Cord Cutting Starter Guide

Cut The Cord? Know What to Do Next!

Introduction

So you have decided to cut the cord and that you will no more shell out hundreds of bucks every month to cable companies for the channels that you do not watch ever. There is nothing to be concerned about. These days, there are numerous options open for customers when it comes to the content that they want to catch. Between OTA digital TV antennas, digital content and streaming services, at HighLine TV we can offer you the best blend of media.

1. Planning

This Starter Guide is specially formulated for your convenience including some of our other guides which cover a wide range of information which would definitely be of interest to you. The range covers areas such as DVRs, streaming devices, on-demand streaming services, different types of antennas, live streaming services, sports and news channels. Once you have absorbed everything that we have stated in this Starter Guide, you can consider the following information below:

Devote some time to prepare a list of:

  • All the shows and channels that you would like to watch
  • What content is free and what is not.
  • How many simultaneous streams or broadcasts you want
  • The types of devices you have or want to purchase, whether TV, mobile, tablet or more
  • The budget that you have

Also think about:

  • Whether it is more important for you to have virtual DVRs, DVRs or live television?
  • Do you want to fast forward or rewind commercials?
  • Do you need children-friendly shows at home?
  • Which teams and sports events are important for your home? Do not miss out on considering football games, live events and other family traditions.

Keep in mind that most of the streaming services are monthly and may be cancelled at all times. Do not hesitate to subscribe to these services for only specific times of the year, if you want. Always investigate the free streaming and on-demand services along with the streaming services and Blu-ray / DVD collections that your public library offers. The services that your neighbor likes might not be good for you. The plan of your choice should be customized for you, your family and the budget that you have. It might not have to include the newest and latest services.

If you are stuck with low internet speeds, you can benefit from these links. You should read the first page before you upgrade to a more feature-rich web package:

  • Internet Speed Recommendations (Netflix)
  • Regulating the amount of data used by Netflix
  • On-demand services along with options for offline viewing

2. Conducting a Test Run

It might be advantageous in a few cases to try out an OTA or streaming service before you do away with the cable cord completely. It can be assistive in case you first need to assure a few family members. With most streaming service providers, you can get free trials for a week or a month. In some cases, there can be some special promotional offer for 2 months. You should also check whether you can get special promotions including a discounted or free streaming device. Free streaming service trials are offered by a few device makers. Some of the latest live streaming services still happen to be in Beta version, and you must judge them likewise. At times, the performance of a few streaming services are better on specific devices as compared to others.

Skinny / Basis Package

It might not be fully possible for some to give up cable entirely. This is true for cases when you have a poor local OTA reception and you require some channels that are locally broadcasted and cannot be found in a live streaming service. You might like to enquirer whether your cable TV provider has a basic package. In most regions Basic Broadcast should be about $9.95 per month along with any applicable DTA rental and broadcast fees + local sales tax, in case a subscriber needs broadcast stations. Generally, basic broadcast packages do not include ROOT and ESPN. Subscribers might be given login credentials.

In a few cases, such basic plans might be only in SD and not in HD. These might not be advertised or not on the website of the provider. But these might be listed on the annual price sheet of the provider, in case one is offered every year. These might be paired with Amazon, Hulu or Netflix or any free service. Make sure that you consider all the taxes and fees, given that details about these might not be disclosed by the customer service representatives.

3. Cable TV Service Cancellation

Before canceling your cable TV plan, you might like to review your internet service plan and determine whether you are getting proper speed for your requirements as well as whether any other provider is a more suitable option. In many cases, there is a big discount offered on the internet subscription and not the cable TV service. Thus, your internet costs will witness a change. But you will not have to pay any more any additional fees like:

  • Sports fees
  • HD fees
  • Rental fees

In a few cases, you are not supposed to pay any taxes either. While choosing an internet plan, consider the number of simultaneous streams that you typically anticipate to use and whether you wish to stream videos in 4K or HD quality. While making a research, also find out whether there is a limit on the data package of your internet service provider.

4. Finding another Internet Service Provider (ISP)

If there is ample reason for you to conclude that your present internet provider is not up to your expectations then it would be best that you check out the following websites. They are a good mix of internet, fixed wireless, satellite or other municipal internet providers present in your area:

You are advised to purchase your own router and modem instead of getting it from your ISP, you can save money on the rent of the device sometimes that’s $9.99 a month. The support websites of most internet providers contain a list of retail modems that are approved. You should choose one from the list.

