HOW TO GET RID OF CABLE TVMillions of people are cutting the cord and getting rid of cable TV using great, cheap alternatives. Here's how you can join them.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Cable TV Alternatives
The average cable bill in 2018 was a whopping $107! And that will only go up in 2019. But thanks to the numerous cable TV alternatives available today, you can now get same or similar services as cable at a fraction of the price.
What would you do with an extra $100 or more every month?
Now, I know that cutting the cord might seem a little intimidating. With all the different cord cutting options available today, from on-demand streaming services like Netflix to live streaming services like Hulu Live and Sling TV that offer your favorite channels from ESPN and HGTV, it can be a bit overwhelming at first.
Don’t worry, I’m here to help. As one of the first cord cutting websites ever created, we’ve shown thousands of people how to get rid of cable and helped save our visitors tens of thousands of dollars over the years. So here we go… the three steps to cutting the cord and getting rid of cable TV once and for all…
3 Easy Steps for Cutting the Cord(Really, it's pretty darn easy!)
If you’re wondering how to cut the cord in 2019, it only takes 3 simple steps. Feel free to click a step to be taken directly to it.
A streaming service is a simple application or website that allows you to watch movies and/or television shows using your internet connection. You can watch on a variety of devices, from your TV (using a connected device like Roku or Apple TV or smart features already built into your television), phone, tablet, or computer.
There are two basic types of streaming services:
- Live Streaming Services–These are true cable TV alternatives as they offer the same channels you get with cable or satellite delivered using your internet connection. These streaming services are a fraction of the price of cable (starting as low as $16/month in some cases), require no contract, and most offer a free 7-day trial. Some of the most popular live streaming services are Sling TV (review), Hulu Live (review), fuboTV (review), and Philo, to name just a few.
- On-Demand Streaming Services–Binge shows on your own schedule with popular on-demand streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu classic, etc.
There are countless online streaming services to choose from, so knowing what you want is the first step towards finding the best cord cutting options for your particular needs.
Here is my advice before you get rid of cable: make a list of all the shows, sports (yes, you can watch sports without cable!), and other entertainment that you cannot live without, and find out which channels they typically air on. Then use our Online TV Channels page to learn about all the different video streaming options you have, and what shows they offer.
Last but not least, most of the paid Streaming Services offer free trials. So this is really a no risk, all reward proposition; and you don’t have to cancel your Cable TV subscription before you test out these alternatives.
What About Streaming Video Scams?
With cybercriminals running rampant, knowing what to avoid is even more important than knowing what you want or need. The old saying “if it seems too good to be true it probably is” are words to live by when piecing together your cable TV alternatives.
To help you stay out of harm’s way, I built the most comprehensive list of “Stream TV Scam” sites available. Please take some time to read this page, as it could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.
Now that you have your streaming service(s) all picked out, and you know what to avoid; you’ll need a streaming device that will let you stream these apps on your TV. If you’re somebody who already watches Netflix on your TV, you’re probably all set. If not, don’t worry, you don’t need any technical know-how to get setup.
A streaming device is exactly what it sounds like, a set-top box that allows you to stream television and movies to your TV, with the help of your favorite streaming services. They’re usually very small, no larger than a WiFi router and will connect directly to your TV. The easiest way to understand this is to think of your streaming device as a replacement for your cable box.
As far as streaming devices go, there quite literally more than I could ever name. The most popular brands are Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast. If you stick with any of those brands, you should be fine.
Here is a complete list of the most talked about streaming devices on the market, along with snippet reviews, places to buy, and links to full-length feature articles.
Did you know you could get dozens of free channels with an antenna? Yeah, I know it sounds old school, but antennas still deliver some of the most popular TV shows and sports.
Simply put, the antenna is a great piece of equipment to have if you want to cut the cord and cancel cable.
An HDTV antenna is the modern iteration of the old trusty rabbit ears that you grew up with as a kid; the only difference is that it’s capable of picking up high definition over-the-air television signals, from much farther distances. A modern HD Antenna will run you between $30 and $150 on average, depending on your needs.
Every antenna and living situation is a little bit different, but at a high level, connecting an HD Antenna consists of 5 steps.
- Figuring out if you need an Indoor Antenna or an Outdoor Antenna (hint: you always want to go with an Outdoor Antenna if possible).
- Determining the best location for the Antenna, given varying signal strengths. (signal meters on your TV will help you optimize placement)
- Installing the Antenna, either indoors or outdoors.
- Running the cabling from the Antenna to your TV, and connecting the coaxial cables.
- Running an Antenna Channel Scan on your TV.
For most, this is fairly easy to do. Some antennas today literally stick to your wall and require no hardware to mount. Not a big deal to set up an antenna and well worth the effort when cutting the cord.
Once you have your antenna hooked up, you will be able to pick up all of the broadcast networks in your area; such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, and CW. These broadcasts are 100% FREE, in 1080p HD and completely legal.
Once your antenna is set up, you’ll be surprised by how many of your favorite shows, sports (you can even watch NFL without cable), news, and other entertainment are available on network television, and you will wish you had decided to get rid of cable much sooner.
Cord Cutting FAQs
Need more information about cutting the cord? Below, we answer some common questions about quitting cable!
How do I actually cancel cable TV?
The process of cancelling cable TV or satellite TV depends on your provider. You may be under contract – and if so, there may be penalties for cancelling early. We recommend calling in to see when your contract expires.
