December 24, 2019


Cutting the cord – cable alternatives

A couple years ago I got tired of the rising cost of cable, and the lack of control as a consumer I felt over that cost, so I decided to ditch the service. A couple things made this an easy choice: 1) HBO Now came out so I no longer needed a cable subscription to access streaming premium Sunday night entertainment and 2) some new cable streaming alternatives (particularly SlingTV) had entered the market. I did a test of Sling and found that the little app on my Roku as actually a much better and faster experience than the old cable box I was previously relying on. I can also add it to my phone or computer so it was available anywhere I had internet access, making it a lot more accessible. In addition to being a better experience, Sling was a service I could cancel and reactivate at will, so no contracts involved, and it was a good deal cheaper than cable.

There are now several choices for cable streaming alternatives: SlingTV, YouTubeTV, ATT TV Now. (However, sadly the Playstation Vue service is going away.)

I have since completely cut off cable alltoghter but I like that I can reactivate Sling or Hulu+LiveTV anytime I want for a month at a time to watch something like the World Series, the Olympics, World Cup, etc.

If you’re looking for a free cable alternative you might consider PlutoTV. Being that it’s free, you’re not exactly going to find a lot of premium content on PlutoTV but the ad-supported service does have a lot of content and it is presented in a traditional live tv format. But their is a surprising amount of content, and a surprising amount of good on-demand movies - and all for free. Among the channels available are a channel streaming all the classic James Bond films, a channel with endless reruns of American Gladiators, channels dedicated to all sorts of genre’s from westerns to holiday films. And there is lots of Comedy Central content (Pluto is owned by Viacom). You’ll also find a lot of live news sources (such as live CBS News) that could make individual news apps unnecessary.

Outside of live sports and tv news, there isn’t a lot of reason to want a streaming cable alternative.

As for live news, I have found the CBS News live service is on par with their cable alternative. But there are a bunch of other free news services that anyone cutting cable should consider. First and foremost, if you want to be informed, I always rely on NPR and PBS. You can get your local NPR station on your Roku using the TuneIn app, or if you have an Apple TV you can use the NPR One app. You can get PBS with their own app, or stream their daily broadcast of NewsHour right off YouTube. If you’re looking for local news, chances are the NewsON app offers a lot of your local news stations. My favorite news app to recommend is the ReutersTV news app - it’s available on Roku, or just steaming in your web browser. The interface design of the Reuters app is excellent.

I use a Roku but all of these suggestions would be available on an Apple TV or Amazon Fire device as well.