Returning Equipment

Once the cable TV service has been cancelled, make sure that you promptly return all your equipments, such as DVRs, remotes and other boxes. It is suggested that you give the equipment back to the service center or retail store of the provider, either personally or with the USPS or US boxes that the provider gave you. In all cases, ensure that the provider gives you a detailed receipt for the equipment that you returned. Store the receipt safely somewhere, to be able to produce as proof if you get a huge bill some months or years later for failing to return the equipment after cancellation of service.

Other than doing away with your cable TV service, decide on whether you still like to have your internet service provider give you phone service. Determine whether your existing cell phone service or VOIP is enough. Also take special situations in consideration, such as alarm systems, fax machines, business equipment, medical equipment etc that might need a landline.

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How to substitute paid-TV content?

1. OTA or Over-the-air channels

Antennas

TV signals in the United States are transmitted via the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) system over the air. Such types of signals happen to be digital TV signals in an unencrypted form. These can be picked with an antenna and then fed to an ATSC tuner – similar to one that is in-built in numerous televisions. There is a lack of tuner is some older television sets as well as in some newer sets.

Your home might be in the range of ION or some smaller networks or of many OTA broadcast channels like PBS, CW, FOX, CBS, NBC and ABC. You may find numerous famous broadcast shows, local news and local sports games, based on your market. Often, antennas are quite cost-effective and the image quality is crisp and clear as you obtain a signal that is unprocessed and not processed over any cable TV box.

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Our tool below will help you find what channels you’ll get. Just type your Zip code in set it to 50 miles and check which channels are in the range. You a Highline TV antenna indoor antenna. If you seem to have a lack of channels available in your area you may need a roof top antenna that may set you back by over $99. Our tool usually offers a great analysis of the type of OTA reception that one can get in your area. The number of channels you get can vary depending on your terrain

Find available local channels

DVRS

Cord-cutters love to record and timeshift OTA TV. Fortunately, many varied ways are available for recording and playing back timeshifted OTA TV, along with different degrees of financial investment and complexities. These can vary from solitary affordable devices with simple VCR-like recording capabilities and single tuners to network DVRs to home-brew DVR systems tailored specially. Many such systems try to imitate the regular cable television experience, along with DVR management functionality and a program guide.

In case you want further information about OTA DVRs, kindly go through a more detailed DVR Guide that we have published here.

2. Streaming Content

Audio / video content are sent to your television by streaming services. It needs some type of set-top box or streaming device, unless there is a “Smart TV” in your home with streaming applications built in. Set-top boxes and streaming devices differ when it comes to the streaming services that they offer. Make sure that you check each out prior to purchase. For instance, only Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix can be accessed by Tivo Roamio. Thus, it is unwise to buy a Tivo Roamio.

Free Streaming Services

Lots of broadcasters have a few unlocked episodes on their websites, Everywhere apps or TV. In some rare cases, a live stream is also found. In a few cases, like CBS, these are only limited to websites or mobile apps. Others such as NBC tend to offer episodes on Roku and other streaming devices. Windows 10 apps are also offered by a few providers as well. The episodes are generally available in around 1 week after the weekly shows are broadcasted, or in a few days for daily or late night shows. In some cases, just a few episodes might be available. A broadcaster might occasionally offer no-cost access to a whole season at the end of a season or prior to the commencement of a new season, in order to promote shows. Such episodes are ad-supported and may also have promos at times for other shows.

Here is a list of free streaming services:

  • Vudu Movies On Us
  • Yahoo View (known earlier as “Hulu Free”)
  • tubitv
  • YouTube
  • PBS
  • Pluto TV
  • The CW
  • Crackle
  • Roku Channel (shows movies supported by ads; only for Roku users)
  • HooplaDigital (Accessible in some CA and US libraries, this is a free streaming service)
  • Kanopy Kids (Can be accessed at Kanopy-supported libraries)
  • Kanopy (Accessible for faculty, staffs and students at chosen colleges and universities across the globe. Consists of documentaries and Criterion Collection)
  • Comet (Includes classic sci-fi movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and OTA/Stream; SG-1)

On-Demand Streaming Services

These include:

  • Sundance Now
  • MHz
  • BritBox
  • Acorn TV
  • Curiosity Stream
  • Crunchyroll
  • Starz
  • Showtime
  • HBO Now
  • Amazon Prime Add-ons
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Hallmark Movies Now (Referred to earlier as Feeln)
  • VRV Select (It now broadcasts a few shows from SeeSo)

The same content is not offered by every streaming service. Thus, you should know which shows you love, make research about the streaming services that offer those content and subscribe based on that information. TV and movie titles on such services regularly come and go. Visit JustWatch.com and get an updated title count comparison and what each service offers.

