If you’re fed up with cable and ready to cut the cord, you’re not alone. Compared to last year, there are 1.7 million fewer cable subscribers, and that number just keeps growing. Alternatives to cable give people more control over their experience and ensure you’re not just paying for a bunch of channels you never watch.
In order to make the switch you’ll need to have a few things in place. We’ve created a checklist for you.
Good Internet Connection
For almost all cable cutting options, you need reliable internet at a decent speed. 10 Mbps would be the baseline if your household isn’t too busy, but 20-30 Mbps would be better for the busy households with gamers, streamers, and browsers.
In order to watch some kind of TV, movie, or series streaming without cable, you’ll need either an HD antenna, a smart TV, a game console available for streaming, or a Roku or Fire Stick. These hardware options, with the exception of the HD antenna, are what make streaming possible.
- HD Antennas
Nothing like the old rabbit ears, in some areas, you can get up to 60 channels, including local channels, in your living room just with setting this up. Unlike the streaming alternatives, HD antennas don’t require internet connection. The channels you receive depend partly on your geographic location. Once your antenna is set up, you scan for channels and can rescan any time to see if you can pick up any new digital TV channels.
- Smart TV
You can get a smart TV from a number of manufacturers. A smart TV has the ability to connect to the internet and download apps without help from a Fire Stick or Roku. If you’re looking for a new TV, it might be time to upgrade to a Smart TV so you can integrate on-demand viewing and other media streaming apps right into your main TV menu.
- Fire Stick or Cube
Fire TV by Amazon costs between $40-$110 upfront to buy the Amazon Fire Stick or Cube. For the stick, it will plug into the USB on your TV to connect your TV to the internet.
From there you can stream all the shows and videos you want from other apps like Hulu, VUE, or Netflix. Amazon Prime Video will be included which has a mix of free shows and movies and others you can rent or buy. Any music of video content you bought through Amazon in the past will automatically be available on your Fire TV. You can also integrate Alexa for handy commands like, “Alexa start season 1 of Game of Thrones.”
Roku is a streaming stick that costs between $40-$70. This stick will go right into the USB port on your TV to connect it to the internet. Once you have it connected to the internet, you can download any number of apps for streaming TV, movies, or videos.
You can find almost any alternative you’re looking for through different apps. If you want to stream videos and series, without live TV, you have options, if you want live TV channels in smaller packages, there are apps for that too.
- Playstation VUE
Playstation Vue is a way to steam live TV. With VUE, you stream those same channels you’re used to like ESPN, HGTV, TLC and Discovery in bundles that are a little more compact than cable. You can record shows you like, similar to DVR, find some shows on demand you may have missed, and still watch live TV. You don’t have to own a Playstation to enjoy VUE and packages range from $30-$65 a month.
If you do have a Playstation, you likely already have that connected to the internet. This makes it easy to get on the VUE app and sign up for this service. If not, you can get the VUE app on your smart TV or using Fire Stick or Roku (which we discuss further below).
Sling TV is an alternative that offers some of the tradition channels you’re used to. Sling is sort of like A La Carte TV meaning you don’t pay for anything you don’t want. Choose exactly what channels you want on your Sling TV. Packages start at $20. This is a streaming service so you’ll need internet and a way to get to your TV through a game console or smart TV.
With Sling, you can get any channels you want. Sling really puts you in control. Get a little something for everyone in the family, HGTV, ESPN, Cooking Channel, Disney, and none of the channels you always scroll right past.
Hulu is another popular alternative with a mix of TV and movie content. For live shows on networks like NBC or ABC, you can watch the day after they air. There is also a good collection of movies you can add for $7.99. Hulu has original series and movies, as well, that you won’t find anywhere else.
For cable channel packages, you can start off around $25. Some of those base channels include TLC, Discovery, HGTV, the Cooking Channel, and ESPN.
As one of the most popular streaming options, Netflix requires no introduction. You can stream series and movies from Netflix for as little as $9.99/month. If you’re already using Netflix, don’t forget to put this app on your smart TV, console, or stick.
Cut the Cord
Figure out the best alternative for you, then call your cable company and tell them you’re ready to cut out cable and just get an internet package. If you don’t think your internet speeds are fast enough to keep up with all the streaming, now if the time to upgrade. They may require you to ship back some of their hardware, like your old cable box.
As we’ve mentioned, a smart TV, game console, Fire Stick, or Roku are going to be needed for all of these options except the HD antenna in order for you to have access to the streaming apps we outlined.