In most cases, you will need to call in to cancel cable or satellite service. They usually try to make it more difficult than it needs to be – but you just need to stick with the plan and be friendly but firm. Follow the links below to learn more about cancelling specific provider’s cable services:
- How to cancel Xfinity cable
- How to cancel Charter/Spectrum cable
- How to cancel Cox cable
- How to cancel Verizon Fios TV
- How to cancel DIRECTV
- How to cancel DISH Network
What about internet? Do I still need an ISP to get online streaming services?
You will still need a high-speed internet connection in order to watch online video from streaming services. If your internet is currently bundled with your cable, you’ll want to shop around for cheap internet providers in your area.
Try to find a low priced internet that still meets the speed needs of online streaming. We recommend at least 5-10mbps speeds in order to stream in HD – and some streaming services recommend 15+ mbps. This guide to internet speeds is useful for learning more about the speeds you’ll need.
Can I cancel my cable and keep internet?
If your cable is currently bundled with your internet, you may be wondering if it’s possible to cancel cable and keep internet services. Generally this is possible, although it depends on the package you have. If you are under contract, it may be difficult to get out of it without paying a fee.
The best thing to do in this situation is to call your cable/internet provider and ask what your options are. In some cases supervisors may be able to waive early termination fees. Remember to remain firm but respectful on the phone call for best results!
How much money can I save?
Is cancelling cable worth it? How much can you actually save? Quite a bit, as it turns out!
Let’s look at an example. The average cable bill is now $107 per month, so we’ll take that as the baseline.
Assuming you’re paying $107 a month for cable, how much can you save with online streaming? Well, most of our top recommendations are $40-$50 a month for a balanced package of channels. Let’s call it $50 to be conservative.
In this example, you would save $57 per month by cancelling cable TV. Over the course of a year, that’s $684 in savings!
And if you go with a budget service like Philo, you could save even more. Philo is just $20 a month, representing a more than 80% savings over cable TV!
Do I need a special device to watch TV online?
You won’t necessarily need to purchase a new device. Most internet streaming services work on computers and smartphones/tablets – so you surely have something you could use! Additionally, if you have a smart TV you may be able to use your TV’s apps to stream video.
With that said, if you want an easy way to watch on your actual TV, you may want to get a streaming device. Rokus, Apple TVs and Amazon Fire TVs are all popular options. These devices hook up to your TV and allow you to stream content from a wide variety of apps and services, directly on your big-screen. See our guide to video streaming devices to learn more.
Can I watch live TV while away from home?
Yes! This is one of the big perks of online streaming – you’re not tied down to a specific location, and you can stream from anywhere in the United States. Keep in mind that most services restrict international use outside the US. Also, the local content you get may be slightly different if you’re away from home.
Most online streaming services work on mobile phones and tablets, so you can watch on-the-go. And if you’re staying with friends or relatives, you can simply log into your account on one of their streaming devices to watch.
Can’t I just use an antenna to watch TV for free?
Yes, you can – but you will only get some channels. As we explain in the antenna section above, antennas provide access to broadcast TV channels, NOT cable channels. So while a good antenna may pick up NBC, FOX, CBS, etc. it won’t get ESPN, TNT, Comedy Central, etc.
So, while antennas are a free way to watch live TV, they’re not a complete solution if you want a lot of channels. Also, keep in mind that the channels you pick up will vary depending on where you live and how far away you are from the closest broadcasting center.
Can I watch sports without cable?
Yes, you can! One of the biggest things holding people back from finally cancelling cable is concern over access to live sports. However, you no longer need to worry – several online streaming services offer access to live sports!
Can I watch news without cable?
Yes, you can! Networks like CNN, FOX News, BBC News, Cheddar News, MSNBC, NBC, FOX, CBS and many more are all available without cable. Keep in mind that each service offers a different selection of channels, so you’ll want to check the channel lists before picking a service.
Can the whole family watch at once?
If you have multiple TVs in your home, you may be wondering if you can use streaming services to watch on multiple devices at once. The answer is generally yes, but it does depend on the service you use.
Most services provide 2 or 3 simultaneous streams, meaning 2 or 3 devices can be watching at once. Some provide even more than that – or offer an extra-cost option to add additional streams. Some services only have 1 stream, so make sure to understand their rules before signing up.
Do online streaming services have ads?
Generally speaking, live streaming services do have ads, while most on-demand services do not. So for example, Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, etc. all have ads, because they essentially mimic cable TV. These services have a similar user experience to cable – they’re just a lot cheaper (and non-contract).
On the other hand, most on-demand services do not have ads. Netflix does not have ads, nor does Amazon Prime Video. Some other services have optional ads – so you can pay more for a no-commercial plan. For example, CBS All Access is $5.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month for no ads.
Can I watch TV online for free?
Many people look for a way to watch TV for free. Unfortunately this is usually not possible. There are some shady websites that may provide a couple channels for free, but they are mostly illegal and unreliable.
There are a couple legitimate free TV streaming services that are supported by advertisements. Sony Crackle is a good example. These services do provide some free on-demand TV access, but it’s pretty limited. You’ll get a few original shows, some movies, etc. but won’t be able to watch live TV. You may also be able to get free access to Kanopy, a documentary and classic film service, through your public library.
Beyond that, the only way to watch free TV online is to sign up for a free trial of a paid service. Most services offer free trials of 7 days. Click here to browse services that offer free trials.
Questions About Your Cable TV Alternatives?
I have been writing for cord cutters since 2011, and have helped thousands of people save $100+ a month. Just think of what you can do with that extra money in your pocket!
If you still have questions about how to get rid of cable in 2019, I’m always here to help.
First, I always recommend using our search bar at the top of this page to find the info you’re looking for. If you don’t see what you need, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!
If you’re tired of spending thousands of dollars on a bad service with terrible choices, then you know what you have to do. It’s time to take the leap and cut the cord today!