Chromecast, the wildly popular streaming dongle, doesn’t have a remote or on-screen menu, instead using your smartphone or tablet to “cast” content at your TV. The latest version, the Chromecast Ultra, takes everything handy about earlier models but adds 4K resolution as well as HDR, with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 supported. If that’s too rich for your blood, the HD Chromecast is about half the price and offers virtually all the same functionality, save 4K and HDR. While the Chromecast is one of our favorite ways for quick and dirty streaming, search is still relatively limited via the Google Home app, and those who want to be able to exchange their phone or tablet for a more prominent interface on the big screen will want to go with one of the more traditional streaming boxes on our list. That said, much like the Fire TV’s relationship with Alexa, the Chromecast is probably going to be the ideal choice for Android users or those deeply ingrained into the Google ecosystem — especially Google Home.
You might be able to quit cable completely, moving to a mixture of streaming services and paid downloads. Or you might be able to reduce your monthly fees by replacing expensive rental equipment with a streaming box and free apps. Alternatively, you could stick with cable or satellite but spend less by figuring out what you really need. It’s easier than ever to watch the content you want without being stuck in an expensive, long-term contract.
While I cannot vouch for the legality or the quality of all of these websites, here are 35 a lot of different ways you can still catch your favorite shows and web videos without paying for cable or satellite TV. And while I haven’t tried each and every one of them out for any extended period of time, the first 5 I list are my favorites, to help guide you to some of the ones that work well. I have either given my own opinion of each one or when possible I have taken a blurb from each site’s “About” page to give you a little more info. And if you have a favorite, or you use a site that isn’t listed here, please be sure to mention it in the comments so everyone can check it out!
What you get: DirecTV Now should appeal to anyone who wants DirecTV service but not the satellite dish. The company recently hiked prices by $5 on its various plans. The company’s Live a Little plan, which provides 60 channels, now costs $40 per month, and the Just Right package has gone to $55 per month. Go Big jumped to $65 per month, and the top 125-channel plan, Gotta Have It, costs $75 instead of the previous $70. The good news is that the NFL Network has been added to all DirecTV Now’s packages starting with Just Right and above, at no additional cost. Also, you can add HBO for just $5 per month. The company will be launching a next-generation version of the service this spring that bumps up the number of simultaneous users from two to three.
We don't always think of the major streaming devices as tools for watching local TV, but we really should. Each of the skinny bundles and apps listed above have awesome platform support, meaning that you can grab virtually any service on this list and have it work with whatever streaming device you own – whether that means a Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS device, Android device, or Android TV box (like the Nvidia Shield).
With HBO Now, however, the need for a pilfered password is removed. It's the only option if you don't have someone from whom to pilfer. Anyone with internet and supported hardware can subscribe and watch original HBO programming like GoT, Divorce, Big Little Lies, Insecure, Westworld, Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Silicon Valley, plus the entire back catalog of shows: The Sopranos and The Wire forever! Try it free for an entire month.
In our case, we already had everything at our house, except for the PlayOn software. So for this setup we paid $59.99 for a lifetime license for the PlayOn software, plus the $8.99/month for the basic Netflix streaming package (get it, it's worth it!).We were also already paying for Amazon Prime, so we got free streaming TV shows and movies with that membership.
I live on the West Side of Manhattan and watch only local channels using an antenna. Unfortunately the signal is periodically interrupted so that I get sound but not a picture (gray and white horizontal stripes appear on the screen). Is there any way to determine the source of this interference or to counteract it? The timing of it has led me to wonder if the use of cable or streaming in the area is creating the problem.
I have a Fire TV box in the house. I had an extra computer monitor, so I thought I would use the Fire Stick to make it smart. I read a few horror stories about these refurbished units, but I have used refurbs before with no problem, so I thought I'd give it another go. Absolutely perfect. Plugged it in to my only HDMI port and fired it up. Updated, came back on with no problems. I bought an HDMI signal extractor so I could get "audio out" to a little amplifier and speaker set I have out in the garage. In case I need to watch a Youtube video to help me through a vehicle problem, I don't have to go inside to the tv or watch on my tablet. This really allowed me to get a 'no initial cost' tv out to the garage, and turn a ... full review
A reader of the blog informed me that WOW! now offers Internet access in Knoxville Tennessee. They offer speeds of 30 Mbps for just $25 and 60 Mbps for just $40 a Mbps. If anyone has any experience with their Internet-only service them please post in the comments. They appear to offer service in parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.
You forgot Playstation Vue. It’s way better than Sling (Sling’s app is terrible), has full function cloud DVR and OnDemand access, and has access to local Comcast SportsNet channels (DirecTV Now doesn’t in Philly). I’ve been using Vue for 6 months and I did a trial of DirectTV Now and Sling. DirecTV probably has the best app (Amazon Fire), but Vue has the best content if you’re a sports fan. Sling is a distant 3rd, worst app and worst performance.
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.
For example, DIRECTV charges $20 a month for every month remaining on your contract. So if you need to get out of your contract but you still have nine months left, you’re looking at a cool $180 plus a $15 deactivation fee. It’s steep, for sure, but it’s all in the contract agreement. Make sure to ask your provider about early termination fees before you sign, just in case.
