Save Money With These Cordcutting Options

Category: Television

The options for TV viewing without paying an arm and leg to a cable company just keep expanding. Many of the subscription streaming options are offered by TV networks, who seem to be delighting in their ability to bypass the gatekeepers who stand between themselves and their audiences. Here is a roundup of current offerings for cordcutters...

Thinking of Cutting the Cable?

There are two broad types of cordcutting options. Neither involves an actual pair of scissors, but they can both save you money. The now-familiar streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, are movie and TV series oriented. You may also see the phrase “cable replacement service” more often these days. That refers to an Internet service that focuses on delivering a lineup of TV channels rather than individual shows. Sling TV and DirecTV Now are examples of cable replacement services. Streaming services let you pick the specific movie, TV series, or episode you want to watch, while cable replacement services let you tune in to a channel and watch what it delivers over time. Let's look at the options for both.

Cord cutting options


One study in the fall of 2016 found that 62% of U.S. home subscribe to a video streaming service. That same report showed that Netflix is the big kahuna when it comes to streaming movies and TV shows, with just over 50% market share. Amazon Prime Video has about half that, but in recent quarters they've been gaining at Netflix's expense.

Netflix lets you join free for a month, and then you can choose a Basic ($7.99/month), Standard ($9.99/month) or Premium ($11.99 month) subscription. The Basic package lets you watch on only 1 screen at a time, and doesn't provide HD quality. Standard gives you two screens, with HD option. Premium lets you watch on 4 screens simultaneously, with Ultra HD. That matters if you have multiple people in the family with laptops, TVs, smartphones or tablets, and they want to watch Netflix content at the same time. All of those packages let you watch unlimited movies and TV shows. Netflix has a huge catalog of TV shows, movies and some original content as well.

Amazon Video is one of the benefits of Amazon Prime, the popular shopping service from Amazon. Like Netflix, Amazon Video has tons of movies, TV shows, and original content. Most content on Amazon Video is free for Prime subscribers, but some movies require a rental fee. Amazon Prime costs $99/year and gives you free 2-day shipping on many items, streaming video and music, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and other benefits.

If you don't have, or don't want an Amazon Prime account, you can subscribe to Amazon Video for $8.99 per month. That's actually more expensive than Prime, but it's an option. You can also purchase individual movies or shows without an Amazon Video account.


Hulu with Live TV provides “more than 50” channels for $40/month in its entry-level package. Every subscription includes a cloud-based “DVR” that lets you schedule recording of a future show for later viewing. On-demand pay-per-view events such as boxing matches are also available. Two simultaneous connections are supported, so you can watch bass fishing while your spouse watches Martha Stewart. Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, and Xbox One are all supported.

YouTube TV has 40 channels in its $35/month basic package. DVR and on-demand features are included. Up to six YouTube TV accounts are allowed per household, and up to three simultaneous streams are supported. Android, Chromecast and Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, and iOS are supported. You can try out YoutubeTV for one month for free, and then get a free Chromecast for streaming online content to your TV after your first $35 monthly payment.

One of YouTube TV’s strengths is live streaming of broadcast channels ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW - but in a limited number of markets, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area. Hulu with Live TV offers all of those channels except The CW, nationwide. Sling TV offers only NBC and Fox. Of course, you can always buy an HD antenna to get live local broadcast channels, unless you live in an area that gets poor reception.

DirecTV NOW offers “more than 60” channels for $35/month in its basic package. On-demand events are supported but not DVR capability. Two simultaneous streams are allowed. Supported platforms include Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, and iOS.

Sling TV offers only “more than 20” channels, but that basic package costs just $20/month. On-demand viewing is available but DVR is still in beta. The number of simultaneous streams depends on how much you pay: $20, 1 stream; $25, up to 3 streams; $40, up to 4 streams. Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Roku are all supported.

