Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating retired people cancelling cable TV service

Cord Cutting 101 – A Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting (2017 Edition)


Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating retired people cancelling cable TV serviceCord cutting can sound scary at first, with a ton of options and decisions to make, but you will find it is surprisingly easy and you may already have everything you need. We want to be here to help you cancel cable TV and legally stream your content online so you pay less and still get all your shows.

Here are our five steps to becoming a cord cutter with our Cord Cutting 101 guide!

Step 1. Streaming Services

There are a lot of live streaming services available, and it may seem overwhelming but it is easier than you think.

You will likely need more than one streaming service, but the good news is almost all of them offer a free trial. We suggest you take advantage of the free trials to see what fits your needs.

Here is a quick overview of the most popular streaming services.

Netflix—With new content added weekly Netflix has thousands of hours of movies and TV shows available, making it the largest streaming service in the world. You will find a ton of content from major networks and movie studios including Disney. Netflix is also the leader in original content you cannot find on cable.

Hulu—Do you want your content the day after it originally airs? Hulu is a great option for anyone who wants to watch recent shows from networks such as FOX, NBC, ABC, FX, and Spike.

Amazon Prime Video—Amazon Prime not only gets you free two-day shipping and free music, it also gives you access to thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon’s partnership with HBO brings you a vast selection of HBO shows as part of your Prime membership.

Although Amazon Prime does not give you access to everything available on its Amazon Instant service, it does have TV shows from many cable channels available the next day—starting at $1.99—and it also offers recently released movies for rent. So not only do you get an immense amount of free content, but Amazon Prime is also a great way to rent and buy recent movies and TV shows.

Sling TVDIRECTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue—If you really want live TV, check out Sling TV or PlayStation Vue. Starting at $20 a month for Sling or $30 for PS Vue you get access to many popular cable channels streamed live to your TV.

Not sure if Sling, DIRECTV NOW, or PlayStation Vue is right for you? Check out our head-to-head comparison of these services.

If you are looking for 100% free options, see our post about free streaming apps by clicking HERE.

Step 2. Pick Your Device

The next thing you need is a device that will stream what you want to watch to your TV. The top four selling devices are Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Apple TV. All are great options for different reasons, so make sure you choose the one that is best for you.

For ease of use we recommend the Roku streaming player. It’s simple and easy to understand. It is basic and straightforward, but it has the most streaming video apps of any player.

For a flexible open streaming player, check out the Fire TV and Android TV. Both Fire TV and Android TV players allow side loading of a wide range of apps. If you like to tinker, we recommend checking them out.

Apple owners who have a ton of movies and TV shows on iTunes will want an Apple TV because that is the only device that will play iTunes shows and movies.

Step 3. Antennas

An antenna is a huge part of being a cord cutter, and most Americans can easily pick up 30+ channels. With many of the most popular TV shows being 100% free and in HD over the air, an antenna is a great way to watch sports and your favorite show without paying high cable bills.

The number of channels you receive will vary depending on where you live. We recommend going to AntennaRecomendations.com and typing your address into its channel finder to see which channels are available in your area. This will also help you figure out if an indoor or a roof-mounted antenna is needed to get the channels you want.

We recommend buying a mid-priced antenna—not the cheapest but also not the most expensive. Buying an antenna is a one-time expense so get a good one that will last for many years.

Do you need help installing an antenna? Amazon can help with that! Check out Amazon’s antenna installation page for help setting up an antenna.

Step 4. Internet

To get the most from cord cutting you will need Internet. Remember when you downgrade from a bundle to Internet only you won’t get the best deal. Internet companies save the best deals for new customers. But don’t worry, we can help.

I suggest you shop around for your Internet service provider. Many people think cable is the only way to get fast Internet, but for most Americans that is no longer true.

DSL has come a long way, and I suggest you do what I do. Switch back and forth between DSL and cable Internet. Every time a provider won’t give me a deal I switch and get the new customer pricing from the other provider. I even found that at one time my DSL company had faster Internet than my cable company.

I personally recommend Toast.net for DSL if you can get it. It is United States based with US customer service reps. It also has NO data caps, so you can stream all you want. No matter who you go with don’t be afraid to switch ISPs when your contract ends.

Step 5. Try It Out

You are set up and ready to go, but before you cancel cable TV, unplug your cable box and try being a cord cutter for a month. When my family canceled cable it took us about two weeks to find all the shows we wanted. Once we found the content we wanted, we never looked back. However, it was nice to know that if we couldn’t initially find a program we could still watch it on cable until we found it on our streaming service.

Congratulations! You are now a cord cutter!

That’s it—you have successfully set yourself up as a cord cutter. All you need to do now is call your cable TV provider and cancel your cable TV! Make sure it puts you on its do not call list so it doesn’t call you every day for years to come. You can find out how to be put on a do not call list at your old cable company by clicking HERE.

Remember to take a look at our guide on how to avoid the 3 most common mistakes people make when they cut the cord.

Do you have a suggestion for our Cord Cutting 101 guide? Post it in the comments.

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  • I think you should look into writing a review for the internet essentials plan offered by Comcast for only $9.99 a month with free modem rental & 10 Meg’s dl, 2 Meg’s up speeds. We have had it for quite a few years and it works great for cheap internet. You need to meet certain income requirements as it is for lower income families with children or senior’s, etc. Check out http://www.Internetessentials.com for more details & feel free to ask me any questions about the service. I just figured maybe it would be a good review to write & could inform more people who need to save hard earned money! 💰 All the best, Ron Schroeder.

  • idonotdonot

    I really like the YouTube service. The cloud DVR and YouTube Red (off-line viewing of youtube videos) really appeals to me. The problem is internet service cost. I’ve gone over it multiple times and I end up spending a lot more money for less bandwidth by switching to a internet only cable subscription. They are essentially subsidizing the TV portion of the deal with the internet cost. I don’t use a cable box, I don’t have HD Package, I own the Cable Modem, I only have the low end 30 channel package so there is nothing really left to cut. Adding on the $35 YouTube subscription fee to an internet only cable package right now will cost me more money and get me less bandwidth. Please tell me I’ve missed something somewhere and there is a way around this. DSL is max 3 megs in my area and there isn’t another Internet option available.

    • imwithstoopid

      Wow, now I realize that there really is only one way to truly cut the cable, and that is by using strictly Over The Air via an outside antenna.
      This is what I thought.
      I can no longer get DSL since ATT dropped it and force one to use their double twisted pair pseudo house connection which in turn connects to their FIOS somewhere down the line, ergo “cable”.
      So like you I see no savings because I must use Dish at their minimum, $23 / month with a DVR and basically my locals plus some of their offerings.
      I pay for Dish due to the fact that locally I have very bad reception with the antenna.
      The ATT packages offered are too expensive. So I keep the land line and their “high speed” internet, no streaming for me.