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How to Cut the Cable Cord: A Primer

Looking to cut the cable cord? It could save you money and provide more freedom. Learn whether the switch to streaming is right for you. 

cut the cable cord

Is it time to cut the cable cord? When you consider the choice of streaming services available on the market, cost savings and access to acclaimed streaming-only TV shows and movies, the switch is tempting.

Platforms like Disney+ and Apple TV+ are giving cable companies a run for their money

“This really is the golden age of content,” said Seana Norvell, director of consumer public relations for Roku. “There’s an incredible amount of great content out there available to watch for free or on paid channels…you have the ability to customize your experience based on what matters to you.”

On the other hand, the bundles provided by cable companies, which consolidate TV, phone and internet to one bill, may be worth the added price for convenience.

Before you start shopping, consider the options.

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Why Cut the Cable Cord?

If you’re thinking about cutting the cable cord this year, you’re not alone. Streaming and cord-cutting surged during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, 36% of households across the globe subscribed to streaming services for access to original content not found anywhere else, according to the GfK Consumer Life 2020 Global Tech & Digital Lifestyle Study.

But for many cable converts, the most common reason is to save money. Streaming services are available without  expensive fixed-rate contracts. And as cable TV subscriptions fall, monthly costs are increasing.

Statistica reported that as of July 2019, around 34% of adults living in the U.S. indicated that they pay between $51 and $100 for cable television each month. Furthermore, “only around half of the 2,200 people interviewed in the survey were able to provide an answer to this question at all, indicating that a significant portion of respondents was not currently paying for a cable TV service.”

How to Cut the Cord

Keep in mind that if you want to cut the cable cord completely, you will still need to pay for internet. If you are currently paying for a cable bundle that includes TV, phone and internet, think of how much you will save just by cutting out the non-essentials.

Fast and reliable internet is key to taking your cord-cutting experience to the next level. Ask yourself if your internet connection is fast enough to stream content. If it seems slow, reevaluating your internet power and Wi-Fi set up can help you get a better sense of how much broadband you need for your household.

Then it’s time for the fun part: customizing your content. Try to mimic the things you like about cable TV, while removing the things you don’t. You’ll also discover a lot of new things to love, like original series and movies exclusive to certain streaming services. If you are new to streaming and want to explore what’s available, many services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube Premium offer free 30-day trials.

If you don’t want to lose live TV channels, some streaming devices have free TV streaming options, such as The Roku Channel. Services like SlingTV and YouTubeTV also offer skinny bundles, a customized cable TV package that usually includes major broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, Fox and more.

 

cut the cable cord

Popular Streaming Devices

Once you’ve assessed your internet speed and have picked picked the streaming services that you want, you’ll need a device to stream on. Streaming devices allow you to access all of your favorites in one place by simply plugging into the HDMI port of your TV. They are generally inexpensive and once you buy it, you own it – no monthly rental fee.

Consumers with smart TVs may be surprised to learn that their device already supports all streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and more.

You can also watch most streaming services from your phone, tablet or computer.

Roku

Roku offers an impressive selection of streaming services and even more through the Roku Channel, while remaining an affordable alternative to cable. Their most inexpensive model, the Roku Express, is under $30. To start streaming, you can get a Roku device that connects to your current TV or opt for a Roku TV with Roku streaming services built right in.

Amazon

From the Fire TV Stick to the Fire Cube, Amazon’s streaming devices are the most versatile on the market, offering a range of features at an affordable price. Amazon’s streaming devices have some of the top apps for gamers and moviegoers alike, with Alexa integration via the remote – that means you can check the news, weather and sports scores using your voice. The Fire TV Stick has been one of Amazon’s bestselling products for years, and Amazon TV has remained a top choice with 40 million active users.

fuboTV

fuboTV is a live streaming television service that you can watch on your phone, tablet, computer or television. If the big game is on, fuboTV has a wide variety of sports channels to choose from. They also have a bevy of entertainment channels to choose from. Try the Hallmark Channel, Showtime, IFC or FX Movies. There’s also an on-demand section that you can browse. AAA members can save 25% on their first three months of fuboTV.

