Join the club! Some of us at Lifehacker HQ have already left or are ready to leave the cable company for 24/7 live TV streaming, too. We get this question all the time, and we've examined ditching the monthly bill in favor of watching programs online occasionally in the past, and we've also looked at ways to get your TV fix with apps like Boxee and Hulu, plus there are cool set-top devices like Roku and TiVo, but this is a good opportunity to get exhaustive. There are so many great options for catching a show here or there, but can you rely on them to replicate the cable TV experience? Well, yes and no.
"Who wouldn't like to go from a $100+ cable TV bill with a bunch of channels we never watch to $25 for basically the ones we *do* watch? Yes, there are limits (mainly local TV, but it appears that may be coming soon). We're just glad that we no longer have to be affected by the cable stranglehold and the lack of response to customers who are looking for choice. Do it."
You will instantly get over 100 channels, and there are tons more that you can add along the way. PlayLater is software for your computer or mobile device that records streaming media, saving it to your device for future viewing. If you already have a streaming device or gaming console, you've already got most of the features offered by this software, but for $39.99 for lifetime access, you won't waste a lot of money trying it out.
Watching your favorite TV shows nowadays have been made easy through the advancement of telecommunications technology. The entertainment industry has gradually expanded and with the advent of Netflix and other online video streaming services hitting the web, there are tons of options to explore to get exactly what you want. High-speed internet services have made it possible so far, with 5G talks around the corner, who knows what transitions we may experience when wireless speeds hit 6,400 Mbps!
General idea: If award-winning originals like The Handmaid's Tale and all seasons of Rick and Morty don't already do it for you with Hulu, knowing that there's a super simple one-package live TV option with Hulu might do the trick. Plus, if you already have the non-live Hulu account, merging the two and not having to sign up elsewhere makes the process way less stressful. Hulu only has one on-demand package, which makes things simple if you didn't want to have to make a decision between packages. It'll give you over 40 channels including local broadcast channels, CNN, Disney, FX, Oxygen, ESPN, and more. One slight drawback is that Hulu does not do Viacom, meaning channels like Nickelodeon, Spike, Comedy Central, or MTV, are not available.
One last point on what to watch: If you really want to pay only for what you want to watch and nothing else, don’t forget that iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Fandango Now, Cinema Now, Google Play and others will gladly sell or rent you movies and episodes of TV series to watch on your computer or TV. If you’re thinking of your various subscriptions as an analogue to cable, then think of this option as akin to the old-fashioned “pay per view.” The fees can add up if you watch a lot, but these vendors have some free videos, too.
We've covered the major techniques and services that you can use to watch TV without cable. But what about watching TV without cable on, you know, your actual TV? You already know that OTA antennas plug straight into your TV, but loading up on streaming services doesn't help much unless you have a way to watch those on your TV, too. Fortunately, there's an entire industry built around solving this dilemma. Let's talk streaming hardware!
Similarly, if you have a monthly data cap on your Internet service, purchasing TV shows and downloading them can significantly eat into that cap—you may even need to pay for a higher level of Internet service to handle the downloads each month. A single hour of streaming video can eat up 5 gigabytes of data, making a 250 GB data cap seem fairly small.
You've voted on your favorites before—and many of you voted for one of these five—but we decided to test all five for ourselves and see what they can do. Each device has its own niche and advantages, but they all aim to serve your movies and TV shows to you without the need for a cable subscription or library of discs. Here's a quick rundown of what each box supports:
This type of service is also used to circumvent sports network blackouts or simply to mask your identity online from would-be identity thieves. Of course, check with your content provider’s terms of service to make sure you are not breaking any end-user agreements. To learn the differences between a Smart DNS and VPN check out my post on VPN vs Smart DNS.
The Alyona Show, hosted by Alyona Minkovski, ran from 2009 to 2012 (when Minkovski left RT to join The Huffington Post). Daily Beast writer Tracy Quan described The Alyona Show as "one of RT's most popular vehicles". The New Republic columnist Jesse Zwick wrote that one journalist told him that Minkovski is "probably the best interviewer on cable news." Benjamin R. Freed wrote in the avant-garde culture magazine SOMA that "The Alyona Show does political talk with razor-sharp wit." David Weigel called the show "an in-house attempt at a newsy cult hit" and noted that "her meatiest segments were about government spying, and the Federal Reserve, and America's undeclared wars". Minkovski had complained about being characterized as if she was "Putin's girl in Washington" or as being "anti-American". After Minkovski argued that Glenn Beck was "not on the side of America. And the fact that my channel is more honest with the American people is something you should be ashamed of.", Columbia Journalism Review writer Julia Ioffe asked "since when does Russia Today defend the policies of any American president? Or the informational needs of the American public, for that matter?"
While every Roku model has its merits, the best of the bunch for our money is the Roku Streaming Stick+. Offering a speedy processor, 4K and HDR support, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, this little stick does everything you want for a crazy-low price. (Note: One feature Roku doesn’t support is Dolby Vision, Dolby’s HDR format, so if your TV is Dolby Vision-ready, you may want to look at the other devices on this list.)
Hulu also now offers live TV streaming TV via a $45/month, which nabs you over 50 channels of live TV (depending on your region) and includes all the VOD content you’d get with a regular Hulu subscription to boot. We get more in depth in this service and how it compares to the likes of SlingTV, PlayStation Vue, and others in the Streaming TV section below.
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.
Different Internet Service Providers, known as I.S.P.s, have different tiers. The various streaming services make different recommendations — typically available on their individual sites — as to the minimum requirements that allow their content to look sharp and run smoothly on different devices. Averaging their recommendations out, you’ll probably want to make sure that you have a minimum 4 Mb/s (that’s megabyte per second) connection, which, be warned, isn’t available in some of the more rural areas of the United States.
With Sling, there’s no more waiting on a show to air—you can watch it live like with cable or satellite, except you’re watching over the internet! The basic package includes 30 live channels like AMC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, and Disney Channel. You can get a slightly different lineup of networks for $25, or get both for $40. There are also $5–10 add-on packages for sports fans, movie buffs and your little ones. So if ESPN is the only reason you’re clinging to your cable box, you may be out of excuses now!
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.
One notable way in which FuboTV differs from every other service on this list is that it is currently the only service to offer streaming in 4K resolution with HDR10 high-dynamic range. Currently content is limited — so far the service has only shown some 2018 World Cup games on Fox and Fox Sports 1 with 4K and HDR — but this is a major step forward for streaming services. For more info, see the support page on the FuboTV website.
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.