind live TV streaming services, as many familiar channels are available on pay TV streaming services but not via free over-the-air TV. On the simplicity front, though, nothing beats free over-the-air TV: just plug the antenna into your TV, scan for channels, and watch. You won't need a streaming box, streaming stick, or a smart TV. You won't even need an internet connection!
Spectrum cable TV packages enable you to watch more quality TV with less payout. Your subscriptions to bundle packages are not just about the number of channels, but the significant FREE HD. The on-screen picture is so realistic and immersive that you experience 3D cinematic picture at home. The Spectrum cable prices also provide access to TV App and TV on-the-go. Whether your home or on-the-go, Spectrum TV™ App gives you access to a complete line of up to 10,000+ On Demand TV shows and movies - on your mobile or home screen. There’s always something more for someone of every taste. Get yourself hooked to one of the Spectrum cable plans and find the difference!
In the second quarter of 2018, Netflix released around 452 hours of U.S. original programming, up 51% year-over-year but actually slightly under the company’s record output of 483 hours in Q1 2018. In Q2, Netflix’s originals slate included “Thirteen Reasons Why” season 2, “Luke Cage” season 2, and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” season 4, in addition to the reboot of “Lost in Space” and second seasons of drug war docu-series “Dope” and Brazilian dystopian series “3%.”
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.
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.
Finally, though you probably already know this, you can watch your home teams, local news, and, yes, even LOST without cable. In fact, these are the easiest types of shows to get because they're free and just require a TV antenna to capture. If you have an HD-ready TV, you can even pick up high-def channels. Not sure what kind of antenna gives you the most bang for your geographical buck? AntennaWeb will help you figure out which antenna works best for your house based on where you live, and even tell you which way to point it. But you're here to watch TV online, so let's get to it.
That six-or-nine bucks a month gets you access to some of the most popular shows on TV the day after airing, including The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Elementary, Survivor, Amazing Race, even daytime shows. There are also a few thousand old TV shows streaming here, such as Cheers, all the versions of Star Trek (the rights are owned by the CBS Corporation), Brady Bunch, The Twilight Zone, and Hawaii Five-0. You can insert your own joke here about how the Tiffany Network is for your grandparents, because I already made mine above.
The most notable difference is price. Skinny bundles get their name from the fact that they “bundle” together various cable TV channels for a lower cost and deliver these channels live streaming over an internet connection. This reduces costs significantly. The average cost of a “skinny bundle” is around $40-$50 per month, compared to the $100 average cost of a cable bill.
DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, and Playstation Vue all offer local channels without cable, but they are currently only available for specific areas. You will have to check with each service to see if it is available for you. These subscriptions, while usually cheaper than the cable or satellite setup, will be a little more expensive than just using an Antenna. Packages range anywhere from $30 – $80 a month depending on the channels you want to see.
For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.
The commercials are still there—and repetitive to the extreme. Each break may show the same commercials over and over, sometimes the same ad back-to-back, as if they couldn't find any sponsors who believe in streaming. Or perhaps it's to torture you into using regular cable and a DVR (if you get a DVR from Spectrum, the app can be used to program it.)
There are relatively few standalone apps that offer local content, but there is one that is worth noting here. NewsON is a platform for local news stations. If you're lucky, you'll find that your local station is available live on the platform. NewsON's app is available on streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Read our complete review of NewsON here. It's worth noting that the service has improved a bit since our review was written.
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.
A lot of people pay a lot of money in order to be able to watch the TV shows that they want, when they want. In the process they end up spending upwards of $500-1000 a year, mostly for programming that they don't watch. If they would just look a little deeper they might find that there are a lot of free or low cost options out there, and they can get a lot of the same TV shows, movies and other video content for free.
On 12 January 2017, RT was accidentally broadcast for around 10 minutes on a web stream of U.S. public affairs service C-SPAN. RT stated that while it was testing its systems in preparation for the inauguration of Donald Trump, its signal was "mistakenly routed onto the primary encoder feeding C-SPAN1's signal to the internet, rather than to an unused backup."
This antenna helped me cut the cord! In my area I was able to mount it in my attic. I didn't receive and more channels or get a better a reception mounting it higher and outside. The 4 stars is because the remote motor interfered with the signal when it was connected. This happen with 2 of these antennas. With help,I moved the antenna manually until I achieved the highest signal strength. I did buy one, liked it, bought a second one.
I am not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. I just love listening to music while on my (bluetooth-enabled) computer and I was tired of wires getting in my way while wearing headphones. After doing a lot of research on bluetooth headphones, I originally bought another pair of headphones that were advertised as over-ear headphones but were actually on-ear headphones. On-ear headphones do NOT work for me. They hurt my ears and are very uncomfortable to wear.
As far as watching shows when they air, if it’s a show on one of the cable networks you may or may not get the show a day or two after it airs on a service like Hulu. Otherwise you might need to pay for that particular show on a service like Amazon – which in many cases is still cheaper than paying for cable. Or in some cases you can watch live shows on a service like Sling TV.
I returned several before I tried this ClearStream 4V. This time, however, I did pair my antenna with an amplifier. Now I'm not sure if that actually made a difference, but I was finally picking up some channels so I didn't want to mess with it anymore! I am getting 16 digital channels, which I know isn't much compared to what most people are able to pick up, but given the fact that I live in the middle of no where (we don't even have cell phone service at home), I am happy.