General idea: CuriosityStream, or as Mashable called it, "the Netflix of non-fiction," is a unique streaming service that wants to help viewers explore their universe through non-fiction documentaries. Hashtag edu-tainment. (And yes, you read that right. Three bucks a month.) Instead of offering a mix of different channels like traditional streaming services, CuriosityStream offers over 1,500 science, history, and technology documentaries that wouldn't be found on many popular channels. Topics include famous assassinations, nature, evolution, and a whole lot of space stuff. It's like your own personal museum, but you don't have to blow all your money for a ticket and don't have to deal with someone's kid running around. Unless it's your kid, that is.
Ultimately, your final decision will completely depend on your needs, what services you subscribe to, and how much of a hassle you're willing to deal with. I'm still married to my home-built XBMC box, but I'd have to say the Roku was easily my favorite of the pre-built options. It's insanely cheap, has tons of streaming services, and with the addition of Plex, can even do some basic playing of network files. The Boxee Box was also pretty nice if you're willing to sit and configure it, while the Apple TV and WD TV Live provided great plug-and-play solutions. The Google TV is a bit more of a wild card for those that have specific needs, but provides a lot of configurability and niche apps that the others don't have (or, alternatively, makes a great feature-filled Plex box). Check out the home pages for each device to see more about what they offer and where you can buy your own.
Our top pick for the best streaming service on a budget is SlingTV: Sling has made a serious mark in the streaming service world, as it was one of the first major live TV streamers and has been able to make significant updates throughout the years. For as little as $20 a month (and no more than $40), Sling offers an impressive variety of up to 50 channels and offers great customization with add-on bundles to make your experience exactly how you want it. Supported by a wide range of devices, SlingTV is an ace cable replacement for those who want to cut their bill in half and then some.
There are three main types of Mohu antennas: Leaf, Sky and Curve. Leaf antennas are extra thin and can be mounted on windows. Long range Sky Mohu antennas are designed to be mounted outside and can pull in feeds from 65 miles away. The Curve line of antennas are for people who live closer to cities and are designed to be mounted on shelves and desks.
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.
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.)
Depending on the range of viewing habits, some people will have to utilize more of the below options than others. If you decide to cancel your cable subscription, you’re more likely going to have to subscribe to several different services to access all of the shows that you want. For some, this might not actually save money, which is usually the purpose of cutting the cord. Before making any decisive actions, first see if you can utilize our tips for saving money on your existing subscription.
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.
Even if you watch a dozen or so shows a year, buying those seasons may be less expensive than paying for a cable subscription—and you’ll be able to watch on your TV, computer, phone, or tablet. We looked at 16 of the most popular TV shows across different networks back in 2016 (including Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot, The Blacklist, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and the average price for a full season of these shows from the Google Play store was just under $25. On iTunes they were just under $32 a season, while on Amazon they were just about $29. Given that the average monthly cable bill at the start of that year was $99 per household, you could afford to buy between 38 and 48 TV-show seasons a year, depending on where you buy them, for the same price as cable, and have more flexibility in watching them. (This calculation doesn’t include shows that are exclusive to Netflix or Amazon, as you would have to subscribe to those services even if you have cable.)
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.
Every major television broadcaster (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and the CW) has some kind of free content available on their website — some more than others. You might have to poke around a bit to find out if full episodes of your favorite show are available. Sometimes the full episodes are hidden behind a paywall, with only a smattering of episode clips available for free.
Next, there's the U Must Have HD Antenna for $69.95 (often on sale for as low as $27). It works much like the aforementioned antennas with mounting and scanning for channels. However, when it comes to picture quality, it really shines. As long as you can bring in the best signal within 80 miles, this antenna can output at 4K. Now you obviously need a 4K TV in order to handle that kind of picture quality, but that speaks to the quality that antennas are capable of today.
Being a cord cutter (actually, I've never had cable, so I haven't technically cut any cords), I'm always on the hunt for new ways to keep myself entertained. On Apple TV, I use a handful of apps that, either I subscribe to a streaming service for (like Hulu and Netflix), or offer a free streaming TV feature that doesn't require a cable subscription (like PBS and The CW).
Philo does lack the comprehensive app and device support of its rivals. For a long time only Roku, iOS devices, and the Chrome browser were supported, but the service came to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices in July 2018. Philo claims even more devices are on the way, but for now, the truncated device support is a drawback. That said, if you have a supported device and don’t mind skipping sports and the big networks (or can find them with an antenna), Philo is the most affordable way to get live TV. For more on the service, check out our Philo guide.
