Streaming live TV services are still in their infancy, and the industry is still in flux. Since launch every service has increased prices by $5 a month, channel selections and cities with local channel access are changing all the time, and reports persist about some services losing money. While streaming is undoubtedly the future, it will be some time before both prices and the services offered settle in.


In 1991, Prevue Networks launched Sneak Prevue, a spin-off barker channel that was exclusively used to promote programming on a provider's pay-per-view services; it displayed full-screen promos (augmented by graphics displaying scheduling and ordering information) and a schedule of upcoming films and events airing on each pay-per-view channel based on either airtime or genre. The channel was also driven by Amiga 2000 hardware, and its software was as crash-prone as the Prevue Guide software itself. TV Guide Network ceased operations of Sneak Prevue in 2002.
With Spectrum TV, for example, you get access to live TV streams for any of the networks in your tier of service. There's also lots of on-demand content for individual shows and some movies. It integrates channel guides and search for select shows/movies. If a channel (or show on a channel) that isn't available to you shows up on a menu, it's generally grayed out. And you can mark shows as favorites so they're easier to follow. But what's annoying is it takes a lot longer for a show to appear in the on-demand section—three or four days, instead of just one with a show on Hulu or even a network's own app, for example.
You’re the reason that I sit in and personally interview even the techies at my company, not just the C level executives. I don’t want any condescending know it all assclowns like you slipping by my HR department. Deacon is right: THAT is what they are called. He doesn’t need to do his homework, but please, stay in the server room or your parents basement away from the adults.
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?
In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice informed RT America that it must register as a foreign agent of the Russian government. Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, condemned the action as an assault on freedom of speech. A spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry threatened retaliatory measures against American journalists.[268][269]
That means all you need is an antenna to start grabbing these network TV signals to display on your television. Now I know what you’re thinking. If you were born before 1985, you probably have vivid memories of static all over the screen as mom or dad adjust the antenna. Digital doesn’t work that way. If your antenna can pick up the channel, then you get the picture as clear as it can be. Otherwise, you don’t get the picture.
I’m always open to ‘The New’… of times… I’ve also been checking out ‘building our own antenna’. I’m on SSD, older and no help at all. Here we have 9 major (incorporated, non-county) cities. In 2016 they completely cut off the ‘required (by law) access’, to “local feeds and channels”. One of those nine “incorporated” cities, mine being “that (incorporated) city”, cut off completely. The required law (in part) was, and is, based on the right to the service(s) for ’emergency’ purposes and NEWS information… I still don’t know how (for sure) they get away with it. I’m gonna keep on checking in.
The service that started the cable-replacement trend is still one of the best on the market. Sling TV starts off cheap ($20 per month), and while the cost can balloon quickly, depending on your add-ons, this probably won't happen. That's because Sling TV offers two basic packages of channels (Orange and Blue), then lets viewers pick and choose smaller add-ons, which usually cost $5 per month. From sports to comedy to kids' programming to foreign language channels, Sling TV has a little something for everyone. The service's DVR features are not bad, either.
Spectrum is now requiring a box for all TVs to receive their signal. I have a TV in the basement that I use while exercising and watch only news programs. Is their a way I can use one of your suggestions that will allow me to watch the news. Or are MSNBC, CNN, FOX etc by definition only cable channels. We have Amazon Prime and Netflix and would love to cut the cable if there were a way to also get these news channels. Thanks.

RT is one of several international channels to challenge the United States media's global news coverage.[50] In 2010 Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the U.S. Government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia), called for more money to invest into the programs because, "We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies," mentioning specifically Russia Today, Iran's Press TV and China's China Central Television (CCTV) in the next sentence. He later explained he actually was referring to "enemies" in Afghanistan, not the nations he mentioned.[51] In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States was "losing the information war" abroad to foreign channels like RT, Al Jazeera and China Central Television[52] and that they are supplanting the Voice of America.[53][54]
“ They get these extreme voices on that have this kind of hostile toward the West viewpoints towards the world, very extremist. These are the people that they have on. And when I was on the anchor desk, they would instruct you to egg on these guests and try to get them, you know, rallied up, to really fire off their anti-American talking points. Listen, I'm all about exposing government corruption. I'm all about being critical of the government. But this is different. This is promoting the foreign policy of somebody that has just invaded a country, has invaded the country and is then lying about it, is using the media as a tool to fulfill his foreign policy interests. And RT is part of Putin's propaganda network and it's very, very troubling in the wake of what is going on in Ukraine today.[23] ”

