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Confession time: I really like TV! I don’t watch much TV these days, but I have a few shows that I hate to miss. We still have cable and DVR service, mostly because it is one of the few luxuries we allow ourselves to enjoy in an otherwise strict budget. One of the most asked questions I hear is “How can I cut the cord but still watch all of my favorite shows and sports?”
Today, there are more options than ever before to say goodbye to cable or satellite, save money, and still watch most or all of your favorite shows and teams. You’re probably familiar with many of the options, but when it comes to saving money, you should always gather as much information as possible, weigh the pros and cons, and go with the solutions that work best for your family.
Side Note: Word has it that there are also plenty of illegal ways to watch your favorite shows and teams online. That’s called breaking the law, and it’s not a smart move – even if it helps you save money!
Check out the following ways to cut the cord and still watch your favorite TV legally and free up some serious cash in your budget!
Common and FREE Ways to Cut the Cord
Thanks to the wonders of the internet and bandwidth growth over the past decade, you can watch many of your favorite shows and even sporting events for FREE online. Here are some of my favorites:
According to their website, live and archived content on WatchESPN is available to anyone who subscribes to a participating TV or internet provider. You can stream events using their mobile app or webpage as soon as you have authenticated an account – this process only takes a few minutes. In many cases, you can stream the event to your TV using your Apple TV, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Express, Roku Ultra, PlayStation®4, Google Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV.
Similar to WatchESPN, you can stream content through CBSSports after authenticating your participating provider. I recently watched NCAA tournament basketball games through the app with my brother-in-law and was impressed by the quality.
In many areas you can access a surprising number of channels using a standard HD Antenna. The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna, along with other options, has a 50 mile range and excellent ratings. Most users can access most of the standard area networks in crystal clear HD – and it’s FREE.
The Next Step Up
If over-the-air network television and streaming sports networks available through your internet provider aren’t enough, subscription services are your next best bet.
Netflix has become the leader in streaming TV content in many areas. An HD plan costs only $11.99 per month, and it allows you to stream HD and Ultra HD content on up to 4 screens, download select content to watch without an internet connection, and watch unlimited TV and movies. You can also get a FREE one month trial.
Netflix also has branched out in the last few years and has produced compelling original content (Making a Murderer, Stranger Things, Fuller House, and countless others). It is our favorite streaming service.
Hulu is emerging as a strong competitor with other rivals. They offer two plans: the Limited Commercial Plan, which includes -shocker of shockers -limited commercial interruptions for $7.99 per month, and the No Commercials Plan for $11.99 per month. You can try both with their FREE one month trial.
If you prefer TV over movies, Hulu has a better selection than Netflix overall. They also offer quicker access to TV shows during a current season, while users have to wait a while for shows to hit Netflix.
Not to be outdone, Amazon also offers its own streaming service via Prime Video. Users can stream thousands of TV shows, movies, and original Amazon content for $8.99 per month.
On a related note, Amazon Prime members also receive the benefits of streaming music, FREE shipping on Amazon purchases, Kindle books, and photo storage. You can receive a FREE 30 day trial when you sign-up here.
More Advanced Options
Despite the affordability and convenience of the previously-listed services, many TV viewers still want more. This is the exact reason that many people are afraid to cut the cord!
SlingTV offers viewers access to popular cable/satellite channels without the hassle of contracts, hidden fees, and poor customer service – all without the high prices of cable or satellite.
Here’s how it works:
- Users can stream SlingTV at home or on the go on their TV, computer, tablet, or mobile device.
- Shows are available via live stream, and some shows are available on demand.
- Users can customize their channel lineup to receive only the channels they want and need. The Sling Orange Plan is only $20 per month, while the Sling Blue Plan offers more channels for only $25 per month (see channel line-ups below).
- Video replay is available
- New customers can take advantage of current deals on devices
- Extras and add-ons are available for premium sports networks, movie channels, and international content. Most add-on content starts at an additional $5 per month.
Currently, SlingTV does not offer any DVR-like functions, but there have been rumblings that a similar feature could be coming in the future. You can try SlingTV for FREE with a 7 day trial when you sign-up here.
Options for Displaced Sports Fans
When I first moved from Michigan to Chicagoland, I became an even greater die-hard fan of my Michigan teams. I used to go to great lengths to watch the Detroit Lions, Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings, and it was expensive!
If you’re a fellow displaced fan and still want to watch your favorite team without spending hundreds of dollars on NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL packages, there is an affordable solution.
The Slingbox allows users to take their TV content in HD with them anywhere there is an internet connection. My parents live in Michigan and technically are the owners of the Slingbox that I use. I connect to the device on the Slingbox app and can stream live and recorded (via DVR) Lions, Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings games (and anything else on TV in Michigan) directly to my TV through my Apple TV console. There is even an on-screen remote control that looks exactly like the one my parents have at their house!
The Slingbox 500, the highest-rated model, currently sells for a retail price of $250, which means that the device pays for itself in one season when compared to the purchase of the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL packages. I have saved at least $1,000 over the past several years thanks to my Slingbox.
If you’re not a major sports fan, you can get by just fine without a Slingbox. If you are a sports nut like me, the Slingbox is HANDS DOWN the best way to watch your favorite out-of-town teams.
One of the best parts about cutting the cord and still watching TV is quite literally that you don’t even need a TV to do it! You can watch content just fine on mobile devices, tablets, and computers.
If you’ve already invested in that stunning 70-inch LCD TV and don’t plan to part with it, there are plenty of affordable ways to stream content to your TV through the services mentioned above.
Here are a few of the most popular devices:
- Apple TV
- Roku Streaming Stick
- Roku Express
- Roku Ultra
- Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire TV
Depending on your circumstances, you could get by with just one of these devices; some users might not need one at all depending on their existing equipment.
You CAN Watch TV Without Spending a Fortune!
Cable and satellite costs have risen drastically over the years, but there are more options than ever before to cut the cord, save money, and still watch your favorite teams and shows. Free apps, streaming services like Hulu and SlingTV, and countless other devices have leveled the playing field for consumers.
If you’re looking to Take Back Control of Your Life and Money, the decision to cut the cord can help you accomplish both! Use this guide to check out and evaluate what solutions might work best for your family, take advantage of free trials, and start saving money today!
Mrs. Picky Pincher saysMarch 27, 2017 at 6:58 AM
Oh, interesting! I’ve already done Netflix and Sling, but the free options are great to know about. Fortunately I’m not much of a TV person (or even a sports lover), so Netflix is our default nowadays for a cool $9/mo. 🙂
Hero saysMarch 27, 2017 at 7:46 AM
I think non-sports fans can get away with cutting the cord more easily than just about any other group. Soon enough streaming options like SlingTV will probably be the norm.