How To Cut the Cord – The Complete Guide – June 2021
So, you’re finally fed up with the ever-increasing cable bills for the continuous decrease in program quality? In this, you certainly are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of hard-working individuals who have better things to spend their money on than a bill that provides them with limited TV shows.
The evolution of streaming has brought to the forefront a great variety of services that house a much larger and more diverse library of choice films and TV shows. Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle are just the tip of the iceberg. Even normally, cable-focused paid programming such as HBO and Cinemax have gotten in on the mix over the years to where you can watch their shows directly over the internet.
Cutting The Cord
First things first, you’ll need to figure out if cutting the cord is right for you before actually pulling the plug. If you were to go ahead with it but in the future feel you made a mistake, the costs of new activation fees and contracts could get rather expensive.
To begin down the path to cord-cutting, look at the monthly statement for your cable or satellite bill. Chances are good that it’s already too high, or you likely wouldn’t be looking into other options. This bill will be a great reference for comparison to what you’ll be willing to spend on streaming options moving forward.
You might do yourself a favor and check into the cheaper bundle packages that your cable company offers. Cord-cutting has made a dent in their sales and in doing so, these companies have been pushing out slimmer, more cost-friendly bundles. This is a better option for those who enjoy the list of TV programs offered by their service but feel the bill is a bit outrageous.
A list of things to do if you feel that streaming is the better option:
- Ensure that your current internet speed can handle it. Yes, if it wasn’t already obvious, you will still need internet access. Your cable provider may have bundled it into your cable service. If this is the case, you can look into a new internet provider or find a standalone internet package offered by your current ISP.
- Run an internet speed test to check the bandwidth that you’re receiving. The better the speed, the better your viewing experience will be.
- Examine all of the alternatives. Streaming services aren’t the only game in town. There are also streaming devices and even TV antennas that allow you to watch TV over the air in crystal clear HD for free. It’s worth it to look into everything before making a full commitment.
- Understand which services provide your local channels before making the switch.
- Cancel your current cable or satellite subscription. Though you may be really into a program on TV at the moment, it’s likely you’ll find it, in its entirety, on the new service you choose. Quit your bill today and start saving. If in the end, you realize that cutting the cord isn’t for you, I’m sure your cable company will welcome you back with open arms.
For the rest of the article, we’ll delve into the various services in which you can watch TV without the hefty monthly bill.
Cutting the cord may seem as simple as calling your cable provider, disconnecting service, and signing up for a subscription. But, it does get complicated if you’re new to the idea. Before we dive into the plethora of streaming services available, let’s first talk about how you’ll watch your favorite shows and movies.
Even if you have a smart TV, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a set-top box. These devices let you stream movies and shows via apps like Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and more! Fortunately, you can pick up a good one pretty cheap from several manufacturers.
The Roku, FireTV, and AppleTV are the more popular options, but some services only work with specific devices. It is for this reason that as you read through the list below, you’ll want to make sure that the device you’ve picked out is compatible with the streaming service that best fits your needs.
Regardless of the device you choose, the setup is pretty simple. In most cases, all you’ll need is a free HDMI port and a wall outlet to get up and running. You may need to set up an account (for example, you’ll need a Roku account to use Roku).
Now that we’ve talked about the devices you need, let’s talk about the TV services! As we’ll discuss below, you don’t have to sacrifice live TV, sports, movies, or any other favorite to cut the cord.
Watching Live TV
You’ve made the decision to ditch cable but you’re wondering about your favorite live televised programs. If live TV is a priority, there are several options available, with more and more coming every day.
As mentioned before, you have the option of installing an antenna to watch your programs over the airwaves like the old days or subscribing to a streaming service that includes a live TV option. Just know that if you choose the streaming option, you’ll need to make sure that you have access to it.
This can be done using a streaming stick like the Amazon Fire, a set-top box, gaming consoles like a PlayStation 4, or a smart TV. You can also watch them directly from the source if you have a laptop or your home PC is connected to your TV set via an HDMI cable.