Bear in mind that, if you’re on the ball, there’s also plenty you can watch for free — with no need to subscribe to anything. This may change in the future as major media companies put more of their products behind a paywall, but for now, some major channels (like ABC, Fox, the CW and PBS) make select episodes of their shows available online for nothing, for a limited time after their original broadcasts. You can watch them through a web browser or through an app on your set-top box.


The majority of cable and satellite TV providers offer customers packaged deal pricing on a contract basis. Generally, rates are locked in for two or more years, although companies may include an increase in cost after six or 12 months. Customers should ensure they do research about their contract and what it entails before locking in service with one company.
Price: A premium account goes for $6.95/month and has unlimited access to all content as well as discounts on merch like plushies and shirts at the Crunchyroll store. The Fan Pack, which goes for $9.99/month, gets you Crunchyroll content plus funimation and simuldubs ad-free and in HD on VRV.  Finally, for $14.99/month, the Super Fan Pack will give you all of the previously mentioned perks, plus free shipping at the Crunchyroll store and special access to events.
YouTube is the most popular streaming-video platform online; it was only a matter of time until YouTube tried its hand at providing live TV, too. For $35 per month with this service, you'll get almost 40 channels — which is, admittedly, not that many. Still, there are some good networks, especially for sports fans: multiple stations from ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. YouTube TV's biggest draw is the service's unlimited DVR feature, which lets you record as much as you want and keep it for up to nine months. The integration with the rest of YouTube feels half-baked, though.

After the July 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, RT rushed to blame others for the plane's shoot-down in Ukraine amid accusations by Ukrainian fighters of Russian involvement in the crash.[244] Speaking of RT's coverage, Sarah Oates, professor of journalism at the University of Maryland said "But if you’re going to engage in propaganda, you have to do it well. They have completely embarrassed themselves."[245]


On September 18, 2014, CBS and Lionsgate announced that TVGN would be relaunched as Pop in early 2015, with the rebranding later announced to occur on January 14 of that year.[35] with its focus shifting toward programming about pop culture fandom. The network would carry 400 hours of original programming following the rebrand, including a reality show starring New Kids on the Block and the Canadian co-production Schitt's Creek.[36][37] Pop was made available on AT&T U-verse on March 1, 2016.[38] On November 19, 2015, it was announced that Impact Wrestling, the flagship show of what was then known as TNA Wrestling, would move from Destination America to Pop beginning January 5, 2016.[39] That series departed Pop at the start of 2019 for the Pursuit Channel after Pop declined to continue airing it.
FuboTV is a live online streaming service that specializes in providing sports programming. Though they also offer a selection of regular TV programming, they provide live streaming of games in the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA, as well as major college sports and international sporting events. For $34.99 per month the service offers access to 68 channels. FuboTV is also offering a one-week free trial so that you can check out the service.

A few of the previous services have been notable for their sports content (YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV, in particular), but if sports is one of your primary concerns, you’ll want to look into FuboTV. This is another relatively new service that has been gaining some recognition for the niche it appeals to, especially after it was advertised as a way to easily watch Super Bowl 52 with its free trial. It is quickly on the rise, too: The service announced that as of September 2018 it was approaching 250,000 subscribers, up from 100,000 in September 2017. That may not be the millions of subscribers boasted by Sling TV and DirecTV Now, but it is substantial growth.
The new navy blue grid version of the Prevue Channel software was as crash-prone as previous ones. Flashing red Amiga "guru meditation" errors (with the raw satellite feed's dual promo windows and national satellite listings grid showing through from behind them) remained a frequent sight on many cable systems throughout the United States and Canada. While Prevue Networks' software engineers released regular patches to correct bugs, it simultaneously became clear that an entirely new hardware platform would soon be needed. New Amiga 2000 hardware was no longer being manufactured by Commodore, which filed for bankruptcy in 1994, and Prevue Networks began resorting to cannibalizing parts from second-hand dealers of used Amiga hardware in order to continue supplying and maintaining operational units. During periods where Amiga 2000 hardware availability proved insufficient, newer models such as the Amiga 3000 were used instead.[11] However, as those models' stock cases would not accept the company's large existing inventory of Zephyrus ISA demodulator cards, only their motherboards were used, in custom-designed cases with riser card and backplane modifications.