Playstation Vue offers “more than 45” channels for $40/month ($30 in certain markets). You can’t “DVR” HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax, but any particular program on one of these channels is avaiable “On-Demand,” meaning you can buy access to it any time. Up to five simultaneous streams are allowed. Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, PS3, PS4, and Roku are supported.

It's worth noting that you'll still need an Internet connection of some sort (home broadband or mobile) to use streaming video or cable replacement services. You'll have to do the math to make sure you save money by dropping your cable TV service and going with one or more of these options. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Save Money With These Cordcutting Options"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

I found that almost half the time I was watching TV, I was watching an ad. Why was I paying a cable company for watching ads?
I tried to negotiate a lower cable rate and they laughed at me. I stopped my cable TV and bought an amplified antenna for $35 and now watch the same ads for free! At least PBS is ad free and I am going to contribute my cable saving to PBS.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

Bob, your comment at the very end of the article hit the nail right on the head. As a former tech support agent of a large cable provider I can assure you that most cable/internet providers have a data cap in place. Cable cutters still need an internet connection, and the cable companies know it. So, like Bob says, do the math. If you're being charged $120 a month for 200 channels in high def, a DVR (2 rooms) and high speed internet and then you "cut the cable", here's what happens. The provider will jack up your cost for internet access because you'll no longer qualify for the "bundle rate", you'll lose all local and cable channels and the DVR. So now your "cost" is only $59 (plus taxes and fees) for internet. But wait, let's add on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon or Vue or Direct Now or, well, you get the picture (tic). Perhaps it sounds as if I'm an advocate for the cable companies, far from it. I, like so many millions of you, are at their mercy....after all, they have the internet. I'm just trying to educate future cord cutters out there so they can make an informed decision.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

Thank you for the round-up format. Very helpful. So much stuff is advertised or hyped with a lot of click bait but not much info. They aggressively want us to just sign up on impulse. I wind up not signing up for anything because these tactics turn me off. It is great to have you spread out the options for us. There must be more products and services that you can illustrate in the same way. I appreciate your emails very much. Also, I MAY BE WRONG but I think that Comcast deliberately bumped me offline in order to force me to call them. They promptly restored my connection but then promoted their stream (not cable). The deal fit my needs so I took it in Chicago.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

I find that by using a Roku, an Android TV box and an antenna with tuner, that there is more live and on demand programming than I could ever watch. All I have is the cheapest high-speed internet offered.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
08 Jun 2017

Good options for some, perhaps many, but I live in an area covered (barely) only by 1.5Mbps (occasionally) ADSL or bandwidth limited satellite ISP for nearly the cost of Satellite TV. I chose ADSL where I can sometimes watch Amazon Prime or Netflix and a plethora of less useful channels on my Sony Bluray player, but far more useful is my Dishnet subscription that streams Netflix any time I want to watch it along with YouTube and On Demand channels. Also included on my Dish subscription is Sirius-XM which I use far more than the video channels. I have also had good experiences with customer service, including free or discount equipment upgrades as well as once getting 6 months for 1/2 price when I was considering doing without their service- DirecTV NEVER gave me anything after the original offer to join despite many complaints and phone calls about their cancelling Sirius-XM and other services and when I asked about upgrading my equipment after my contract was fulfilled, they said my options were full price, buy it at Best Buy or move to DishNet which is what I did with no regrets- or none that wouldn't have required moving to a less benighted country (that would be most countries) with real, affordable high speed internet service.

