December 15, 2019

How to Cut Cable and Join the Cord Cutters Revolution

Tired of paying an exorbitant amount of money for a basic cable package that changes every month?  Prices go up, channels are missing, hardware changes, software changes, etc.  Where's my DirecTV Picture-in-Picture fans?   For something that's been around for years before cable providers, you'd think they would keep it after making it available… I digress.  

So why cut cable?  

While money is a major reason many do cut cable, it's not the only reason.  When trying to figure out monthly budgets, cable subscriptions have a knack for changing month to month or year to year and require you to call and beg them to treat current customers as good as they advertise for new customers.  This can be aggravating and tiresome nonetheless.  Something else to consider for those who don't know much about cable, if you want to travel and watch all of your shows and movies wherever you are, streaming services can't be beat.  They can be mixed and matched to make sure all content you want to consume is available appropriately wherever you are.   

What about my local news and live sports?  

This is the biggest fear cord cutters have.  However, there's a few ways to approach this, with a backup plan, too.  We'll start there first - a simple HD antenna.  There are tons of antennas to consider, and not personally having one - I won't suggest any particular antenna.  Amazon has various levels of models based on budget and what strength antenna you need.  In general, an antenna mounted outside will receive signals better than those inside.  To see what stations are available to you based on your location, start with the FCC:

An antenna will receive basic over the air channels for free.  However, by itself, you will lose DVR functions.  There are a few options to combat this.  DVRs can be purchased as a standalone product and have an antenna connected to them. There are some inexpensive ones on Amazon (Mediasonic), including the Amazon Fire Recast, all the way to subscription based services like Tivo.  Keep in mind, most streaming services listed below offer these local channels live and an antenna is only needed for back up, unless you opt not to purchase a live streaming service.  If you can do without sports, most local news channels broadcast live through an app on a media device (Livestream, YouTube, etc).

Below are a few of the more major streaming services that offer live TV.

  Hulu Live TV YouTube TV Sling Orange/Blue/Orange & Blue AT&T Now Plus/Max Philo Fubu TV Standard/Family/Ultra Watch ATT
Price (monthly) $45 $50 $25/$25/$40 $65/$80 $20 $55/$60/$75 $15
Streams 2(unlimited devices on home network for $10/mo) 3 1/3/4 2(3 for $5/mo) 3 2/3/3 1
DVR 50 hours
(200 hours for $10/mo)
(stored for 9 months)
50 hours for $5/mo) 20 hours stored for 28 days Unlimited (stored for 30 days) 30/500/500 hours -
# of Channels 60+ 70+ 30+/40+/50 45+/60+ 58 100+/110+/180+ 35+
# of Sports Channels ~15 ~20 ~10-15 for $10/mo 4/11 0 40 0
Local Channels Y Y N Y N Y N
Supported Devices              
Android X X X X X X X
Roku X X X X X X  
Amazon Fire X X X X X X X
Apple TV X X X X X X X
Xbox One X X X        
PS4 X            
Nvidia Shield X X X   X    
Google Chromecast X X X X   X X


Below are some of the major streaming services not affiliated with live TV:


  Netflix Basic/Standard/Premium Amazon Prime Video Disney+ Hulu ESPN+ Apple TV+ Frndly
Price (monthly) $9/$13/$16 $9($13 with Prime, or $120/year) $7 ($70/year) $6($12 - no ads) $5 $5 $6
Streams 1/2/4 3 4 2 3 6 (must be on Apple Family 1-4
Quality SD/HD/4K Up to 4K depending on content TBD Up to 4K depending on content   4K HD
Download for offline use? Yes, some content on unlimited devices Yes, some content on 4 devices concurrently Yes, on unlimited devices Yes, some content No Yes  
Supported Devices              
Android X X X X X   X
Roku X X X X X   X
Amazon Fire X X   X X X X
Apple TV X X X X X X  
Xbox One X X X X X    
PS4 X X X X X    
Nvidia Shield X X X X      
Google Chromecast X X X X X   X
Notes Downloaded content does not count towards stream limit No limit to device count, only current streaming and downloaded Bundle:  Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $13/mo   Doesn't necessarily include all major sports 1 year included with purchase of qualifying product More streaming devices coming soon Family friendly TV including Hallmark, Game Show Network, and The Weather Channel

Multiple plans offer a mix of streams and DVR options


Live Streaming Services


Alternate Streaming Services


If you plan to cut the cord, there may be some other issues that arise.  If you pay for Internet through the same company you pay for cable, your internet cost could rise.  With that in mind, it may not be worth cutting - at least for now.  Something else to note is if you're under contract with a certain service.  If there is a $250+ cancellation fee and there's only a few months left on the contract, the math doesn't make sense to cancel.  Everyone's situation is different, so consider your situation carefully.

