One of your biggest expenses each month is likely the cable bill. Right behind the mortgage and a few other things. If you’re fed up with cable and finally ready to cut the cord, we’ll show you how. In this detailed guide we’ll go over everything you need to know when you ditch cable.
Getting rid of cable is a scary thought, especially if you watch a lot of sports. Then, when you see all the post-cable options that are available it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
To start, we’ll help you decide if cutting the cord is right for you. Then, we’ll explain some of your options, show you how to watch live TV without cable, get local stations for free, and recommend all the best streaming services and alternatives to cable TV. Here’s how to cut all the right cords and save money in 2018.
How to Cut the Cord & Save Money in 2018
- Negotiate a lower internet bill, then cancel cable
- Buy or use a streaming device
- Choose a streaming service and some bundle options
- Get a TV Antenna & control live TV (optional)
- Enjoy the benefits and extra $$$
Is Cutting the Cord Right For You?
First, you’ll want to decide if cutting the cord is right for you and your family. Once it’s done, you have to follow through. Otherwise, you’ll get hit with activation, installation and setup fees all over again.
Don’t worry though, there are tons of options and we’re confident you’ll find something that works great. Since you’re already here, you probably know your bill is too expensive. So the next step is simply making sure you have fast internet that can handle streaming, then do some research to make sure you’ll actually save money.
Find out how much your internet costs all alone, and maybe upgrade to a higher speed. While you’re at it, barter and negotiate your way to a lower price. If they say it’s $80 a month, threaten to cancel everything. Changes are you’ll get a faster speed or a lower price. As long as you know you have a fast internet connection and streaming services have the channels you want, you’re all set. Just make sure that once you add everything together you’re still saving money. If you’re not sure, keep reading because we’ll cover all of that next.
What You Need to Cut the Cord
Before you get into the services and options, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment to access everything. You probably already have a device or two that works. And if not, it’s very affordable to get started.
If you own an HDTV from the past 5+ years you probably already have a Smart TV. Television sets that play YouTube, Netflix, or other apps and services. That’s the best place to start. However, you’re better off getting a streaming device like the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire Stick, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or Android TV like the NVIDIA Shield. Don’t forget that if you own an Xbox or PlayStation 4 you probably have access to everything already. Meaning you don’t need to do anything, just cancel the cable and move on to getting streaming services and live TV.
Basically, these little devices connect to your TV over HDMI and put the internet and any app, streaming service, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and more at your fingertips. While Apple TV and Amazon are both names you probably recognize, Roku is one of the best options.
Roku is the original “ditch the cable box” for streaming video, but they’ve slowly grown into a powerhouse. Whether you get a Roku box or the little stick, their devices support almost every streaming service. The other huge benefit here is you won’t run into Amazon vs Apple vs Google problems. They support everything. Unlike Apple TV, which doesn’t get Amazon Prime Video.
Read: Amazon Fire Stick Review
Personally, I use the NVIDIA Shield Android TV box. It’s basically a powerful smartphone that looks like a mini cable box. It runs Android apps and games, Netflix, YouTube, Sling TV, and has 128GB of storage and a microSD card slot. I can stream movies from a computer over WiFi, or just access thousands of apps and services right from it.
Just remember that while Smart TV’s are pretty great, you’ll be better off getting a dedicated streaming box or stick like we’ve detailed above.
Watching Live TV Without Cable (Streaming Services)
Never before in the history of TV have there been more ways to watch your favorite show, sports, movies, and news without a cable subscription. We’re not cutting all the cords, just the cable cord. That’s because you now have access to a slew of different streaming services. Basically, these are mini bundles with no contracts at a fraction of the price cable charges.
Everyone knows about Netflix and Hulu, but those won’t replace cable, even if they are two great options. Instead, we’ll break down some of the best streaming services, and let you decide for yourself. No one plan works for everyone. There are over 200 different services floating around, but only a few are worth considering. At the end of the day, you’ll have so many options available you won’t miss cable and those ridiculous 2,000 channel bundles. Most of these include plenty of ways to watch sports too.
Sling TV – Sling TV is what we have at my house. It’s basically a la carte TV, which means you’re getting little separate servings of your favorite channels, and not everything at once. They bundle 30+ of the most popular channels on live TV for $20 a month, including sports, with no contracts. Then, you can add-on premium channels, family packs, movie packs, and more for $5.
Sling has three different packages, lots of straightforward add-ons that won’t confuse you, and no “gotcha” gimmicks like all those cable companies. My favorite part though is the 100-hour cloud DVR and video-on-demand. I can restart or record my favorite shows, watch movies whenever, and add or remove extra sports channels during the NFL season. Here’s my Sling TV Review, because $20 a month is totally worth it.
