Cut The Cord: How To Watch Your Favorite Shows Without Cable

While I have kept making excuses on why not to disconnect my cable service, many have “cut the cord” and are saving a ton of money on monthly bills. 

cut the cord

Here’s my excuses for keeping cable service through CableOne:

  1. Bundle – I have my internet service bundled in with my cable package, so I’m supposedly getting a “deal” by combining services.
  2. DVR – The kids and I have certain shows already set up to automatically record, and I’m not ready to lose the episode of me on the Steve Harvey Show
  3. Lazy – I keep saying I’m too busy to research my options, make the disconnect calls, learn a new way, yadda yadda. Busy = lazy. 

Writing that all out made me realize that busy equals lazy. And time is money. Thus this post is to keep me accountable and share my research options with you. 

I’m leaning on my boyfriend, Ted, for pointers as he cut the cord over three years ago to save money. Ted tested out different options to be able to watch his favorite shows and shared his findings with me. 

What You Need To Cut The Cord

There are a few things you need before taking the plunge and cancelling your cable but chances are that you already have them. We will review the basics just to be sure.

1. Internet Service

You will need home internet service with a wireless router. If you connect your cellphone or laptop to your Wi-Fi, then you already have this set up.

If your internet provider is also your cable provider, you may want to looking into other internet providers as you are probably getting a “bundle” rate and cutting cable will likely raise your internet service charges. 

2. Smart TV or Streaming Device

If you have a Smart TV, and most newer models are, they will be Wi-Fi enabled to connect directly to the internet. 

You do not need a Smart TV to cut the cord. You can use a streaming device that you plug into your TV’s HDMI port (so your TV must be new enough to have an HDMI port). Examples of streaming devices are:

3. Antenna (Optional)

You can watch local channels for free with an over-the-air antenna and good reception. The antennas today are much better than ones we had when I was a kid and are considerably inexpensive.

Examples of free broadcast channels include, but are not limited to and will vary by your location: 

  • ABC
  • NBC
  • CBS
  • PBS
  • Fox
  • MeTV

Picking Your Streaming Service

Are there certain channels that you can’t live without? Do you want to watch live televised shows or events? These are questions you will need to take into consideration when picking out what streaming services you use. Each streaming services offers different options and channel lineups so the best option may be to use a couple of different services. And don’t worry, some options are free! Keep reading to see exactly what Ted uses now and the prices he pays compared to what he was paying for cable. 

Live TV

These are the current live TV streaming services available in the United States:

  1. AT&T Watch
  2. DirectTV Now
  3. FuboTV
  4. Hulu + Live TV
  5. Philo
  6. PlayStation Vue
  7. Sling TV
  8.  YouTube TV

If there is a particular TV channel, show or sporting event that you want to watch live, you will need to figure out which service carries that option. Use the handy dandy Live TV Streaming Matchmaker tool below provided by The Streamable below to see which service you need.

On-Demand Entertainment

On-demand services let you watch movies and television series on your own time and are less expensive than the Live TV options. 

Amazon Prime

Chances are that you are already an Amazon Prime customer. Besides free shipping, did you know your Prime benefits includes Amazon Prime Video and ad-free streaming music?

Amazon Prime bills annually at $119 per year, but if you prefer to pay monthly, you can get Amazon Prime Video for $8.99 or full Amazon Prime benefits for $12.99. Click here for a free 30-day free trial

If you have an EBT or Medicaid card, you can get Amazon Prime for only $5.99 per month. Click here for details

If you are a student, you can get a 6-month free trial and after your trial, the Prime Student price is $6.49 per month. Click here for those details

Hulu

Hulu is nice if you want to watch shows from the big networks, such as ABC, NBC and Fox. As long as you don’t mind waiting a day to watch the new episodes as they aren’t available until the next day after they originally aired. You can pay extra per month to not have any advertisements. 

Netflix

What originally started as the original movie subscription service via snail mail is now the biggest on-demand service and has the most original programming (movies and series alike) of the bunch.

Free Options

There is a plethora of options for free TV. Most local TV stations and premium channels have their own apps (ie ESPN, CNN, Lifetime, TLC, etc.)  that you can download and watch most programming although it may not be live, but archived.

Other free (and legal) services offer hundreds more TV shows and films. The only catch is that you’ll probably have to watch advertisements which is a small price to pay for “free”. 

  • Facebook Watch
  • Hoopla 
  • IMDb Freedive (Powered by Amazon; free with ads)
  • Kanopy
  • LG TV Plus
  • Pluto TV
  • Roku Channel
  • Snag Films
  • Sony Crackle
  • Tubi TV
  • Vizio Watch Free
  • Vudu
  • Xumo
  • YouTube

Price Comparison

Cable Costs

Ted was previously a CableOne customer. The price for Standard cable is $84 per month plus taxes, fees and surcharges. CableOne requires one to rent a digital receiver that’s $7.00 per month, and that’s only for one TV so additional receivers must be rented for any additional TVs. Adding premium movie services such as HBO, ShowTime, Cinemax and/or Starz can add up to another $49 per month. All in all, CableOne was costing him way over $150 per month. 

Streaming Costs

After trying out various services, these are the services that Ted now uses and the price per month for each:

  • Antenna – Free
  • Netflix – $8.99
  • Hulu Live – $44.99
  • Amazon Prime – $9.92 (billed annually at $119/year).

Total per month = $63.90

57.4% Savings Per Month

$150 – $63.90 = $86.10 saved per month

$86.10 x 12 months = $1033.20 saved per year!

There you have it. Saving over $1000 per year is good enough reason for me to cut the cord!

Cut The Cord: How To Watch Your Favorite Shows Without Cable

About the Author

Kim has been helping people save time and money online since 1998.

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