What service to choose?

This isn’t a clean and cut answer.  At least for the masses.  It’s up to you to decide what channels are your must haves?  You have to decide if you’re willing to pay a little extra for convenience to have everything in one location/app, or are you willing to sacrifice a little hassle for extra savings?  For example, if you didn’t want sports, the Hulu (non-live) option may give you everything you need, just a day or two later.  In a perfect world, you may have multiple services in order to get all the channels you want.  However, it’s important to note: even bundling two of the live TV services is probably cheaper than your normal cable bill.  *That’s not the goal, but it shows the opportunity as none of the subscription services have monthly or yearly contracts.  

Outside of live TV, there are many other services available.  Some are only available independently (Netflix, Amazon Video, Apple+), while others may be included in some plans or available as an add-on.  For example: CBS All Access, Hallmark Movies Now, HBO Now, Showtime, AMC Premiere, can be purchased independently.  This is an important consideration for a few reasons.  If you choose a live TV option (or no live TV option) that doesn’t include one of the above channels you’re interested in, you can subscribe to them individually.

For specific channel access for the above services, consider subscribing for a month or two at a time and not leaving the subscription active all year long.  You may only want Fubu TV in the fall for sports, but switch to Sling in the Spring and only use Netflix over the summer.  These services allow a great breadth of mix and matching.  The a la carte option is available every month – without a contract, you can switch them up every month.

For movies and specific TV shows, don't forget about rentals and purchases through the various stores (Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu, Redbox).  This is something to consider when cord cutting as a whole.  There may be a particular show you want to watch from a certain channel and that's it.  You may can purchase one season of the show cheaper than you'd have to pay for an upgraded package for a certain service.  Ultimately, you'd be saving money and can potentially have even greater flexibility in watching your own content.

Before subscribing to any service, check the prices in multiple locations.  Sometimes subscribing through the App Store (iOS), the Play Store (Android), or the Amazon Store will have higher rates to cover additional fees they charge the service.  However, if they're the same price (or marginally higher), it may be worth it to you to easily watch your content on a certain device.  Subscribing directly from the service could net you discounts, free trials, or free hardware in some cases.

Specific cable channels come and go, so it's difficult to keep up with who offers what. Check out to choose your channels and see which streaming service may be the best fit for you!

Suppose | Compare Cable, Satellite, & Streaming TV Services

Note:  iOS and Android devices can be shared to a TV through Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku.  Controlling may be an issue, but if it's just a movie – you can start it and you're set.


Where to watch?

Sometimes, you have a very specific show or movie you'd like to watch and having all of the services to sift through and actually find it can be cumbersome. Enter! This site will allow you to search just about any movie or show and see where it's available to play. Alternatively, you can create an account and browse through your "library" by connecting services you subscribe to. It also shows where they are available for rent or purchase. Lastly, there's a mobile app available!


Other Subscription Services


FREE Services!

While there are many paid subscription services, there are also free services you can take advantage of.  These include:


Some of the paid services offer a free tier that allows watching certain shows without a paid login. For example, AMC allows some episodes of current shows to be streamed for free.  These play ads, but that’s expected with free content of any kind.  Be careful though, as they aren’t available indefinitely.  Some are only accessible certain times, generally a week or so after the first live airing.  Keep this in mind and search out the shows and channels you want to watch before choosing a service.

What device should I get?

My suggestion is to decide what service you'd like to use before choosing a device.  The various media players available all function very similar, and only choosing a service because you want to use a specific device will not work well in the long run.  Unlike the streaming services, hardware devices are more difficult to replace in comparison.  You can also use multiple types of devices for the same service, meaning you can mix and match.  Some have a less expensive barrier to entry, but have caveats.  For example, the least expensive device - the Google Chromecast - doesn’t come with a remote.  The least expensive versions of the Amazon Firestick and Rokus only function over Wi-Fi.  Hardwired internet connections are always suggested when streaming media, at least for your main TV.  They will work more reliably and may take precedence over Wi-Fi connected devices should your internet speed slow down or bandwidth become limited.

If you want more in depth information on any of the topics discussed, this post on Reddit has some great information with many links:



Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.