2018 Cord Cutting Guide: Best Cable TV Alternatives to Save Money
Cable and satellite monthly bills keep creeping up, but thanks to new technology and tons of streaming services, there are a lot of cable TV alternatives out there.
This cord cutting guide will help you decide if it will work for you, show you how you can still watch live TV and network TV, lay out the popular streaming services you may want to add and let you know how you can still watch your favorite sports games.
Deciding If Cutting the Cord Is Right for You
It may sound obvious, but you really want to make sure that cord cutting is right for you before you take the plunge. If you change your mind, new contracts and activation fees are going to get expensive.
Before you decide to cut the cord, you'll need to figure out just how much your cable or satellite bill is. You can do this by checking your monthly statement. Since you're looking into cord cutting already, it's a good guess that it's already much higher than you would like it to be. Looking at the total of your bill will give you something to compare the other costs that you'll rack up after adding any of the options below. Of course, the goal is to make sure that you're actually saving money.
While you're checking your monthly bill take a few minutes and see if there's a smaller bundle that you may be happy with. Cable companies are starting to take cord cutting seriously and are beginning to offer slimmer bundles for a decent cost. You may just find one that you'll be happy with.
If you are going to be depending on some streaming services, you'll to make sure that your Internet speed can handle the streaming you'll be doing. You can run an internet speed test to find this out. Here's how to run an Internet speed test which also includes how to test it for a specific streaming service.
Watching Live TV Without Cable
If watching live TV is important to you, you have several options available with more popping up every day. You have the option of installing an antenna or subscribing to a streaming service that includes a live TV option. If you choose the later, you'll need to figure out a way to access it either through your TV, a streaming stick, a set-top box, or a game console.
Watching Local Stations With an Antenna
The cheapest way to still get your local stations live is by hooking up an antenna. Once a thing of the past, antennas are all the rage now and new technology has made sure that they work better than the rabbit ears you may remember.
All those network stations will be free to watch, you'll just need to purchase a good antenna and follow the directions to hook it up. Keep in mind that what channels you get with an antenna are going to depend on what's available in your local area.
Even if you have live TV, you may not want to watch your shows while they're actually live, and you don't have to. There are DVRs at every price point that can record your over-the-air TV shows.
Hulu With Live TV
Hulu has a subscription option available called Hulu With Live TV. You'll get to view live TV channels in your area, live sports, live news, kids' content, and access to their library of streaming content. The cost is $40 a month which includes a cloud DVR and unlimited screens. You can also add a subscription to Showtime.
Hulu Live TV is available on Apple iPhone and iPad, android phones and tablets, Apple TV, Xbone One, and Chromecast.
With Sling TV, you can watch live TV with no contracts and your choice of three different packages that range from $20-$40 with the ability to add mini bundles for sports, kids, news, premium channels, and international stations.
Sling TV is available on a wide range of devices that includes TV and video players, phones and tablets, gaming consoles, and laptops and computers. They use a Cloud DVR which means you can record your shows and watch them at any time.
All those options mean that you can choose the channels that you really want and stop paying for those that you never end up watching. There's a free trial for Sling TV that allows you to try it out for 7 days.
DirecTV Now is an online streaming service that lets you access live TV channels. There's no contract and it will cost you $35-$70 depending on which package you pick.
You can use a variety of devices and browsers to access DirecTV Now including Chromecast (Android Only) and Apple TV. There's no DVR option available at this point.
If you already have a Playstation, the Playstation Vue live streaming TV service may be a good choice. There are no contracts and there is a cloud DVR included.
There are four plans available from $30-$65 a month as well as some standalone channels that can be added to a package. There's a free 5-day trial available if you'd like to try it out.
There's also the option of YouTube TV but it's not available in all areas. You can watch living streaming TV from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other cable channels. It also has a cloud DVR that no storage limits.
YouTube TV is available on just about every device and there's one package that costs $35 and the option of adding Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus for an additional free. There's a free 1-month trial available.
Watching Network TV and Premium Channels Without a Cable Plan
If you don't want to miss out on network TV, you have quite a few options. You don't need to wait years to get the shows you want either, many of the shows are available a few days after they air and sometimes even immediately. You'll also want to explore where you can stream TV shows for free such as Crackle and TubiTV.
You can visit some of the network websites to catch up on your favorite shows. They all have certain limitations and you'll need to watch commercials. You can watch full episodes of shows on FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, The CW, and PBS.
CBS All Access
If you're a big fan of CBS shows, CBS All Access will give you 8,500+ full episodes, live TV, and some original programming.
CBS All Access is $6 a month with commercials and $10 a month without.There's a 1-week trial you can get for free.
HBO, Showtime, and Starz
If you don't want to miss your premium cable channels when you cut the cord, you don't have to. HBO, Showtime, and Starz all have their own stand-alone subscription services that you can subscribe to without having a cable or satellite contract.
Cutting the Cord and Adding Streaming Services
Streaming services are very popular with cord cutters, and it's no surprise. They have tons of content including TV shows along with movies.
Before you subscribe to a streaming service, you'll want to make sure that you have something to stream it on. Visit each service you're interested in and make sure that you have the device, or don't mind investing in a device, that will let you access the shows and movies.
If you are really interested in streaming movies, first check out this list of the best places to stream free movies online. You'll also want to know the details on sharing passwords for streaming services which may also save you some money.
There's also the option of renting DVDs of your favorite movies and TV shows, with the library being a great place to start since you can get your rentals for free. There's also ways to get free Redbox codes and you may want to consider a subscription to Netflix DVD which has plans available for $5-12 a month.
Netflix is by far the most popular streaming service available right now and you can choose from 3 plans that cost anywhere from $8-$12 with different options for HD content and the number of screens that can be viewing Netflix at the same time.
All of the Netflix plans have a 1-month free trial.
Hulu is another popular streaming service that has a huge library of movies, TV shows, and original content. Hulu costs $8 a month with limited commercials and $12 a month without commercials. A Showtime subscription can be added and all plans have a free 1-month trial.
A subscription to Amazon Prime includes streaming access to TV shows and movies with no cost on top of your Prime membership, called Prime Instant Video. You also can rent or buy new releases of movies and TV shows within the player.
Prime membership costs $99 a year but you get more perks than just streaming video, you get free two-day shipping, on-demand music streaming, unlimited reading on thousands of books and magazines, free game content for Twitch, free unlimited photo storage, and more.
Vudu gives you more flexibility than other streaming services because there's no subscription plan, you only pay for movies and TV shows that you want to buy or rent. Prices range from $1.99 to $19.95.
Watching Sports Without a Cable Plan
Cutting the cord can tough for sports fans, nothing compares to the variety of local and national sports that you'll get with your cable or satellite subscription, but you do have a few options.
Installing an antenna for your local stations will get you access to the local games that air in your area on the networks so this is a great option for those.
Streaming Sports Package
Almost every major sports channel has a streaming subscription offer that you can take advantage of. Keep in mind that these can be very expensive and if you want several of them, it may be cheaper to stick with your cable subscription.