Cordcutter’s guide – stop paying for traditional cable!

More than 13.5 million households have gone against the paradigm, opting for online streaming services, free TV over the air, and other cable alternatives. Join the revolution! Stop filling the pockets of traditional cable providers that don’t really get it anymore. Choose exactly what shows, channels, and streaming services you want and leave out all the extras that you’ll never use.

Cut the cord!

Why cut the cord: TL;DR

There are many reasons for cutting the cord and it will vary from person to person. That said, here are just three potentially key reasons to consider ditching your cable service.

  • Savings. Depending on what kind of content you watch and where you watch it, cutting the cord can potentially save you hundreds if not thousands a year.
  • Have it your way. Why pay for hundreds of channels when you only watch two or three very specific shows? Streaming services allow you to buy only the services and shows that matter to you, leaving out a lot of the fluff.
  • Flexibility. Only watch major network shows and during off-season and find that your cable goes unused the rest of the time? It’s much easier to turn streaming services on and off when you find you aren’t using it as much.

Those are just a few reasons why you should cut the cord. For more, be sure to check out our guides on how much you can save cutting the cord, as well as pros and cons to cutting the cord.

What do you need to cut the cord?

Before you cut the cord, you’ll need the right hardware to get the job done. This could be as simply as an antenna (which we’ll talk more about below), but for those that want to take advantage of Internet-based streaming video and TV you’ll need some additional hardware.

Route 1: a smart TV – Today’s smart TVs have plenty of apps and services built right in to make cutting the cord easier than ever. In fact, it’s entirely possible your TV already has a few cord cutting apps built in, depending on its age. If you are in the market for a new television check out our TV buying guide.

Route 2: A media player – If you have an older TV, a media player is a great way to add smart TV functionality without buying a new set. Media players also often have more app choices, get faster updates, and overall perform better in many ways. So it’s certainly not a downgrade to get a media streaming device over a modern smart TV. For more options, check out our best media streaming device guide.

Route 3: Get a game system – Game systems like the Xbox One and Playstation 4 make for great media streaming devices, with most big name services available. They also function as Blu-Ray and DVD players, and (obviously) can play games. While they are more pricey than a media streaming player, they offer the most functionality by far.

The best streaming services for cutting the cord


Netflix is quickly become a must-have for the cord cutting and cord-never generation, offering binge-friendly television and movies. Aside from its original content, most of what it offers is far from ‘brand new’ content, though it varies depending on the partnerships in place. Still, it’s cheap, free, and has a lot of great originals.

What you need to know at a glance

  • Basic streaming starts at $7.99 a month, with plans maxing out at $13.99 a month. Head here for more on Netflix pricing and features.
  • Netflix offers around 150 original titles, with around 36k+ titles all together.
  • Netflix doesn’t offer new TV shows (unless they are originals), instead releasing complete seasons of select shows months after they finish airing.
  • Netflix has no ads and allows unlimited streaming on all its plans, though it will use up your data cap from your ISP (if you have one).

What’s on?

Looking for some great content to consume, here’s some of the best shows and movies you’ll find on Netflix



Hulu is one of the best video streaming services for cord-cutters to look into, especially if they love regular broadcast TV. The service allows subscribers to get new episodes from most ABC, NBC and Fox network shows the day after they are shown. Hulu also has tons of classic TV shows, with more being added every day.

Finally, it has a growing list of original movies and TV shows, including The Handmaid’s Tale, which became the first TV show from a streaming service to win the Emmy award for Best TV Drama in 2017.

What you need to know at a glance

  • Basic streaming starts at $7.99 a month, but that plan includes commercials for both TV shows and movies. You can upgrade to a plan with no commercials for $11.99 a month. There’s also a 30 day free trial available for new customers.
  • You can also sign up for Hulu with Live TV, which offers access to over 40 live TV channels, along with access to a cloud DVR and more. Pricing starts at $40 a month. Head here for more on Hulu pricing and features.
  • Hulu offers around 50 original TV series, with more to come, and a growing list of original movies. It also has thousands of new and classic TV shows and movies to choose from.
  • While some Hulu original TV shows present their seasons all at once, others release just the first two or three episodes, and then post one new episode each week until their season is over.
  • Hulu allows for unlimited streaming on all its plans, with up to two simultaneous streams at once per account.

