Cord Cutters Step by Step Guide to Low Cost and Free TV
How to Easily Dump your Cable TV Provider
More cable TV subscribers are cutting the cord than ever before. Here is what you need to know to start saving money too!
Cutting the cord can mean different things and may not always mean the same to everyone. From not paying for TV, to signing up for a paid streaming TV service, to downsizing a cable TV subscription or eliminating additional cable TV or satellite boxes and supplementing them with media streamers like Roku.
This Is What You Need to Cut the Cord
Antenna - Free Network TV Channels
TIP: If you already have an old satellite dish installed on your roof, use the same mast to mount your antenna. Since the wires already go to your television and your pole should already be grounded, it will make installing your antenna much quicker and easier. For More Antenna Tips, See our Digital TV Antenna Guide
Roku is one of today's most popular media streamers for several reasons. It is one of the easiest media streamers to use no matter if you are eight or eighty. If you enjoy watching content from Amazon, Netflix or Hulu all these services are available on Roku. You can't watch your Prime Video subscription on an Android TV box unless you have a Fire TV or Fire Streaming Stick. Also, Netflix will not work in 4K on Android TV yet will on a Roku 4K player.
Roku now has over 3000+ channels which is many more than most other media streamers combined. There is also a long list of Roku Private Channels that will supercharge your Roku and give you access to tons of Free TV and even Porn.
Roku hooks directly to your television with an HDMI cable and streams content from the Internet either by WiFi or from an Ethernet cable. This gives you access to an almost endless supply of video content that is hosted online and organized on Roku by channels. If you already subscribe to satellite or cable, dump your extra boxes and watch these Cable TV channels on Roku for Free!
Roku media players can be found for as little as $29 for their Express model all the way to $129 for their top of the line Ultra 4K streamer. To compare current Roku models... please click here
1. To use your Roku you will first need to create an account at Roku.com You will need to add a credit card, but if you would rather not use a credit card. Sign-up for Roku here without a credit card here.
2. Once you have created your Roku account, sign-in and you can start adding channels by visiting our Roku Channels Guide or their Online Channel Store. After you have added the channels, go to Settings/System on your Roku and Check for Updates. Your new channels will be added at the end of your channels on your Roku once the update has finished. Do this each time you add any more channels.
3. To organize, move or remove your Roku channels, press the (*) Asterisk button on your Roku remote.
Note: If you live outside the USA, you won't be able to access the channel store. Here is a list of Roku Private Channels you can add by Code.
Roku truly is a very useful media streamer and one that you will likely enjoy and use more than any other. To get the most from your Roku, please join us at Roku Rocks on Facebook for many more helpful tips.
Android TV Boxes Best for Free TV
Android TV boxes are becoming more popular especially for the Free TV crowd. This is because of the wide range of content available with popular apps like Kodi and Terrarium. These apps have pretty much everything found on paid streaming TV services except they operate in a legal gray area that streams unlicensed content. While streaming unlike downloading is not technically illegal, by supporting a paid streaming service it helps to ensure more content will be available and video producers are get paid for their efforts.
The full Android operating system (OS) is not as intuitive or easy to use as Roku. Fire TV and Nvidia Shield use the true Google Android TV OS rather than the Mobile OS which most all Android TV clone boxes use. The Android OS also lacks the larger lean back user interface which makes everything look larger on your TV. You will also want a Bluetooth mouse to use with your Android box. It makes life so much easier than the cheap remotes that tends to come with them.
One disadvantage of the Amazon Fire TV, Fire Stick and Nvidia Shield is they use a special version of the Play Store which only contains approved apps. Almost every Android app can still be used on these devices using a process called sideloading. These apps must be run from within a special launcher which is just another app that must be installed first. Here is an excellent Guide to Sideload Fire TV.
Android TV boxes can also use many of the same apps and games that work on your mobile devices from the Google Play Store. They also support an Internet browser which Roku does not, so it can also be used as an inexpensive gaming device or computer replacement.
Android media streamers range in price from $50 for lower cost clones to upwards of $200 for a well built Nvidia Shield. You will want to go with a good brand that provides timely firmware updates, otherwise you may end up buying new Android Boxes quit often. Many of the cheaper clones don't provide updates at all. Here are some of the Best Android TV Boxes.
To get more from your Android TV steamer, join Team Android on Facebook.
HTPC or NAS Can Do It All
A PC or NAS can be one of the most expensive cord cutting devices and also the most useful. HTPC is a term used for a Home Theater Personal Computer which is setup for the single purpose of using it to play your media and stream content from the Internet. A PC or (NAS) Network Attached Storage box can also be setup to use Plex and act as a media server to stream your video and music content to a media streamer or other portable devices in your home.
Many cord cutters may eventually end up with a small HTPC or NAS as they can be very useful, especially if you want to record live TV from an antenna. You can also use an HTPC to run Kodi and watch content from Internet Streaming Sites all from one device.
If you want to hook it directly to your television rather than access it over your network, look for a NAS or HTPC that comes with an HDMI output. An HTPC or NAS may not be for everyone, although if you want to buy a media server that can run Kodi, Plex and uses an Internet Browser, and can record and playback live HD TV it may be the best way to go. Here are some choices for building an HTPC.
