How To Watch TV Without Cable
The question where most of us cord cutters started – “how to watch TV without cable?”.
That moment where you realize you’re paying a lot for cable television and watching less than 90% of the channels. And, the channels you are watching seem to be the same shows over and over again. But, most importantly, the moment you realize that you can achieve the same programming at a fraction of the cost.
This is a quick beginner’s guide to how to watch TV without cable to help you get started.
The question of how to watch TV without cable is where our family started in early 2016. Finding a path to media entertainment outside of cable was something we flirted with for a year or so. I was the holdout because I couldn’t imagine life without the Minnesota Twins, Wolves, Gophers, etc. and I hadn’t found a way (other than on delay) to see those teams play.
Then, options came available for local sports and we haven’t looked back. But, we just didn’t call and cancel cable. We did our research like you’re doing, found good deals, and found technology that matched our interests.
Here are some quick steps to get you started. To see where we’re at today with more in-depth descriptions of available services, check out our How to Cut Cable Guide which has tips for replacing phone and security as well.
How to Watch TV Without Cable
If you’ve started researching how to watch TV without cable, you’ve most likely noticed it can be overwhelming. Below are some basic steps you can take that will get you a good percentage of the way there. Are there more options? Absolutely. But, the beauty of cord cutting is that you can shift and change monthly if you want.
Digital Antenna for Basic Network Channels
For basic network stations like NBC, FOX, CBS, and ABC, you can start with a digital antenna. We bought one for $40-$50. Remember the big rabbit ears on top of old TV sets? Well, the picture on the left is the current version of those – only the technology has gotten better and it now brings in free HD signals of those channels. This takes some trial and error to find the right kind of antenna as well as the right placement in the house to grab the signal. I found TV Fool’s tool handy for figuring out which channels I can get and how far they are away.
Live TV Streaming Services
Your next question is going to be: Can I watch other channels live after I cut the cable cord? Absolutely.
We settled on PlayStation Vue largely because of the programming package and user interface (you don’t need a PlayStation to use this). But, everyone is different. Both offer a free trials and can be cancelled at any time so you’re not tied to one if you find you don’t like it. Both also cost anywhere from $25 to $50 per month.
Also, know there are new options popping up daily right now so keep an open mind. But, if you’re just starting this process I think these two are a great place to start. You can sign up via computer and check them out via computer as well.
On-Demand Streaming Services
Okay, what’s next?
You’ve figured out the Antenna and the live streaming service – now you can start to tap into the many on-demand options available for TV programming. This is where cord cutting has really taken off. Many have ditched standard programming for content developed by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video (requires Amazon Prime subscription), and Hulu to name a few.
That is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are others popping up all the time but if you want to dip your tow in the waters I’d suggest trailing these. As mentioned, Amazon Prime Video requires an Amazon Prime subscription which gets you yearly 2-day shipping from Amazon for $99 a year. Totally worth it.
If you’re a sports fan, I’m sure this is in the back of your mind when figuring out how to watch TV without cable. FSN, ESPN, Golf, etc….
I’ll be honest, it was the big roadblock for me. I grew up watching the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Wolves, and Wild. I rarely sit and watch a whole game, but I love the ability to flip it on and catch a few innings or a quarter here and there. The big turn for me came earlier this year where I read about PlayStation Vue offering a package that included Fox Sports North and the ability to watch my local sports teams live.
So, it’s possible to replace sports if you cancel cable!
Events such as the major golf tournaments, most local football games, and many other sports can be seen through your digital antenna. But, you’ll want more. As mentioned above PlayStation Vue and Sling TV now offer packages with channels that have your local sports teams live. If you want to take it to another level check out MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, or one of the many NFL packages available. Just as a heads up, my issue with these is that I couldn’t watch my local teams live – only on recording. I’m sure that will change (or maybe already has) so trial them if interested.
Ready to get started? Researching how to watch TV without cable can be daunting but hopefully these few quick steps will nudge you in the right direction. Watch for an upcoming post recommending some streaming devices you can use to replace that clunky cable box and start using all these great services.