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Best Apps and Options for Cord Cutters Getting Rid of Cable TV
More and more people are becoming “cord cutters,” choosing to cancel their cable or satellite TV subscriptions in favor of online entertainment. Many households are paying around $60 to $100 a month for cable or satellite TV packages. In addition to those TV services, many are subscribing to one or more online services like Netflix or Hulu.
Cord cutters can save money by getting rid of their cable or satellite TV services and replacing them with free or low cost online streaming subscriptions. If you're thinking of cutting the cord, here are some options to consider. As you'll see, you can use a combo of options with lots of entertainment and still save money.
Casting Content on your TV
Cord cutters will want a way to stream content from their mobile devices onto their televisions. There are several devices available that do this. Roku, FireStick, Apple TV and Chromecast are some popular devices you can use to stream from your smartphone, iPod, or laptop and watch on the big screen. Unfortunately some apps don't provide an option to connect to a television.
Sling and DirecTV Now
Sling is great for cost cutters because it's an easy way to get news and sports. Sling Orange starts at $20 a month for 30 channels including CNN, ESPN (1, 2 and 3), Bloomberg Television, Freeform, Disney Channel, and Comedy Central. Sling Blue starts at $25 a month for 45 channels. You can also add additional channels at an extra cost. Sling can be used with Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, AndroidTV and more.
Like with Sling, DirecTV Now also provides access to news and sports in addition to several popular cable channels. The cheapest plan is $35 a month for 60 channels.
Hulu with Showtime
Hulu alone costs $7.99 a month with commercials. For an extra $8.99 a month, you can get Hulu plus Showtime. This is $2 less per month than the Showtime app. Hulu also has a mostly commercial free option that costs $11.99 a month.
Netflix offers movies and TV shows in addition to their original programming. There are three plans available ranging from $7.99 to $11.99. With the cheapest basic plan you can only watch on one screen at a time. The most expensive plan allows viewing on up to four screens.
YouTube is a great source of entertainment with original content created by popular YouTubers, lectures, speeches, news shows, podcasts, interviews, etc. No matter what your interests are, you'll be able to find content for free on YouTube. Many full TV shows and movies are available on YouTube although they aren't always legally posted, so quality can vary.
The playlist feature makes YouTube perfect for cord cutters. Many YouTube videos are short. You can build playlists and then auto-play all the videos in those playlists. If you subscribe to YouTube Red, you'll be able to download content for offline viewing and it's ad free. YouTube Red also comes with Google Play Music, which gives you access to over 30 million songs. The YouTube Red/Google Play Music combo costs $9.99 a month for one account or $14.99 a month for 6 accounts.
For $14.99 a month, you can get access to popular HBO series like Game of Thrones and Westworld, as well as movies, documentaries, talk shows, specials and news. There is a one month free trial.
The Starz app allows downloads for offline viewing for their movies and TV shows for just $8.99 a month. There is a 7 day free trial.
Amazon Prime Video
Many people already subscribe to Prime to enjoy free two day shipping at Amazon. That membership comes with hundreds of movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime Video has movies, TV shows and original content that are available for $99 a year.
TV Channel Apps
TV channels like The CW, A&E, Syfy, Comedy Central, TNT, Fox Now, USA Now, CBS, NBC, Cartoon Network, Discovery Go, MTV, AMC and more have ad supported apps with full episodes of some of their shows as well as full length movies. Some of these apps require that you log into a television provider account. A DirecTV Now account can be used for some apps. Some people get around this restriction by using the login credentials of friends or relatives. Search the Apple or Google Play app stores to see if your favorite channels are available.
CBS All Access
CBS All Access provides full episodes of both old and new CBS shows for $5.99 a month. The app has 8500 shows and includes original CBS All Access content. In addition, you may be able to stream your local CBS station.
"Stream your local live broadcast – including NFL on CBS! Just sign in to watch news, sports, special events and the shows you love."
Free Movies and TV Shows
I have an article titled Best Websites and Apps to Watch Movies for Free that goes into some depth on this but there are apps and websites that provide free full length movies and TV shows. Crackle, Tubi TV, and Popcornflix are some examples. Shows are available on either apps or websites, or both.
In addition to online streaming content, cord cutters may want to watch local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. You can buy a digital antenna to receive these channels. If you own your own home, you can buy a rooftop receiver. If not, there are indoor receivers available.
Reuters has a free news app with videos of the latest news stories and streaming coverage of major events. Al Jazeera English provides live broadcasts for free. MSNBC has clips of many major stories available online at msnbc.com/msnbc-live. The stories autoplay with a short ad at the beginning of each one.
Many libraries have movies and TV shows available on DVD. This is a great way to get movies and TV shows at no cost to you. You can also stock up on cheap DVDs on Black Friday or buy them used at yard sales.
What You Need To Know Before Getting Rid Of Your Cable Service
Cord-Cutting One Year Later
Potential cord cutters can look into combos and see how they compare to their satellite or TV subscription and whatever online services they're paying for in addition. As an example:
Sling Orange: $20 a month
Hulu and Showtime: $16.98 a month
HBO Now: $14.99 a month
Multiple Free Apps: $0
Total: $51.97 a month
That's about half of the approximately $99 a month many households spend on cable or satellite packages. However, if you want a good cross section of shows you may have to subscribe to most of the services listed here. That can start to add up and possibly exceed what you would spend on cable or satellite services. And you have to consider the cost of buying hardware like Roku or Chromecast to be able to view content on your TV. But if you aren't a big TV watcher and can get by with just a few subscriptions it may be worth it to cut the cord.