Posted by:

John T
08 Jun 2017

Thanks for the review Bob. Always enlightening.
Around 3 yrs ago I cut my cable off. I'l say I have not missed it at all, plenty to watch for the time I have available to watch! I surely do not watch at the gym.
Here is what I did to replace cable.
1.Purchased 2 over the air (OTA) antennas, combining their input as I needed to point 1 west and 1 north to [pickup all my channels; connected them to my existing cable input already in my house, so the live TV is on any TV in any room at anytime, and I get 25 channels. Next I purchased a Channel Master DVR+. This provided me with a free TV channel guide, streaming options as well as I have it connected to my internet network. I use an external 1TB USB hard-drive connected to the Channel Master DVR+ to record my scheduled programming. I can record up to 2 shows at the same time if I am not watching something else. Then I also subscribe to the lowest SLing-TV package, and also have a ROKU for my Netflix.
Really this is plenty for me to find to watch.
Further, I did look at the Playstation VUE but I did not like the channel interface at all!
Plus some of the others did not support my ROKU so no chance for them.
So that is just my 2 cents.

Posted by:

Larry R
08 Jun 2017

I enjoyed the story and the comments. I have Comcast in my area and currently they have a promo for multiple channels, HBO and their very high speed internet for about $10 more/month than if I 'cut the cord' and opted for just a lower speed (about half my current) internet so it makes sense for me to stick with them, at least another year. In the main time, I ran across, who currently have a 1/2 price sale going on. Do you have any info (good or bad) on them? Seems like a great option to bypassing cable channels and Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

To Kevin: Please, don't make things scarier, than they are. You are right about "bundles" - they are cheaper, but you don't mention, that cable providers don't have monopoly for the internet access (except some small areas), so every cable cutter should just research a little of his area and there will be some internet provider without any caps at traffic and without crazy greed of big cable and IS providers. Now many of them offer fiber optics that beats any cable. So we still have a free choice out of cable providers, thanks to free market and competition.

For those, who is OK with some grey areas, keep in mind that you can completely switch to torrents. They are free of any ads. But again, it's a grey area and can be risky for some careless users. Some can say it's illegal - well, what about libraries, that give you access for strictly copyrighted content, bot nobody even think to prosecute them? Information has to be free.

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
08 Jun 2017

The article missed one option. Incredibly enough, there are more OTA (Over The Air) broadcast stations than ever. I have an amplified omnidirectional (more or less) TV antenna (actually designed for RVs) and I receive more programming that I will ever have time to watch. I record TV shows onto my computer for viewing later (called time shifting) using two SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual tuners for a total of four channels at once. I use Windows Media Center to do the recording. My system has paid for itself over and over by not having to pay for streaming. The only thing the internet is used for is to download the program guide so I don't have to worry about the data cap on my broadband connection.

There is no way I will ever use Netflix because of the years I had to endure their misbegotten pop-up and pop-under ads they snuck past my pop-up and ad blockers, and my firewall. Except for e-books, I'm currently boycotting Amazon due to poor packaging and shipping practices and even worse customer service.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

Re: Bob: "...using a Roku, an Android TV box and an antenna with tuner...."

Would you please tell me what an "Android TV box" is and what you use it for?

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
08 Jun 2017

@Kirill: Libraries have to pay additional royalties beyond the purchase price of books to be allowed to loan them out. They do not compare to torrents that disseminate intellectual property without compensation to the copyright owners (this is not to say their aren't problems with current copyright laws but there is no sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater). A more succinct way to put it is violating copyrights is stealing.

Same as anyone who creates or designs anything else, creators of intellectual property should also get paid for their work. Otherwise, there would be little to no incentive for anyone to ever create anything, let alone share it in anyway.

Posted by:

09 Jun 2017

buy an Android for a IPTV sub .cost as $5-20 a month..includes USA ..UK..Canadian wat to cut your monthly bill..

Posted by:

09 Jun 2017

I have 5 phones with ATT and we had Uverse all bundled together, which I was very happy with. I could watch the hockey games and I was a happy camper. When my wife went in to purchase a new phone they talked her into a dish. They stated that we would get all the same channels that we were currently getting and more. Well that just wasn't true. I had to jump up two levels to get my hockey channel. We have all the channels that you can get without any premium channels and now I'm paying 600.00 per month for phones and TV. This is insane. Oh, did I tell you that we also have a Roku and we pay the lowest premium for Netflix and that is all we watch. There is nothing else that we watch out of all those channels that we pay for. Talk about needing to cut the cord.

