Showtime Online has a unique service of being able to be added on to other services that you may already subscribe to. For $9 a month, it can be added to Amazon Prime and Hulu and for $11, Playstation Vue. Showtime offers you award-winning series like Dexter, Weeds and House of Lies as well as a large selection of movies including action, comedies and dramas added each month. The stand-alone service is $11 and it offers both live viewing and streaming.
The first change is time. TV can suck you in and not let you go. It’s easy to justify killing 15 or 20 minutes when you have a few minutes of down time. But sometimes that 15 or 20 minutes can turn into an hour or two. We are now more intentional with what we watch and when we watch it. Channel surfing is a thing of the past. I find TV much more enjoyable when I plan my viewing time – that way I don’t feel guilty or feel like I could be doing something more productive.
With the Digital Starter package starting at $49.99 per month, Xfinity comes in with the best all-around package out of all our recommended TV providers. The channel selection for Xfinity’s entry package is pretty similar to DISH’s base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, AMC, and Discovery). It’s also a better bargain than the satellite service (and the next-closest cable TV provider, Spectrum) by about  $10 per month.
We looked closely at the ratings and scores by Consumer Reports, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), and J.D. Power. Each of these groups rate cable companies on customer satisfaction, with some breakout categories like performance, value, communications, billing, and technical support. Companies that score well with these consumer resources are more likely to resolve issues, clearly communicate changes in billing, and consistently provide reliable television service.
One of the advantages of unplugging from the physical cable sticking out of a socket in your home is that you’re free to enjoy the entertainment you’re paying for on any screen you happen to have handy, be it a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Many streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, keep track of what you’re watching and will let you pause a show or movie on one device, then pick it up later on another device. 

Some seven years ago, we ditched the typical landline phone line. Cut that cord right in two. Being a physician on call about 10 to 12 nights a month, I didn’t want to be without a backup to the cell phone, and we don’t love giving out our cell phone numbers for everything, so we kept our home number. We picked up an Ooma box, ported the number, and have kept that number to this day, despite moving to a new state twice in the interim.
What you get: The Hulu With Live TV service offers about 60 channels, including major networks in some areas and sports channels such as CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports. You can watch on two devices at a time and record 50 hours on a cloud DVR. You can pay extra for more users and extra DVR storage, and the option to skip commercials. Hulu is joining most of the other cable-style services with a $5-per-month price hike. When it kicks in at the end of February, the service will cost $45 per month. A second option, without ads, goes up to $51 per month, a $7 increase. Both services combine everything you get in the regular Hulu plan with the additional channels available on Hulu With Live TV. 

One last point on what to watch: If you really want to pay only for what you want to watch and nothing else, don’t forget that iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Fandango Now, Cinema Now, Google Play and others will gladly sell or rent you movies and episodes of TV series, to watch on your computer or TV. If you’re thinking of your various subscriptions as an analogue to cable, then think of this option as akin to the old-fashioned “pay per view.” The fees can add up if you watch a lot, but these vendors have some free videos, too. 
For the technically competent, I’d recommend setting up a Home Theater PC. A $70 AMD A6-5400K should handle all of your HTPC needs. If you’d like to game as well, consider a more expensive A8 or A10. Of course, you need to couple this with a case, PSU, motherboard, RAM, HDD, wireless 802.11n adapter, wireless keyboard/mouse, and OS. Most people who go this route aren’t starting from scratch, but if you are, it’s a significantly more expensive option than a set top box.

Every cable-replacement service has strengths and weaknesses. This list is presented in order from the strongest overall (PlayStation Vue) to the weakest (DirecTV Now). While your preference among services may depend on what you want to watch, which programs you want to record and how much you're willing to pay, this guide should help you decide what's worth your money.
Depending on the service, you may find that not everyone in your household will be able to use it at the same time. Every streaming service we’ve reviewed has some limits on the number of separate devices that can be streaming content at the same time. For example, Sling TV’s Orange plan, $20 per month, allows for only one user at a time. The pricier Blue service, $25, allows access for three simultaneous users; adding a fourth user boosts the price to $40.

