Cable companies have also begun to introduce apps that let you turn a streaming box, phone, tablet or computer into your cable box, so you don’t need to rent one at all. The first of these apps was introduced by Time Warner Cable and then spread to former Charter and Bright House subscribers when the three merged into Spectrum in 2016. Other cable providers are starting to offer similar options, and it’s worth checking if yours will soon, though there might be additional fees to take into account.
If you have a TV in your house -- that is, a screen that incorporates a tuner -- you're part-way to cutting the cord already. An affordable indoor antenna hooked up to your TV will let you watch free TV over-the-air from any channel you receive in your local broadcast area. Antennas cost as little as $10; see our comparison of indoor antennas here.
You don't need to put together an extremely detailed accounting of this right from the get-go, but it's helpful to keep what you want in mind as we examine the services and devices that promise to deliver it. All of the cord cutting world's services and devices are setting out to solve certain problems and deliver on certain promises. You should have at least a vague idea of whether you care about the problems they address or should be excited by the promises they make!
The Boxee Box is the most expensive device on the list at $175, and it's easy to see why. Unlike most of the others, the Boxee Box seems to be geared more toward the tech-savvy user, providing a more feature-filled media center without the hassle of building it and installing the software yourself. You can add all of your networked files (of nearly any file type) to a library that grabs thumbnails and plot information for a beautiful browsing experience, as well as stream content from services like Netflix and Vudu. If you buy it with the live TV adapter, you can also integrate your live TV-watching experience, which is pretty nice. Boxee also has a lot of social integration, letting you get recommendations from your friends on Facebook and Twitter and see what other people are watching. It has a browser, which—while a pain to use—can play many Flash videos not supported by one of its channels. It also supports AirPlay, which is wonderful to see in a non-Apple device.
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.
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.)
We cut the cord nearly 10 years ago and have no regrets. My husband built an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire hangers (there are plans online for this) for the last house we lived in, and mounted it in the attic. We got approximately 50 over-the-air channels that way. When we moved, we did use Sling for a little while, and while that was great, we opted to install an antenna on the roof of the current house and cancel Sling. That said, I highly recommend Sling for popular channels. Currently my lineup is Amazon Prime TV (comes with my Prime membership), Netflix, and I pay the $5/month for AcornTV, because I love my British shows. Thanks for summing these up—I’ve been preaching cord-cutting for a long time, it’s great to see a blogger I respect touting the same thing! 🙂
The reason? The recent emergence of new streaming services like Dish Network’s Sling TV, which includes a sampling of the most popular “basic” cable channels, and HBO Now, the only streaming service to include HBO shows, has coincided with Amazon and Netflix coming into their own as producers of serious television. The result is that virtually every class of TV watcher can find most of what they need without paying a cable bill.
Both the EPG Jr. and EPG Sr. allowed cable operators to further customize their operation locally. Among other functions, the listings grid's scrolling speed could be changed and local text-based advertisements could be inserted. Each text-based advertisement could be configured to display as either a "scroll ad" (appearing within the vertically scrolling listings grid between its half-hour cycles) or as a "crawl ad" (appearing within a horizontally scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen). If no advertisements were configured as "crawl ads," the bottom ticker would not be shown on-screen. The on-screen appearances of both the Jr. and Sr. versions of the EPG software differed only slightly, due primarily to differences in text font and extended ASCII graphic glyph character rendering between the underlying Atari and Amiga platforms.
Perhaps the biggest enabler for those aiming to quit cable for good — without giving up live TV — is the growing list of live TV streaming services available, all of which come with free trial periods and no contracts. There are several to choose from, each with its own advantages (and disadvantages). We’ve got a detailed comparison piece that breaks down each of these services in finer detail, but below is a general overview.
We just started using PlayStation Vue. So far we really like it. I looked into Sling TV when we were getting ready to cut the cord, but then I came across PlayStation Vue and it had more channels and more of the channels we as a family wanted. My husband gets a ton of his sports channels, including the Golf channel and we still get Disney Jr. for our son. We also have Netflix and a HD antenna for local channels. PlayStation Vue was only $5 more a month so it was worth it for us. We access it through the Amazon Fire stick.
If you aren’t close enough to the TV towers to use an indoor antenna you may need an outdoor solution. Furthermore, today’s digital TV signals require a TV with a digital tuner. If your TV was made before 2007, it may not have one. For solutions to these issues, check out my post How To Get Local Channels Without Cable. I also expand on this a bit in the TV Antenna section later in this guide.
Top-rated HDTV indoor antennas include the window-mountable Moho Leaf Metro ($17, above) or the tower-like Terk Omni ($60), both non-amplified antennas that plug directly into a TV tuner. Outdoors, you could try the roof-mountable Antennas Direct ClearStream 2Max or 4Max models, with 60- and 70-mile ranges, respectively. Other antenna makers include 1byOne and View TV.
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.
In 1988, United Video Holdings' Trakker, Inc. unit was renamed Prevue Networks, Inc. The split-screen version of the EPG Sr. software was further updated and renamed "Prevue Guide". Now running on the Amiga 2000, it displayed a split-screen listings grid visually identical to the upgraded EPG Sr.'s, but also supported – along with up to 128 locally inserted top-screen graphical advertisements – the display of video with accompanying sound in the top half of the screen, primarily promos for upcoming television shows, films and special events. These videos appeared in either the left or right halves of the top portion of the screen, coupled with supplementary information concerning the advertised program in the opposing halves (program title, channel, air date and time).
General idea: SPORTS. If the usual ESPN isn't doing it for you, Fubo TV is your ticket to a constant IV of live sports from around the world, even when you didn't know there was a game on. You'll get access to popular and obscure sports channels that you don't see often, including the Olympics channel, The Big Ten Network, Bein Sports, Fox Sports, and about 20 more. European soccer? Sure. NBA? Yup. Motorcycle racing? You got it. There's no NHL channel, but the majority of hockey games are broadcast NBC, NBCSN, etc., anyway. But don't worry — everyone in your household won't be forced to watch sports 24/7. Other channels include MSNBC, HGTV, The Hallmark Channel, SYFY, and National Geographic, so everyone in the house can find something to watch.
You might think that local news and cable news would be easy to find via your set-top box, but even if you get a live TV subscription, it may be missing your local channels, and it may not have your preferred cable pundits. (Fox News, for example, isn’t available on every service.) Hulu With Live TV will get you a lot of what you need with minimal hassle, but do check out your local line-up on the Hulu website first.
I just watch tv with an antenna. I get every network channel except cbs,. There are some extras like METV, QVC, HSN, Buzzer, Laff,, Hero, etc. About 40 channels in all. Not bad for a $30 antenna. I get the season of Big Bang Theory on DVD at Christmas. And cruise the used DVD store for Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and whatever else I might want to watch. I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy on ABC online on my laptop if I missed it airing (no Tivo or anything) until I started to hate the show. I’d totally get one of those plans like Sling or Netflix , but I have satellite internet and only have so much data per month.
Hulu With Live TV ($39.99/mo.): The package varies from region to region, but for the most part this is one of the most conveniently cable-like services out there. It has most of the major basic cable channels — including ESPN and the big cable news outlets (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) — and some local broadcast channels. The base price also includes everything that standard Hulu has to offer and up to 50 hours of DVR recording of live telecasts. For additional fees, users can eliminate commercials on Hulu shows, expand the DVR storage and add subscriptions to HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.