Cable sucks. I mean, do you even know anybody who thinks they get good value for what they pay? Or even decent value? No, everyone thinks their cable bill is too high and it goes up every year. Fortunately, cutting the cord has never been easier. You want movies, TV shows and even live sports? Guess what, there are a bunch of ways to get them and they’re all cheaper than your cable bill now.
Get an HD antenna
Remember the old rabbit ears on televisions from way back in the day? Those antennas were ridiculous. Hey grandpa, why don’t you join the 21st century hahahahaha.
Actually, guess what.
Those antennas are making a comeback and they’re here to get you free channels. Yes, free. Broadcast channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox have been broadcasting over the air in HD since 2007. That means depending on how far you are from their broadcast towers, you could pick up their signals for free. On top of that, you’ll probably get better HD picture quality picking up the signals directly instead of them being filtered through a cable box.
Want to find out what channels you might pick up? Try the FCC website that lets you enter your address and estimates what channels you could pick up and from what direction (so you know where to aim the antenna).
There are a ton of HD antennas listed on Amazon for as little as $20 that are worth checking out.
Streaming is essential for cutting the cord
One of the reasons that cable prices keep going up is because there’s limited competition. You may only have a couple (or one) cable provider in your area which allows them to keep raising your rates. That’s not a problem with streaming. There’s no shortage of options which has something for everyone:
Stream shows and movies
- Netflix ($8-$12/month): With around 100 million subscribers worldwide, there’s a good chance you already have Netflix. It has the most comprehensive library of shows and movies of any streaming service. It’s also investing heavily in original content with big hits like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and many others.
- Amazon Prime ($99/year): One of the many benefits that come with Amazon Prime is Prime Video. It’s like Netflix (although not quite as extensive) with shows, movies and original programming.
- Hulu Plus ($8/month): Offers full seasons of shows from channels like ABC, NBC, MTV and Comedy Central among others.
- Crackle (Free): The catalog isn’t filled with award winners, but hey, it’s free! Crackle is loaded with shows and movies that’ll make you say “hey, I remember that!” It features shows like Seinfeld and Heroes and movies like Bad Boys 2, Thin Red Line and Blow.
Stream live channels
- Sling TV ($20/month): Sling offers packages starting at $20/month for 23 live channels. From there, you can add more channel packages a la cart for as little as $5/month. This allows you to customize for the exact channel lineup that you want without having to pay for C-SPAN 8: The Ocho and other channels you’ll never watch.
- Playstation Vue ($40-$75/month): The basic package comes with 46 channels and the top of line package includes over 90 including HBO and Showtime. You don’t actually need a Playstation to stream channels with this service.
- DirecTV Now ($35-$70/month): Another streaming service with anywhere from 60-120+ channels depending on the package you order. A DirecTV dish is not required and discounts may apply for AT&T customers.
- Hulu Live ($40/month): The basic package includes over 50 live channels with customizable add-ons and cloud DVR available.
- YouTube TV ($35/month): Currently only available in select major cities, YouTube has a lineup of 48 live channels and expanding.
Stream live sports
One of the biggest reasons keeping people from cutting the cord is live sports. For the longest time, a cable package was the only way to watch live sports. That’s starting to change now. Many of the sports channels like ESPN are included in the live streaming services above. An HD antenna could allow you to pick up local NFL broadcasts on the networks for free.
In addition to that, the leagues themselves offer full and half season sports packages that you can buy directly through them. MLB.TV, NBA League Pass and NHL Center Ice can be purchased on the league websites. NFL Sunday Ticket is only available with DirecTV, but you can get NFL Red Zone with some of the streaming services above.
Get the right hardware
There are a ton of devices that allow you to stream content after cutting the cord. No one player offers access to everything. You can use a site like Untangle where you enter TV shows and channels that you watch and it will suggest the hardware and services you can purchase to get them.
Some devices to consider:
- Roku Express ($29.99): Probably the device that offers the best value with the most apps supported. If you want 4k ultra HD and HDR support, you’ll need to go for the upgraded models.
- Amazon Fire Stick ($39.99): Also supports a ton of apps and seamlessly integrates with Prime Video. The Fire Stick remote also works with Alexa now for voice control over what’s playing.
- Google Chromecast ($35): Chromecast gives you access to a large number of streaming apps, but that’s not the cool part. For Android users, it allows you to cast anything on your Android phone or tablet (as well as any website from the Chrome browser on your computer) to the TV.
- Apple TV ($149-$199): Apple TV provides access to over 1600 apps and integrates with your other Apple devices. You can turn your iPhone into a remote, watch shows from your iPhone or iPad as well as the TV and use Siri built into the remote to help you find what you want to watch.
Beyond these, there are smart TVs and smart Blu Ray players that allow you to access most of these apps. Gaming consoles like Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Wii can also stream many of these services.
Cutting the cord on cable has never been easier.