Using An Antenna To Watch Local TV
New technology has turned a relic of the past into a marvel of the future. No longer the rabbit ears you once knew (for those of us old enough) the cheapest way to get your local stations live and free of charge is by hooking up an antenna. The only purchase made being the antenna itself.
All of the channels available will be determined by those being broadcast in your local area. Just follow the directions that come with the device and you’ll be set to surf through live TV in no time. If you can’t catch what you want at the moment the show goes live, DVRs are available at varying price points to help you record those shows for later enjoyment.
Live TV With A Streaming Service
There are a few streaming service packages that come bundled with live TV. Hulu, Sling, DirecTV, and even YouTube are among some of the services that offer you live television.
Choosing the Hulu With Live TV subscription option allows you to view live local TV channels, sports, news, content for children, as well as access to their extended streaming library. It will run you about $64.99 a month which includes a cloud-based DVR to rewatch live TV if necessary.
Sling TV gives you three different packages from which to choose, starting at $35 per month. The best part about it is that there are zero contracts and you can add on additional mini bundles for specific genres, premium channels, and even international channels as well. Similar to Hulu, it comes with a cloud DVR so that you can record your shows and watch them at any time you want.
DirecTV has gotten into the online streaming service game by providing you with DirecTV Now. No contract to sign, just an online streaming service that lets you access live TV channels and will run you around $55-$80/month depending on the chosen package.
There’s also the option of YouTube TV, but it’s not available in all areas. You can use YouTube TV on just about every device for one easily affordable monthly package of $65. Watch live streaming TV from dozens of networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other cable channels with the option of adding Showtime, Starz, Fox Soccer Plus, Sundance Now, Shudder, and other networks for an additional fee. Yes, it too has DVR capabilities with unlimited storage.
A Focus On Sports
As we mentioned above, you don’t have to give up your favorite sports when you ditch your cable provider. But, there are some thing you’ll need to know to watch your favorite teams.
Local sports typically air on local TV, and therefore the over-the-air antenna will work just fine. National sports will take something a little bit different. Cutting the cord can be tough for fans of sports teams that aren’t available to be watched locally. This is precisely why you got that expensive satellite package in the first place.
First, if you love ESPN, Disney, and Hulu, there is an excellent bundle right now! You can sign up for the $13.99/mo. service using this link.
None of these particular sports tickle your fancy? FuboTV has got you covered on soccer programming for anywhere from $30-$80 per month. It also includes a few non-sports channels in the package if interested.
Passion for the puck? The best NHL coverage you’ll find would be through YouTube TV. The live TV service will run $64.99/mo. with an additional $10.99/mo. for the sports add-on that gives you even more content.
Those who need every sport imaginable, and had it using your cable subscription, might want to just stick with the cable subscription. Cutting the cord for specific sporting fans is far cheaper than those who need them all. It could get rather expensive buying up all the packages just to get your fix.
There are also a few websites that will allow you to watch any sporting event you want to for free. These sites will provide you with a list of links to choose from in order to watch the event live. However, websites such as these tend to be rife with ads, pop-ups, and potential malware threats so it may be safer for you to go with one of the above options. In fact, just forget I said anything.
Network TV and Premium Channels
There are plenty of options to watch Network TV if that’s a priority for you. You won’t have to miss out on any of your favorites like FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, The CW, or PBS as they are available to you through their own websites. Crackle and Tubi allow you to stream a few network channels for free. You’ll just have to do a bit of exploring to find them.
One great deal you can get to stream Network TV is Paramount Plus. It comes with CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and the Smithsonian channel for $4.99/mo.
As far as premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz go, they each have their own standalone subscription services to look into completely void of any cable or satellite contracts. Services such as HBO Now, Showtime Streaming, and Starz Streaming are all available to you and come with a free 7-day trial to boot.