That means all you need is an antenna to start grabbing these network TV signals to display on your television. Now I know what you’re thinking. If you were born before 1985, you probably have vivid memories of static all over the screen as mom or dad adjust the antenna. Digital doesn’t work that way. If your antenna can pick up the channel, then you get the picture as clear as it can be. Otherwise, you don’t get the picture.
Xfinity TV packages include access to the Xfinity Stream app, which offers a great way to keep up with live TV on any device, anywhere — all without the need for a TV box. With Xfinity Stream, TV customers can stream 10+ channels on any screen and have the option to add more channels anytime. Access TV shows and movies from anywhere, watch live sports on the go, and stream live TV from over 90 networks — all possible with our best streaming experience (the Xfinity Stream app) included with the latest Xfinity TV deals.
Many customers may opt for the “cord-cutting” route and purchase streaming subscriptions directly from networks that have shows they like. Many users lean toward this service because it's cheaper and they can trim the fat by removing all the unnecessary programming they don't watch and pay for the ones they do. While this might seem like a good idea on paper, for just a few extra dollars a month, you don't have to limit yourself to just one network, or one free episode on these streaming services. Access all of your favorite shows and networks in a single place with providers like DIRECTV and Spectrum.
The reason? The recent emergence of new streaming services like Dish Network’s Sling TV, which includes a sampling of the most popular “basic” cable channels, and HBO Now, the only streaming service to include HBO shows, has coincided with Amazon and Netflix coming into their own as producers of serious television. The result is that virtually every class of TV watcher can find most of what they need without paying a cable bill.

1 Number of available channels may vary by area. Please refer to your local channel lineup for details. An HDTV, HD cable box and HD cabling are required to view HD programming. HBO, Cinemax and related channels and service marks are the property of Home Box Office Inc., LLC. SHOWTIME is a registered trademark of Showtime Networks Inc., a CBS Company. Starz® and STARZ ENCORESM related channels and service marks are the property of Starz Entertainment, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
PlayStation Vue’s interface feels much smoother than any other streaming service we’ve tested. It really starts with the attention to detail. PlayStation Vue clearly labels channels and “On Demand” content up in the top right-hand corner of the screen. This makes it easier to differentiate live content vs. on-demand content and surf for other shows that particular network has to offer.
One included feature -- Tablo Connect -- lets you watch live TV and your recordings from your smartphone wherever you go, as if you were sitting on your couch. After a free 30-day unlimited trial of Tablo, there is an optional, small subscription fee -- ranging from $5/month to $150/lifetime -- that gives you all the features. Or you can opt to still use the device for free, with just its basic features.

You can easily watch the streamed video on your computer, but if you want to watch it on that big flat-streen TV, you’ll need to connect your computer to your TV or buy one of a growing number of streaming players. Some TVs have streaming capabilities built-in, so check your manual (or Google your TV make and model) before you go out and buy a streaming player.


Note: Several premium cable channels offer standalone monthly subscriptions to their original programming for people who don’t subscribe through cable or satellite providers. The most popular of these are  HBO Now ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.). These (and others) are also available as add-on channels to Amazon Prime Video; of those three, only Showtime is cheaper as an add-on ($8.99/mo.). 


