Did you know that the average American pays just over $100 for monthly cable, let’s decrease that amount significantly, shall we? We’re going to look at keeping your internet service and watching TV from the large pool of free entertainment that’s available online.
GETTING RID OF CABLE TV
When cutting the cord, it’s time to let your cable company know about your decision, many cable companies also provide your internet. Once you cancel cable, you’ll probably find out that your internet bill has gone up, since you’re no longer part of the bundle. In some cases, cable companies show an increase of 20% for making the switch.
BUY AN ANTENNA
Back in the day, we used antennas to get a clear picture by so-called tweaking the “rabbit ears” that sat on the top of the television so we could get a better picture, and without snow or vertical lines. Today, we have digital antennas that can pick up broadcast channels and a host of free digital channels (showcasing old TV shows, foreign language, and educational channels). You can get these channels by getting yourself a digital antenna.
Digital Antennas are much stronger than the antennas of old and come with tuners to strengthen the signal. You can get them now for a pretty reasonable price: Amazon touts several ranging from $17 to $40 from a variety of brands, like the Mohu, which has a $30 antenna with a promised range of 40 miles.
In some tests, some people mentioned that they got a stronger, richer picture than cable since it didn’t have to go through a cable converter box. This is cutting the cord at its most basic step. No monthly bills to anyone. Your only expense is buying the antenna.
So if you do cut your cable bill by $30, you could be looking at a savings of $360 yearly.
WHAT ABOUT USING A DVR?
With just an antenna, you’ll lose out on having a DVR to record shows, which is a cable perk, but there are ways around this. You can buy a stand-alone DVR. The AirTV sells for $120, but you’ll need the antenna, a streaming player and an external hard drive to make it work, and that will bring the price to over $200. Amazon’s own Fire TV Recast DVR is $229, and again you’ll need a Fire TV or the Echo Show speaker as well to make it work. The unit has a built-in hard drive, but you’ll need to have a streaming player and/or antenna as well.
STREAMING PLAYER/SMART TV
To really live the cutting the cord life to its fullest, and ditch cable TV, hold onto the internet, and either use an antenna (if you care about local channels) or buy a cheap streaming device, like a Roku player or Amazon Fire TV Stick ($25 to $50.) Most current TVs sold today are “smart” in that they have built-in apps like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime to watch, and you don’t need an accessory to bring them in. If you have a “dumb” TV, you’ll need the streaming players, which are heavily discounted during holiday sales.
YOUTUBE IS YOUR CORD CUTTING BUDDY
Now that you’re a “smart” viewer, you’re probably staring at this new menu of choices on your home menu, like Netflix, Hulu, CBS All-Access and streaming varieties of HBO, Showtime and others. They would like you to spend anywhere from $6 to $15 monthly for their services. And with new services in the wings from Apple, Disney, and Warner Media, you could imagine that monthly streaming bill rising even more, as we order more and more services.
There is so much free stuff available via streaming, there is no reason to pay for the services unless you have the money and need to watch. (Tell that to 140 million Netflix subscribers, right?)
Want to see the late night comedian’s nightly monologues, all the latest news and music clips from TV, international concerts and more? They’re all free on YouTube.
If you decide to add a streaming player, you might be surprised to see tons of familiar names listed in the apps, like CNN, TLC, and FX. Most cable channels will be there, but there’s a big catch. They only work if you’re a current cable or satellite customers and can “authenticate” your credentials.
But don’t fret! YouTube again comes in to save the day. You can find some of their programmings within YouTube, and if there’s a series you really, really want to see, you can also buy a specific season of a program for $20 or so via iTunes or Amazon.
Furthermore, channels like Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Crackle, Xumo, Streamlive.to and the Roku Channel all offer free movies and TV shows, in exchange for you sitting through their ads.
Pluto TV is the most popular of the free channels. It tries hard to resemble cable, with a similar channel guide that offers free programming that’s heavy on news (CNBC, Cheddar, BBC, CBS News) older movies (The Wild Ones, Patriot Games) and even older TV shows, like Dennis the Menace and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
CABLE TV ALTERNATIVES
Finally, if you find that you miss the cable channels, and can’t live without them, there are ways to get them back in your life, but you’ll have to pay.
Sling TV is the cheapest, at $25 monthly (or $15 for the first 3 months) but it has fewer channels. For instance, it doesn’t receive CBS or ABC, YouTube TV has more channels, and the most generous DVR rules, with no storage limits, at $40 monthly. Hulu with Live TV is $44 monthly, while DirecTV Now is the most expensive, starting at $50 monthly.
Most offer the most popular cable channels, with some exceptions, like Nickelodeon and Discovery, so check their lineups before signing up. And none carry PBS, which doesn’t make its services available to the streamers.
If you miss PBS you can try Streamlive.to Broadcast channels. You will have to sign up for an account to view ANY of the channels but once you’re signed up you have access to not only PBS but several other favorite channels that you might like.
Many of the channels broadcast are also found on the more expensive platforms. With this little known service, several channels are free but to open up a great deal of quality channels a Premium plan is offered and it’s worth a look.
If you know of a great cord cutting alternative, let’s hear about it. Leave a comment below, thanks, and Happy Streaming!