On-Demand Services along with Offline Viewing

A few on-demand services mentioned above also contain limited offline viewing options. You can get the option of watching downloaded videos offline. Visit links for further details about title limitations and supported devices:

Live Streaming Services

Here are some internet service provides that offer antenna-free live online TV:

  • YouTube TV
  • Sling TV
  • Playstation Vue
  • Philo
  • Hulu with Live TV
  • Fubo TV
  • DirecTV Now
  • CBS All Access

Go through our entire Live Streaming Services Guide and get all the information on the aforementioned services. Go to our Live Streaming Services Guide and check Additional Resources, Reviews and Comparisons for more details on our live streaming services.

3. Digital purchases

All your requirements might not be covered by streaming content. You might like to watch a few shows and you need to buy them independently. The vendors available include:

  • Fandango Now (referred to earlier as M-GO)
  • Google Play
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Apple iTunes (in case there is an Apple TV in your home)
  • Vudu (It is another Ultraviolet partner. You may redeem UV redemption codes through Vudu
  • if you buy DVDs/Blu-rays)

4. Physical media

Purchase a DVD or Blu-ray player and buy hard copies of seasons once they are published, rent time to time from Redbox, make use of your local library or opt for the physical media monthly subscription service from Netflix. In case you opt for a Gamefly subscription, remember that your standard GameFly membership includes movie rentals.

  • Netflix Blu-ray / DVD Rental Subscription Pricing
  • Redbox rental kiosk locations
  • Gamefly DVD movie rentals
  • WorldCat.org – Look for DVDs and other stuffs in your local libraries

How to Get My Streaming Content?

Streaming Devices and Smart TVs

You may purchase a smart TV or opt for any Streaming Device such as the ones talked about priorly.

Tablets and Cell Phones

There are mobile apps offered in a few services. Generally, every service includes a list of the devices that are compatible and you can look at them before you subscribe to the service.

Screen Mirroring

There are limitations for set top boxes when it comes to what they can obtain from the web, given that apps must generally be developed for the content to get to them. A few content providers do not choose app development for the content that they beam.

To access online videos to your TV, consider such tools:

  • Roku (restricted to specific devices)
  • Chromecast
  • Apple TV
  • Plex

A software solution, Plex needs a set top box with an equivalent app for communication. Other than Plex, every solution needs another active PC that is transmitting information – such as a Mac PC in the case of Apple TV). It might not be a graceful solution, but better when compared to pairing a TV with a laptop. A cloud-based storage solution is offered by Plex.

Content-Viewing on PC

A few services, like CBS All Access, Sling TV and Netflix, let you log into their site as a subscriber. Most of the aforementioned free services also come with websites, just like many weather services and news providers. Lots of top broadcasting agencies unlock major episodes free on their websites for a specific time period. At times, you may pair your laptop / PC to your television through an HDMI cable for watching such services. It is based on the website or service.

What Streaming Device Do I Opt For?

Roku

Roku, as of 2nd October, 2017, gives 5 models – which range from the 29USD basic Roku Express to 99USD HDR/4K Roku Ultra. There are many channels in Roku which supports about all streaming services. TVs are also offered by Roku with built-in Roku with either 4K or HD.

You can get a complete comparison of each model’s features. Remember that Roku activation is completely free of cost. You can find the official support website at Official Roku Support.

Google Chromecast

It offers access to many streaming apps, and is available in 2 models:
  1. Chromecast Ultra – It is priced $69, and offers HDR and 4K UHD streaming.
  2. Basic Chromecast – It is available at $35.

Chromecast stands out as it lets users control playback of videos through a laptop / PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Prime

Something to consider when buying a fire tv device is that a prime membership will go a long way and can help you get extra free content. Click here to get a free trail.

