To cancel cable TV and not lose access to your favorite shows is easier than ever. But, it can be challenging to navigate the the sheer amount of options available to find the best cable TV alternatives for your needs.
Don’t worry! We’re here to help you cancel your expensive pay cable TV subscription and maximize your savings by switching to a blend of streaming and free Over-the-Air TV. With the four simple how-to steps below, you can cut cable and start enjoying significant savings and a more flexible TV viewing experience in 2021.
Step 1 – Find Your TV Content:
In the United States, virtually every TV show is available without a cable or satellite subscription – either live, on-demand, or via one-time purchase.
Step 1 in your journey to cancel cable is to make a list of your family’s ‘must-watch’ TV shows. Include network TV series like The Good Place, live sports, news and events like the upcoming Academy Awards.
Using that list, you can figure out the best and most cost-effective combination of free Over-the-Air TV, paid video streaming channels and other free streaming 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.
Not sure what antenna to buy? We’ve done the research for you on our Antennas and OTA reception page which includes a Buyer’s Guide for TV antennas and how-to suggestions on positioning and installing your antenna to ensure you get the best Over-the-Air TV signal.
Paid Live TV Streaming Services:
For a fraction of the cost of a cable subscription and with no contracts, paid internet-based TV streaming services are a great way to supplement free Over-the-Air TV broadcasts with your favorite cable channels like ESPN, HGTV, CNN, Fox News, Hallmark and more.
‘Bundles’ from AT&T TV NOW, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV can cost $30-$45 MORE per month (just for the base packages) simply because they include some local channels you can watch free with an antenna. That means these services are under the same pricing pressures as cable and satellite providers, which means fees for these live TV streaming services that include local channels will continue to increase over the coming years.
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 or the MyBundle.TV recommendation engine.
Free & Alternative TV Content Sources:
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 cable box you’ve been spending over $200 a year to rent.
Step 2 is deciding how to make your TVs cord cutting-friendly, based on your budget, streaming needs and the technology you may already have in place.
Streaming Set-Top-Boxes and Sticks:
Any TV can be made ‘smart’ by connecting a streaming stick or streaming player via the HDMI port (found on the back or side of the television).
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, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV you should have no problem watching Over-the-Air TV or running the latest TV streaming apps you’ll need to cut the cord on cable.
Smart TVs made by LG and Samsung use their own operating systems, which unfortunately means spottier support for streaming apps. Other manufacturers like Sony use the more ‘open’ Android TV operating system, but app support can still be somewhat 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, there’s no need to buy a brand new television. You can always connect a set-top-box or stick to ‘upgrade’ it!
DVRs for Cord Cutters:
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 and we’re also the most popular DVR with the readers of CordCuttersNews.)
Tablo DVRs come in two types:
- Network-connected DVRs that use your home’s WiFi network to stream live and recorded TV to all of the screens in your home via free Tablo apps
- And TV-connected DVRs designed for cord cutters who prefer a traditional DVR setup that connects to your main TV via HDMI and comes with its own remote
Tablo’s easy-to-use interface includes traditional Live TV grid guides, intutive DVR controls and even Automatic Commercial Skip.
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 are 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 step 3 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!
Even with streaming price hikes and the ever increasing number of paid streaming TV options, tips like taking advantage of free content from OTA TV and the web, 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.
Instead of boosting Comcast’s bottom line, they’re paying down debt, creating college funds and doing more exciting things like going on trips and doing home renovations.
Once I found @TabloTV, I had no need for streaming services that offered local channels. Just cancelled my DirecTV NOW. Now saving about $100/month over my original satellite service days!
— John 🏒🎸😼 (@SuitcaseJohnny) August 7, 2019
Zero paid services. Rooftop antenna w/50 available channels (not that we care about all of them), Tablo DVR and various free Roku channels. Internet 100mbs, $44.99/mo. Period.
— Peter G. Chase (@PchaseG) October 24, 2019
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 canceling 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, we’re here to help.