The Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting – What You Need to Know to Break Free From Cable TV




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man cutting cable cord

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 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.

A lot has changed recently in the world of cord cutting so today we fully updated our Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting. Have a suggestion? Leave us a comment and let us know what you would add to this guide.

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

You don’t need a live TV streaming service, and many cord cutters go without one. Yet if you want to be able to stream live TV from networks like ESPN and AMC you will need one. The good news is that the number of live TV streaming services is growing. You can pick from Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TVfuboTV, PhiloPlayStation Vue, and AT&T TV NOW to name a few.

Not sure if Sling, AT&T TV 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 be! 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, 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 original content you cannot find on cable.

Hulu—Do you want your content just 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 few of more than 200 streaming services. 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 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. In the past you may have heard that the Apple TV didn’t have many popular apps. Now Apple is catching up and most popular cord cutting apps are on the Apple TV.

Step 3. Buy 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 shows 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.

Do you need help installing an antenna? Check out Sling TV’s antenna installation service to get an antenna installed in your home for as little as $99. (You don’t need to be a Sling TV customer to use this service.)

Wondering about a DVR? There are several great DVR options for antennas from Tablo, Recast DVR, 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 an Internet connection. 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.

If you are looking at AT&T Internet you should check out services like (a great partner of Cord Cutters News) for DSL and Fiber 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 Internet service providers 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 five 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 have a YouTube Channel? Every week we have a live Cord Cutting Q&A, and weekly Cord Cutting recap shows exclusively on our YouTube Channel!

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