I have just started disability retirement. After figuring out the bills, I come up short. I called Spectrum to drop the HD channels and was informed that starting next month, all tvs must have a digital box. That forced me to drop one of the tvs. I have been paying Time Warner for 100mps for years but did a speed test to discover the speed is below 50 so I figure I will negotiate with them for the lower speed. My main question is: Blu Ray players have come way down in price and I know they have wi-fi capability. What options should I look out for? Will I have to buy a player for each tv? Are there conversion cords that will work with 20+ year televisions to connect blue ray?
Hey I noticed that you keep mentioning you need internet, but haven’t said whether you need and internet device like a wifi hotspot etc, or whether having a wifi service via your phone service would suffice?? Tv, have it, phone with wifi have it. Can the 2 be connected with a fire stick or do we need an actual playstation or wifi hotspot, or internet service through a seperate company?? Thanks.

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.
Thanks for the list! I’ve been living without cable for 2.5 years and it’s great! I am surprised so many people continue to pay for cable, especially with prices for everything else going up. I watch a few broadcast shows, and then any shows I miss I can usually find online. I started out using fanpop.com but think I’ll check out a few of the above to compare. As for LM&M’s comments about talking about the shows at work….I think that you (David) work from home. 🙂 I say try the no-cable route for a while. You can always buy a package later…

I’m feeling kind of stupid here because it is hard to keep the info straight. We have cable, and love it, but not the high cost. It’s a cable/internet bundle. We don’t have a landline, but I think it’s in the bundle anyway. Satelite makes these $300 cash bonus offers all the time which is tempting, but when we had a dish we hated losing service every time the wind blows. We’d cut both and switch to one of these options if we knew we could get regular TV (Missouri, so nightly local & world news and shows on ABC, CBS & NBC, Animal Planet, FX, etc. And my spouse loves baseball and football. Can we get all that with an antenna plus on of your choices? Who would we get internet from – our mobile phone provider (Verizon)? Would we have to change to unlimited data? I’m an apple user and have a Macbook Pro, a 3T Airport backup, and we have iphones. I know this is detailed and my problem not yours, but feeling safe about changing it up is scary when I don’t know what I’ll lose. Thanks for listening. I’m tired of being taken advantage of, so I’m trying to prevent regrets.
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.

Hey I noticed that you keep mentioning you need internet, but haven’t said whether you need and internet device like a wifi hotspot etc, or whether having a wifi service via your phone service would suffice?? Tv, have it, phone with wifi have it. Can the 2 be connected with a fire stick or do we need an actual playstation or wifi hotspot, or internet service through a seperate company?? Thanks.
USDish is an authorized retailer of DISH Network L.L.C. DISH, DISH Network and DISH Network logos are trademarks, registered trademarks and/or service marks of DISH Network L.L.C. and/or its affiliate(s). The DISH Network trademarks, registered trademarks and/or service marks are used under license of DISH Network L.L.C. and/or its affiliate(s). 5202 W. Douglas Corrigan Way, Ste 300, Salt Lake City, UT 84116.
There is also this thing called broadcast television, which anyone can watch as long as they have a TV that supports digital television (or a digital conversion box) and an over-the-air (OTA) HDTV antenna. The thing about broadcast television is that I couldn't watch it on Apple TV. I'd have to switch my TV input over, and then flip through the channels until I found something to watch. I rarely watched broadcast television because I tend to stick with Apple TV for my TV and movie watching activities.

Our top pick for the best overall premium streaming service is PlayStation Vue: If you've got a few extra bucks to blow on TV, Sony's streaming service is worth it. Their base package goes for $35/month and offers nearly 50 live channels, which is a crazy good number for being the low-tier plan. With four package options all together, the top-tier package goes for $75/month and offers over 90 live channels and includes exclusive channels like HBO and Showtime with no add-on price. DirecTV NOW offers more channels in each tier, but their app isn't nearly as user-friendly as Vue's, and Vue is the only service we've seen that allows five streams at once (instead of the regular two).


