I just reorganized the blogs guide to Cable TV Alternatives. I had some updates to make and decided to improve the general flow of the guide.
Below is an excerpt from the guide that gives a high level overview of streaming services, devices, and TV antennas. It also points the reader to more information for a deeper dive on a given topic.
I separated this out for those needing a high level of the basics to cord cutting. However, it also provides directions to those wanting to know more.
Sling TV is the streaming service that offers live TV over the internet from networks you typically get with a cable bundle. It’s essentially cable TV without the contract or the massive bill. Currently, if you sign up for Sling TV you get a Free Roku. They also offer a free 7-day trial membership to try out their service.
For $20 a month subscribers will have access to AMC, History Channel, Disney, A&E, Epix, IFC, Lifetime, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, CNN, and more.
Sling also added a second base package that swaps out the Disney Owned stations for FOX owned stations including FS1. This package also allows the ability for multiple streams. There are also add on channels packs and premium channels like HBO and Cinemax. Check out my Sling TV Review for more details.
PlayStation Vue is a streaming service similar to Sling TV, offering channels like AMC, TBS, Syfy and much more. However, this service starts at $30 per month. Check out this comparison of Sling TV Channels vs. PS Vue for the difference in each services channel lineup. You don’t need a PlayStation gaming console to use the service either. While the service is available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, you can also use the service with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, Android, iPad, and iPhone. Check out my review of PlayStation Vue for more details.
Watching “Game of Thrones” is no longer a problem for cord cutters. There are numerous ways to get the service. All of which are highlighted in my post on watching HBO without cable.
If Showtime is more your speed, then no need to worry. They also offer numbers ways to watch Showtime online. For details, check out my post on how to watch Showtime without cable.
The Starz app provides access to both Starz and Encore. For information on the Starz app, read my post on watching Starz Without Cable.
For vast libraries of movies and TV content prior to the current season, I recommend getting the 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime. Another big reason to get Amazon Prime is the option of adding Showtime and Starz with your subscription. For just $8.99 per month, you have every TV show and movie offered by Starz and Showtime just as if you had the network with cable.
Not only do you have access to stream over 40,000 hit movies and TV shows, but you get free music, books and unlimited photo storage as well. Your membership also includes free 2 day shipping from Amazon.com regardless of the order size. Some metropolitan areas actually offer free 2 hour shipping. For more information, check out all the benefits you receive with Amazon Prime.
A La Carte Cable
No cable service truly offers a la carte cable TV. However, through VUDU, iTunes and Amazon (even if you’re not a Prime Instant Video subscriber) you can buy episodes of entire seasons of shows a la carte. This includes shows currently airing. At first that might seem expensive, but shows are $1.99 an episode and you can get a discount on the season pass. I saved a ton of cash this way when my family cut the cord. My family purchases only 3-4 season passes a year, keeping it under $10 a month.
Netflix – Netflix has loads of content at a low price. Most TV shows wind up on streaming after a season airs. There are also movies and a whole host of children’s programming available. The pricing is reasonable at $8.99 a month for unlimited HD streaming to two TVs simultaneously. If you are comfortable waiting a few months for a TV series, Netflix may be all you need.
There is also great original content like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” which are two of my favorite shows. Netflix is also the home to the Marvel TV Universe, which include shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Furthermore, there are no commercials.
Hulu offers TV Shows airing on Fox, NBC, and ABC. Shows from the current season can air on Hulu one day after airing on their broadcast network. Hulu also offers loads of original content and a decent back catalog of many past seasons of cable and network TV shows. They have a huge volume of content from classic TV shows like “The Brady Bunch” to the latest episode of “Once upon a Time” And “The Daily Show.”
Hulu costs $7.99 per month. Unlike Netflix, there are a few commercials. However, there is an option to get commercial free service for a few extra dollars a month. For more details check out my review, which examines if Hulu is worth the cost.
CBS All Access
Since current seasons of CBS aren’t available on Hulu CBS All Access is one option to get CBS Shows the day after the initial broadcast as CBS isn’t a part of Hulu. The basic service costs $5.99 per month, and does air commercials. However, they offer a commercial free plan for $9.99 per month. The service also offers live local CBS in over 150 markets. For more details, check out my review of CBS All Access.
Check out this 1-week free trial to see if you like it. There is no contract so you can cancel any time.
The CW App lets anyone watch the current seasons of CW shows free. You don’t even need a cable TV login. It works on all major streaming devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android and iOS. Check here for more information.
While the pay subscriptions offer the most content, there are channels that deliver content at no charge. However, the content may be limited an you may have to watch adds. In my post on free TV online, I cover great free services like Crackle, Tubi TV, Shout Factory TV, ConTV and more.
Once you have decided the streaming services you would like to use, the next step is figuring out which streaming device to use. Personally, I recommend getting a Roku. Roku supports the most apps and provides a very intuitive interface. To learn about Roku, check out my post: Which Roku is Right For You.
However, there are a few situations where you may not want to use Roku. Namely, if you are going to use PlayStation Vue, you will want to get an Amazon Fire TV (if you don’t have a PlayStation.) The Amazon Fire TV has the best user interface for PlayStation Vue when compared to the other streaming devices.
Of course, Apple TV should be considered if you use iOS and have a lot of movies and TV shows in iTunes. Personally, I have many Apple products, but still use Roku. However, that may change once Apple’s new TV app releases.
For more information on the various streaming devices, check out the section of the main guide More on Streaming Devices below.
A TV antenna allows you to watch free broadcast TV, with access to networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and more. The over the air broadcast TV available changes depending on where you live in relation to your closest TV towers. Thankfully, antenna maker Mohu has put together a tool that shows you which TV channels are available in your area. They also show which channels you should expect to receive for each of their antennas.
If you have stations available that you can receive with an indoor antenna, I recommend going with a Mohu Leaf 50 or an amplified Mohu Curve (Enter promo code “super25” at checkout for 25% off). Not everyone will need an amplifier. With the Curve, it’s a separate component you can leave out if deemed unnecessary.
I find the Mohu Curve equals the Leaf in function, yet it’s more pleasing to the eye. Although, the Mohu Leaf can fit just about anywhere. Ultimately, the choice is between placement options and style.
If you aren’t close enough to the TV towers to use an indoor antenna you may need an outdoor solution. Furthermore, todays digital TV signals require a TV with a digital tuner. If your TV was made before 2007, it may not have one. For solutions to these issues, check out my post How To Get Local Channels Without Cable. I also expand on this a bit in the TV Antenna section main cord cutting guide.
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