Posted by:

09 Jun 2017

I use NetFlix and Prime... I don't watch commercials, don't care to watch commercials... life is good :)

Posted by:

Bob Greene
09 Jun 2017

@Mike-- Going with PBS (TV and radio) is an inspired idea, and widely practiced across the country. History, arts and public affairs are well-represented, along with cooking, car mechanics, and other hobbies.

As friends and I discovered, PBS fare is better than average, yet costs nothing, and requires only a typical urban antenna. Much of PBS is jaw-dropping excellence.

Although it is not required, everyone should do his or her part to make sure this jewel of a public asset does not fall short on its modest budget. Donations and amounts are entirely voluntary, but $50 for a whole year is an astounding bargain, no matter how closely calculated.

Posted by:

Bob Greene
09 Jun 2017

What we need is an article on good, basic but inexpensive broadband (internet only) that does not come from AT&T, Verizon or Comcast. Consumers need more of a choice.

Posted by:

10 Jun 2017

I don't think I can cut the cord.
I used to have the DishNetwork "America Everything" package w/a DVR, plus 10Mbps ADSL from AT&T that was bundled. I used to fight them tooth-and-nail to keep costs under $100/month, for over a decade.
Sadly, we were also saddled with AT&T POTS phone service at $45. What finally broke this camel's back was all of the AT&T add-on fees and surcharges. After AT&T CustomerSupport jacked me around one too many times with all their shenanigans for decades, we finally dumped them, including for our mobile needs. TimeWarnerCable (Spectrum) now provides us with a *6-tuner HD-DVR, *200+ Channels (including ShowTime/Cinemax/Starz), *300Mbps internet and *VOIP for under $120 and without contracts but bundled... 28 months and the service has been oddly much better than AT&T. We lead a totally ad-free life and watch nothing live (not even SuperBowl).
What I have discovered as a great bonus is TWC music channels, which are not algorithm-created playlists yet (strangely enough) they have no commercials, DJs or even station identification breaks.
Nobody is taking cutters to my cord (or my VPN/torrent habits): I actually feel like I save money because I don't have to spend much time to forage for commercial-free entertainment content.

Posted by:

10 Jun 2017

I am in a rural area, and no, I don't have internet options - it's either the very expensive satellite access, or the prohibitively expensive cellular network. Even without streaming, there has not been a single month that we have lived here (over 2 years) in which we have failed to exceed our monthly data allowance.

I think I will at least try an antenna, but according to the coverage maps, I'm only looking at getting about 6 channels. Frankly, that's good enough for me, but I have household members who disagree!

Posted by:

13 Jun 2017

Don't know where you get Spectrum for that kind of money. We had TWC triple play, 200 channels, enhanced DVR and no premium channels and it was $174.96 per month. When Spectrum took over the TWC bill immediately went to $199.58.
We called Spectrum and the bill would go back to $175, if we switched to them, but no specials were available. If we stayed with TWC the bill stayed at $199 and if we went to Spectrum no deals because we were present customers? If we went just basic cable it was $69.95
Next I disconnected all their equipment and went to cancel everything but internet. Low and behold they want to deal. We now have the basic TV, No phone, enhanced DVR and 100 MBPS cable for $135. The phone is with Vonage now at $10.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2017

I did cut cable and there is always a trade-off, depending on your viewing habits. I chose Roku and my cable companies internet only option. In my area, using an antenna was worthless because I'm near a military base, received 5 channels and each one had 'scrambled signals' - never the same one.
With that said, my cable bill went from $160 a month to $85 for internet - thank you Comcast. There is no 'local ISP' in my area, not even directv.

With Roku I have all the channels I was really watching and paying double for with cable. Only one I don't have, yet, is Discovery Channel.

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