What’s on?

Looking for some great content to consume, here’s some of the best shows and movies you’ll find on Hulu:


Want to watch all of HBO’s great TV shows and movies, but don’t want to sign up for a cable or satellite TV subscription? With HBO Now, you won’t need to. The service offers all of HBO’s content on demand, for streaming to your phone, tablet, set-top box or smart TV.

What you need to know at a glance:

  • HBO Now is one of the most expensive of the streaming services, as it costs $14.99 a month. It also has a smaller selection of content, though plenty of top tier offerings nonetheless. Head here for more on HBO Now pricing and features.
  • Once you sign up, you can access all of HBO’s current original TV shows, movies, and specials, including all the current seasons of Game of Thrones, Westworld, Veep and more. You can also stream classic HBO shows like The Sopranos and Sex and the City. Finally, the service offers all of the movies, including recent Hollywood films, that regular HBO subscribers can watch, on demand.
  • Like its normal counterpart, HBO Now releases new episodes of its current TV shows every week, the day after they are shown on the premium cable TV network.
  • Like the cable version, HBO Now does not have any commercials and allows unlimited streaming on all its plans, with up to three simultaneous streams at once per account.

What’s on?

Looking for some great content to consume, here’s some of the best shows and movies you’ll find on HBO:

Amazon Prime Video

amazon prime instant video

If you sign up for an Amazon Prime subscription, you also get access to Amazon Prime Video. It offers a lot of great classic movies and TV shows, and a growing number of exclusive TV series and movies, many of which have received high praise from critics.

What you need to know at a glance:

  • Amazon Prime Video is available when you sign up for Amazon Prime, which normally costs $12.99 a month or $119 a year. There’s also the option to sign up for just Amazon Prime Video, without all of the other benefits of Amazon Prime, for $8.99 a month. Head here for more on Amazon Prime Video pricing and features.
  • In addition to lots of classic TV shows and movies, Amazon Prime Video has a growing list of original TV shows and movie exclusives, including the highly anticipated upcoming show Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, which debuts on August 31.
  • There are technically no ads when you watch movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, although sometimes you might get a brief promotional video of a current Amazon Prime original series before your selected show or movie starts running.

What’s on?

Keep the channels while cutting the cord

When you think of cutting the cord, you probably think of something like Netflix where you have to know or search for what you want to watch. Some of us like to simply flip through our favorite channels to see what’s on. Good news! You can cut the cord without leaving this experience behind. There are two main ways of doing this.

Go with an online TV service

Online TV services offer traditional channels but ditch the cable box and stream using your existing Internet connection. Thanks to apps and media streaming devices, you can take your cable with you wherever you go. Some even offer virtual DVR services and more. And often they at least half the price of traditional cable services.

There are plenty of different live TV services out there, including SlingTV, Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live. Prices and channel options vary substantially but they all serve the same purpose: to give you a live TV experience.

To learn more about your individual options, check out the guides below:

  • Everything you need to know about SlingTV
  • Everything you need to know about Playstation Vue
  • Everything you need to know about DirecTV Now
  • Everything you need to know about YouTube TV
  • Everything you need to know about Hulu Live

OTA Television: have your cake and eat it too

Rabbit ears, antenna. Whatever you call it, over-the-air TV is better than ever in 2018, fully digital and in some regions offers a dozen or more channels absolutely free. This includes staples like Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. All you need is a decent antenna and you can still channel surf, without the expensive cable bill. For some, this is probably more than enough to fill your TV needs, but if you want more you can always pair it with a streaming service like Netflix.

Interested? Check out our guide to the best HDTV antennas for watching free TV. To learn what channels are in your area and how could the reception is, you’ll want to head on over to the FCC’s official reception map site.

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