Not so long ago, most households relied on cable TV for reliable access to local, national and international programming, along with movies and special events. However, the cost of cable TV service has skyrocketed in recent years, causing many to question whether cable is actually worth the cost. Complicating matters is that is now possible to stream television programming through an Internet connection or mobile data plan.
If you are thinking about cutting the cord, or have just moved to a new area and aren't sure if you want to bother getting cable service, it's a good idea to become aware of the alternatives to cable television so that you can make the best decision for yourself, your family and your budget. Being aware of your viewing habits, as well as your budget, is essential to making the right choice.
Before deciding on an alternative to cable, you'll need to understand the features of your television set. If you have an older television, you may not have the ability to connect to an Internet streaming service or a mobile device, although you will be able to hook it up to a digital antenna or a DVD player.
Newer televisions are a different matter: So-called smart televisions, or smart TVs, are already preprogrammed to stream programming from a variety of applications and services and are the easiest to work with after cutting your cable. If you have a newer television, but one that is not a smart TV, you may still be able to hook your TV up to a streaming box such as Roku or Apple TV.
Many people have had cable for so long that they've forgotten that their local stations are still broadcasting live TV. Depending on where you live, you may have a dozen or more VHF and UHF channels available to you at no cost beyond that of owning a digital antenna. In addition, many people feel that local shows, particularly news programming, are often simply more relevant to their day-to-day lives.
Digital antennas cost about $40 and are easily connected to all kinds of televisions, including smart TVs. After installation, you will be able to enjoy all the programming available in your area for free.
For many people, an antenna, plus a DVD or Blu-ray player, is enough for being able to enjoy a significant range of programming and entertainment. Keep in mind that public libraries often maintain collections of DVDs that you can enjoy for free, further reducing monthly expenses.
Tip: If you are still using a very old television to receive your cable signal, keep in mind that it may not be compatible with digital antennas, which became the standard in the 2000s. It may still be possible to find digital antenna adapters that will make it possible for you to use an antenna to pull in local broadcasting signals. if you are unable to connect your television to a digital antenna and are unwilling to purchase a brand-new TV, consider checking out your local Craigslist listings to find people who are willing to sell or give away their televisions. These televisions may be new enough that they can easily connect to a digital antenna.
if you have an Internet connection at your home, or a data plan with your phone, you can stream a range of programming through paid services, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. There are free options as well: YouTube's standard service includes a range of video entertainment, as well as free, streaming news feeds from a range of providers. Many people do not realize, for example, that some countries stream live, English language news reporting through YouTube at no additional charge. France 24 is one such network.
In addition, many major networks also stream shows for free via their websites. As long as you can access the website, you will be able to enjoy this programming. The only thing to keep in mind is that your mobile phone or Internet plan may have data caps, which could limit the amount of programming you and your family can access each month. However, if you are an infrequent TV watcher or streamer, relying entirely on your Internet connection or a mobile data plan may be a cost-effective option.
Tip: Some Internet and mobile phone companies don't count streaming from preferred providers against your monthly data allotment. Contact your company and ask if they have any of these preferred relationships so that you can more accurately decide whether cutting cable in favor of streaming will actually save you money.
Note about displays and smart TVs: if you decide to rely entirely on your Internet connection or data plan, you may want to use a larger monitor for screening programming to provide an experience that is closer to using a television set. If you have a smart TV, keep in mind that it may be possible for you to program it so that you can stream videos directly from smartphone apps on to your TV.
For individuals and families who like to enjoy a wide variety of video entertainment, streaming boxes, such as those provided by TiVo, Apple TV or Roku have become very popular. These boxes make it easy to find and stream any channel or app that you like to use for accessing video content. In addition, many Internet service providers also have their own streaming boxes and plans for customers who prefer to not sign up for cable television.
Before getting a streaming box, however, you will want to do some research. You'll want to ensure that this box you choose will provide you with the types of programming that interest you. In addition, if you already have a smart TV, a streaming box may be redundant.
Tip: If you are not familiar with smart TVs or other types of consumer electronics, you may want to get in touch with a well-known electronics retailers such as Best Buy. Visit the store, or give them a call and ask for assistance in selecting a smart TV or streaming box. Be frank with the customer service representative or store associate and let them know that you want to cut your cable and that you want something that can be easily used in your home to access the stations and programs that you enjoy.
Doing this will help ensure that you do not experience disappointment with your streaming service and that you won't have to go through a lot of hassle each time you want to watch your television. Keep in mind that consumer electronics retailers want to keep your business, and their representatives and sales associates will likely bend over backwards to help you make sure that you are getting the exact device or television that meets your needs.
There are several things that you should be aware of before making the decision to cut your cable service:
Many people are getting by just fine without cable TV. The key is understanding your options, your equipment and your budget. After doing some math and ensuring that you'll be able to connect with streaming services or broadcast television, you'll be able to save money while enjoying the shows you love.
After thousands of Netflix customers came to GetHuman in search of an answer to this problem (and many others), we decided it was time to publish instructions. So we put together What's the Best Alternative to Cable TV? to try to help. It takes time to get through these steps according to other users, including time spent working through each step and contacting Netflix if necessary. Best of luck and please let us know if you successfully resolve your issue with guidance from this page.
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