Figuring out how to watch TV without a cable or satellite TV subscription can leave you feeling overwhelmed. When my wife and I cut the cord we went back and forth for weeks on the decision. Ultimately, it was the best thing we ever did for our family.
We are saving thousands, and watching quality shows we enjoy without all of the garbage television shows that comes with a cable bundle. Don’t think we’re missing out without cable TV. We watch the current seasons of hit shows like “Game of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead”, and “Better Call Saul”. Watching sports without cable is easy. And most importantly, the kids are satisfied with all the content available on Amazon Prime.
I know you’ll be happy when you call the cable company and cut the cord once and for all, but I wanted to share some tips and tricks that may make the decision to quit cable much easier.
1. Keep a TV Journal
Don’t rack your brain trying to figure out everything your family watches. Simply write it down in a journal. Hand everyone a small notebook. When they watch a show, record the show title and network in the notebook. This will give you an idea of your family’s viewing habits and let you know which are the most watch networks.
Many will be surprised to find that 80-90% of the shows they watch are on NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. Those broadcast networks are free using an over the air antenna. If you aren’t close enough to the towers, you can watch these networks online through Hulu and CBS All Access.
There isn’t any reason you should be paying for basic cable just to watch network television. You’re being overcharged for a product many people get for free.
2. Buying TV Shows Online is Cheaper
Afraid you will miss hit shows like “The Walking Dead”, “Better Call Saul”, or “American Horror Story?” Not to worry, current seasons of quality TV shows on cable are available for purchase from Amazon and iTunes.
My wife and I keep up with our favorite shows this way. We own the shows and can watch them as often as we please. New episodes are available one day after airing, and can be viewed on your TV using a device like a Roku or an Apple TV.
While a season pass for a show costs around $25, it is much more affordable than paying for a bunch of shows you don’t watch as part of a cable bundle. For example, lets assume there are 5 shows that you have to watch each year. While $150 seems steep, it’s much cheaper than paying for cable.
The cost of the shows is like having an additional subscription service that costs $12.50 per month. Add that to an Amazon Prime subscription and you’re only paying about $20 a month for content. Consider this an affordable cable TV plan.
3. Learn Where to Watch You Favorite Shows
There are a ton of great resources online that compile lists of all the TV shows available online and where you can watch them. TV.com is a great way to figure out where your favorite show is airing. This is also a great website for researching what new shows pique your interest.
There are also apps you can install on you phone or tablet to guide you through content online. Sarah Perez at TechCrunch turned me on to Fan TV. It’s a fantastic app that allows me to set which services I have access to, and thus the shows I can watch. It even allows me to set my zip-code and provides information on TV shows available over the air through my antenna.
4. Old Antennas Still Work
When U.S. television broadcasts went digital in 2009, many picked up basic cable to watch network TV. Since then, many assume the antenna was no longer able to pick up the signal. This simply wasn’t the case. It hasn’t helped that the term “HD antenna” is being thrown around by antenna makers.
In actuality, the broadcast signal changed from analog to digital. It’s the tuner inside your television that translates that signal and therefore needs to be digital. Thankfully, new TVs sold in the U.S after 2007 were required by law to have a digital receiver.
So if you have a TV with a digital tuner, you can give any old antenna a try and see what comes on the tube. I’ve written an antenna guide to assist you. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I put a Mohu Sky outdoor antenna on my roof and pull in about 50 channels for free.
Don’t assume that that over the air TV reception is like it was in the days of analog. The picture quality of digital broadcast TV is much better than high definition cable. Watching NFL football on an antenna has spoiled me. It’s not quite the same watching the game on cable at a friend’s house.
5. There is Free Content Online
While streaming subscriptions are a convenient way to watch all the TV you possibly can, there is a near unlimited amount of free TV online. Websites like Crackle TV, Popcorn Time, and Shout Factory TV allow you to watch TV and Movies using your internet connection.
Furthermore, many cable networks do make a few of their shows available on their websites. Some networks are better than others. For instance, Comedy Central allows you to watch many of their best programming for free. You can watch “The Daily Show”, “South Park”, and “Key and Peele” on their website the day after a new episode airs.
If you have your own tip. let me know in the comments. I’m always interested in cool new ways to watch TV without cable.
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