Streaming providers like Netflix recommend a high-speed internet connection of 3-4 Mbps per stream for standard-definition video, 5+ Mbps per stream for high-definition (HD) video and 25 Mbps for 4k streaming. While these speeds may connect your streaming devices, faster speeds of 20+ Mbps are recommended, especially if you plan to connect multiple devices.
Even so, no service we've reviewed is incomplete enough to discourage you from using it outright. If a service sounds like it might be a good fit for you, your best bet is to investigate which channels that service offers and see if it falls within your price range. Most of these services give you anywhere from a week to a month to evaluate them before charging you, and none of them require a contract. At worst, you'll be stuck with a service you don't like for a month.
Cable TV is what we have known for years. Only recently have we truly become acquainted with the ease of streaming video on demand. So what’s the difference? For starters, cable TV is easier for renters, doesn’t require a long-term contract, and isn’t affected by weather. Satellite, on the other hand, is cheaper and can be affected by weather. Satellite is available everywhere — you only need the sky. You can begin comparing satellite tv and cable tv right away. Here’s a list of satellite and cable tv pros to get you going:
Given that the average cost of TV service in the United States is around $100 per month, cutting the cord starts to look like a pretty attractive option. Even if you’re just replacing a cable bundle with a live TV streaming service such as YouTube TV or PlayStation Vue, you could still potentially chop your TV bill in half. Unlike traditional cable or satellite TV, these services achieve lower prices by cutting out certain channels and not making customers rent expensive set-top boxes. They also subsist on slimmer or nonexistent profit margins while trying to build a larger audience for targeted ads. Because these services have lots of competition—both from other live TV providers and from on-demand services such as Netflix—the pressure’s on to keep prices low.
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 offer 2-hour shipping. For more information, check out all the benefits you receive with Amazon Prime.
Cable companies tend to make bundling TV, phone, and internet easy, which means lots of savings for you. Not only are bundles cheaper than buying the services individually, they’re also convenient because you don’t have to deal with more than one supplier—that cuts out hassle and paperwork. Use our site to compare prices and check for providers offering phone, internet, and cable bundles.
Skinny bundles like DISH Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) Sling TV and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube TV offer a lot of cable-like choices, but they don't offer a similar viewing experience. Sling, for example (which we subscribe to for our second home), does not really make it easy to "flip" channels. It's great when you want to watch something end to end, but even "flipping" during a commercial is awkward and both have incomplete channel lineups compared to traditional cable.
Your Local Library: Your local library will most likely have  a decent selection of DVD movies that you can check out for a week or more.  In fact, many libraries will actually buy copies of new releases that you can reserve. My local library tends to be a bit picked over, but if you get on a waiting list you can usually find movies or TV shows you’d enjoy watching.
PlayStation Vue is a streaming service similar to Sling TV, offering channels like AMC, TBS, Syfy and much more. However, this service starts at $44.99 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.
When you’re looking for an Internet Service Provider (ISP), it’s important to narrow down your search by zip code because coverage may vary depending on your location—even within a service area for a single provider. However, don’t assume that a narrow search means limited options. In addition to cable providers, there are likely DSL, fiber, and satellite providers available at your address. We’ll help you compare all your options so you get the best service at the right price. Enter your zip code below to compare plans and choose the best fit.

Includes: From the folks who brought you the Dish Network for satellite viewing, Sling has a skinnier color-coded channel lineup than others. The "Orange" offering has some popular channels, like ESPN, CNN and Comedy Central, but it's missing big ones like CBS, ABC and PBS. The "Blue" offering, also for $25, has a more sports-oriented lineup.  (You can get both Blue and Orange combined for $40 monthly.) Many favorites may be missing from "Blue" or "Orange" for you. For instance, if you like MSNBC and CNBC, you'll have to pay $5 more monthly for the "News Extra:" package. To get TCM, look for the Hollywood Extra package, MTV and TV Land are in the Comedy extra offering. All add $5 each monthly. Nickelodeon is missing from all of them. 


