The last time I actually had cable was when I lived in a dorm at college in 2011. But I still watch everything you watch, when you watch it. I just don’t pay the $100 monthly cable bill.
I don’t pay for cable because it’s expensive, and if you move every year (like a lot of young people in New York City do), it’s a pain to set up new service over and over again.
But I use a bunch of services that help me “cut the cord” while still letting me watch almost everything basic cable provides. Here’s how you can do it too.
OK, so you don't *need* a television set if you're cutting the cord -- you can stream on your tablet or your computer or even your phone. But you can use a TV set to watch network TV, which is different from cable. (A lot of my friends didn't know the difference between the two). All you have to buy is a digital antenna to access Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC.
Cost: Digital antennas cost between $20 and $50, usually. Using them is a bit trial-and-error, so we can't promise a perfect connection. But if you want network channels, it might be a good investment.
Without paying for Hulu Plus, you can access a few full episodes of TV shows, but if you're willing to shell out $7.99 a month, you can access Hulu Plus' network of channels, including ABC, Bravo, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, FX, Comedy Central, Discovery, MTV, and more. It's a good investment if you want to stream next-day episodes, which you can't do on Netflix. Personally, I don't pay for Hulu Plus, but if there's something I'm dying to watch, I'll ask to use a friend's account.
Amazon is catching up to Netflix in terms of original content. 'Transparent' and 'The Man in the High Castle' are both great series. A lot of Amazon Prime's movies are also available on Netflix, so in that regard it's not much different.
Cost: $99 a year for Amazon Prime, or $8.25/month. But you're getting a lot more than just streaming if you have Prime -- you get free two-day shipping on all Amazon orders, for example. I was an Amazon Prime subscriber before I realised its streaming potential, so I don't consider my annual Prime membership a streaming service -- that's just a perk for when I want to watch one of Amazon's series.
So ask if you can use it. HBO Go lets you and two other people share one account with no fee penalty, unlike Netflix. If you insist on having your own standalone HBO account, you can sign up for HBO Now to get your fix for shows like 'Girls' or 'Game of Thrones.' You can stream these live, so if you're watching on your TV, it's no different from watching HBO as part of a cable bundle.
Cost: Free, if you can hop on your parents' HBO account. HBO Now costs $14.99/month.
Sling TV is a service that lets you stream live TV over the internet. You get the Travel Channel, TNT, IFC, the Food Network, HGTV, CNN, ESPN, AMC, Disney, and more. You can also add HBO, but it will cost extra. I can see why Sling TV would be attractive, but I don't use it. Business Insider editor Jay Yarow wrote about his experience cutting down his cable bill with help from Sling TV earlier this year.
Cost: $20/month, without HBO.
We don't advise it, but there are ways to download movies and episodes of TV shows for free using torrenting and wonky, questionably legal streaming websites, often hosted in other countries.
Cost: Free, but you could inadvertently install malware on your computer and/or face legal consequences.