I have been thinking and talking about getting rid of cable for years. Initially the motivation was to have more time, but when I started watching my expenses and saving for retirement, the $50/month bill started to bug me. Every time I try to do it, however, a show that I like to watch starts a new season – Master Chef, Top Chef, Survivor. (Clearly I’m a reality tv fan.) I think I might have finally accepted that I’m just always going to have tv, and that is okay.
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.
It could be true that choosing one of these options won’t get you all of shows you could get with cable. However, if you truly want to get rid of cable, knowing what some of the options are can help you choose the BEST one. Then you can make the decision of whether or not it is worth it to spend the additional money to get the extra one or two channels through cable OR sacrifice one or two shows to save a BUNCH of money. It just depends your priorities.
The gold medal for cheapest cable TV company is shared by AT&T and XFINITY. Both providers start their package pricing at $19.99/month. But while AT&T’s U-Basic TV package includes 15+ channels, XFINITY’s Digital Economy Package includes 100+. DIRECTV’s Select package comes in third place at $35/month for 155+ channels. (Note: Pricing and availability may change and can vary by location.)
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.
The biggest downside to CBS is that their line-up is a bit lacking. While they do provide a sizeable on-demand catalog, other options such as DIRECTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, and Playstation Vue all include CBS in their base packages. With these services offering DVR capability, you could get the best of CBS, as well as a wider variety of shows from other channels.
Streaming live TV can be less expensive than traditional cable packages. Sites like Netflix and Hulu are giving traditional TV a run for its money (or your money, rather) but TV is catching up. DIRECTV, for one, now offers live TV streaming packages at competitive rates. When you cut the cord, you typically also cut out contracts and the need for equipment, making for a lower monthly bill. (Thinking of taking the leap? Check out our review of The Best TV Streaming Services.)
As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator, Rachel Cruze helps Americans have a life and a bank account they love. She’s authored three best-selling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at rachelcruze.com, youtube.com/rachelcruze, or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.
But sometimes the problem is with the service itself or the networks’ servers. CBS All Access, DirecTV, and Sling TV have all had problems with their services freezing or crashing. For instance, some DirecTV Now subscribers missed part of the 2018 Rose Bowl when they were kicked off the service. And during this year’s Super Bowl, the CBS Sports and CBS All Access streaming apps crashed late in the game for some of those using Roku streaming devices.
Amazon Prime is a membership program that gives you access and benefits to Amazon's full list of services and products, such as free shipping, access to their Kindle and Prime Music library, as well as other Amazon-specific deals and services. Prime Video on the other hand, only grants access to their video library. Subscribing to Amazon Prime automatically includes Prime Video as part of the subscription.
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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.
Other TV providers are now putting similar compensational price hikes in place. This year, Comcast is raising its regional sports fee by an average $1.50 per month, and its broadcast TV fee by $2 per month, Bloomberg reports, while DirecTV and Dish are both raising prices by $3 per month or more for all packages. DirecTV is also pulling back on the discounts it once offered to new subscribers as roughly two million customers reach the end of their two-year contracts, The Wall Street Journal reports, because there’s little point in offering unprofitable promo deals if those customers end up leaving.
But pay-TV distributors see the writing on the wall. It's not just that digital video providers are offering competitive bundles. It's that nearly every large media company has a direct-to-consumer streaming service that, if aggregated, replace the need for large bundles of channels. This is part of why AT&T, which already owns a giant pay-TV provider in DirecTV, is retooling WarnerMedia, leading to the departure this week of long-time Warner executives Richard Plepler and David Levy.
Cable TV is widely available to U.S. residents, so it's a very popular option. This connection transmits information via an electric current that travels through copper cables buried underground. If cable TV is available in your area, the installation process should be pretty painless, as the infrastructure is already in place. Cable television is a great option for those that don't want to commit to long-term contracts. Some providers like Spectrum offer “no contract” options, but when a contract is required, it's typically shorter than those required for satellite TV. Cable TV plans tend to be more expensive than satellite, and the HD quality isn't as good. However, many providers let you bundle TV with high-speed cable internet to save on your monthly bill!
That’s right, Amazon—it’s not just for shopping. It’s a major contender in the online streaming market. A membership to Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a wide selection of popular movies and TV series, plus a bunch of Amazon original series. And if Prime Video doesn’t include the show or movie you want as part of your package, you can usually pay per season or episode, or just rent it.
Netflix is one of the best and most popular alternatives to cable TV to date. Easy to use and boasting a seemingly endless library of TV shows and movies to watch at your own pace, Netflix is a binge-watcher’s dream. This cable alternative can be viewed on any computer, smartphone, tablet, Smart TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Chromecast, or Blu-ray player. All you have to do is subscribe and pay a monthly fee for the package of your choosing. Not totally sold on it? No worries. They offer a free 30-day trial to get you started.
PlayStation Vue ($39.99/mo. - $74.99/mo.): Don’t let the name throw you. You don’t need to own a PlayStation to subscribe to Vue, which is accessible through most of the major set-top boxes. You do, however, need to pay a premium. As with Hulu and Sling, Vue’s ability to deliver live local broadcast is dependent on where you live, but Sony does offer a lot of local TV in a lot of different markets, and even where it doesn’t, it allows subscribers to see many of the major networks’ shows on-demand. Vue also provides some simple add-on options, a huge amount of DVR cloud storage, and a lot of portability between devices.
This evolved into today's many cable-only broadcasts of diverse programming, including cable-only produced television movies and miniseries. Cable specialty channels, starting with channels oriented to show movies and large sporting or performance events, diversified further, and "narrowcasting" became common. By the late 1980s, cable-only signals outnumbered broadcast signals on cable systems, some of which by this time had expanded beyond 35 channels. By the mid-1980s in Canada, cable operators were allowed by the regulators to enter into distribution contracts with cable networks on their own.
Step 3: Cancel your pay TV subscription. Even if you are unsure that you have all your shows covered without cable, cancel anyway. Like me, you will realize a lot of the stuff we watch is simply because it’s on. You’ll also discover there is a lot higher quality TV shows are not on traditional TV. Cancel now and start saving today. If you don’t like being a cord cutter, your pay TV company will gladly take you back.