If you’re among the more than 80 percent of households who still subscribes to cable, you may be getting sick of shelling out an average $100 per month for the service. Today it’s easier than ever to cut the cord and still access the content you enjoy.
First, you’ll need to get an antenna ($10-20), which will allow you to receive a free, high-definition signal so that you can watch live TV via the broadcast networks.
Then, unless you have an internet-connected TV, you’ll also need to purchase a device that allows you to access streaming. There are several to select at a variety of price points, but we like the Roku 2, the Amazon Fire Stick, and Apple TV. The right device for you will depend on your budget, its compatibility with your television, and whether it supports your preferred streaming services.
Read on for a rundown of popular streaming services, so that you can decide which will best serve your viewing habits. If you’re a heavy TV watcher, you may have to combine more than one service, but you’ll still likely end up spending less than you would on a cable subscription.
Pros: Netflix has gained a (well-deserved) great reputation for cutting-edge original series, like Orange is The New Black and House of Cards. It’s also got a strong selection of current TV series (usually about a season behind the broadcast) and older movies.
Cons: Movie buffs may find older gems, but the selection of new movies is sparse.
Amazon Prime (free with Prime membership, $99/year)
Pros: A good content selection and has some original programming and a decent-though limited—movie selection. It also offers members access to its streaming music service. If you’re a Prime member anyway for the perks like free two-day delivery, this is great added value.
Cons: You may have to pay extra for first-run movies, and it’s available on fewer devices than Netflix.
Hulu ($7.99/month with ads; $11.99/month without)
Pros: If you really like to keep up with current television shows that aren’t on the networks, you’ll find many of them on Hulu. You can also watch entire seasons of previous episodes.
Cons: You won’t find much original content programming and there are fewer movies than you’ll find on Amazon or Netflix.
iTunes/Amazon (prices vary, but around $2.99/episode)
Pros: If you’re devoted to one specific series, it could be more effective to simply buy or rent. Many series make new episodes available as soon as 24 hours after they’ve aired.
Cons: This can get expensive if you follow lots of shows.
Sports Packages ($100-$150)
Pros: Sports fanatics have long fought against cutting the cord because it’s been historically tough to watch live, non-network sports. Many of the pro sports associations now offer their own streaming services, such as MLBTV and NHL TV.
Cons: They’re expensive and may not be supported on every device.
Channel subscriptions (free to around $10/month) Pros: More cable channels like HBO and Comedy Central are now allowing fans to download their apps and watch content without a cable subscription.
Cons: If you don’t watch a lot of content on a paid app, it may make more sense to buy the episodes individually. They don’t work on every device.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.