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How to Cut the Cord

Ditching cable or satellite for streaming TV is easier than you think—we’ll show you how.

Ready to cut the cord?

Admit it: You’ve been putting off dropping your cable or satellite TV service because you’re worried you won’t be able to get all your shows and sports from that “internet TV.” We get it, but streaming TV can deliver the full viewing experience in 2021, and for less money (in most cases).

This site may be called CableTV.com, but we’re all about connecting you with the right television experience for you—cable, satellite, streaming, or even an antenna (old school still works). Here, we’re going to walk you through steps to go all-in on streaming TV, both on-demand and live.

For more general info on TV streaming, check out our TV Streaming Guide.

1. Upgrade your internet speed

Since you’re living in 2021 and reading this, we’ll assume you have an internet connection. For streaming TV, you’ll want the fastest internet service you can get. To avoid buffering and lag time, most streaming TV services recommend at least 7 Mbps (megabytes per second) of download speed for their service; we say at least 25–100 Mbps.

Why? Because TV is likely not the only thing streaming in your home. Web surfing, gaming, chatting, and all your other simultaneous online activities eat into internet bandwidth, so you’ll want more speed to keep up. Connection reliability is also a big factor, because no internet means no streaming TV.

We recommend fiber-optic or cable internet if they’re available in your area, since both can reach download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. DSL internet will also work, as will some satellite internet services, but usually not as efficiently or reliably as fiber-optic and cable hookups.

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2. Pick your streaming device(s)

Now it’s time to choose your streaming box (or stick). At CableTV.com, we’re fans of Roku streaming devices, but there’s plenty of quality streaming hardware to choose from. Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, and even good ole TiVo make excellent streaming boxes and sticks.

You can also stream directly through most gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and smart TVs. We prefer dedicated streaming devices, which provide more flexibility and app choices. They’re also less expensive to replace or upgrade—if the Hulu app stops working on your 10-year-old smart TV, do you really want to buy a new model? Maybe, but it’s not exactly cost-efficient.

3. Collect your apps and services

Besides the usual suspects (Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video), there are hundreds of on-demand streaming services available on various streaming devices—thousands, if you’re a Roku user. They’re not all great (jury’s out on Cats Gone Wild, which is all kitties all the time), but the variety and quantity of streaming apps and services, many of which are free, is staggering. Set aside an afternoon and browse.

On-demand streaming services

Price Video Editorial rating Details
$8.99–$17.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.33/5 View plans
$5.99–$11.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.22/5 View plans
$12.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.19/5 View plans
$7.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.61/5 View plans
$14.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.5/5 View plans
$5.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.2/5 View plans
Free–$9.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.33/5 View plans
$5.99–$9.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.07/5 View plans
$4.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 3.93/5 View plans
$4.99–$6.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4.00/5 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Live TV streaming services

Price Channels Editorial rating Details
$64.99/mo. 100+ 4.5/5 View plans
$64.99–$70.99/mo. 70+ 4.22/5 View plans
$25.00/mo. 63+ 3.66/5 View plans
$64.99–$79.99/mo. 109–156+ 4.04/5 View plans
$35.00–$50.00/mo. 30–50+ 3.89/5 View plans
$69.99–$139.99/mo. 65–140+ 3.52/5 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Live TV streaming, which replicates the cable/satellite live TV experience of channels and grids, is a smaller list. YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo, Sling TV, fuboTV, and AT&T TV stream live TV channels, though not all of them carry the same array of channels you’d get from cable or satellite.

For example: if you’re a Walking Dead fan, you’d be disappointed to find that Hulu + Live TV doesn’t have AMC in its channel lineup. Similarly, YouTube TV doesn’t carry Hallmark, and you can’t get much live sports on Sling TV without buying add-on packages. Be sure to check those live channel lineups before signing up.

4. Customize your setup

Streaming TV offers more personalization options than cable or satellite; you can arrange apps and services as you like on your device’s home screen in most cases, placing your favorites and go-tos higher up for quick access. No hunting for Paramount+ when you need your SpongeBob fix—it’s right there.

Likewise, live TV streaming channels can be arranged in custom order on most services, or at least “favorited” closer to the top of the channel grid. For example, YouTube TV allows you to place channels in any grid order you want and hide channels you never watch (just tell dad you don’t get Newsmax when he visits for the holidays).

5. Get an antenna—yes, really

“I now have a killer, space-age streaming TV setup—why would I want an old-timey antenna?” Because your internet connection just might go down at some point, and you’ll want a backup. What are you going to do then, read a book? Didn’t think so.

Having a digital antenna also gives you more viewing options, as well as access to local news, weather, and sports you might not be able to get through live TV streaming. Plugging in an over-the-air antenna and doing a channel scan will help you discover area broadcast channels you might not have even known about, as well as local stations carrying channels like PBS and The CW (which are mostly absent from live TV streaming services).

An antenna is a one-time purchase that can give you years of free TV entertainment for under $50, making it one of the best unadvertised TV deals out there. Did we mention rerun blocks of The Nanny and Frasier? Don’t sleep on retro TV.