Cable television has a lot of advantages. Clearly, though, price isn’t one of them. If you’re fed up with what you’re paying to the cable TV company, you have a multitude of options for cutting the cord and switching to one of the best cable alternatives.
We’ve been researching and trying multiple kinds of services like Sling TV for years, all with the idea of figuring out how to cut the cables with the best streaming device to replace cable and the best streaming services with DVR.
Let’s dive into all of the options for the best Internet TV and non-Internet TV options, breaking down the benefits and drawbacks to each choice.
Live TV Streaming Services
For the majority of people asking how to watch TV without cable or satellite, a live streaming service is going to be a good starting point for the best Internet TV..
A streaming service uses your high-speed Internet connection to bring the channels and video to your home, instead of a dedicated cable or a satellite dish. Because streaming services don’t require a lot of hardware or technicians to aid with setup, they are less expensive than cable TV.
Several high quality streaming services are available, delivering a nice collection of channels at a great price point. You can find services with anywhere from 30 channels to 140 or more channels. This isn’t quite à la carte television, but it’s as close as possible on the market currently.
Most popular live TV streaming services
- Apple TV+
- AT&T TV NOW
- Hulu Live
- PlayStation VUE
- YouTube TV
CONSIDERING A LIVE STREAMING SERVICE?
We recently put together a review of the best live TV streaming services that can help you find the best service to try.
On-Demand Streaming Services
An on-demand streaming service is one where you’ll have access to non-live television programming. Like the live streaming TV services, the on-demand service comes to your home through your Internet connection.
These on-demand services have large libraries of old TV shows and movies. Most have also started to create their own exclusive content. So if you like to binge watch older shows, these services are a great resource.
These best Internet TV services have been around for several years and are extremely popular. However, if you’re looking for the best cable alternative that has live TV options, the on-demand service is not a good choice.
The line between on-demand services and live services is beginning to blur. Some on-demand services have original live programming, like Netflix. And Hulu has both an on-demand and live subscription option.
Most popular on-demand TV streaming services
- Amazon Prime
- CBS All Access
- HBO NOW
A streaming device provides hardware that can help you eliminate cable by giving you an interface for using streaming services. So, if you have a dumb TV, you can hook up a streaming device and use it to access Netflix, Hulu, etc.
If you have a smart TV, then you most likely won’t need a streaming device because it’s built into the interface. Anything your smart TV can’t do, an app can likely replicate.
However, some people love the interfaces streaming devices cable alternatives Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV provide. The majority of these devices have hardware that’s compatible with multiple types of streaming services, making them the best streaming device to replace cable.
Although some people may consider an antenna as an old-school solution to receiving TV signals, it’s actually still a useful option today. The antenna pulls in over-the-air signals from your local broadcasters, meaning you can receive the traditional networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, and NBC.
Multiple styles of antennas are now available, meaning you no longer necessarily need the huge metal antenna on your roof. Some HD antennas can be placed inside your attic or can be pasted on a window, allowing you to pull in local signals clearly, as long as you live close to the signal source. (For longer distance signals, a large antenna on the roof may be your only option.)
If you truly want free TV (aside from the cost of the antenna, of course) or you are curious about how to get local channels without cable, an antenna is the answer.
How to Pick the Best Cable Alternatives
Now that you know what the best cable alternatives are, it’s time to select a best cord cutting service. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, we have some advice to help you.
Do you have high speed Internet available?
Internet speed and reliability plays a huge role in using streaming services with DVR capabilities in the cloud. If you have hiccups in your Internet service, it’s going to greatly inhibit your enjoyment of streaming video, especially for live sporting events.
If you live in a rural area where Internet speeds are limited, you may not be able to use streaming services. As a general recommendation, you’ll need at least 15Mbps of Internet speeds for HD quality video. If you want to stream on two TVs at once, you’ll need double that speed.
Are you tech savvy?
Cable TV providers package all of the hardware you need with an easy-to-use software interface. If you cancel cable for another television option, you’ll need to have a bit of know-how to make things work.
Most streaming services are pretty easy to use. But if working with any kind of tech on your own frustrates you, switching away from cable to a best cord cutting service might not be for you. In a case like this, you may want a bundle deal for TV and Internet.
Are your favorite channels available?
Figure out which channels you watch most often while you still have your cable subscription. Then only consider the best cable alternatives that offer those channels.
You may find that to receive all of your favorites, your final bill won’t change all that much, meaning you may want to stick with a best TV service provider. Or you may find a service that carries exactly what you want at half of what you’re paying for cable.
Should I cut the cord?
Think about how you answered the questions above, and you should have a good answer to whether you should try a best cord cutting service instead of cable.
As a significant benefit, you often can try before you buy with these services. Streaming TV services don’t carry contracts, so you can test them without committing long term. Many of them provide a free week, or even a month, to test the service (note: many do require that you leave a credit card on file, so you will want to cancel your trial prior to them charging you).
If you’re feeling unsure about ditching cable TV, we’d recommend trying some of these streaming services before you cancel your cable subscription. See if you can live without cable during these trial periods, and your decision will ultimately be easier.
We’d recommend trying some of these streaming services during a free trial before you cancel your cable subscription.
If your Internet service isn’t fast and reliable, it will inhibit your enjoyment of streaming video services, especially for live sporting events.
Which streaming services have local channels?
The number of streaming services with local channels changes constantly. Some streaming services have local channels in certain areas and not in others. Others have no local channels. It’s a fluid situation, so check with the service’s web site regularly for updates.
As a general rule, your chances of receiving local channels with a streaming service is greater if you live in a large city versus a small population area.
If you can’t receive local channels with your preferred streaming service, you can always install an HD antenna for over-the-air channels. The FCC has a detailed coverage map to help you figure out which over-the-air broadcasters are available in your area.