AppleTV

The Ultimate Cord Cutting Guide For The Apple TV


With the streaming options available today, and the new services that are constantly being released, it’s getting more and more easy to cut the cord. If you’re an Apple product fan like me, here’s how you can do it.

Step 1: Choose an On Demand Service

When it comes to watching your favorite TV shows, there are four major players to consider for your Apple TV.

Hulu – Because Hulu provides most shows the day after they air on live TV, it’s a favorite for many cord cutters. With Hulu, you’ll have access to most big channels, including ABC, NBC, Fox, Bravo, Comedy Central, etc. A benefit of using Hulu is the ability to set up separate profiles, tailoring the watchlist and recommendations to each user. Starting at $7.99/month

Netflix – The service is known for its movie selection, which gets an update each month. You’ll also have access to past seasons of TV shows, along with Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Grace & Frankie, and Jessica Jones. You can also create separate profiles on Netflix, allowing each user to create their own watch list. Starting at $7.99/month

Amazon Prime – Amazon is an incredible service for those who have cut the cord, but it can be tricky to use with Apple TV. (It might get easier soon, as Amazon and Apple have announced that they’ve reached an agreement for working together.) In the meantime, use it by logging into the Amazon Prime app on your iPhone or iPad, or going to the website on your computer. Purchase the show or movie you want to watch, then play it through the app. When the video starts, tap on the airplay icon and choose to view the video on your Apple TV. $10.99/month

iTunes – A major benefit to choosing Apple TV is having access to any shows or movies that you’ve purchased through iTunes. Just go to the app when you turn on your Apple TV, sign into your account, and they’ll be there, waiting for you. iTunes makes it easy to rent new releases and stream them straight from your TV. Pay per rental or purchase

Step 2: Choose a Live TV Service

Sometimes, watching a show the day after it airs isn’t good enough. Luckily, there are live streaming services that allow you to watch in real time.

Playstation Vue – With the Playstation Vue app, and a subscription, you can watch many of your favorite channels live. The subscription package you choose determines which channels you’ll get. The service also offers a sports package for an additional fee, which gives you access to additional sports channels. A highlight of Playstation Vue is the record feature, which works just like a DVR. Starting at $39.99/month

Sling TV – Many Apple TV users love Sling TV because of the low base price and the ability to customize a package. Start by choosing your base package, then add more channels based on your interests, from sports to kid friendly programming. Starting at $20/month

DIRECTV NOW – Why pay for cable when you can get the same service for a fraction of the price? You’ll have access to basic channels, starting at 60 channels with the base package, along with extras like Comedy Central, HGTV, National Geographic Channel, and Disney. You also have the option of adding on premium channels like HBO for an extra fee. Starting at $35/month

fuboTV – For those who love sports, news, and entertainment, Fubo TV is a service worth checking out. Missing out on live sports is a big concern for a lot of people who are hesitant to cut out cable, but Fubo TV provides access to local sports, including soccer, baseball, football, and hockey. You’ll also have the option to record a game and watch later. Starting at $34.99/month

Hulu with Live TVA favorite streaming service is now testing the waters with a beta version of a live TV service. Hulu says the service allows users to create their own custom lineups including basic channels, along with local sports, kids programming, and news. It’s a new service, and there will be some kinks to work out, but it’s a promising solution for cord cutters who want their local programming. $39.99/month, includes access to Hulu’s streaming library

Step 3: Choose a Free Service for the Extras

The services above will give you a lot of options for watching your favorite shows and movies, but they also charge for them, either through individual purchases or monthly subscriptions. With your Apple TV, you can also use the following free services.

Crackle – If you’re willing to deal with commercial breaks during your movie, Crackle is a great service with a big variety to choose from. The app offers more recent movies, rotating them out periodically to ensure there’s always new content.

Pluto TV – This service is designed to look and feel like a cable subscription. You can scroll through the listing to find what’s playing, choose your show or movie, and watch in real time.

Tubi TV – While the selection of movies on Tubi TV isn’t as extensive or exciting as what you’ll find on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and you’ll have to deal with commercial breaks, the trade off is that this is a free service. You’ll also find some genres that the other apps are lacking, like a good selection of anime, international films, and documentaries.

SnagFilms – With major movies covered, SnagFilms is your source for independent films. You’ll find everything from big names to cult classics to small budget films, all for free.

Step 4: Get Started…Slowly

If you’re new to the idea of cord cutting, don’t be put off by the number of services there are to choose from. The key to cutting the cord successfully is to take your time and find the services that work best for you, depending on what you like to watch, as mentioned in the Cord Cutting 101 guide. Take advantage of free trials to give each service a chance before committing. Pick the apps that are most useful for you, leave the rest, and get ready to enjoy the freedom of not being locked in to a cable contract.

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  • Karl Childers

    Thank you for this post Jess. When it comes to iTunes I recommend downloading an app called CheapCharts. You can create a list of movies, TV shows, etc. and the app will notify you when those items have price drops in the iTunes Store. A couple weeks ago I managed to grab the entire Twilight series (5 movies) for my wife for $9.99 versus $39.99. The app also shows you a price history for each item.

    For OTA on the Apple TV we use the Channels app which requires an HDHomeRun but there are also other options such as Plex or Tablo.

    One of the best things that we like about the Apple TV is the TV app – which admittedly needs some improvement but is a great start when it comes to aggregating content from different sources. The “Up Next” feature helps us keep on top of series that we are watching through Hulu, iTunes, HBO, PBS, and other apps. Hopefully at some point they can find a way to bring Netflix on board as well.

    • Jess

      I haven’t heard of CheapCharts – thanks for the rec!

      I’m glad you mentioned the TV app. I had a hard time with it because, like you said, there are definitely improvements to be made. Thanks for the reminder about it potentially being a good, useful feature. I’ll take some more time to try it and I’ll be sure to update this post with more info in the future.

  • Collin Miller

    Current and recent Comedy Central shows Such as The Dialy Show are no long on Hulu.

  • crawdad62

    While these are service it’s only scratching the surface. You have an independent developed app for the HDHomerun OTA solution called Channels which is blazingly fast and very nice looking. You have an official Kodi which does take some work to get but if you’re truly using Kodi for the media center then you also have MrMC which is in the app store and works exactly like Kodi without the add ons. Infuse is another media center that I love because you don’t need to run a server for it to work and it’s very powerful adding metadata and encoding a lot of formats on the fly.

  • Jess

    Thanks for all of your comments. I agree with you all. This is definitely only scratching the surface of what Apple TV has to offer. I’m hoping to continue updating the post, to include the apps that are specific to Apple TV. I appreciate all of your suggestions and comments!

  • James Coons

    Don’t forget the Channels App on the Apple TV with HdHomeRun devices for watching Over The Air stations. In my opinion the Channels app is the best app on the Apple TV