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This page last changed 2024.03.28 18:28

Cutting The Cord - An Approach

So you're thinking of cutting the CATV cord and relying on Internet instead. How should you approach this? Here are my thoughts.

NEW: lets you choose the channels you want and select the streaming service that supplies them. Definitely worth a look; and it's free.

Analyze the situation

  • What are you paying now for CATV?
    • What would you save if you kept everything and eliminated CATV?
    • Consider effects of bundling
  • What channels would you want to continue watching?
    • Look at content services below that are free, will these cover them?
    • Which content service(s) would you need/want to cover the other channels?
  • Add 'em up. See what it would cost without CATV. More? Less?
  • Do you want just to supplement your CATV or completely replace it?

Other considerations

  • Convenience of using CATV vs Internet content services
  • Reliability of the replacement content services
  • Cost of the content services you'd need vs your no-CATV savings
  • Do you use DVR? How would you record content without it? (Alternatives?)
  • How would you watch content without CATV?
    • Does your TV allow browsing to services?
    • Does your TV allow apps (as some content services may offer apps)?
    • Alternatives (dedicate PC to feed TV, others?)
  • Note that: A portion of your CATV cost goes to support community cable, LexMedia.
  • If you kept CATV, you would still be able to use content services (esp. free ones!)
  • Possible effects of using VPN

Lets try an example

  • Determine the channels you like (e.g., CNN, HGTV, BUZZR, channel 5)
  • Find services below that offer one or more of these and try them out
    • Start with free services (e.g., Watch News Live (CNN, HGTV), (BUZZR))
    • Get antenna and try watching local TV using free air signals (e.g., channel 5)
    • Could you rely on network content replays (e.g., 20/20 and Bachelor playbacks on ABC)
    • Could you rely on live feeds from local channels (,,; streema? others?)
      • May need to select CATV provider to access
  • Note that most services that cost $ offer a short free trial period


  • I am on the board of LexMedia (unpaid)
  • I don't own a smart TV
  • I am paying for and using Verizon FiOS
  • I am not paying for any premium channels
  • The content services listed here is not a complete list

Cable Alternatives

or Additional Watching Options

Information updated 2020, 2021, and January 18, 2022.
There is a comparison of channel coverage in this spreadsheet, it shows channel vs content service for those providing the channels (e.g., easy to see which content services show History and HGTV).
Your comments appreciated! Did I miss any services? Or should anything be corrected?


Note that prices may change from here.

Hulu $5.99/mo; $11.99/mo no ads (on-demand library of TV episodes and movies; 1 device/time)
Hulu + Live TV $44.99/mo (Hulu plus live and on-demand TV from 60+ channels; 2 devices/time)
Hulu+Live TV: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, A&E, Animal Planet, CNBC, CNN, Discovery, Disney, Entertainment, ESPN, Food network, Fox News, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MSNBC, NASA, National Geographic, Oxygen, SyFy, TBS, TCM, TLC, TNT, USA
Amazon Prime $8.99/mo, included w/Primemovies on demand. Also some premium services at added cost (e.g., HBO, StarZ, Britbox, Showtime)
2022: several plans, $9.99/mo (one user at time, was 8.99) to $15.49/mo (two at a time, was 12.99) and upmovies and tv series on demand, pay one price get all they offer
$20/mo no contract live & on-demand & record live TVA&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC World News, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, Cooking, Discovery, DIY, Food Network, Game Show Network, HGTV, History, Lifetime, TLC, TV Land
Available on Roku, Apple TV, firetv, Android TV, iOS (up to 3 at a time)
Sling TV
(There is a device “Slingbox”–theoretically connect to your home cable and view your channels anywhere–but I'm not able to use it any longer)
Orange ($25/mo): ESPN, Disney, A&E, TNT, AMC, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central, History, Food network, Lifetime, Bloomberg; one device/time
Blue ($25/mo): BBC, National Geographic, USA, TNT, AMC, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central, History, A&E, Food network, Lifetime, Bloomberg, discovery, TLC, SyFy, BET, Entertainment; 3 devices/time
Orange+Blue ($40/mo): both plan's channels, 4 devices/time.
Fubo TV
$54.99/mo100+ channels; sports mostly. In our area: 4, 23, NBC, NESN, A&E, AMC, Bravo, Entertainment network, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, History, USA, TNT, TBS, SyFy, TCM, NECN, TV Land, Discovery, TLC, many more
Starts at $4.99/mo $49.99/yr$4.99/mo: live events, series
12.99/mo: add Hulu and Disney+
Apple TV$4.99/mo ad-free; need iPhone, iPad, Apple TV HD, or Apple TV 4K, MacOS Catalina, Samsung or LG smart TV, Roku, Amazon FireBuy or rent movies. Watch many channels, but each has monthly costs. Most prices match provider (Native App) but providers usually offer annual price break and Apple TV is straight month-to-month; for example Britbox is $6.99/mo with Apple, but $6.99/mo or $69.99/yr with native app. HBO $14.99/mo, Showtime $10.99/mo, StarZ $8.99/mo. Opinion: best to go with native app as it often offers break for annual.
Orby TV http://orbytv.comEssentials $40/mo; get local channels using outside antenna; requires satellite dishA&E, CNN, Food Network, FYI, HGTV, History, HLN, Lifetime, TBS, TCM, TLC, TNT, TV Land, AMC, BBC America, Discovery, more
YouTube TV
$49.99/mo ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC ESPN, AMC, CNN, Disney, Food network, HGTV, TNT. Local channels 4, 5, 10, 25, 38, NECN.
HBO Go: included with paid TV subscription that has HBO
HBO Now: $15/mo, stand-alone doesn't need cable TV package
All HBO content.
Available on Fire TV, Android, iOS, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, more
CBS All Access
Limited commercials plan: $5.99/mo
Commercial-free plan: $9.99/mo
CBS TV shows. Also available on Amazon Prime as add-on, same price $24.99 offseason“Relive the 2019 season” – watch full games in HD quality; available till March 25, 2020
Acorn TV$5.99/mo $59.99/yr“World-class TV from Britain and beyond
Britbox$6.99/mo, $69.99/yrDr. Who, Shetland, Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Mr. Bean, Prime Suspect, Vera, Fry and Laurie, lots more