Many customers may opt for the “cord-cutting” route and purchase streaming subscriptions directly from networks that have shows they like. Many users lean toward this service because it's cheaper and they can trim the fat by removing all the unnecessary programming they don't watch and pay for the ones they do. While this might seem like a good idea on paper, for just a few extra dollars a month, you don't have to limit yourself to just one network, or one free episode on these streaming services. Access all of your favorite shows and networks in a single place with providers like DIRECTV and Spectrum.
Later, the cable operators began to carry FM radio stations, and encouraged subscribers to connect their FM stereo sets to cable. Before stereo and bilingual TV sound became common, Pay-TV channel sound was added to the FM stereo cable line-ups. About this time, operators expanded beyond the 12-channel dial to use the "midband" and "superband" VHF channels adjacent to the "high band" 7–13 of North American television frequencies. Some operators as in Cornwall, Ontario, used a dual distribution network with Channels 2–13 on each of the two cables.
With the online service, students get most new titles simultaneously with their premiere on the networks; the ability to create a “Watchlist” that keeps track of bookmarked content for later viewing; bonus content including interviews, recaps, and behind-the-scenes extras; and customizable views showing titles in slideshow, grid or list format. In addition, HBO GO® can be personalized through a “Series Pass®” capability which automatically alerts viewers to new episodes of favorite HBO programs when they arrive on the service.
When we went through the ordering process for Spectrum and got all the way to the check-out, we realized we never got to choose which DVR we wanted. Spectrum offers both Motorola and Cisco DVRs (neither of which stand out from competitor DVRs like the Genie or Hopper 3), and as far as we can tell, you get whichever one Spectrum decides to send you.
Skinny bundles like DISH Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) Sling TV and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube TV offer a lot of cable-like choices, but they don't offer a similar viewing experience. Sling, for example (which we subscribe to for our second home), does not really make it easy to "flip" channels. It's great when you want to watch something end to end, but even "flipping" during a commercial is awkward and both have incomplete channel lineups compared to traditional cable.
Satellite providers like DISH and DIRECTV host service in all 50 states. The only clear differentiator between satellite and cable TV, is that satellite requires a dish on your roof. Unlike the slow speeds that come with satellite internet service, there are no restrictions on your television service. In fact, both DISH and DIRECTV offer a vast range of channels and exclusive sports packages like NFL Fantasy Zone and MLB Network Strike Zone.
This is the big issue for me, too. If you’re not into watching sports: good for you, cutting the cord is pretty easy. If you are, there are no real viable alternatives. ESPN streams online, but you have to have a cable subscription to access it. You can get pirated streams, but they’re very poor quality and not great for your computer, obviously. You could go to a bar, but then you’re forced to buying food and drinks for the length of a game, which could end up being close to what you’d pay for a month of Comcast.
I hope you’ll forgive me, or at least not ostracize me. Ultimately, my cord cutting attempt, much like any attempt I’ve made to withhold my rage at the interim head coach for terrible clock management, or the defense’s unfathomable inability to recover a forced fumble, has failed. But I did cut the Dish bill by over 60%, which will save me over $600 in the next ten months. It’s not a $1,000 savings, but it’s a start.
Cable and satellite TV providers aren’t entirely to blame for this trend. The main reason they’re raising prices is because they’re being squeezed by TV networks, which themselves are seeking more money to make up for a shrinking subscriber base. Discovery’s most recent earnings report, for instance, notes that “increases in contractual affiliate rates were offset by a decline in subscribers,” while Disney’s latest report notes that revenue growth for Disney Channels was “due to contractual rate increases, partially offset by a decline in subscribers.” Meanwhile, we’ve seen Comcast force regional NBC sports into basic TV service from small cable providers, and ESPN demand higher prices even as ratings decline.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of alternatives to cable, but it’s a great mix-and-match way to get started. And you can usually get a free trial of almost any of these before you commit. If you’re not quite ready to give up your favorite sports or movie channels, you can always call your cable or satellite provider and try to negotiate a better deal. Knowing your options will usually work to your advantage!

