You’re right. Cable TV and satellite TV costs have increased over the years and it’s out of reach for people who can’t afford it. Also, if you’re busy and don’t watch too much TV it doesn’t make sense to pay more than you should for the service. However, all is not lost. There’re many good deals out there. So do your research and the math before cutting the cord.
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.
1. The good old fashioned antenna. Of course, this all depends on what kind of signal you can get inside your house. In my place here in CO, I can use an HDTV antenna and the channels come in beautifully. But I have lived in other houses where I couldn’t even get snow to show up on the TV (New Mexico, I am looking at you). Antennas mounted on roofs tend to be a lot better at pulling in those free signals, but remember that as of 2009 you need a special digital converter box, as the analog signals will no longer be broadcast (in most communities).
(Side note: you can also, of course, buy or rent digital movies or TV show episodes from services like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. That's a bit removed from “watching TV without cable” in the sense that we mean it in this article, but it's worth noting that you can use purchase and rental apps with the same streaming devices – see Part II for those – that work with the streaming apps we're about to talk about here in Part I. Owning digital copies and subscribing to streaming services go together like peanut butter and jelly: switching between a movie you own on Amazon and a show you're streaming on Netflix is much more convenient than switching between cable an a Blu-Ray disc. You won't even have to get off your couch!)
If you're nuts for Psych, The Daily Show, or other cable TV shows, Hulu's got you covered. Some programs take a week to turn up on the web site, though, so you'll have to exercise some patience and avoid spoilers for a few days. On the other hand, Hulu has a bunch of nice features that let you organize, queue, and search shows. There's a desktop app that works with standard Apple or Windows Media Center Remotes. If you're sporting Windows 7 on your computer, don't forget to check out the Hulu Integration app for Windows Media Center.
"This is great, and much cheaper than cable! Sucks not having DVR, but they do have a good selection of on demand stuff, and with the fire box I run this through I can also download a lot of channel apps to watch stuff Direct TV Now doesn't stream on demand. Great channel lineup, everyone knows sports channels cost the most, not being much of a sports fan I got no use out of them. But that didn't stop my cable provider from making me get and pay for them with a basic package. So all in all I am very happy with this service, yes a couple of glitches/downers, but the price is right, and the customer care is great. Since cutting the cable I have not looked back."
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%.”
One of the great dreams of cord-cutting is that it will allow consumers to pick only the channels they actually want, rather than paying for programming they never watch. But the services above essentially operate more like traditional cable, providing packages of channels, not all of which are widely desirable. It’s unlikely that any one of these subscriptions will offer everything that a given consumer is looking for, and it will require viewers to scroll past a lot that they don’t.
To be honest, if you've got a decent laptop and a nice TV, with an HDMI cable between them you have all you need to be a cord cutter. Stream on your laptop and watch on the big screen. Or use your phone; the apps out there for casting or mirroring what you see on the phone to the TV are too numerous to mention. (Read How to Connect Your iPhone or iPad to Your TV for more.)
Streaming video on demand is a great way to replace content from TV: you can watch your favorite shows and movies online whenever you want! But is that really the same thing as being able to watch TV without cable? To some people, sure – but others might find that their favorite things about TV are missing. What about brand-new episodes of the latest network TV shows? What about channel surfing and “just seeing what's on?” What about live sports?
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.
My college age kid went into a bit of shock for the first few days and then found time to spend at a local bookstore (I see that as an improvement). I did invest in a regular ole’ antenna for the TV, so I can catch the local channels (which are about 50 here in TX), and after reading your article purchased a Roku 3. My kid has an Xbox, Wii, and PS3 so streaming online content was already possible, I got the Roku for the main television and not to cause another issue of “shell shock” by taking over the kid’s PS3.
Ultrafast broadband is defined as any broadband connection with a speed of 300Mbps or greater. Gigabit broadband refers to a connection with a speed of 1,000Mbps, so while you might call a gigabit connection 'ultrafast', not all ultrafast connections are a gigabit. Virgin Media is the only widely available provider to offer speeds in this range. However, there are very few cases where such speeds are necessary.