The hardware is nice, even though it's a bit bigger than other similar devices. The remote is also quite good, acting as a minimal, Apple TV-like remote on one side with a mini keyboard on the other. The keyboard makes a huge difference, but doesn't feel like it makes the remote overly complicated. If I had one complaint, it's that the keyboard is a little hard to type on—especially because it requires you to hold down Alt or Shift to get numbers or capital letters, unlike similar keyboards you'd find on phones. It's just a little off-putting at first. But overall, the remote is really great.
Hulu is one of the most affordable alternatives to cable and satellite tv. Not only is there original content, but you can also view shows from local channels and some cable networks soon after they air. The baseline service comes in at a reasonable $8 per month, though you do have to tolerate some highly repetitive ads if you choose this option. If the ads get under your skin, for a $12 a month, you can upgrade to the commercial-free service.
These lower-cost services have won back some people who quit cable, providing hope for the likes of ESPN or CNN, whose channels are included. But the skinny bundles haven’t won back all the departed. They have only about 6 million customers so far. And companies whose channels have been excluded from them have little recourse to make up lost ground.
On TVGN itself, during the weeks prior to the Emmys, shows that have been nominated were also highlighted in gold. The same gold highlighting could be seen during the lead-up to the Academy Awards to denote past Oscar-winning movies. Titles for other special programs used various types of graphical treatment within the grid cells; for example, programs aired as part of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week event had a bubbly water graphical scheme; during the lead-up to Halloween, horror movie titles featured spiderwebs in their schemes, and holiday movie titles listed during December were shaded in blue and snow-covered. Similar important shows and/or premieres have had other special graphical schemes added to their grid cells.
The answer to that will depend on what you’re specifically looking for from television. If your answer is “I want it all,” then honestly, you may be better off sticking with cable or satellite, because getting it “all” piecemeal will likely be prohibitively expensive. But if you have particular areas of interest, cord-cutting is definitely feasible and probably cheaper. (More advice on how to cut your bill without fully cutting the cord can be found in this guide from Wirecutter.)
General idea: As you can tell by the name, CBS All-Access is a clutch streaming service to have if you really like CBS shows like Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Doctor, and Criminal Minds (but let's be real, most people pay for it specifically for Star Trek). This service is a little different as it's not giving you a selection of different channels, but you will have access to over 10,000 episodes of classic shows as well as news from CBSN. CBS is also the channel that covers a lot of sports (like NFL games) and award shows (like the Grammys), so an All-Access subscription is nice to have in your back pocket when important live events like those are coming up.
I’m a 39 yr old single father, custody of my 3 year old, pay child support from my first marriage, (excessive amount in my opinion but I grit my teeth and persevere). Two divorces, debt from first marriage, legal fees. I’ve been swimming in debt for 10 years now. I’m fortunate to have a company match savings plan, and I consolidated all my debt by borrowing against my own retirement savings at 3.75 simple interest. Even having a good paying job doesn’t fix the debt problem quickly however. So I have cut every reasonable corner. Cable TV was gone a long time ago. I started out with my laptop and an S Video cable to my TV. For months I would just browse the web for anything free and entertaining. Then a friend with Netflix let me “borrow” her account for a while and I got hooked on the children’s content alone. $7.99/mo is a steal for the endless videos for my son, and most educational! Later I added the Hulu Plus subscription. I’m still paying only $16 a month plus $38/mo for broadband for my video entertainment vs the $120/mo I was paying for cable and Internet before. I also recently got the Roku player, and just recently downloaded PlayOn. Now a tip for computer users. You can get a USB remote keyboard and mouse. That’s what I did for a year to act as my “remote control”. I still have my laptop going to my S video and use the TV screen as a big monitor. But the various devices like Roku and XBox etc are also great for practical purposes. It makes it much more like watching cable. Another tip. I have a smart phone with YouTube. During lulls at work, I comb the Internet for various websites like “Chockadoc.com” that have a library of Documenaries that they link to from YouTube. I will find a title that interests me, go to YouTube and search it, add it to my favorites, and then when I get home in the evening I access YouTube through PlayOn and watch it. If it weren’t for kids programming on Netflix I’d be tempted to drop my subscription. Oh, another tip. Roku supports developers who create “private channels” similar to the way jailbroken iPhones have some great non iStore apps. One you can get is JustIn.tv …. I’m not promoting this, it’s a perfectly legal streaming service for creating private streaming channels. I’ve seen people stream video of their pet goldfish all day. And If you are easily offended, there are other things you will see, so avoid children in the room if you are browsing the channels. But some people do stream television content. Not promoting this, but if you just HAVE to watch the Superbowl :-) oh and for some sports, Southeastern Conference football comes to mind, some networks like CBS Sports will stream live premium games. And there are always sports bars and grills that have TVs if missing a game would ruin your weekend. Cable TV would not have lost me if they’d modernize their business model to adapt to the digital age. It’s too easy for them to offer packages that allow you to pick the channels that interest you and no more. Last thought. My provider allowance is 50 gigs a month. This is something you should check into because some providers have smaller allowances. Ive yet to consume all 50 in a month but I’ve used 80% before.
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.
Today you've got plenty of options. Six major services -- DirecTV Now, Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV -- stream multiple channels of live TV over the Internet, including local channels. Each has its plusses and minuses, including pricing (starting at $25 per month), features (like cloud DVRs) and user interface, but the biggest differentiator is channel lineup.
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.