The Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting (Updated: August 2018)





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

Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating people cancelling cable TV serviceCord cutting can sound scary at first, with a ton of options and decisions to make, but we hope this guide will help you find out that cord cutting is surprisingly easy. In fact, you may already have most, if not everything, you need. We want to be here to help you cancel cable TV and legally stream content online, so you pay less and still get all your shows.

Here are our five steps to becoming a cord cutter:

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.

Picking a Live TV Streaming Service

The number of live TV streaming services is growing. Right now you can pick from Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TVfuboTV, PhiloPlayStation Vue, and DIRECTV NOW to name a few.

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

Worried you will miss your DVR? Don’t worry! All these services offer a built-in DVR option, so you will never miss your favorite show.

Most Popular On-Demand 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, and Netflix is also the leader in the 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 gives 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 selection of HBO shows as part of your Prime membership.

Although Amazon Prime does not give you access to everything available on the Amazon Video 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.

These are just a couple of the over 200 streaming services in the United States. We suggest you take advantage of the many free trials to see what services are right for you.

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-selling four 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 basic and straightforward, and it has the most streaming video apps of any player with an easy-to-use remote.

For flexible open streaming players, 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. Buying an Antenna

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 for anything else.

The number of channels you receive will vary depending on where you live. We recommend going to Antenna Web and typing your address into the 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? Check out Amazon’s antenna installation page for help setting up an antenna.

Wondering about a DVR? There are several great DVR options for antennas from Tablo, Channel Master, and TiVo. You can find our full Antenna DVR Guide HERE.

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.

We 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 for DSL if you can get it. It is US 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.

Also, keep an eye out for fixed wireless internet and 5G wireless internet. These are new services rolling out across the US that are offering new options for high-speed home internet. Although only in a handful of markets today, they say by the end of 2020 they will be available in over half of US households.

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 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 they put you on their do not call list, so they don’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 three most common mistakes people make when they cut the cord.

Do you have a suggestion for our Beginner’s Guide to Cord Cutting? Post it in the comments.

Did you know we now have a FREE app for iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire? Click HERE to download our app.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and reviews. Need cord cutting tech support? Join our Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.

Disclaimer: To address the growing use of ad blockers we now use affiliate links to sites like, streaming services, and others. Affiliate links help sites like Cord Cutters News, stay open. Affiliate links cost you nothing but help me support my family. We do not allow paid reviews on this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from :

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.