Grounded Reason has been dedicated to sharing useful information with cord-cutters since 2014. So, I wanted to take all the knowledge we’ve put together over the years and write a definitive guide to cord-cutting.
This page contains information for beginners and experts cord-cutters alike and is designed to get you to the information you need on cord-cutting.
Cord Cutting 101
A report from DecisionData.org shows that at over an average of $200 per month, the cable TV bundle is one of the most expensive utility bills Americans will pay each month. This had driven many to research cutting their cable TV in favor of more affordable streaming services. To do this, all you need is affordable internet service, and TV content through some combination of live and on-demand streaming, and possibly and over the air antenna.
Should You Cut the Cord?
Generally, I think most people should cut the cord. But, it is crucial to set expectations before assuming everything to be as smooth and seamless as flipping through channels on a cable TV remote. While most things you watch will be easily accessible, occasionally, you may not find a way to legally watch a TV show, special event, or a specific sports team. The most important trait a cord cutter can possess is flexibility. Remember, you are leaving cable because of the expense. That expense is due to cable providing you with 150+ channels when you only watch 10. Cord-cutting saves you money by being more selective in what you pay for.
This also means that the more work and research you put into cord-cutting, the more you will save in the end. That’s not to say you have to do a ton of research to cut the cord. Let’s start with a quick and easy way to cut the cord.
Easy Way To Cut The Cord
If you don’t want to do a ton of research and are pretty flexible on what you watch, most people will be happy cutting the cord using a live streaming service that carries local channels and provides access to some basic cable channels. To view a live streaming service on your TV, all you need is a streaming device and an internet connection, and you can quickly become a cord cutter.
Using a Live Streaming Service
We’ll cover internet access in a minute. First, let’s look at watching a live streaming service on your TV. To stream any streaming service (live or on-demand) on your TV you need a streaming device. The best option is a Roku Streaming Stick+.
Roku Streaming Stick supports nearly every streaming app on the market and plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV. Once plugged in and powered on, the on-screen instructions walk you right through setting it up. You can generally find them for around $40. It’s effortless.
With the Roku set up, we just need to download a live streaming service app. There are a few on the market, but the easiest ones to cut the cord with are either Hulu+Live TV or YouTube TV. These are two live streaming services that offer a wide array of channels you’ll find on cable while also carrying live local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and other local channels in most U.S. TV markets. I prefer Hulu because you also get access to Hulu’s massive on-demand library. However, YouTube TV has a slightly better channel selection. In the end, it’s a matter of preference.
Hulu + Live TV service runs $54.99 per month. If you are interested, check out the following resources on Hulu + Live TV:
- a full listing of live channels on Hulu Live TV
- see which channels are available in your zip code on Hulu’s website
- our guide on everything you need to know about Hulu
YouTube TV is also good for Live TV, but they don’t have the same level of on-demand offerings. The cost of their service is a bit more expensive at $65 per month. If you are interested, check out the following resources on YouTube TV:
- our guide to everything you need to know about Youtube TV
- see channels available in your area on their website
Of course when it comes to picking a live streaming service, channel availability will be the main concern for most. We have a channel listing for live TV streaming services below:
- Hulu Live Channel List
- YouTube TV Channel List
- Philo TV Channel List
- fuboTV Channel List
- Vidgo Channel List
- Sling TV Channels
- AT&T TV Now Channel list
Both of these services provide you with local TV, basic cable channels, and even features like on-demand and a cloud-based DVR. If you try these services out and think they will work for you, call your provider and see how much their internet-only plans are.
You won’t need a ton of internet speed to cut the cord. Generally, if you are only watching 1 TV at a time, 10-15 Mbps should be fine. You should be able to get an internet-only plan for $50-60 a month.
Summing up the Easy Method
To recap what we’ve done to cut the cord easily:
- Got a Roku Streaming Stick
- Got a Live TV Streaming Service
- Canceled our cable TV and just have stand-alone internet.
The one time cost of the Roku streaming stick was about $40-$50, which is much cheaper than paying a cable box device fee every month. Then we are playing slightly over $100 for the live streaming service and an internet-only plan.
If you went with YouTube TV over Hulu, you might want to pick up another on-demand streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime, so you have some on-demand shows and movies to watch. Also, there is a ton of free streaming available on Roku. If you need a phone service, you can use an inexpensive internet-based phone service like PhonePower. That should be much cheaper than your cable bill. However, that’s just the easy way to cut the cord. Let’s go a bit deeper.