DirecTV Now has deals with all four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), and some customers will be able to access local feeds of these channels. There's more to DirecTV Now than local channels, of course – it divides its service up into paid tiers with different numbers of channels available. You're free to get whichever bundle calls to you, but you'll only need the smallest one (“Live a Little,” which costs $40 per month) to get all of the major networks that can be streamed in your area. You may also be able to snag regional sports networks if you move up to the “Just Right” package ($55 per month) and beyond. Read our review of DirecTV Now here.
FilmStruck ($6.99/mo, $10.99/mo., $99/yr.): A cinephile’s paradise, this service offers a range of classic, independent and foreign films from around the world, including (at the higher-tier subscription) most of what’s been released by the boutique home video company the Criterion Collection. (Lower tier subscriptions include a rotating selection.) FilmStruck, which is developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies, has been adding hundreds of classic titles since February from the Warner Archive, which until recently had its own streaming service. Tons of Old Hollywood favorites like “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane” and “Rebel Without a Cause” are now available on FilmStruck as result. What’s more, its home page is one of the best-curated, best-updated of any streaming site.
Another option for the serious bargain seeker is to find the previous generation’s model on a site like eBay, though we obviously can’t vouch for any reliability there. While the previous generation Apple TV is definitely showing its age (and lacks 4K support), it’s still very handy for Apple fans thanks to AirPlay, which easily allows you to stream media from your iPhone or iPad to the TV. Either way, if you’re a big-time Apple fan, the Apple TV 4K is likely to be a viable choice as your streaming hub.
In November 2016, after the US Presidential Election, The Washington Post reported that RT and Sputnik were "state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports" and also that "RT, Sputnik and other Russian sites used social-media accounts to amplify misleading stories already circulating online". The Post was criticized by The Intercept, Fortune, and Rolling Stone for relying in part on an analysis by PropOrNot, an anonymous organization with no reputation for fact-checking.
The New Republic writer James Kirchick accused the network of "often virulent anti-Americanism, worshipful portrayal of Russian leaders." Edward Lucas wrote in The Economist (quoted in Al Jazeera English) that the core of RT was "anti-Westernism." Julia Ioffe wrote "Often, it seemed that Russia Today was just a way to stick it to the U.S. from behind the façade of legitimate newsgathering." Shaun Walker wrote in The Independent that RT "has made a name for itself as a strident critic of US policy." Allesandra Stanley wrote in The New York Times that RT is "like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant." David Weigel writes that RT goes further than merely creating distrust of the United States government, to saying, in effect: "You can trust the Russians more than you can trust those bastards."
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.
I put a couple of units to the test and found that the new breed of antennas really work as advertised. In an environment like New York City with numerous obstacles to transmission towers, a major selling point of cable TV in the analog era was that it was the only reliable way to get a clear signal from the free network channels. But today, on a lower floor of my Brooklyn brownstone, I can get 60 OTA channels with a small tabletop antenna like the $50 Mohu Curve, which has a 30-mile antenna range. It did take a bit of trial and error to find the spot in the room with the strongest signal for most stations, but I got the best results by placing it near a window.
Making the video integration possible were the Amiga 2000's native video compositing capabilities. All video (and associated audio) content was provided live by Prevue Networks via a special analog C-band satellite backhaul feed from Tulsa. This feed contained a national satellite listings grid in the bottom half of its picture (strictly as a courtesy for the era's C-band dish owners), with the top half of its picture divided horizontally in two, both halves showing promos for unrelated telecasts on different networks (sound for each half was provided in monoaural on the feed's respective left and right audio channels).
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.
If you're looking for something with a little more range, the ClearStream 2V is a good place to start. While at first glance the antenna looks like something meant for the roof, it works perfectly fine indoors. In fact, the 2V eliminates some concerns with foliage and building materials that could weaken the signal for other antennas. On the downside, the size can make it a little tricky to figure out where it could go without being a hinderance.
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.
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6 – 10 p.m. weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood struggles under the strain of heavy traffic. For instance, if you routinely get around 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that figure takes a dive to about 3Mbps around dinner time, you’ll want to call your internet provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside of rural areas, but better to check ahead.