And even though the monthly price generally starts off higher than satellite, you won’t see the same kind of second-year price hikes with cable. This makes it easier to budget for up front since you won’t be falling for sweet promotional deals that come back to haunt your bank account in 12 months. Also, because cable doesn’t require contracts, you have a lot more flexibility than satellite. Unfortunately, if you live in a rural area, you may not have cable as an option.
Fios: Offer valid thru 4/3/19 for qualified new custs. Subject to change. Availability varies. Gigabit network connection to your home. Actual speeds vary due to device limits, network and other factors. Avg. speeds betw. 750-940 Mbps download / 750-880 upload. Limited time online offer for new TV and Internet residential customers subscribing to a Fios Triple Play bundle. Promo rates via bill credits and increase after promo period. Price guarantee applies to base monthly rate only. 2-yr. agr. req’d. Beg. mo. 2, up to $350 ETF applies. $12/mo. STB, $12/mo. router charge, $4.49/mo. Broadcast, and $0.99/mo. FDV Admin. fees apply. Other fees, taxes, & terms may apply. Auto Pay (ACH or bank debit card only) & paper-free billing req’d. Subj. to credit approval & may require a deposit.
You can likely also get a lower rate (a promotional rate) by starting a new cable contract. Although no one likes being tied to a contract, it does reduce your bill. And you may not need to be a new customer to get a new contract: Try calling your cable company and asking about a reduced rate in exchange for a single-year contract. This arrangement carries the risk of paying a penalty if you need to get out of the contract early, but if you’re planning to be in the same place and to keep the same cable/Internet service for the next year, it can save you a good bit of money.
Did you know that people in or near big cities can receive the major network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), plus PBS and local stations in Hi-Def for free? It’s called broadcast digital TV. I was able to get thirty channels total in Providence, RI and over 100 in Los Angeles, CA. It takes a little leg work to set it up, but I’ll guide you through it.

As these services begin to invest more of their money to create original programming and securing streaming rights to shows became more expensive, their back catalogs of old shows have started to suffer. For example, even as Netflix made new episodes of Arrested Development and a second season of Fuller House (no one asked them to do that, by the way), shows like Scrubs or the first six seasons of Futurama are no longer available. Because of this, it’s increasingly becoming a good idea to treat these services a bit more like individual networks than comprehensive libraries of all the TV and movies you’ll ever want to watch.
I bought a 360 degree antenna earlier this year that did not work too well . I live in the county in the middle of eight towers but they are are kinda spread out in three different directions . Three channels would not come in and seven channels were breaking up real bad. with this new 360 degree antenna I am gitting all of those channels and all the others I was already receiving . Now I get thirty channels and they are perfactly clear. For an antenna the size of a dinner plate it does a great job.
In general, streaming hardware all works the same way. The device connects to both the Internet (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and your TV (via HDMI), streaming content from channels that are either free or require a monthly subscription. You browse through channels directly on your TV screen via a remote. A large part of the appeal here is that you choose which channels you want to subscribe to. Netflix and Hulu Plus, the most popular channels (available on the Apple, Roku and Google devices) provide access to a robust selection of movies as well as current and past TV shows.
Affordable Home Internet Plans – FreedomPop offers 100% free home broadband.  There is a one time cost of $99 for their home wireless hub (act as a both a modem and rougher in one), and you get 1GB of data a month completely free. You'll need a little more data if you're into streaming videos a few times a month, but you could easily get by with their 10GB/mo plan for only $18.99 if you only watch shows a few times a month like me. Check them out here.
As far as watching shows when they air, if it’s a show on one of the cable networks you may or may not get the show a day or two after it airs on a service like Hulu. Otherwise you might need to pay for that particular show on a service like Amazon – which in many cases is still cheaper than paying for cable. Or in some cases you can watch live shows on a service like Sling TV.

