As the cost of cable TV subscription packages continues to soar it becomes more and more common to hear about “Cord Cutters”. But what exactly does it mean? Is it really possible to toss away the cable box, make a substantial saving yet still have access to your favorite shows, movies, and sports?
To begin with "Cutting the cord" is a somewhat inaccurate phrase. There are still going to be plenty of cords involved in your TV viewing. When we say "cutting the cord," or "cable cutting" we’re really talking about is trading traditional cable TV, and more importantly the taxes and monthly fees that come with it, for something else.
The main three replacement options are:
Antenna: This is the way TV started. You connect an antenna to your TV and pick-up programs from over-the-air local and network affiliate TV channels. This is the easiest method for receiving free programming from all the major TV networks. It is important to note though that, depending on where you live and the age of your TV, you may require a digital converter between the antenna and the TV.
Streaming: If you have a modern smart TV, games console, media streamer or media stick (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, etc.), or smart Blu-ray Disc player, and a decent broadband internet connection, you can access TV program and movie content without an antenna or cable/satellite service
Combination of Antenna and Streaming: This is the most comprehensive cord-cutting option as you can access local TV channels for free, and also access pretty much anything you’d get with cable TV package via the internet.
Realistically streaming is the most important aspect of cutting the cord, and although it's not required to transition into cord-cutting, you'll likely have a worse experience if you don't dive into it with both feet.
The next thing to do is decide on a streaming device. If you have the afore-mentioned modern smart TV then you’re all set. You will find your TV either already has, or can download, a set of apps for most if not all of the major streaming services. Just make sure the TV is connected to the internet. Failing that, see if any devices you already have hooked up have these apps – most recent DVD/Blu ray players or game consoles will have.
If none of these options apply then you are going to have to make a purchase. However, for the most part, there really is no need to spend very much at all. Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon fire are all cheap and widely available streaming sticks. If you are willing to spend more, then it may be worth investigating the likes of Apple TV or the Nvidia Shield.Finally, select the streaming services that provide the content you want. Each will have a monthly fee but it should be possible to pick up to 4 services and have all the TV you could ever watch at a substantial discount on a comprehensive cable package. Below is a list of the major streaming services so you can start mixing and matching:
- Hoopla Digital
- Amazon Prime
- Playstation Vue
- YouTube TV
- CBS All Access
- Fubo TV
- Hulu with Live TV
- DirecTV Now