Specifically Streaming Services
Love them or hate them, streaming services are making big waves and will likely be the future of televised programming. With tons upon tons of content readily available, it’s practically a no-brainer to want to get in on the action.
Netflix has been the premier service for streaming TV shows and movies for quite some time now. It is by far the most popular streaming service available and you can choose from three different plans ranging in cost from $8-$15 (may go up). Each plan comes with different additions such as HD content, how many screens can be used to view the content simultaneously, and even 4K HD video availability.
We’ve already touched on Hulu as a live TV option, but if that isn’t something you consider necessary, the streaming package alone will run you $8 per month. This service is also a relatively popular one and pushes out its own original content, not unlike Netflix. The bulk of the library will vary differently than that of other services due to exclusivity in the networks’ contracts. You also have add-ons such as Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO that are available as separate packages when you choose Hulu.
Amazon Prime has yet another popular subscription-based streaming service called Prime Video. This includes access to TV and movie streaming for no additional cost to your Prime Membership. Enjoy their entire library of amazing programming on top of your featured 2-day delivery. Prefer something more physical? Amazon Prime allows you to rent or purchase newly released movies and TV shows right from within the Prime Video website.
Prime membership carries a hefty cost of $120 per year which translates into $12 per month if subscribed annually. Manual per month costs will run you at $13 a month. This may seem slightly higher than those streaming services previously mentioned, but Prime comes with additional perks such as on-demand music streaming, unlimited reading of thousands of books and magazines, free unlimited photo storage, and plenty more.
You can also go around the purchase of Prime Membership and simply acquire Prime Video alone for $9 per month.
Vudu is the more flexible option between those listed here as there is no subscription plan to worry about at all. Instead, you’ll pay for the movies and TV shows you love by renting or outright purchasing them for somewhere around $1.99 to $19.95. Vudu does offer plenty of free TV and movies for streaming as well if you find that to be your preferred option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cancelling your cable service is a big deal. If you still have questions about what to expect, keep reading!
Is cutting the cord worth it?
The answer to this question depends heavily on why you want to cancel your service in the first place. If it’s to save money, you will need to be careful which streaming services you sign up for and watch for deals/bundles. Otherwise, you’ll soon find yourself spending the same amount.
If you’re cancelling your cable or satellite because you don’t want to sign another contract, then absolutely! All of the services we’ve mentioned are paid for on a month-to-month basis. This means you can cancel them at any time without being charged again.
Are there any free streaming services?
Absolutely! One of the most popular, free, legal, streaming services is PlutoTV. There is no DVR or search option with this service, but you will have a TV Guide and a lot of live content. PlutoTV also offers On-Demand content! You can watch the news, movies, tv shows, and more with PlutoTV absolutely free.
Things to Know
As someone who successfully cut the cord years ago, there are a few things we’ve learned that will help you along the way.
First, take advantage of free trials (but don’t forget to cancel them). There are hundreds of streaming options out there so it’s impossible to keep up with which one is going to be perfect for you. Most of these services offer free trials so take advantage of those and try multiple services.
Second, beware of overspending. If you have just one Live TV subscription coupled with HBO, Netflix, and Disney+ you’re already spending the same amount as you were with a cable bill (better content yes, but you really aren’t saving anything). So, just beware that having multiple stream services means that you may not spend any money.
Next, it’s important to seek out deals and understand the fine print. For example, Hulu’s streaming service can usually be bundled with another service (Spotify, Disney+, etc.). But, you’ll have to cancel your current account first. Nearly every one of these services will bill you until your next renewal date, so if you cancel early, you won’t get a refund. You’ll just continue using the service until your bill cycle ends.
Lastly, be prepared for a learning curve. Standard cable hasn’t changed much in the past decade so if you’re switching to a set-top box be prepared to learn an entirely different platform. You’ll need to install apps, sign into accounts, and figure out that apps’ interface once you’re logged in.