If you pay a monthly cable bill, you’ve probably bemoaned the soaring prices and the lack of choices when it comes to the channels you actually watch versus how many you pay for. In fact, you may find yourself paying for 50 channels you don’t want just to get three you do.
That’s why consumers are increasingly ditching cable in favor of streaming TV, which can be much cheaper and still provide all the shows, movies, sporting events and news you like to watch.
Want to ditch your cable company to save money, but still watch your favorites? Here’s how to make it happen.
Get the Basic Equipment
Before you can start watching TV without cable, you’ll need some basic equipment. To watch streaming content available from providers like Netflix, you’ll need high-speed internet access.
If you have a smart TV (one that connects to the internet or streaming services), you should be able to access streaming content automatically. Most high-end TVs that have been sold in the past few years are “smart.” However, if yours isn’t, you can use an adapting device, such as a Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire Stick, which will allow your TV to access streaming content.
While internet-enabled streaming services will offer you all the shows you may want to binge watch, they can’t offer you the local news or weather. To access your local channels, buy a set of “rabbit ears” – also known as an HDTV antenna – which cost less than $15 and will allow you to tune into local broadcasts for free.
Choose a Streaming Service
Once you’re set up with the right equipment, you simply have to choose which streaming services you want to use. Most require a minimal monthly fee and offer special channels and services for an additional cost. So, you don’t need to pay for more than you’ll use. In many cases, paying for two or three different streaming services will still be significantly less expensive than a monthly cable or satellite bill.
Here are some of your best options, organized by what you’re likely to watch: TV shows and movies, sports, or the news.
- TV shows and movies: A wide array of binge-worthy TV shows and movies are available through inexpensive services such as Netflix (starting at $7.99 per month), Hulu (also starting at $7.99 per month), or Amazon Prime Video (free with a $119 per year Prime membership).
- Sports: Yes, you can continue watching live sports even without cable. Several streaming services offer sports packages, such as CBS All Access, which includes streaming of all NFL games. With SlingTV, you can choose 20 channels of your choice for $25 a month, including ESPN and ESPN2, and die-hard fanatics can purchase a “Sports Extra” package for even more viewing options.
- News: If you’re a cable news junkie, giving up cable doesn’t mean you have to give up your habit. DIRECTV NOW, the streaming service available from the satellite TV company, offers CNN, FOX News, and other cable news channels as part of its basic package, which includes more than 60 channels and starts at $40 per month. SlingTV also offers a $5 “News Extra” add-on (once you sign up for the $25 monthly package), which includes breaking news from HLN, as well as channels from Europe, India, and more.
If you want to cut back on spending, your cable bill is a great place to start: Not only can you save money, but you don’t have to give up your favorite shows.