Cutting the cord

A Complete Guide to Watching TV in the Digital Age

As streaming technology has significantly improved in recent years, there has been a lot more talks of this idea of “Cutting the Cord.” This phrase has come to mean switching away from traditional TV services, such as cable and satellite, and moving towards, typically, internet streaming services in order to watch TV shows. While this is an intriguing solution to avoid paying a high bill, it can feel a little confusing trying to make the switch.

The intention of this page is to function as a guide to make this transition. It will cover what is necessary to make the transition, educate on the different services and offering that are out there, keep you updated on what the newest developments are out there related to cutting the cord.

Creating a Plan

Streaming Devices

Streaming Services

Streaming News

What Matters to You?

The very first step of cutting the cord is to figure out just exactly how much TV you watch. This is the most important step because it determines what kind of speed you will need for streaming as well as determining how much data you will use over a month. It’s important to have an accurate idea of how much you use. Most people will significantly underestimate how much time they watch TV a week. To determine how much you use, you can take notes on how much time you watch TV on each day for a week.

The next step is to think about what programs really matter to you. This is important because it determines what streaming services out there that you would need to look for.

How will you watch TV?

The next step is to think about how you’ll be streaming. There are a lot of options out there for people to view content and it’s possible that you might already have a way. One of the most common solutions is a Smart TV. If this is something that you don’t already have, there are other solutions such as Roku, Apple TV, Google ChromeCast and Amazon Fire TV (learn more here.) Ultimately, you will need some sort of device that can access the internet in order to view your content.

What Will it Cost You?

The next important step is to look at your finances and your account. How much are you paying for your TV services? Often times companies will bundle your internet, phone, and TV together. Does this apply to you? If so, it may end up being cheaper to keep everything bundled. On top of that, are you still under contract? If so, in order to leave, most companies will require a fee in order for you to get out of contract.

In order to stream HD, let alone 4K, you must have a decent internet connection. A lot of ISP’s who have bundles will charge a fair amount for internet service by itself.

Create a list. On one side is your monthly cost for your TV. The other side is the monthly costs of the services you will be looking at. This will include your internet bill, each cost of the streaming services you will be looking at.

On top of these monthly costs, you will need to factor in the upfront costs. This could include early termination for contacts and purchasing devices.

At the end of the day, what do the totals come out to be? Is it cheaper in the long run to make that transition or is it more expensive? Does cutting the cord meet all your needs or does it come up short?

What to stream on

Nowadays, there are so many different ways to view content. Even smartphones have been optimized for streaming video. As result, people can now view content in whatever way works best. This guide will cover a few of the most popular options. 

Smart TVs

These are a form of TVs that have become extremely popular in the last couple of years. They have the ability to connect to the internet and can stream content without an external device. They typically operate by using a dashboard with apps, similar to a smartphone, to access content. Smart TVs will vary in design and quality depending on the brand and models. This is likely the most expensive option.

Streaming Devices

These are external devices with internet access that connect directly to your TV. They allow your TV to have access to a dashboard where you can stream content.

Roku

One of the leading companies in streaming devices, Roku has several generations of devices with each generation offering a set of models to choose from. High tier models offer 4K streaming and improved wireless technology. With prices starting at $29.99, Roku offers complete solutions for streaming needs.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV’s have become increasingly popular in the last few years. They work on any TV with an HDMI port and their remotes have the option to use Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant. Currently, Amazon and Google are in a platform war. As result, YouTube, which is owned by Google, is unavailable on Amazon products.

Apple TVs

Apple’s streaming device offers a 4K version that is suited already for Apple users. It offers Siri, Apple’s AI, for easy operating and has the ability to share content from your Apple devices directly to the TV. This is an excellent option for those with Apple devices already. It also is integrated with iTunes and the app store.

Google Chromecasts

Chromecasts is one of the most economical versions of streaming devices. It works by using your smartphone as the remote. You can use the app to play content from Netflix or Hulu, or you can share your mobile screen to your Chromecast. Chromecasts are one the easiest and cheapest streaming devices but the drawback is that they require another device such as a smartphone or a computer in order to operate.

Streaming Services

Streaming services are platforms that present content through internet use. They are broken into two groups; Live Television and Video on demand. These two groups make up the vast majority of streaming services. Chances are, you may already be subscribed to one of them.

Live Television

These are subscription based services that operate similarly to how television currently operates now. They offer the ability to stream live TV channels over the internet. Some services will even offer the ability to DVR shows.

