Since the 1950’s when cable television began as a commercial business, it has been a force to reckon with in the television business. Even if it is still widely used in the United States today, streaming and live television services are already drawing customers away from this overpriced service. Today, around 10% of American households who had this service have canceled cable TV in order to reduce household costs. But you don’t need to give up TV because of the high cable costs. This article will look at the best ways to watch TV without cable today.
Cable television is a system in which television programs are delivered to customers through coaxial cables (a copper core insulated with aluminum, a copper shield, and a plastic layer) or more recently, fiber optic cables. While cable television has been a good source of entertainment, the high and rising costs make it inaccessible to many. The advent of online streaming platforms that offer TV reception without cable or an antenna has been a relief to many consumers as a cheaper way to get high-quality content. Streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime video now offer a cheaper alternative to watch all your favorite shows.
Streaming content has never been easier with the added advantage of original content produced by their studios and catch-up TV that allows you to watch shows you missed and saving shows on your device to re-watch. With a high-speed internet connection, you can do all this and more. And if you feel that the cost of the internet may be too high, you can always apply for Lifeline’s free internet at home without paying that gets you remarkable discounts.
The comprehensive guide to watching TV without cable
1. Evaluate your preferences
The first thing you need to do before cutting the cord is to find out your TV needs and that of your household if you don’t live alone. Note down the list of TV programs that you watch regularly and that you feel are a must for you. This will help you narrow down on the service providers that are available. Keep in mind that you can always mix and match from different providers at affordable rates.
2. Internet connection
Unless you are planning to use free-to-air television, you will need a strong internet connection for all the other streaming services. If you were bundling your cable TV and internet, call your cable company and find out the cost of internet services without bundling.
Research on other internet providers in your area as there may be others with better offers. You can also use Wi-Fi without an internet provider by using any public hotspots in your area. For the fastest internet speeds and if you don’t mind the high cost, fiber optic cables can be a great choice to consistently stream your shows.
3. The hardware
In order to cut the cord and continue watching your favorite TV shows, there are some pieces of hardware that you will need to purchase if you do not already have them. Here is a list of some of the devices you will need.
i) An Antenna
If you have decided to use free-to-air television, you will need an appropriate antenna to attach to your television and scan for channels. You can get an antenna for anywhere between $20 to $60. Choose an antenna based on your location that is of adequate size and will not pose a challenge in installation
ii) A smart TV
A smart TV is an all-in-one solution that is set up to receive Internet streaming from its main interface. If you already have a smart TV, you can stream your favorite shows directly from Netflix and other providers.
If it is in your budget to get a smart TV, then there are a few options you may want to consider like whether you want a TV that allows 4K pass-through or the normal ones with 1080p.
iii) External streaming devices
If you don’t own a smart TV and you don’t plan on getting one, you never need worry. External streaming devices were created or us this purpose. Here are some of the best streaming devices that you can buy which will make watching your shows easy.
a) A Roku device
With a strong internet connection, a Roku device is among the cheapest and most convenient ways to stream over a regular TV. A Roku streaming stick for example allows you to experience 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos audio set up anywhere within the range of your home Wi-Fi as long as you have a TV with an HDMI port. You can get other Roku devices depending on your specific needs e.g. budget and processing speeds.
b) Apple TV
The Apple TV which retails for around $100 would be a great choice for users who already own lots of Apple devices as it provides a seamless TV experience across all your Apple devices. Though it’s a bit on the pricy end, the processing speed of this device will have you watching all your favorite shows seamlessly.
Amazon also has some great external streaming devices including the Amazon Fire TV cube which costs around $100 on Amazon. It is a great choice as it controls your entire entertainment system giving you a wholesome Alexa-driven experience.
Other options you may want to consider include a Google Chromecast streamer and the Nvidia Shield if you are a gamer.
4.The TV services
After assembling the proper hardware for streaming, choose the TV service that you want to subscribe to. Most services like Netflix will offer you a free trial period before you start paying. I highly advise that you use this free trial period before cutting the cord to make sure that streaming is the right option for you.
Compare the different pricing plans and models and choose the best for you. You can also mix and match different services if the one you choose doesn’t offer all that you need.
5. Cut the cord
When you feel you are ready to switch from cable TV, call your cable company and cancel your contract. You can now enjoy your favorite streamed content from your TV.
Cable or Fiber Optic? Which is the best internet connection for streaming live TV?
