Cable is too expensive, but it's not useless – it's just overpriced. Most of us are at least a little reluctant to part with cable, because we like TV. Sure, you can cut the cord and replace it with nothing, but since you're reading an article called How to Watch TV Without Cable, we're going to assume that – like us and our readers here at Cordcutting.com, you like TV. You just don't like cable.
Unfortunately, with some pay-per-view exceptions, you can’t buy live sports programming à la carte. Sports programming is one of the main reasons for big cable bills—ESPN and other sports channels demand the highest per-channel fees from cable and satellite services, and those fees get passed on to you even if you don’t watch sports. So cord-cutting combined with à la carte is more feasible for non-sports fans. If you do watch sports, we have more about your options below.
The general idea: Just like DirecTV is a flagship satellite provider, DirecTV NOW is their no-dish-needed streaming service that, not surprisingly, is a front runner in the market with the largest channel selection we've seen from any service. It's basically everything that DirecTV offers without the hassle of setting up a satellite. (Though the Cloud DVR and app aren't the best, so if you're really into recording or aren't super tech savvy, this may not be the right choice for you.) The baseline package starts at 60 channels (nuts) with access to an impressive variety of channels including ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, Disney, FX, Lifetime, and more.
The quality of your TV picture isn’t only dependent on the quality of your antenna. It also depends on where you live in relation to the signal towers. A quick and easy tool to figure out which channels are available to you is the Mohu Station Finder. It provides information on the stations available based on your address. It also provides an idea of the performance to expect from different antennas.
Sony's cable-replacement service began life as a PlayStation exclusive, but now you can find PlayStation Vue just about anywhere. Viewers can choose from among four packages, ranging in price from $45 per month to $80 per month (although these prices can vary by location). Each plan will land you staples such as Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery, Disney Channel, FX, Syfy, TBS and a variety of broadcast networks, depending on where you live. You can also record hundreds of programs and hang onto them for 28 days at a time. What really puts PS Vue at the top of the list is the service's interface, which is sleek, fast and instantly comprehensible. The service's DVR feature is also simple and robust.
And, as I so often say over on Cordcutting.com, saying goodbye to cable doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to live TV. Everything cable has to offer can be matched by cord cutting alternatives – and that’s true even of the local stations that offer you local news, sporting events, and more. Here’s how to watch local channels on your TCL Roku TV, no cable required.
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?"
PlayStation Vue ($39.99/mo. - $74.99/mo.): Don’t let the name throw you. You don’t need to own a PlayStation to subscribe to Vue, which is accessible through most of the major set-top boxes. You do, however, need to pay a premium. As with Hulu and Sling, Vue’s ability to deliver live local broadcast is dependent on where you live, but Sony does offer a lot of local TV in a lot of different markets, and even where it doesn’t, it allows subscribers to see many of the major networks’ shows on-demand. Vue also provides some simple add-on options, a huge amount of DVR cloud storage, and a lot of portability between devices.
Netflix – The oldest major SVOD service is still the one to beat. Netflix offers movies and TV shows from all different studios, but it has helped lead the charge in original content, too. Thanks to Netflix and its competitors, asking how to watch TV without cable makes less sense every year – if the best shows aren't on cable, then maybe the question should be how you'd ever watch decent TV with cable!
Netflix – Although much of the Watch Instantly movies at Netflix are titles that date back six months to a decade or more, there are a few newer movies if you hunt around a bit, and they've been improving their Watch Instantly service regularly. With unlimited streaming for subscribers and a handy queue feature to remind you of what movies you want to watch, this is a great substitution for paid movie channels from your cable company.
Towards the end of the decade, on February 9, 1998, Prevue Channel's programming was entirely revamped. New short-form "shows" were introduced to replace Prevue Tonight, FamilyVue and Intervue. These included Prevue This, Prevue Family (which like FamilyVue, focused on family-oriented programming), Prevue Sports (focusing on sports events and also included schedules for the day's games and tournaments), Prevue TV, Prevue News and Weather (featuring national and international news headlines, and local weather forecasts) and Prevue Revue. Each segment lasted only a couple of minutes, but were shown twice every hour.
In the end, the cable industry’s failure to protect the bundle came down largely to greed, Moffett said. Media executives wanted to charge more for certain rights, like making every old episode available to cable subscribers, or granting the rights to watch a show on an iPad outside the home, instead of giving them away for the good of the industry.
Hi , I think I might be interested in this because I’m tired of paying high cost of cable which just went up from 90.00 to 140 in about the last 6 months it just kept going up 10.00 every month, with them saying “its a cost of living increase?!?” , whatever. Anyhow I have done netflix in the passed for movies only though, but I do have some questions if anyone can answer them I would greatly appreciate it.
Sling TV is one of the better value options out there, because you can get a lot of the most popular channels for only $25 a month. However, if you’re a binge-watcher, you’ll love Hulu with Live TV’s huge on-demand library, which currently has 10 full seasons of Adventure Time (aww yeah homies!). YouTube TV is great, but it may not be available in your area just yet.
PlayStation Vue: With the $30-per-month Access Slim plan, you get CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox Business, and CNBC. In some markets where local broadcast feeds are available, that price jumps to $40 per month for the Access plan. BBC World News requires an Elite plan for $15 per month more. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and PlayStation consoles
On both Roku devices and Apple TV, much of the best content does require a pay per view fee or subscription, so you'll want to keep an eye on how many you buy. And there are a growing number of apps like HBO Go that are restricted to those still with a cable/satellite TV subscription. But even if you never venture much beyond Netflix and Hulu Plus, you're getting a lot of content for very little money.
Other features of Prevue Guide that were unavailable in the earlier full- and split-screen EPG Sr. versions were colorized listings backgrounds and program-by-program channel summaries. Between its already colored grid lines, which alternated blue, green, yellow and red with each half-hour listings cycle, each cable operator could choose to enable either red or light blue (rather than black) background colors for multiple channels of their choice. These backgrounds were usually used to highlight premium channels and pay-per-view services. Additionally, program-by-program channel summaries with light grey backgrounds, for up to four channels of each cable operator's choice, could be included within the scrolling grid. Appearing between each four-hour listings cycle, the names of channels (rather than times) would scroll up and slide into the grid's header bar one at a time (similar to the time bar that scrolled into the header at the start of each listings cycle), each followed by up to four hours worth of program-by-program listings for that channel alone. Prevue Guide could also display graphical weather icons, accompanied by local weather conditions, within its scrolling grid (as part of a segment known as Prevue Weather). These inserts were available to cable operators for an additional fee and appeared after each four-hour listings cycle.
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.
Hulu got its start as an on-demand streaming service that competed with Netflix and the rest of the streaming video on demand (SVOD) crew. These days, Hulu is in the skinny bundle fray as well: its Hulu with Live TV service offers a single base package that costs $39.99/month and offers more than 55 channels, including live feeds of all four major networks in select regions. Hulu with Live TV also has regional sports networks in some markets. You can read our review of the service here.
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.
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.
At the beginning of January 2009, the print edition of TV Guide quietly removed its listings for TV Guide Network (and several other broadcast and cable networks) over what the magazine's management described as "space concerns". In actuality, the two entities had been forced apart by their new, individual owners, with promotions for the network ending in the magazine, and vice versa. TV Guide magazine journalists also no longer appeared on TV Guide Network. The top-line "plug" for the network did, however, remain intact on the websites of internet-based listings providers using TV Guide's EPG listings. TV Guide Network's program listings returned to TV Guide magazine in June 2010, with its logo prominently placed within the grids.
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.