Updated 1/18/2022 using info from MUO, Make Use Of
Note that some sites may not work for you given where you are; in this case you may need to use a VPN. Presented in no specific order.
See also this Make-use-of article on 15 free channels

Free. Many movie channels. BUZZR, British TV, James Bond movies, Baywatch, Crime Network, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, Bloomberg. Addams Family, Dragnet, Dick Van Dyke Show, Unsolved Mysteries, Forensic Files, Hell's Kitchen uncensored, This Old House, Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders, Comedy Central, many sports channels. Scifi, Science, Tech, C-Net, NASA. Cats channel, Dogs channel Pets channel.
Watch News Live
freeA&E, Bravo, CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, HBO, HGTV, History, NFL Network, StarZ, SyFy, USA
Live News Mag
freeABC, MSNBC, National Geographic, more
ABCWatch Live
Watch shows
NBCWatch Live
Watch Shows on demand Bravo, Entertainment, MSNBC, Oxygen, SyFy, USA
Offers free app (for iOS, Android, ROku, Fire, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, more) to watch live feed
Tubi TV
FreeMovies on demand. Minority Report, Jeff Dunham, Catch Me If You Can, more. Many more you've probably never heard of.
Streema free?Channels 5, 2, 4, 25, 38; more, choose by region, country, city, genre
I just found this, needs more analysis, points out that there is MUCH MORE STUFF AVAILABLE!
Free, owned by SonyTV and movie content. Also has latest film info. Get notified of new or upcoming flicks.
Free, and notThere are free titles (movies, sitcoms, more) that have ads; and some you pay for renting.
Free, thru your libraryMovies, documentaries, business, health, science, and more. The Perfect Host. Some Cary Grant movies (Charade, To Catch a Thief The Bishop's Wife, and more).
Free, some have advertsMany legal movies and shows; works on many devices
Free, some with advertsNo sign up requirement. Includes some of Netflix's top-rated features
Free, TV shows onlyIf ShareTV has a show with episodes it doesn't have, it links you to where you can get the missing episodes. Good online community, viewing guide, video clips, detailed episode info.
FreeLive and on-demand TV. Over 190 channels, divided into categories. No adverts.
Free with advertsAnime focus
CONtv Anime
Free, was known as ViewsterAnime focus. Also has Hollywood and Bollywood flicks. There are in-video interruptions.
Free with advertsAnime focus


[David Kluchman 04feb2020] You named the big 3 streaming services except it is “Youtube TV” (which is different than Direct TV may have a internet streaming offering. As far as I know, YouTube TV is the only one that gives you local sports teams (Bruins, Sox, Celtics) local cable channels (NESN and NBCSN Boston). Here is a review of that service.

[JJ Krawczyk 04feb2020] ATT had rebranded DirecTV Now:

Lexington Library

Our very own library offers free content including Acorn TV (see above), Hoopla (streaming and downloadable media), and Kanopy (streaming video including classic and independent films). You need a library card to check out these materials.

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catv_alternatives.txt · Last modified: 2024.03.28 18:28 by Steve Isenberg