Sony PS4 (starting at $299.99) / Microsoft XBox ($299 to $499): One of the biggest unexpected players in this space has been the major video game console companies. The Sony PS4 and Xbox One X are state-of-the-art in terms of their streaming capabilities, and they’re even creating their own services that attempt to serve the same functions as traditional cable TV. (More on that later.) The Xbox One S, Microsoft’s previous model, was still for sale as of August 2018, at $200 less than the One X. Click here to compare the two on the Xbox website.
All that said, Google TV does have a feature that is—in my opinion—the Holy Grail feature of set-top boxes: universal search. If you enter the TV & Movies app and search for a TV show, it'll show you a list of seasons and episodes. Select an episode and it'll show you which services it's available on (like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube). You can then decide from there which service you want to use to watch it. It's a lot nicer than having to search each library separately for that show that's harder to find. Every device should implement this, and I really hope Google expands it to include other apps in the future.

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.
Charm, just to be fair, cable and satellite both give “free” viewing of select channels at various times. I would get an email notice from my satellite provider, which of course I routinely ignored because “it’s advertising”. Then I’d discover the channel and LOVE it and it would disappear. Well, that’s because it was a tickler and I would have to pay extra to get it regularly. So, when you say they take it away and you still get charges, you misunderstood their program. They let you have a free peek and if you love it, you can pay to have it all the time. It’s actually great marketing! We ended up with ID Discovery because my husband and I fell in love with Joe Kenda and let me tell you we paid for it!
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.
For original programming, it started weak, but upped it a notch with Casual, which got the critics interested and earned Hulu its first Golden Globe nomination. Now it's got a real cool factor thanks to the multi-award-winner A Handmaid's Tale. It's also made itself the exclusive place to watch the entire back catalog of classic shows like Star Trek, South Park, Seinfeld, the original CSI, and a bunch of Cartoon Network/Adult Swim shows. It has a smattering of movies, but really, Hulu is all about the TV shows.
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.

YouTube is known for hosting thousands of viral videos. But it’s also a great place to learn. In the span of a few minutes, you can discover everything from how to fold a fitted sheet to how to make delicious dishes that won’t bust the budget. You can even watch many classic shows and movies there too! Are indie films and documentaries more your thing? Check out Vimeo.

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.

This streaming service Hulu is known for helping binge-watchers catch up on their shows, but it also offers a live tv option. The Hulu Live TV feature allows viewing of major networks with access to the local channels for around $40 per month. Hulu Live TV is commonly available in addition to the regular monthly streaming cost. However, there are often promotions where they offer one without the other. Something to keep in mind: the local programming is subject to regional restrictions. Check out their website to see which local channels your area is eligible for.
Start with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, tack on an HBO subscription to the latter, and consider paying for the Brit-centric streaming service Acorn as well. You’ll have plenty to watch, all commercial-free, and if you hear a lot of buzz about a show that isn’t available through any of those platforms, you can always pay for them on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon (or iTunes, Vudu, or whichever digital retailer you prefer).
YouTube TV also falls a bit short in its device support, especially compared to the services we’ve previously covered. It does have the most flexible cloud DVR support, though, allowing users to store programming up to nine months after recording, with standard pause/rewind and catch-up features available. If you have a Google Home device and a Chromecast, YouTube TV can be controlled with voice commands via Google Assistant. Similarly, Google Assistant can even inform you of what content is currently saved to your DVR. If you’re an Android die-hard who utilizes Google’s ecosystem to its fullest, then YouTube TV may be the perfect addition. Read our YouTube TV guide for more info.
Local major network affiliates have their own transmitters, so it's likely that your area gets channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC free over the air – and that's not to mention other common over-the-air channels like PBS and Univision. How many channels are available and how big of an antenna you'll need to pick them up will vary by region, but getting the answers to these questions is pretty simple. Check out our free over-the-air TV explainer and our complete guide to choosing an antenna and getting free HDTV over the air for more important information. There's a reason that this is the classic solution to the problem of how to watch local channels without cable or satellite.

