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Before the invention and widespread use of the internet, cable TV was one of the only ways to enjoy the broadest selection and highest quality of programming available.
Nowadays, however, there’s an alternative that makes cable TV seem antiquated. When you make the switch to streaming, this offers greater choice, accessibility, versatility, customization and affordability than cable TV could ever provide.
Benefits of Streaming Services Over Cable TV
Cable TV programming is limited to the programming of the specific, individual stations contained in the cable “package” to which you subscribe. With streaming services you can still watch all the TV you’re accustomed to watching on cable, and then some.
Live Network Television and Live Sports
Streaming services like YouTube TV and Sling TV let you stay current with your favorite shows on channels like NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS. You can also use them to watch your favorite teams play every game of their season.
These live TV streaming services even have their own digital versions of DVR systems, or digital DVRs, you can use to record programming streamed live, and stream it later at your convenience.
When you make the switch to streaming, you can even still keep up with local news, weather and events without paying for local network television by simply installing a TV antenna and hooking it up to a display with a built-in over-the-air tuner.
With this option, however, you’re limited to viewing live. Alternatively, you can use an antenna DVR like TiVO Bolt OTA, AirTV or the Fire TV Recast to stream local TV programming on your own schedule.
Many streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV not only have arrangements with individual network and cable TV stations alike allowing them to offer you access to valued programming, they’re also busily producing their own quality original content for you to enjoy.
Typically, you can only watch cable TV from the television or televisions you have hooked up to the system.
While some allow you to connect to your account remotely from other connected televisions or internet-enabled devices over cellular data or WiFi, this feature usually comes at extra charge.
When it comes to premium upgrades with streaming services, you may upgrade service for the ability to download content to your devices and watch it later, even when you’re out of internet range. You’re not likely to find this service available through your cable TV provider.
With streaming services, you can watch whatever programming the service offers whenever you want. While you can do this with cable TV as well, it usually requires a DVR system at extra cost. Moreover, DVR systems typically have a limit to how much content they can hold.
Streaming services hold all the content for you, giving you access to their entire catalog at any and every moment.
The monthly rates for streaming services are typically a fraction of those for cable TV services.
Many cable TV providers also require as a condition of starting service that you sign a contract committing yourself to keep paying for service for a certain period, even if, at some point you no longer want, need or have the ability to use or pay for the service.
Canceling before this contract period expires typically incurs a penalty fee.
Streaming services usually have no such contractual term. You can sign up and cancel at any point in time. Many will even continue your service after you cancel until the period for which you’ve already paid expires.
How to Cut the Cord on Your Cable Box
Getting rid of cable TV is as simple as cutting the cord.
Before you go online to your cable provider’s website or call the company’s customer service line and request to cancel your account, make sure you’re all set up to make the switch to streaming. Fortunately, this is quite easy. All it requires is a suitable internet connection and streaming device.
For many households, their cable TV provider is the same company that provides their internet service, normally as a bundle billed together at one combined rate.
By cancelling your cable TV, you may or may not be able to retain your internet connection, and even if you do, you may not get any reduction in your bill.
Do your homework, and find out if switching to a new internet provider altogether would be more affordable. A broadband connection with unlimited data is ideal for streaming.
You’ll need at least one internet-enabled device with the ability to download streaming apps on which to watch the programming you plan to stream.
Many televisions sold these days are “Smart TVs” that are internet-enabled with the ability to install and run streaming apps. The TV you already use to watch cable TV may even be one such Smart Television.
Alternatively, you could opt for a standalone streamer, like an Amazon Fire TV or a Roku.
If you already have a computer, laptop, tablet, phone or other internet-enabled device that downloads, installs and runs apps, whether an Android, Apple or other model, you can also use that for streaming.
Once you’ve gotten your internet connection and streaming devices squared away, all that’s left is to choose which streaming service or services you’d like to join and sign up.
Mostly you’ll be basing your choices here on the various services’ selections of programming, and which are most appealing to you.
While there can seem like an overwhelming amount of streaming services to choose from, fortunately, most streaming services offer a free trial period, and many offer a cheaper ad-supported and premium ad-free option.
Once you have your device of choice in hand and have selected your choice of streaming service or services, simply download the respective apps and sign up for service. This usually involves providing your contact information, picking a plan and providing a means of payment.
At this point, all that’s left is to contact your cable company and cut the cord.