Is making the call to cancel cable and/or saving money on your New Year’s resolutions list for 2018? If so, we’ve got the four steps you need start watching the live TV you want, when you want, wherever you are, on your favorite device… All without the cost or commitment of cable or satellite TV contracts.
In the United States, virtually every TV show is available without cable or satellite – either live, on-demand, or via one-time purchase.
The first step in your cord cutting journey is to make a list of the TV shows your family considers ‘must watch’. Include network TV series like This Is Us, live sports and events like the upcoming Academy Awards and the Olympics. With that list, you can determine the most cost-effective combination of free Over-the-Air TV, paid video streaming channels and other TV sources to meet your family’s entertainment needs.
Free Over-the-Air Antenna TV:
Visit our handy channel locator tool to find out what networks you can watch for free in your home, including awesome OTA subchannels that feature retro and specialty content you can’t find anywhere else.
We’ve also done the research for you on our Antennas and OTA reception page which includes recommended TV antennas and guidance on positioning your antenna to ensure you get the best Over-the-Air TV signal.
Paid TV Streaming Services:
For a fraction of the cost of a cable subscription and with no contracts, paid internet-based TV streaming services like Netflix, Sling TV, DirectTV NOW, Hulu, Playstation Vue, YouTube TV and more let you watch shows and networks that aren’t available via free Over-the-Air TV broadcasts.
If ESPN, The Walking Dead, or The Real Housewives of <insert city here> are on your family’s list of favorite shows, you’ll want to consider supplementing your antenna TV viewing with one of these streaming services.
Not sure what services carry the network or show you need? Check out Cord Cutter’s News for a complete and up-to-date list of the TV networks each streaming service provides.
Alternative TV Content Sources:
There’s TONS of free TV content available from online sources like YouTube, the Roku Channel, Crackle, TubiTV and more. With a library card, you can watch even more movies and TV shows via Hoopla and Kanopy. Or you can purchase or rent movies, TV episodes and even full series from iTunes and Vudu.
Step 2 – Choose Your Hardware
You don’t need to buy a brand new Smart TV to become a cord cutter, but when you cancel cable you will need something to replace the outdated box you’ve been spending over $200 a year to rent.
The next step is deciding how to make sure your TVs are cord cutting-friendly, based on your budget, streaming needs and the TV technology you may already have in place.
Streaming Set-Top-Boxes and Sticks:
Any TV can be made ‘smart’ by connecting a streaming set-top-box or stick. Roku and Amazon Fire TV dominate the lower end of the market with options starting at $30. Higher-end models like Apple TV and the Nvidia Shield TV are faster and in the case of Nvidia, offer more flexibility and features than their lower-end counterparts.
We’ve compiled a complete list of considerations and recommendations for streaming set-top-boxes and sticks to help you choose the best device for your needs.
Got a fancy new Smart TV? If it’s running an operating system built by Roku or Amazon Fire TV, you should have no problem watching Over-the-Air TV or running the latest video streaming apps you’ll need to cut the cord on cable.
Smart TVs made by LG and Samsung use their own operating systems, which means spottier support for streaming apps. Other manufacturers like Sony use the more ‘open’ Android TV operating system, but app support can still be limited on these Smart TVs.
But don’t despair. If your TV’s ‘smarts’ don’t support what you need, or are starting to slow down, you can always connect a set-top-box or stick to bring it up to date.
DVRs for TV Lovers:
Just because you’re giving up cable, doesn’t mean you have to give up the convenience of a DVR. The best DVR for most cord cutters looking to record Over-the-Air network TV broadcasts from an antenna is Tablo. (And don’t take our word for it, the folks at TechHive agree.)
We think the best things about Tablo OTA DVRs is that a single Tablo attached to your TV antenna can stream live and recorded TV to all of the screens in your home and that we have the broadest range of user-friendly apps for all of your favorite devices.
OTA DVRs are also a great way to add broadcast TV capabilities to new ‘tunerless display’ TVs like the Vizio P‑Series, M‑Series, or E‑Series.
Recording content from live streaming services is a bit trickier. The majority offer their own cloud-based DVRs, but the capabilities and playback features vary from service to service and even channel to channel.
Step 3 – Prepare Your WiFi Network:
A solid home WiFi network and access to high speed internet is a must-have for cord cutters. If your WiFi network is flaky, or your router is more than five years old, you might see a lot of buffering/pausing when you attempt to stream high quality live video
We’ve made this step easy with our top 10 tips to get your WiFi network ready for cord cutting.
Worried about bandwidth data caps? There are bandwidth saving tricks cord cutters can use to avoid going over their data cap, including using an Over-the-Air antenna instead of a streaming service to watch live, local TV.
Step 4 – Save Money:
If you don’t wind up saving money by cutting the cord on cable or satellite, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Tips like taking advantage of free content from Over-the-Air TV and streaming services, as well as free trials from paid TV streaming services can significantly reduce your entertainment expenses. No contracts means you can also rotate between several paid streaming services as shows, live events and sports you want to watch come and go.
Consumers who follow cord cutting best practices wind up saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year when they cancel cable.
— Myles in AZ (@mylesw) October 10, 2017
— Jim Slaba (@jmslaba) September 1, 2017
@TabloTV Saving $100/mo by switching from cable to Tablo, an antenna and a couple of live streaming/VOD services.
— Bryan Hendricks (@BryanAHendricks) August 30, 2017
Fewf! Now you’ve got all of the information you need to cancel cable for good. So make a simple plan, put it into action and by this time next year you could be getting ready to spend the money you saved by cancelling cable on a nice beach vacation!
And if you need some additional guidance or have a specific question about how your family can successfully cut the cord on cable, don’t worry, we’re here to help.