Several years ago I started wondering about cord cutting and getting rid of cable, many streaming services were in their infancy then so I researched it a bit but had doubts, and shelved the idea for awhile.
Then a couple of years ago my family went for it. I haven't looked back since, so I am writing an introductory guide to the best cord cutting options.
It can be overwhelming sorting through the choices in regards to cord cutting and finally turning off the cable, 2020 has more choices than ever so let's get started!
What is cord cutting?
Cord cutting is getting rid of or cancelling cable TV, at least in the most classic sense of the large cable companies which can overcharge us, and keep us locked into contracts for years.
Once you cancel cable TV you can use internet or wireless services to watch video from streaming services instead.
It's definitely helpful to make a spreadsheet or list comparing costs of cord cutting with your current cable TV options. This is what I did for awhile before keeping cable made no sense anymore at all.
It can be daunting to see all the items needed to get rid of cable and they can add up. In some cases it may not be much cheaper than sticking with a cable television package. But with all the streaming options available now I think cord cutting makes much more sense than traditional cable. You can get what you want without all the extra content you don't need.
In our case it was cheaper to cut the cord as our cable bill was costing significantly more than we were getting out of it. Taking the plunge can be scary but can also save hundreds of dollars a year.
My list includes the most basic items you will need to get started. I will expand on each section in future posts and cover them more in depth, so stay tuned for those as well.
I will also include my personal favorite cord cutting options throughout this list, although there is a large amount of choices and it may come down to personal preference and need.
Cord Cutting, the basics needed to get started:
The most important item you need is an internet connection which can handle streaming services.
5.0 Mbps is the recommended minimum internet speed for high definition streaming. 25 Mbps is the recommended speed for Ultra HD streaming (4K).
If you live alone or are streaming only one item at a time 5 Mbps would technically work, but many households need more to truly live the streaming lifestyle.
25 Mbps is a minimum. I started with 75 Mbps, and it is more than enough for a household of four users with mobile devices, multiple televisions, my Peloton bike, and two adults working from home.
You can find your current internet speed here. If testing speed while on wireless it will show a little less than testing over a wired connection so keep that in mind.
Many cable companies will not be happy when you drop the TV portion of your package and may charge more for your internet without it. I found it still cheaper overall to pay a little more for internet and cut the tv portion, than it was to remain in a cable package.
It's still infuriating to see cable package customers getting higher internet speeds for cheaper. When you add in fees, set top boxes, and extras, cord cutting still comes out cheaper for me.
You will also want to make sure you have a router and either modem or ONT (Optical Network Terminal for FIOS users).
If you already have an internet connection than you are most likely set and this may be provided by your internet provider. If not, you will need to buy it yourself.
A streaming box or stick.
While many televisions have streaming apps and smart TV capability built in, having a streaming box is going to give you the most options, control, and enhance your streaming lifestyle.
I have been more than happy with Amazon Fire TV for years although I have also used Apple TV and it's great too. I also have a built in Roku TV and a Chromecast device. They all work great but wired over wireless to the TV is going to work best.
They are close contenders for me and I have switched between the them all due to various reasons I can explore more in a future post.
I highly recommend the Amazon Fire TV for anyone who already has Amazon Prime but this choice will come down to personal preference.
An HDMI cable will be needed to connect your streaming device or box and TV.
You can find cheap ones on the internet so no need to walk into the store and spend a lot of money on cables.
An antenna will be needed to get local channels unless you have a streaming service which includes local channels.
Many users love them because they can get a lot of additional channels as well. I don't actually use an antenna because I have a subscription TV service (discussed below) which provides them to me.
You can bet I would have an antenna though if needed, and many cord cutters love having it.
MOHU Leaf 50 is highly recommended.
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are going to give you a lot to watch.
Disney released their streaming app and in a house with 3 kids you can bet it's a favorite!
You can also add on premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz and many others. CBS All Access gives you access to all CBS shows and live TV.
There are plenty of options to add once you get started.
Sling, YouTube TV, Direct TV Now or other streaming video service
In addition to everything listed above you can stream video from a number of services.
I listed the major ones above but there are others emerging in this competition and a deeper comparison will be coming.
These services allow you to watch a number of typical cable channels, plus some network channels, and sports options for a much lower cost than typical cable TV.
They offer DVR services which stores your shows on their cloud networks (no hardware needed), some have pausing and rewinding or fast forwarding.
Features vary but if you are not ready to go all the way without any kind of TV service these are wonderful and make the transition from cable to cord cutting much easier. Oh, and none of them have service contracts. You pay as you go and can cancel at anytime.
My favorite streaming service for cutting the cord and getting rid of cable is YouTube TV
My current favorite streaming service for watching TV is YouTube TV. I previously had Playstation Vue and was happy with it but they discontinued the service.
I did some additional research and ended up with YouTube TV and I love it. Here are a few of the things about it that make it a great option:
unlimited storage space to record.
You can share it with your family and have up to six accounts.
You can cancel anytime, no contracts.
It has 70 plus channels and premium add ons like HBO and Showtime, and sports options.
Cost is $50 a month and can try it for free.
It works with all of the streaming devices I mentioned above and more.
I love that I can be watching something on TV downstairs and go to my room and continue up there or on my phone.
All streaming services have benefits and options so find what appeals to you. This just happens to be my current favorite.
The last item needed to get started with cord cutting is a Television that can handle all of this!
You probably already have a great television, and it may already have many apps built in so you can get started cord cutting without a streaming box.
If you do need a new television the standard seems to be moving towards Ultra High Definition or 4K. Find out what suits your budget and needs and go from there.
I will follow up on this post by breaking each section down and expanding on it further.
This guide to the best cord cutting options will definitely get you headed in the right direction and give you information to get started.
With the items listed here you are well on your way. There are many more options in the cord cutting world such as setting up your own server with Plex for movies and TV shows you may already own.
But that is getting into the advanced territory and will be covered in future posts.
Please let me know if you have any questions at all! If you have cut the cord and gotten rid of cable please let me know how it's going for you and any items I may have missed.