Our guide to watching TV without cable isn't over just yet, though. That because your plan, once you make it, is likely to include at least one streaming service (and maybe more than one). And unless you really like small screens (and who does?) that means you'll probably want to be able to use streaming services on your big, beautiful TV. And that brings us to our next topic of discussion: hardware.
If you're going to unplug from the cable company, prepare to exercise some patience when it comes to watching your favorite shows as soon as they air—it can take anywhere from a day to a week for them to appear online. Also, be ready to do some digging around to find who's streaming special events, sports, and other programming outside of the drama/sitcom variety. Let's take a look at ways to find certain types of programming without relying on your cable company.
It could be true that choosing one of these options won’t get you all of shows you could get with cable. However, if you truly want to get rid of cable, knowing what some of the options are can help you choose the BEST one. Then you can make the decision of whether or not it is worth it to spend the additional money to get the extra one or two channels through cable OR sacrifice one or two shows to save a BUNCH of money. It just depends your priorities.
For Sling TV, choice is a big factor. Sling TV is the undisputed king of add-on channels. You’ll find over a dozen different add-on channel packages using Sling TV. They offer everything from news channels to additional sports channels. You can even find a long list of non-English networks from various parts of the world, as well as popular movie channels for an additional cost (such as HBO).
Warning: This article may give you a headache — and if reading an article about the best way to cut the cable cord causes pain, imagine researching and writing it. The post-cable options are overwhelming, and no one solution does it all, although watching live sports without cable is no longer a problem. There are crazy contradictions to consider, such as how sometimes “triple-play” bundles (TV, Internet and phone) are actually cheaper than ­“double-play” options (Internet and phone) because of specials. But in all the confusion, one thing is clear: Cable TV is expensive. Americans spent an average of $103 a month — $1,236 a year — on cable television in 2016, according to Leichtman Research Group. So that’s the number to beat.
Pluto TV might be a new name to some, but the service has been quietly plugging along since 2013. Like the other services on this list, it has become a solution for those who want easy access to a library of both live and on-demand content — everything from TV series to movies, to popular internet content creators. Unlike the others, however, Pluto TV is entirely free.
1. Buy an HDTV antenna. Since 2007, local TV stations have been broadcasting digital signals so crisp that the reception is better than that of cable TV. Plus, despite all the hype about shows on niche networks, 19 of the top 20 TV shows in 2016 aired on over-the-air broadcast networks. That’s why Step 1 is to buy an antenna. These are not your father’s antennas. No rabbit ears necessary. A modern digital TV antenna can be so sleek it will match your decor or so skinny you can mount it out of sight. When Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80, it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary.
Apple’s most recent version of its streaming box, the Apple TV 4K, added the long-awaited support for 4K UHD resolution and 4K content. The Apple TV 4K uses an intuitive touchpad remote, which is designed to operate more like an iPhone, and it can even be used as a gaming remote. The system is also faster than previous models, and the inclusion of 4K makes it a viable alternative to the other options on this list for Apple users.
I literally watch 90+% of my TV on Hulu for the past several years. I quit cable in 2006. Subscribed to Netflix streaming, and then Hulu Plus as soon as it came out in 2010, but found myself watching most stuff on Hulu. I even quit Netflix for 3 years from 2014 to 2017 because I never watched it. I watched everything on Hulu and signed up for the commercial free subscription as soon as Hulu rolled it out. I signed back up for Netflix for 4K content, but I still hardly watch it. In the last 6 months the only things I’ve watched on Netflix were Better Call Saul season 3, a few episodes of Arrested Development, a couple of episodes of The Break with Michelle Wolf, and Thor Ragnarok. Still watch most stuff on Hulu.
For those looking for "cable lite" in the form of small packaged cable subscriptions from services like Sling TV and DirectTV Now, we've got a list of the best streaming live TV services. Keep in mind, though, that most of these services don't offer unlimited access to broadcast channels like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. What I'm referring to is the ability to watch any broadcast channel available in your area.
This year, you’ll finally be able to cancel cable, or cut way back on your subscription, without missing your favorite channels, shows, and live sports events. (If you’re mostly interested in streaming sports, see: The Ultimate Always-Up-To-Date Guide To Stream Live Sports Without Cable.) Plus, if you live or travel outside the US, the options here give you some great sources to watch US TV from anywhere in the world.
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.
One note of caution: if you do decide to cancel your cable subscription, there is no perfect method to cut the cord and no magic configuration that will give you all the access that you’re used to with cable at a deep discount. You will likely have to subscribe to a patchwork of different services to get all the channels and shows you want to watch. And even then you might have to forgo watching certain shows live and decide to sacrifice access to channels you’re used to having.
×