Cord Cutting Guide
Beginner’s Guide to Cutting the Cable Cord
Dec 11th, 2019
So, you’ve decided to step into the future, fly free and cut the cord. We’re so excited for you! Your life is about to level-up.
Luckily, video streaming options keep growing. This is where we can help. Our Cord Cutter’s Guide will help you figure out exactly which devices and services you need for what you want to watch now. And we know you’ll never yearn for the days of cable-past.
Cable Cord Cutting Basics
Before you go through the stress of pressing 1 for english, repeating “CANCEL. MY. SERVICE.” to a bot, and waiting on hold for an hour, let’s make sure you’re ready.
Step One: find a good great internet service provider
You’ll need a healthy internet connection to power all the streaming you’re about to do. Though many streaming services are leveraging caching, if you’re planning to watch TV in the living room while your roommate is streaming Netflix in the bedroom and you’re FaceTiming your mom and staying active on your work slack... well. We’re talking at least 25Mbps for one 4K stream - for all that, you probably need 80Mbps to be safe.
Figure out if your current internet bandwidth can handle it by running a simple test.
Step Two: choose a device (or two)
There are a lot of options out there to support streaming services, from streaming boxes and sticks and laptops, to smart TVs and over-the-air antennas. Maybe you already have your devices hooked up to your internet--or you want to supplement what’s sitting in your living room now. If you need help deciding what is right for you, check out this overview.
Step Three: subscribe to streaming services
Unless you’re planning to cut the cord because you hate TV (but...we’re in the golden age?!), you’ll need to subscribe to some streaming services. Chances are, you may already subscribe to (or use your ex-girlfriend’s uncle’s login for) Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Now. Maybe everything you watch is on those, so you’re already set.
Are you worried about live tweets spoiling your favorite reality tv show or sitcom? Maybe you’re more concerned about big sports games or award shows? You just need to find the right streaming services.
We've got a lot of suggestions here.
- Where to stream NFL games
- Where to stream NBA games
- Live news and top streaming options for news junkies
- Best online fitness programs you can stream
- Netflix and Hulu alternatives: 15 niche streaming services
With waaaay more to come. Which brings us to...
Streaming Services: The Starter Pack
Everyone has their own refined taste when it comes to watching TV. Are you a sitcom addict? Bachelor(ette) fan? News junkie, documentary film buff, or stand-up comedy critic? Whatever you like to watch, the great news is that you can find it somewhere on the internet, through an app, or with an added-on device.
Here are some of the most popular, basic solutions.
Netflix started out delivering DVDs straight to your mailbox and soon became a digital platform (but you can still get DVDs delivered!). While you can find a plethora of movies and shows on Netflix, some fan favorites include Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Black Mirror, any of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up specials, and more. Seriously, this doesn’t even scratch the surface.
- It’s a good fit for everyone - they have parental controls, a growing cache of content, and an already-huge trove of shows and movies in every genre.
- A subscription is $12.99 per month for two HD streams -- this is the middle and most common plan. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel at anytime.
- Access Netflix from a TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone - stream wherever you find WiFi. They even let you download shows to-go now!
Hulu subscription streaming service features a lot of original content, aggregated shows and movies from outside sources and Hulu Live. Some crowd-pleasers include The Handmaid’s Tale, Parks and Recreation, and you can stroll down memory lane with throwbacks like Twin Peaks or Scrubs.
- This is a good solution if you want to keep up with current tv shows, but don’t care about watching them live. If you do care about catching a show as it airs, you can watch almost everything you’d get with cable through Hulu Live - plus Hulu originals.
- Hulu Live is a little pricey, at $44.99 per month, but that means that you can watch live sports to your heart’s delight. You can opt for lower subscriptions, which start at $5.99 per month.
- Access Hulu on your computer, tablet, or phone through an app. You can choose how many streams to have going at once - there is nothing worse than getting kicked out in the middle of binging Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
YouTube, everyone’s favorite spot to watch music videos, launched YouTube TV. Similar to Hulu Live, the offering features everything you could watch with cable without a cable box.
- If you’re a YouTube Premium member (a separate subscription), you can watch YouTube web content without ads through YouTube TV.
- It’ll cost $49.99 per month with the ability to cancel anytime (unlike cable). That means you can sign up during basketball season and unsubscribe during baseball season.
- YouTube TV is a great interface for your phone, just in case you’re stuck at work while your team is playing in the World Cup, or the World Series, or the Super Bowl...you get it. It can be accessed via all the regular channels as well (computer, tv, tablet, etc.)
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you already have access to Amazon’s streaming service. Like Hulu and Netflix, Amazon has been dabbling in content creation, but they’re mainly an aggregator of TV shows and movies. The best/worst part of Amazon Prime Video - if a show or movie isn’t included with your prime membership, you can easily purchase it within the interface. Dangerous for your credit card, great for fulfilling all your streaming desires.
- If you already have a Prime membership, start using this service now! If not, an Amazon Prime membership is $12.99 per month (or $119 per year) unless you’re a student.
- The membership includes the streaming service plus everything else Amazon offers (two-day shipping, Whole Foods discounts, Kindle books…).
- You can download shows and movies from Amazon to watch on planes, trains, long car rides, etc. Available on the usual devices.
The newcomer on the scene, Disney+ is definitely making a splash with those who are nostalgic for anything from the Disney Channel, Disney movies, or looking for new Star Wars/rebooted shows to watch. It's all ad-free for a fee.
- Disney+ is only $6.99/month and fun for the whole family; there's content for kids, the Marvel universe, Star Wars (so nice, we're saying it twice), and way more.
- Disney is currently offering a bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN for $12.99/month, so you can get animation, made-for-TV shows, and sports
- You can take Disney+ shows to-go by downloading them. Sounds like a great way to keep the peace during a family roadtrip.
AT&T TV Now
You may be familiar with the branded DirecTV satellite dishes that used to perch out of windows or on rooftops. DirecTV moved into streaming services by offering one of the most comprehensive packages - without the satellite. And then they rebranded when they were bought by AT&T. This service offers a plethora of channels (anything you could watch with cable!) and add-ons galore, like HBO, CineMAX, or Starz.
- If you watch a lot of television - maybe you have multiple watchers in your home - AT&T TV Now is for you.
- This is one of the more expensive options, starting at $50 per month and going up from there. The “Ultimate” package is $135 per month.
- Access AT&T TV Now from their app, “anytime, anywhere”
There’s a lot of options out there and this is just scraping the surface. Cutting the cord can be confusing at first, but you’re not alone. More than 1 million people ditched cable in the last quarter of 2018 alone. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering why you ever had cable to begin with.