Recording Live HD TV - DVR
Silicone Dust also make a cable TV compatible HDHomeRun model that uses a Cable Card to let you record cable TV channels. Recordings can be played back from a media streamer, NAS or from an HTPC directly if it plugs into your television.
More DVR Options to Record LIVE HDTV
Best Streaming TV Services
Netflix (Monthly Sub) By far the most popular streaming TV service is Netflix. Plans begin at only $7.99 for a basic monthly plan that lets you watch Netflix on one screen at a time in Standard Definition. $9.99/month lets you watch Netflix on two screens at a time in High Definition. Step up to their $11.99 plan and you can watch in 4K UHD and up to four screens at the same time. TIP: You can even share it with other family members or friends.
There are many commercial free Movies and TV series on Netflix to binge watch. Netflix also has many of their own award winning Original TV Series that have received some great reviews. Try Netflix Free for 30 days.
YouTube (Free and Ad Free Monthly Sub)
YouTube and YouTube Red the $10/month ad free version are one of the most watched and popular streaming services today. Maybe it's because you can find so much free content on YouTube including Full TV Shows and Movies. Use our special YouTube Search Tool and it will help you find them.
YouTube has an app that works on pretty much all media Streamers and Smart TVs plus you can link your YouTube app to your mobile devices to search for and cast movies or videos right to your Roku or other Media Streamer and watch it on TV. This is how it's done.
Hulu is another popular streaming TV service because it has current TV shows. Unlike Netflix which subscribers need to wait until the season is over. Hulu airs the show the next day. Hulu gives you one stream per device and costs $7.99/month. This gives Hulu members access to huge library of the best TV, Hulu Originals, hit movies, and more. Hulu typically has 30 seconds ads in between the show. If you want to watch Hulu without commercials it will cost you an extra $4.00/month although a few shows are exempt from this and will still include commercials. They include: Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scandal, Grimm, New Girl, and How To Get Away With Murder. You can Try Hulu One Week for Free Amazon Prime Video (Paid)
Amazon which owns the Prime Video service is offered as a perk to Prime customers. While much of their content is rental or purchase only. Prime members get to stream a wide selection of made for Amazon Shows Free along with some other movies and TV shows. Although nowhere the extent of free content available to Netflix or Hulu members. The best part of being a Prime customer is besides watching video, you also get free 2/day shipping on most things purchased on Amazon. You also get access to Prime Music which lets you stream a large selection of free music for free. If you are purchasing Prime just for the video content, the $99 annual fee may seem a little high and you may be happier with Netflix or Hulu. Try it for a month free. Get a 30/day Trial to Prime.
USTVNow (FREE & Paid)
USTVNow is a streaming cable TV service that offers many of the same cable TV channels you may miss since cutting the cord. They also offer a free trial which includes 7 network TV channels you can watch on Roku Free in HD for 45 Days. After that the channels revert to SD. If you want to subscribe to their 28 channel plan it cost $29 a month. Although they have a promo where they give you the first 3/months for $19.
USTVNow is really to be used overseas and local channels are from Pennsylvania, which is the Eastern Time Zone. Signing up is a little tricky, here are some step by step USTVNow Roku instructions.
Best Sources For Free TV
1. Over the Air Antenna - Once you Purchase the antenna it is 100% Free! Best of all it won't use any data.
2. Plex - Best for watching Free TV content on Roku with unsupported app store apps. Plex needs either a PC, NAS or HTPC server software to be on and running at the same time you are watching the Plex Roku channel. To learn more about Plex, join the Plex Pals Group on Facebook.
3. KODI - By itself, Kodi is just another piece of media player software. It's only after the add-ons are added that the magic happens and it gives you access to Free TV. To learn more about Kodi, join us on the Kodi Rocks Group at Facebook.
4. XTV Roku Channel - One of the best free Live TV and On-Demand Roku Private Channels. Add XTV to your Roku
How Much Data Does Streaming TV Content Use?
With more Internet providers implementing data caps, overall data usage for streaming is becoming more of a concern. On average, Netflix uses approximately 1 gigabyte of data for every hour of Standard Definition content played.
Want to stream in 1080p HD? It then jumps to 4.75 gigabytes per hour. 4K takes it up to a whopping 18.8GB/hour, although with the new h.265 codec, once it is fully implemented it is expected to cut this in half. Right now most Cable/Internet companies have the data cap set at one Terabyte/month. So in a month you can stream approximatly 210 one hour episodes in 1080p HD.
Some Internet companies like AT&T which also owns DirecTV Now, a Live TV and on-demand streaming service will exempt any data used so it won't count against the monthly data cap. They will still continue to offer unlimited data plans although it will cost you more. Most people that already have caps it has not affected. Unless you plan on streaming everything you watch in 4K you should be fine. The good news is you can set the streaming data usage in your Netflix settings and currently there is not that much 4K content avialable.
Even with data caps, cutting the cord will save you significantly more money than you have been paying your current paid TV provider. Cord cutting and turning to streaming instead will also give you the freedom to watch TV based on your preference with an almost endless supply of great content. A much different experience than surfing through a hundred cable TV channels and not finding anything good to watch.