EZ Video

These are external devices with internet access that connect directly to your TV. They allow your TV to have access to a dashboard where you can stream content. Most newer models allow you to choose streaming apps to download whereas older models will typically have apps already pre-downloaded. Below are some of the most common ones.

Sling TV

Sling TV is one of the cheapest and most versatile options for getting Live TV. It offers different packages that you can choose from similar to that of traditional television providers. It offers access to sports through ESPN. It has limited local offerings, however. It is compatible with just about every streaming device imaginable. DVR is an added $5 per month though it does have some limitations.

DirecTV Now

If you are currently an AT&T customer, this might be one of the best options for you. It gives you access to a majority of the big name channels, including ESPN. Local channels are a bit of a challenge, depending on your location and stations are important to you. It is also only offered on select devices, so make sure that you have a device that its compatible with first.

PlayStation Vue

Despite its name, having a PlayStation is NOT required for using this service. PlayStation Vue is one of the best-reviewed streaming services. While all the services are competitively priced, PlayStation Vue is slightly more expensive than others. However, it does offer local access TV, including some regional sports channels. It offers unlimited DVR but will only store the recordings for 28 days. If you’re willing to pay a little more, this is a strong consideration.

Hulu With Live TV

Hulu with Live TV an all-in-one package. If you’re looking for one service that offers just about everything, then this one of the best. It includes the vast majority of major channels and, as an added bonus, access to Hulu’s limited streaming service plan, meaning that you will have both Live TV and Video on Demand service in one package. Its compatible with most devices and offers 50 hours worth of stored DVR content, though you are unable to skip commercials on it. You can upgrade the size of your DVR and give it the ability to skip commercials for additional fee.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is easily one of the best services. It offers a large selection of channels, including local channels ones, for one price. It offers unlimited DVR for up to 9 months. It also offers its own video on demand service. Sign-up is location-based and its currently only available in select cities, so it may not be available to you. That being said, this is definitely a service to look into. Its currently compatible with all devices except Amazon products, due to Google and Amazon’s platform war.

Streaming Services Video On Demand

Video on Demand

These are subscription-based services that allow users to pay a monthly fee for access to massive libraries of content, including some award-winning original content.

Netflix

The standard-bearer for video on demand services. Netflix offers not only a massive library of TV shows and movies but also original content, including some of the most popular shows today. While it’s one of the most expensive services, you can choose streaming plans based on the quality of the stream and the number of devices you can stream on. Its library does change every now and again and its limited in getting brand-new content. Essentially, Netflix operates like a streaming version of Blockbuster. It’s very effective at what it does, making it an entertainment powerhouse, but it has some drawbacks.

Hulu

If you are looking for a video on demand service that will let you catch up on the latest episodes of some of your favorite shows than Hulu is going to be the best pick for you. It offers the latest in TV, letting you keep up to date. It also offers original, award-winning shows, as well as a library of movies and shows to watch. It does have commercials, however. There is a more expensive subscription that will reduce the number of commercials but there will still be some.

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a great service if you are already an Amazon prime member or a frequent user. It comes bundled with a prime membership or can be subscribed to separately for a lower cost. It offers a limited selection compared to Hulu and Netflix but has some golden exclusives. It has award-winning original content as well as it offers Viacom – owners of Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon- shows, which most of its competitors do not. It has a large backlog of children’s content, also making it ideal for families. Finally, it offers the ability to add on premium channels, such as Showtime, for a small extra cost.

Crackle

Crackle is a quirky streaming service. The big selling point of it is that it’s free. This means though it does show commercials. It regularly rotates content and it’s not always the most up to date or blockbuster content, but it has original content and still big-name shows and movies. Crackle is a great service if you’re just looking for something easy and free.

HBO Now

HBO Now makes this list for two reasons. First, HBO arguably offers some of the best shows on TV for the 20+ years now. Second, it represents the idea that a lot of Premium channels offer streaming services. Even some basic channels like CBS offers some too. If you have a favorite channel, chances are they may have a streaming service out already or can be added in as an added deal for other services.

Streaming your favorite shows is getting easier and easier every day. With each new deal and advancement in technology, it can be easy to get lost in all the changes. Our goal is to keep you up to date with all the most important information to make your transition from traditional television viewing as easy as possible. Check in frequently to see the latest in cutting the cord news!

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