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Apple TV

The Apple TV 4K (with HDR10 and Dolby Vision) is the newest Apple TV. The 4th generation Apple TV supporting 1080p content can still be found. A robust streaming device, the Apple TV with its sleek and polished design is available with an Apple product. Support for app for the latest tvOS came out after the release of the device, and since then has been continuing. The designing of tvOS platform was done with a focus on apps and offers support for one-of-a-kind features such as a redesigned UI and latest Siri integration.

Android Sticks and Boxes

You can find various Android Sticks and Android Boxes from numerous manufacturers. Please go through our Android Box Guide here for a complete review on choosing the appropriate Android Box or stick to your aims. Remember that the iOS that cannot be found in an Android TV device cannot be found in such boxes.

Android TV

Android TV is often mistaken for standard Android boxes mentioned. It has an Android version optimized to offer a better user-friendly experience. You can only find a few set-top boxes, including:

Game Consoles

For streaming purposes, consoles are very common. These often contain basic streaming services aboard, such as Plex, HBO and Netflix. However, high use of power, need for another subscription and high entry costs are some of the minuses. Gaming consoles are a wonderful option if you happen to be a gamer, and these support the streaming services of your choice. These may also like DVD / Blu-ray players.

Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC)

This is a famous alternative to dedicated third party streaming boxes. It includes connecting a dedicated computer to your Projector / Monitor / TV for accessing the content of your choice. It offers more control and flexibility than any standard set-top box. You may configure these for very basic purposes, such as watching streaming websites like Amazon Video or Netflix. You may use these for accessing your own media collection, via either a media server such as Emby or Plex or some media app such as VLC or Kodi. There is also the option to set up a USB Tuner or TV tuner card for OTA signals processing for HTPC playback or even the installation of an OTA DVR system. These might even have DVD or Blu-ray drives and also audio cards set up for supporting the newest audio codecs, transforming them into high-powered home theater equipments.

For set-top boxes, HTPCs happen to be homegrown solutions. These may be as complex or as simple as you want. However, HTPCs can soon turn into a pricey and on-going effort.

News

Other than different local newscasts that can be accessed over air by an antenna, you can find lots of websites that offer live streaming. They can offer but not be limited to On-demand only, Short segments or clips and Full broadcasts live-streamed

Sports

Live Streaming Services and OTA channels are the best choices for accessing various sports online. Usually, it is wise to choose a service with login credentials available for TV Everywhere apps for your preferred sports channel. Some type of subscription service might also be there in professional sports leagues. In numerous cases, however, live games might be unavailable or local games can be blacked out. You might also get some sports events’ live streamed by Amazon Prime, Facebook, Yahoo Sports and Twitter.

For more sports information check out 506sports.com it’s a great resource for information on all things sports scheduling. They let you know whats being played in what area.

Aggregators – Finding Movies and Shows

Want to watch a specific show in the same website? You can find varied content sources and also apps in some cases from these TV Guide websites:

  • Reelgood – Look for TV shows and movies across various services, including broadcaster websites and other free sites. This includes the capacity to search via free services without the need for an account login. Typically, these are free services – albeit ad-supported.
  • Yidio – You can watch, personalize, discover and search Movies and TV Shows across Amazon, Hulu, Netflix etc.
  • JustWatch – Find movies and TV shows across Netflix, HBO Now, Google Play and more. Lets you search through free services, supported by ads. International and US.
  • CanIStream.It – It lets you see whether, and where, a specific movie / show is accessible for streaming

TV Listings for OTA and Live Streaming Services

  • Titantv.com – Cable TV is the default for this website. You may use the plus symbol in the middle of the page adjacent to Location for adding lineup for new channel for Broadcast (antenna) or Live Streaming TV. This comprises of Pluto TV as well as AT&T Watch TV, although CBS All Access is not included. For each OTA or service, you may set a new listing page. This specifies whether there is a national or local feed.
  • Streamingtvguides.com – The website offers all the TV listings for your region for the majority of biggest live streaming services.
  • CBS All Access – This page can be used to access the prime time schedule of CBS for the ongoing and the upcoming week.
  • Hoopla Digital – This page can be used to browse through TV shows in varied categories, and search for TV shows newly added on the website, browse movie categories or search movies added newly on Hoopla Digital.