A Cheaper Way to Cut the Cord
This method is very similar to the “Easy Way to Cut the Cord.” We will still need an internet-only plan, and I’ll still recommend getting the Roku Streaming Stick+. However, this time we can save money on a live streaming service by making use of free broadcast TV for ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX.
There are two ways to get free broadcast TV. The first is a free streaming service called “Locast.” This service streams ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and other local channels free in almost have of U.S. households. See our detailed guide to Locast to see if it’s available near you. If so, just download locust to your Roku, and you are all set on watching your live local channels.
Use a TV Antenna
If Locast doesn’t work for you, then you may want to take a look at using a TV antenna. The difficulty of using a TV antenna varies based on how close you are to broadcast TV towers. To see if a TV antenna will work for you. Follow these steps:
- Use the digital TV reception page at the FCC (here is the link)
- Type in your zip code and they will show a list of Networks in your area.
- If the essential TV networks are in the Green or Yellow, then pick up one of these flat antennas for around $20. If it doesn’t work, Amazon let you send it back for a full refund.
If most of your networks aren’t in the green or yellow and want to try an antenna, take a look at our guide to digital TV over the air.
Cheaper Live TV Streaming
If Locast or a TV antenna worked for you, now you don’t need to worry about streaming your local channels and subscribe to a more affordable live streaming service to get some other cable TV channels like Philo or Sling TV.
Philo TV only costs $20 a month and offers around 60 channels found on cable. They offer a free trial without requiring a credit card. Check out these resources on Philo for more information on their service:
Sling TV costs $30 per month and offers a more robust channel package than Philo. They also offer a free trial. Check out these resources for more information on Sling TV:
- our comprehensive guide on Sling TV
- Sling offers numerous channel plans, and we dig into them in Sling TV channels explained
Saving a Little More
Now that our local TV channels were free, we were able to save by getting a more affordable live streaming service. Factoring the cost of internet service and Philo, your monthly cost is down to about $70-$80 per month. That’s likely much cheaper than any cable bill you will get.
A Deeper Dive into Cord Cutting
So in our last section, “Cord Cutting 101,” we looked at the easiest way to cut the cord using a single streaming service to give us live TV and some on-demand content. However, if you want to save some more money, you will want to examine various streaming devices, internet options, live streaming services, over-the-air sources, on-demand streaming services, etc.
General Cord Cutting Guides
Cable TV Alternatives – This article provides a high-level view of streaming devices like Roku, streaming services like Hulu, Philo, Sling TV, FuboTV, and more. The guide also provides information on TV antennas, DVRs, and more.
Tips To Save When Cutting the Cord – This article provides must-use guidance on how to maximize your savings when cutting the cord.
Watch Live Sports – This page provides the details on where to catch live sports after cutting the cord. The article also contains links to different articles on how to watch each particular sport after cutting the cord.
How to Watch Local Channels – This article covers how to watch local networks over streaming where possible. It also provides an overview of watching broadcast TV over the air.
Cheap Phone Service – This article explains where to find affordable phone service after cutting the cord on your Pay-TV bundle.
Making Free Phone Calls – This article explains how to make free phone calls over the internet.
What is A VPN – This guide explains why you may want to look into using a VPN. It explains how a VPN can keep your private identity information safe online.
Streaming Services – This is where you will find reviews and guides to every streaming service we cover.
Watch Any TV Channel Online – This page links to a specific “How To Watch” guide for each channel. The guide explains how to watch that channel online without needing a satellite or cable TV subscription.
TV Everywhere Apps – Covers how to use live streaming services to watch an individual channel’s TV everywhere app on a streaming device. It also covers which streaming services support which channel app.
Internet-Only Service – Look to this page for information on getting internet service without bundling it with a pay-TV subscription.
How To Get Cheap Internet Access – This guide explains how to keep your internet provider’s promotional rates even in an area with a lack of broadband competition.
Home Networking – This links to all our guides and tips for improving your home network and Wi-Fi. This is essential reading for those looking to eliminate home networking headaches.
Ultimate Guide to TV Antennas – This article covers all you need to know about getting a TV antenna for free local TV channels
DVRs – This post provides a comprehensive guide to picking a DVR to record from your TV antenna when you cut the cord.
One Antenna for Multiple TVs – Explains how to properly split antenna signals to multiple TVs without impacting your TV reception
How To Ground a TV Antenna – This explains how I grounded my TV antenna. This is important for anyone using an outdoor TV antenna
Improve Antenna TV Reception – Learn techniques on improving your OTA TV reception when installing your TV antenna.
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