Pay-Per-View (PPV): Customer can use parental controls to restrict programming or filter by rating. Event schedules subject to change. All events air on specified TV channel. PPV can only be ordered through the on-screen guide. Once ordered, a PPV event cannot be cancelled by remote control or TDS customer support. Customer will be billed regardless of whether an event was watched. PPV events have a specific start and end time so customers need to view the event in the timeframe purchased. Must be 18 or older to order adult programming. Other wiring, installation, and equipment charges may apply.
Top shows include: Boardwalk Empire, Family Tree, Treme, Board to Death, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, Sesame Street, Twin Peaks, The Man in the High Castle, Six Feet Under, Hannibal, Hand of God, The Wire, The Americans, Transparent, Vikings, Justified, The Good Wife, Downton Abbey, Enlightened, Red Oaks, Veep, Entourage, 24, Duck Dynasty, and more. Also, you can add on other subscriptions, like Showtime, for a little less than it would cost to subscribe direction to Showtime. Learn about the “add-on” options.
It’s these little things, plus the channel offerings, that make PlayStation Vue feel more like a traditional TV service (even though it’s not). You also get free DVR service with PlayStation Vue and can store an unlimited number shows for up to a month before they get automatically deleted. We really like the recording features that PlayStation Vue offers, but the downside is that you can only record one show at a time.
Fiber-Optic TV is one of the newest types of television technology. Light travels through glass or plastic cables to deliver all of your favorite channels. These cables are much stronger than the copper cables used for cable TV, and they can transmit data across further distances while still maintaining the same high quality picture and sound. Fiber is typically the most reliable option, because the connection isn't affected by power outages or bad weather like cable and satellite TV are. Many fiber TV providers offer bundles with fiber internet, which is extremely fast. One of the downfalls to fiber television is that it has limited availability because it's a newer technology, so it may not be offered in your area. These fiber cables must also be installed perfectly by a professional to function properly, which is part of the reason that availability is limited. Fiber TV tends to be a more expensive option, but its incredible HD quality and reliability are worth the price!
Many of our Xfinity TV packages feature Xfinity X1, a simple and easy entertainment experience that integrates all your favorites — from Netflix* and YouTube** to live TV — all in one place. Change the way you experience TV with X1 and find the perfect Xfinity TV deal for you. You can even get personalized recommendations based on what you’re watching. With advanced search capabilities, you can search across Xfinity X1 by title, genre, or actor and get instant results across live TV, Xfinity on Demand and your DVR. Advanced DVR can be added to most Xfinity TV deals, so you can store hundreds of shows, take your DVR library to go, and record up to five shows while watching another. Enhance your experience even further with the X1 Voice Remote, often a favorite feature of an Xfinity TV deal. Simply say it and see it — it’s as easy as talking!
DIRECTV is the go to satellite TV provider for sports fanatics. Get exclusive access to every live game every Sunday with NFL Sunday Ticket. Watch your favorite teams on your TV or stream the games on your laptop, phone, tablet, or gaming console. NFL Sunday Ticket also comes with the DIRECTV Fantasy Zone Channel, so you can get all the stats you need on your fantasy team. You'll also have access to Player Tracker, which lets you keep tabs on the stats of your 20 favorite players. Have too many live games going on at the same time? The DIRECTV Red Zone Channel lets you watch multiple games at once, on the same screen. You'll never miss a touchdown again.
The quality of your TV picture isn’t only dependent on the quality of your antenna. It also depends on where you live in relation to the signal towers. A quick and easy tool to figure out which channels are available to you is the Mohu Station Finder. It provides information on the stations available based on your address. It also provides an idea of the performance to expect from different antennas.
PlayStation Vue has an "evolved" interface that is also easy to use once you get the hang of it, but can have a learning curve. Its DVR is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip commercials on any show -- although unlike YouTube TV, shows in Vue's DVR are deleted after 28 days. The biggest knock is that it's one of the most expensive basic packages, but it has fewer channels than any of the Big Five, aside from Sling TV and DirecTV Now. You don't need a PlayStation 4 to watch it -- just like the others, Vue has apps for numerous streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV, as well as phones and PCs -- but a PS4 is the only way to get its sweet multiscreen view.
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