You can access Sling TV on any smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, inside the Chrome Browser, and on almost every media streaming device and it’s built into most new TVs. It’s everywhere, affordable, and there are no contracts. Get a free 7-day trial right here.
Hulu with Live TV – Did you know Hulu is a lot more than just TV shows now? They have an ever-growing live TV streaming service with plenty to offer. Basically, you’ll get live TV channels in your area, live sports, news, plenty of content for the kids, and access to their library of streaming content.
They offer a few premium add-ons like Showtime, Cloud DVR recording, and it’s $40 a month. The only downside is you can’t get it everywhere like Sling TV. However, if you don’t need it everywhere, it does work on most smartphones, tablets, laptops, Xbox, and Apple TV.
YouTube TV – Another excellent option is YouTube TV. And while it might not be available in your area yet, we highly recommend checking. YouTube TV takes the extremely popular Sling TV idea and expands on it with everything you and your family already loves about YouTube. From millions of hours of endless video, YouTube Red Originals, tons of quality content, and live TV at the same time. Here is more information.
You can watch YouTube TV on up to six devices, there’s unlimited cloud DVR, and it works on almost any device or platform you own. It costs $35 a month and is a pretty excellent option worth considering if it’s in your area.
DirecTV Now – Another option is DirecTV Now, which is that big providers attempt at taking on Sling TV. You’ll get a la carte TV in a sense, tons of channels, live TV, sports and more starting at $35 a month. However, it quickly starts the “bundles” game and gets you to over $70 a month. At that point, you’re almost better off sticking with cable. Depending on your families wants and needs though, it might be perfect. Find out more right here.
PlayStation Vue – The problem with PlayStation Vue is people think you need a PS4 to use it, but you don’t. PlayStation Vue is one of the first — and the best — live TV streaming services on the market. As long as you have a PS3, PS4, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku and tons of other devices, you can try PS Vue.
Sony offers four plans starting at $30 a month, no contracts, with Cloud DVR recording. You can add-on a lot of extras or premium content, and local channels in some situations. Get the free 5-day trial, and see how you like it.
Other Options – As we said earlier, there are actually over 200 different streaming services available. Philo gives you 40 channels of live TV for $16 a month. It’s the skinniest and cheapest plan around, and you get AMC for all those The Walking Dead episodes. They don’t give you sports though, so if that’s your thing consider FuboTV.
You can also try standalone options like HBO Now, CBS All Access, or network channels like FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, The CW, and PBS. And as if we even need to say it, but Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are both your friends. Not to mention dozens of “Live TV” apps for Android or iPhone. We love Pluto TV and Crackle, which both deliver thousands of hours of free TV.
And don’t forget about Showtime or Starz, both of which are cheaper than HBO and offer free trials. See the trend here, you have options. Lots of options that don’t include locking you down for 2-years, $200 a month, and hundreds of channels you’ll never watch.
Live TV with an Antenna
Another thing everyone should consider is getting an Antenna. Yes, they’re cool again, and some people are even making their own. The cheapest way to get live TV is by getting an HD Antenna, and enjoying live, local TV and sports absolutely free.
Set up an Antenna and you’re all set. You can even get TiVo Bolt to pause and record live TV from your Antenna. Or, get an analog to digital converter box and turn it into your own personal live TV DVR system.
You can also tie that HD Antenna into Sling TV and get the best of both worlds. Live local TV and all the cable content at the same time.
Cutting the Cord for Sports Fans
The reason it took me so long to cut the cord was that I didn’t want to miss out on sports. This is one of the only things keeping customers at DirecTV. I’m a huge NFL fan, and I want to watch football every Sunday. So, if you want NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, BTN and multiple other sports channels, we have you covered.
You’ll need to check some of these individually, but you can get everything that’s important from Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, or DirecTV Now. Personally, Sling TV has the most for sports fans, and starting in 2018 and beyond you can watch the NFL live with Yahoo Sports.
Final Thoughts & Easiest Way to Get Started
In closing, we wanted to share our opinion on the easiest way to get started. Something for you to buy and set up so you’re prepared and can hit the ground running the day you turn off the cable. There is plenty of content available, and multiple ways to watch it all.
First, sign up for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video if you don’t have them already, then buy a Roku Box. You can get the Roku stick for around $29, but the Box is more powerful and what we recommend.
The Roku will give you access to pretty much anything and everything. Free TV apps like Crackle and Pluto, it works great with Sling TV if you take that route, and you can access popular things like HBO Now, WatchESPN, YouTube, Netflix, and more. It’s basically the best first step, and it’s capable enough to grow with you as your cord-cutting aspirations expand. Your Roku will be at the center of everything once you cut the cord.
While you’re at it try the free 7-day Sling TV trial, or the 5-day PlayStation Vue trial, and see what they have to offer. The Roku will hold you over until you decide what’s right for you or your family. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.