Way back when, cable and satellite TV were initially sold to consumers as an add-on: Get all of your local channels, along with uncut movies, more televisions programs and additional sports. But pulling the plug on cable doesn’t necessarily mean you can just go back to broadcast networks only. Modern homes and apartments are no longer wired-up with antennas the way they were 30 years ago. Indoor HDTV antennas are available at prices ranging from under $20 to move than $150, but the quality of the signal and the number of channels that come in clearly vary depending on external factors, like whether you live near mountains or skyscrapers.
Cox has two DVR units, which comes with a monthly rental fee. The 'Contour Record 2 HD-DVR' unit costs $21.49/month, and can record up to two simultaneous recordings with 200 hours of DVR storage. The more advanced unit, the 'Contour Record 6 HD-DVR', costs $28.49/month, and can record up to six simultaneous recordings with 1000 hours of DVR storage.
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.
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.
It is obviously much cheaper than cable or satellite, but don’t expect Netflix to serve up the latest episodes of your favorite shows, or recent release movies. Netflix is best for catching up on the shows you missed. That said, Netflix has started producing its own shows and is the only place you can watch them. You can begin your access to Netflix streaming by first comparing the right broadband internet provider or data plan.
For $40 per month, you get access to 60+ channels including locals, news, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, Syfy, National Geographic and more. Now, channel lineups will change slightly depending on where you live (local and regional sports being the ones that will be different). You can see exactly which channels are available in your area by visiting TV.YouTube.TV and entering your zip code.
Those who want to see non-British foreign television have ample options, too. In addition to the aforementioned Acorn (which also features programs from Canada and Australia, among other countries), both MHz Choice and Walter Presents have well-curated collections of European series, with a particular emphasis on the many great Scandinavian crime dramas. And the increasingly popular TV coming out of South Korea is available on DramaFever, Viki, and Kocowa.
Did you know that people in or near big cities can receive the major network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), plus PBS and local stations in Hi-Def for free? It’s called broadcast digital TV. I was able to get thirty channels total in Providence, RI and over 100 in Los Angeles, CA. It takes a little leg work to set it up, but I’ll guide you through it.
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.
Those limitations have not stopped the segment from growing. Sling TV added 26,000 paying customers in the third quarter, bringing it to 2.37 million total customers. That's actually more than the roughly 1.8 million customers DISH has lost on satellite side, but the numbers are a bit deceiving since Sling -- even the more expensive packages -- generally costs much less than DISH's satellite service.
I realize that saving $600 or $1,200 a year isn’t going to make our break our budget. I’ve been paying these bills all along and managed to become financially independent in spite of them. But if I were to take that approach with every money leak around the house, the slow leaks could build up to a steady stream. And this is a time where we’re doing our best to nail down what our annual spending is and will be going forward.
Start with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, tack on an HBO subscription to the latter, and consider paying for the Brit-centric streaming service Acorn as well. You’ll have plenty to watch, all commercial-free, and if you hear a lot of buzz about a show that isn’t available through any of those platforms, you can always pay for them on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon (or iTunes, Vudu, or whichever digital retailer you prefer).
Other important factors include cloud DVR and the interface itself. Yes, most of the services above allow you to record and play back shows, just like a traditional cable or satellite DVR, but they often come with restrictions. Some services have a traditional, cable-box-like menu system, while some are more experimental (read: they have a steep learning curve).