Cutting the cord with cable takes a bit of planning.
You have to figure out what over-air channels are available in your area, find an antenna (indoor or outdoor) set-up that can pull those channels to your TV, and then find ways to obtain the programming you’ll be missing from other sources.
These are 6 sources I’m using for programming that offer up the best bang for my buck.
(Note they may not work the same way for you depending upon your lifestyle, location, home network (wifi) set-up, and the equipment (HDTV, PC, streaming devices) in your home.)
Netflix: A monthly subscription service that I highly recommend to anyone who loves movies and documentaries. Streaming only; no DVD rental addition is needed, only $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming of great programming, and it works on multiple devices at the same time.
You can also share it with your whole family. For example if you have a student in college, they can use the same Netflix account to stream content that you are using at home. It’s not IP address specific! The options for viewing Netflix on all kinds of devices are great too. I have apps on my iPad, Kindle, and smartphone, and two Roku boxes that stream it to my TVs. My Windows PC has it built into the Windows Media Player and I have it on my Nintendo Wii game console. The best picture comes through streaming via Roku.
HuluPlus: A monthly subscription fee of $7.99 after an initial free trial period, HuluPlus gives you network programs in addition to movie offerings.
There is a FREE option of Hulu, but with HuluPlus offering so much more, it’s a no-brainer to upgrade.
HuluPlus is excellent for watching network programming that you don’t have with your over-air channel set-up. They don’t have near the movie offering that Netflix does, but the two offer the best of both worlds and are easily streamed to compatible devices. The HuluPlus apps from iTunes and the Amazon AppStore are free and work well.
PlayOn: A subscription that you purchase monthly, yearly or a lifetime subscription license. I recommend that if you can you try this one out for free first, before you make your purchase. Why? It may or may not run smoothly on your PC depending upon the computer’s age, operating system, hardware and high-speed Internet connection speed.
PlayOn installs on your PC, and runs as a server, streaming content to a PlayOn enabled device. I have it on my Wii – directions available at the PlayOn site – and installed on my Roku as a channel. In order to use it, my PC has to be on for PlayOn to work, and it does use significant resources. My PC has an Intel Core i7 processor with Windows 7 64-bit OS running, and can handle it. Others may find it glitchy and frustrating.
On the upside, if it does work for you you can get a whole lot of channels (55 with free plugins for more available) for very little money!
PlayOn comes with a 30-Day money back guarantee and you can get channels like: DIY, Discovery, Disney, History, MTV, CNN, TBS, Science, Travel Channel, Fox News and NHL, just to name a few.
A site called PlayOnScripts offers scripts that are easily added to your PlayOn interface which open up even more programming options! They are free, and users rate them which helps as a guide for choosing ones that will work for you.
With PlayOn you can also download shows from Netflix (put in your Netflix subscription info into the PlayOn dashboard) and save them as MP4 video files. You can then share those files with others on your home network or to devices like iPads by using compression software such as Free Studio Manager (Google it…).
Be aware that a lifetime license may not be the best deal as when new channels are added, they aren’t covered on your lifetime license. Also, if you purchase a 1 year license at the current Winter Sale rate of $24.99, next year they’ll likely offer you a $19.99 a year rate.
Amazon Instant Video: For newly released movies and premium channel series (per episode or for a whole season), I choose Amazon. The prices are good, and they occasionally have sales that make stocking up on movies even cheaper. I just have to remember they are in my rentals and watch them before they expire!
The few times I’ve had issues with the quality of streaming from Amazon, they’ve given me a free movie credit, which is also why I continue to use them.
Vudu: Instant in 1080p with 7.1 Dolby Digital sound, get new releases to rent or purchase from Vudu.
Vudu plays on game systems, Roku, PC, iPad and Android devices.
You only pay for what you watch and there are no late fees or subscriptions.
The 1080P quality and 7.1 Dolby Digital sound is what sets Vudu appart.
Thousands of movies for only $2 for 2 nights.
iTunes: An option for TV series and movies to be streamed to Apple TV, iPad, iPod Touch and other Apple devices. They rarely offer deals, but have a great selection of content.