It is interesting to see the way in which the landscape of television is changing. For a long time anyone who wanted to view shows worth watching had to pay a monthly cable bill.
Cable companies were making millions off of customers who had no other options but to dish out the big bucks. But now all of that is changing, and cable companies are probably getting the nervous sweats over it.
Nowadays there are many different ways to stream TV shows without a cable subscription. Some options are free, others have low monthly fees. Some possibilities even offer live content, though most don’t.
Either way almost all of the options are available to stream on laptops, gaming systems, and mobile devices. And if you don’t have any of these things then the second half of this article discusses ways to stream without them. Regardless of what you use, as long as you have a decent Internet speed then you are set! (Read: 7 Steps to Surfing the Web Faster Than You Are Now)
The best part about streaming content, other than the fact that it is available anywhere at any time, is the price. Most people, especially those who want HD programming and special channels like HBO and Showtime, are paying a small fortune each year on cable.
Here are twelve ways to cut the cord and watch your favorite shows without cable or satellite TV.
- Network websites. NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and FOX all offer most of their shows for free on their respective websites. You might have to wait a day or two for the latest episode to appear, but being able to watch for free is worth the wait. There are a few commercials in each episode but nothing as bad as on TV. And while episodes from current TV shows don’t stay up for too long, you can find gems from older, classic shows that are always available.
Some networks even allow you to watch live TV online. CNN and CSPAN both offer live feeds to their news programs, and ESPN.Go lets you stream live sports events. Also, some sports affiliations are jumping on the band wagon. For a paid subscription MLB.TV gives you access to live and on-demand content online and on your mobile devices.
- Hulu and Hulu Plus. There are a few very popular companies that allow you to watch TV shows independently from cable providers. Hulu offers lower-level content for free and a much better selection for a mere $7.99 a month. The free version gives you access to a few of the most recent episodes of each show, but you can only watch from your computer. Hulu Plus gives you access to all seasons of a show and is available to watch on smartphones and tablets as well.
- Netflix. Probably the top competitor to Hulu, Netflix offers a range of content at the same low $7.99-per-month price. The one downside is that Netflix doesn’t have as many current shows to choose from, and it can take months for a new season to become available (still waiting for the latest How I Met Your Mother). However, the upside is that there are no commercials. And with the recent release of House of Cards and the highly anticipated fourth season of Arrested Development, Netflix is proving to be a place for high quality, homegrown TV shows. Try their one month free trial, you won’t be disappointed.
- Crackle. Crackle is another option in the vein of Hulu and Netflix. There isn’t as much content and it is mostly older stuff, but it’s still a viable alternative to cable. Some shows and movies are free, while others you have to purchase.
- iTunes and Google Play. While some companies offer content as monthly subscriptions, others are offering options where you pay per show. iTunes and Google Play are the top contenders in this category. There are thousands of shows available, both old and recent, and they can be paid for by episode or by season. And as with everything by these competitors, iTunes shows are only compatible with iOS devices and Google Play shows can only be watched with Android devices.
- Amazon Instant and Prime. Amazon Instant Video offers an interesting mix of pay-per-episode and monthly subscription. For the average viewer, you can choose from a huge inventory of shows and pay by episode or by season. On the other hand, Amazon Prime members get free streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Prime is available for just $79 a year, and for under $7 a month you also get free two-day shipping on millions of items and access to the Kindle Lender Library and its wealth of books (Read: 10 Easy-to-Understand Books That Will Make You Smarter).
- PlayStation Network. For those who do not own a mobile device or can’t get the HD content they want on their laptop, the PlayStation 3 is a worthy alternative. You can download such apps like Netflix and MLB.TV and view their content if you have a subscription. The PlayStation Network also has a large library of shows and movies that you can pay for on an individual basis. And the best part is membership to the network is free!
- Xbox Live. Those whose faulty logic tells them an Xbox is better than a PlayStation might be missing out on a lot of things, but luckily they still have access to quality TV content. A free membership to Xbox Live allows you to rent or buy movies and shows, while an Xbox Live Gold subscription gives you access to the Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go apps (among others).
- Roku. For the poor souls who have yet to purchase a gaming system, there are some other options for streaming content to your TV. You can get access to your paid media subscriptions through a streaming player called Roku. This little box hooks up to your TV and streams all of your content there. Roku even comes with a few channels and networks for free (and that includes no commercials!). The basic device is about $49, while an HD streaming box is around $60.
- Apple TV. Much like the Roku, the Apple TV is a device that allows you to stream your media subscriptions straight to your TV. You can also access the content you have on your iCloud – music, video, pictures, everything. The catch is that the AirPlay feature will only let you stream from an iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone. But let’s be honest, who doesn’t have one (or all) of those devices?
- Sony NSZ-GS7. This device puts Google Play right on your TV. Along with being able to browse the Internet you can also tap into your current media subscriptions with the made-for-TV apps. Two cool features set this device apart from others. One is the voice control software which allows you to search for and control TV shows just by speaking. The second is the double-sided remote control that it comes with. One side features a clickable touchpad, while the other has a large backlit QWERTY keyboard for simple searching.
As you can see, there are all kinds of ways to watch the TV shows you obsess over without taking out a loan for cable. Never before has it been this cheap and convenient to watch the latest episode of Bones or Season 2, Episode 3 of The A-Team. Do your own follow-up research if you still aren’t sure which option is best for you. Most people even combine options (like buying a Roku and then paying for Netflix or Hulu Plus subscriptions). Either way, experience the joy and freedom of cutting the cord and paying less for your favorite content!