Cable television service is usually one of the more expensive monthly household bills, sometimes approaching $200. Because of this, lots of people are ditching the cable television service and using free broadcast TV and streaming services instead. Here is a brief look at your options for cord cutting.
The first thing to do when cord cutting is connect an antenna to your TV to get free over-the-air broadcasts from your local TV stations in HD quality. You can see a list of all the stations in Louisville here:
Keep in mind, you may not pick up every station. Some of the power powered ones, like 24, 21, 16, 68, etc. can be difficult to get depending on your location, and the location of the antenna.
You can use any antenna, even old rabbit ear antennas from the ’50s, but to get better reception, you can try a new one. Check out this review here:
One other thing, you can also get an amplifier box if you’re having trouble picking up stations. This wont always solve the problem of a weak signal, but it usually helps.
Also, check out antennaweb.org and put in your address for information on the best kind of antenna for your area.
Once you’ve got your local channels working you can move onto streaming services.
You have several options for streaming. First, you need to have a device to allow you to stream content to your TV. You have several options for the device. The main ones are Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. They all have all the major streaming apps with the exception being that Amazon’s Prime Streaming services is only available on it’s FireTV, and of course iTunes purchases are only available on the Apple TV.
You can get several variants of the Roku depending on what you want.
The Roku Express is their cheapest option. It works great for $30.
The Roku Streaming Stick is $50
The Roku Premier adds 4K capability for $70
The Roku Premier+ adds 4K and HDR and a more advanced remote for $100
The Roku Ultra is $130
There are several Amazon Fire TV variants as well.
The FireTV Stick is the cheapest at $40
The Fire TV supports 4K for $90
I would advise you to get the Fire TV Stick.
There are two Apple TV variants, but the only difference is the storage capacity. I would recommend just getting the cheaper of the two (32GB) for $150
The AppleTV also lets you do AirPlay from your other iOS devices (iPhone, and iPad). This allows you to stream the video and/or audio from your device to the AppleTV.
Google offers a streaming devices called the Chromecast
It lets you do all the same kind of streaming services that you can do with the other devices, but the one drawback is that you must use your smartphone or a computer as a controller. It does not have a standalone remote control. That is one major drawback for me personally, but some people don’t mind.
The FireTV and AppleTV both offer voice search. All told, if you’re still not sure which to get, I would probably recommend the Amazon FireTV Stick.
When you connect these devices to your TV, you will download apps (like you do on an iPhone or Android phone) for whatever you want to stream. Some apps are completely free, like the PBS app, but others require a subscription. Netflix and Hulu are the most popular. Those services require a subscription at $8 per month each. Those two should cover the majority of what you want to watch. Netflix has tons of movies and TV series, but not the latest. Hulu has all the latest TV shows and quite a nice collection of movies as well. You can, of course, stream either of those on your computer or iPhone or iPad with the same subscription as well. They both offer free trial subscriptions if you want to check out their libraries. There are other apps like HBO Now or CrunchyRoll which have their own subscriptions, but you don’t have to get those (we are trying to save money after all.) If you load up on all the same channels and content that you currently have access to with cable, you’ll end up spending about the same as you do for cable.
If you want live TV streaming, there are several options for paid services. These include:
DirecTV Now ($60/month)
Playstation Vue ($30/month)
YouTube TV ($35/month)
Hulu Live ($40/month)
These all provide live TV streaming to those set top boxes (Playstation Vue is not available on AppleTV, though.) YouTube TV is only available on Chromecast and Apple TV. Hulu live is only available on AppleTV and Chromecast for the moment, but they announed they will be rolling it out to Roku and FireTV “soon.”
Each of these providers offer various channel packages for additional content (and additional costs). You can see their channel lineups on their pages.
As for sports, DirecTV Now offers its share of sports channels including the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2. ESPNews, ESPNU and SEC Network), Fox Sports Media Group (FS1, FS2), NBC Sports Group (Golf Channel, NBCSN), Turner Sports (NBA TV) as well as NHL Network, Tennis Channel and TVG. However, NFL Network is not offered on the service for now.
SlingTV offers ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and the extra sport package includes Pac-12, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NHL Network, beIN SPORTS, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Buzzer Beater, Campus Insiders, Outside Television, Motors TV North Am, Univision Deportes
YouTube TV offers ESPN, ESPN 2, Fox Sports, CSN, NBC SN, ESPN U.
Hulu Live includes many sports channels, but I can’t locate a list.
I can’t find a list of sports specific channels on Playstation Vue, but you can check out their channel lineup here: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/channels/
CNet has a nice article explaining the differences between the services here:
Hope this helps!