Apple TV

Looking to bring cinematic value to everything you watch? Look no further. The recent Apple TV 4K delivers the best picture and sound quality today for those willing to spend a bit more. You can stream TV shows, movies and get access to Apple TV+ originals  in a clean and crisp 4K format. Plus, the Siri voice option and sleek design of the Apple TV remote offer an attractive interface. Don’t have a 4K TV? Don’t worry. It’s also compatible with HDR and Dolby Vision TVs. Available in two storage sizes.

Have you cut the cable cord? Are you still undecided? Tell us in the comments. 

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Comments
  • clairean@bellsouth.net

    Newer Tv’s have built in free option for some basic Tv.
    Small Air Antenna ($19-30 one time) gets air local channels.
    Amazon Prime ($12/mos and shipping deals from Amazon) and can download many Tv stations, streaming like Twitch, games.
    Amazon fire stick ($30 one time to use on Amazon prime)
    Newer Tv has internet for YouTube.

    My many tv stations of more than I can watch, is cost of high speed internet (alone no tv added) plus $12/mos Amazon.

    One time costs; antenna $19-30, amazon fire stick $30. (Cost of home internet router)

    Would have internet anyway so basically a LOT of Tv for $12/mos and internet provider monthly cost!!!

    Reply
  • Funny that this and similar articles gloss over the fact that most internet comes from the cable company. It costs 50 to 60 dollars for the broadband connection and if you add a few premium streaming services you gained nothing.
    On the other hand going to basic cable and internet and taking advantage of the tons of free streaming available is a good option.

    Reply
    • Maggie M.

      Hi Joes,
      Great point, it all depends on your internet service provider. Cutting the cable cord in not a viable option for all. I do agree that cutting down to the basic cable combined with internet is better option when packaging affects the bottom line. Thank you for your feedback! MM

      Reply
  • We have a house in SW Fla and cut the cord. But now, Comcast is forcing you to into their streaming options by bundling garbage channels and forcing you to buy them. They no longer offer just internet access. My monthly cost went from $50 to $75 and I am no looking at alternate options for internet access.

    Reply
  • Thought about going to basic cable with streaming services but when I looked into basic cable, I could not get any high-def channels. I do watch some network shows and don’t want to give up HD for them. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Dallas E.

      Some services (like Hulu Live and YouTube TV) allow for streaming certain channels in HD video qualities, like 720p, 1080p, 4K Ultra HD, and 60fps high definition. However, both recently upped their prices to $65 a month, so it might not be worth it, depending on your cable cost.
      I hope this helps!

      Reply
  • Some folks live in places where there is no cable service to cut, where satellite wifi doesn’t exist, or if available is very slow. Tv through satellite is available. ‘Rabbit ears ‘ on tv don’t pick up signals. internet comes though data on phone. I wonder how many others are in this situation in the USA .

    Reply
  • Elizabeth O.

    I cut the cord two yrs. ago however, just internet, is now up to $75.00 a month. More choices of internet providers, through different companies, offered to all subscribers may solve the monopoly that companies like Spectrum,Comcast, etc. have.

    Reply
  • I lost my husband last year could no longer afford the $170/mo for fios. I had been looking for awhile about dropping cable. I found out that comcast offers an internet service to low income for $10/mo. Not as fast as the other companies but its fine with me. I signed on to You Tube TV and I love it. With my roku TV with all it’s free channels, and comcast, I have everything I need. Once I removed most of the sports channels and the kids channels, I still had 60 channels that I actually would watch. And with netflix and Amazon Prime, I couldn’t get much happier. The name of comcast’s program is Internet Essentials. They supply the router and installation at no cost.

    Reply

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