How to Cut the Cord and Still Watch Your Favorite TV Shows

Have you thought about lowering your monthly TV service bill by cutting the cord (closing your cable or satellite TV account)? Just because you cut the cord doesn't mean you can't still watch your favorite TV shows. Find out how to save money by watching TV at greatly reduced prices when you cut the cord.

Just because you want to save money watching TV doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your favorite shows.  In fact, you could even end up with more options than by watching cable or satellite TV!

In years past, we have gone several years without paying for TV, and a couple of months ago, I really researched and tested how we could cut the cord for our family.

It’s a little more difficult for us in our house in TX because we are far enough away from the broadcast antennas (43 miles) that we don’t get excellent reception on every channel, and wireless internet is our only option so it’s not always great for streaming.  We ended up sticking with satellite TV (for now) because I was able to negotiate the rate down, but we are ready to cut the cord again as soon as the price increases (unless I can negotiate it down again).

How Can I Watch Current Shows?

There are 3 options for watching current shows on TV:

  • Use an antenna to watch the show as it airs on your TV – You can use an antenna to get all the broadcast stations (like Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS) for free.  Check your address to see how far you are from the broadcast antennas and see what kind of antenna you need to buy to get good reception.  If you live near a big city, you likely get lots of additional channels too.  The best part about this is it’s FREE.
  • Connect a DVR to your antenna to record live TV and watch it later – Several years ago when we didn’t have cable, there weren’t any options for connecting a DVR to an antenna, but now there are quite a few options.  Depending on which DVR you choose, you may have to pay a monthly fee if you want to download the TV schedules so you can schedule out your shows by series.  DVR models include:
    • Tivo Roamio – my dad recently bought this DVR when they pulled the plug.  You need to pay $14.95 per month for the TV guide.
    • Tablo DVR – You need to hook up your own hard drive and then have a device to stream from the DVR to your TV. It’s also $4.99 per month to get the TV guide.
  • Get a subscription to Hulu Plus – For a monthly subscription for $7.99 per month, you can stream most current TV shows the day after they air on Hulu Plus.  We will likely go with this option (along with watching live TV using our antenna) since our streaming is better than our reception of ABC at this time.

How Can I Still Watch Sports?

In the past, one of the main reasons why we disliked cutting the cord (even though we did it) was because more and more sports are broadcast on ESPN.  My husband was really mad the first year the championship college bowl games were broadcast exclusively on ESPN and we had to miss them!  However, there’s a great new option to get ESPN (and a few other stations) – Sling TV.

It’s a bit pricey at $20 per month, but it’s a lot cheaper than paying for cable each month.  It also comes with HGTV, TBS, TNT (both important when it comes to basketball playoffs), Food Network, History Channel, and more.  There’s no contract, so you can cancel it at any time (like during the summer since we don’t watch baseball).  You can also use your Sling TV account to log into the WatchESPN app to get even more games.

Don’t forget, if you don’t want to get Sling TV, you can still watch sports on network TV stations using an antenna.  There are plenty of sports broadcast there – like the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the Olympics, although more and more they are moving to paid TV networks.

What About Movies?

If you like to watch movies (or want to watch older seasons of TV shows), you have lots of options with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus.  You can even rent movies via Amazon Prime, Vudu, and other options.

What Do You Need to Cut the Cord?

If you have an HDTV, you need an antenna to pick up the signal.  Don’t be fooled into paying more for an “HD” antenna, since they are all digital these days.  If you don’t have an HDTV, you’ll need a digital converter box to pick up the digital signal from your antenna.

If you want to stream video to your TV, you’ll need a way to access the internet and apps on your TV.

You may have a Smart TV with apps included right in your TV. Or, you can stream to your TV with a streaming or Wi-fi Blu-ray player or your XBox.  If you don’t already have one of those, you can always buy a streaming media player that connects to one of your HDMI slots in your TV to stream video to your TV.  They are really quite inexpensive.

So, really you can watch TV for completely FREE by just hooking up an antenna to your TV and watching broadcast channels.  Or, you can get creative and put your internet to work supplementing your TV choices for much less than the monthly cost of paying for cable or satellite.

What about you?  Have you cut the cord?  How do you catch your favorite shows?

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