In order to stream your favorite content to your TV, you will most definitely require high speed, reliable internet connection. With cable internet and Fiber optic internet the top choices among consumers, here is a comparison between the two to help you make the right choice.
Fiber optic internet is currently available mainly in and around major cities only while cable internet, which relies on the same infrastructure used for cable TV has approximately 89% coverage. If you, therefore, live in a remote area, cable internet may not just be your best option, it may be all you can get apart from Satellite internet.
Fiber optic internet wins the speed race hands down. Fiber optics currently offer the fastest speeds in the market with speed not less than 250-100 Mbps. It can also be used simultaneously by a lot of users without any noticeable lag while cable internet users can suffer up to 25% speed reduction at peak hours.
Even with the promise of much lower costs for fiber internet in the future, it still costs considerably more than cable internet since unlike cable internet, the infrastructure still has to be laid out in a lot of places. Bundling of TV and the internet for cable also helps lower the prices.
Fiber optic internet is generally more reliable than cable internet since it is not susceptible to risks of fire and fluctuating power voltages and electrical blackouts. If you live in an area with constant electrical disruptions, you may want to consider Fiber optic internet.
You can also use other internet types depending on your specific needs and preferences. If you live in a really remote area, you may want to look for unlimited satellite internet service providers in your area.
The 5 best ways to watch TV without cable
1. Streaming video-on-demand services
Streaming video on demand allows you to watch movies and TV shows online whenever you want without needing to download them. SVOD services are typically paid for using a subscription model (a regular fee for unlimited content) or a pay-per-view model. Here is a list of some of the companies offering the best SVOD services.
Netflix is a great way to watch a wide selection of available programs as well as tons of original content. Their lowest-priced plan starts at $7.99 per month for which you get unlimited access on any one of your devices at a time while their premium plan costs $13.99 per month where you get Ultra High Definition on up to four devices.
You can also create children’s profiles on your account so as to limit their access to unsuitable content. To top it all off, you get one month’s free trial before committing.
Hulu’s basic plan also starts at $7.99 per month for an unlimited selection of cable and network TV shows and more on the device of your choosing and If you want to stream without commercials, you can pay more for that. You can also sign up for a free trial before you start paying.
iii) Amazon Prime Video
if you have subscribed to the Amazon Prime service, you already have access to the movies, TV shows, and original content. If, however, you are not a member of Amazon Prime you will need to pay a monthly fee of $12.99 or an annual fee of $119. You can also choose to just subscribe to Amazon Prime Video for $8.99 per month without becoming a member.
2. Live TV streaming services
Live TV streaming services (skinny bundles) are a great way of accessing your favorite cable TV programs after cutting the cord. This service will offer you a selection of live TV channels though in a much smaller package at a lower price than cable TV which you can easily watch on different streaming devices.
With skinny bundles, you select a package of channels and shows which you can easily customize by adding other channels at a price. Here are some of the best live TV streaming services currently out there with some SVOD companies like Hulu also offering skinny bundles
i) Sling TV
Sling TV is the oldest company to offer skinny bundles. Their orange plan starts at $20 per month for which you get 30 programs. With the blue plan you get 45 channels for $25 per month. You can always get premium channels added to your package for an additional fee.
ii) YouTube TV
After completing your free trial, you can sign up for YouTube’s skinny bundle with lots of amazing channels for $49.99 per month
You will have a hard time finding a skinny bundle offer for a lower price than that offered by Philo for which you pay $20.00 per month. This channel will work best for you only if you are not interested in local channels or sports channels.
3. Free-to-air TV
Free over the air television is broadcasted in an unencrypted form allowing any person to receive the signal and view the content without requiring a subscription or a pay-per-view fee as long as you have the appropriate receiving equipment.
By purchasing an antenna that is appropriate to your location, attaching it to your TV, and scanning for channels, you can watch the available programs for free without needing a streaming box/stick or even an internet connection.
4. Rent movies and TV episodes
Though renting movies has recently dropped from popular use, they are still an option to get your favorite shows. You can rent movies and prerecorded TV shows and other content from your video rental store at a fee and return them after a prescribed time.
5. The library
Your local library can also be an option to find a decent collection of DVD movies that you can check out for a week or more.
With these numerous alternatives to cable TV, you have no reason to miss out on your favorite movies and series or sports matches locally and internationally. And the icing on the already sweet cake is that you can watch these shows from any number of devices including your smartphone, tablet, and PC apart from your TV.