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Cut the Cord: How to Cut Cable & Watch TV (Almost for Free)

Cut the Cord: How to Cut Cable & Watch TV (Almost for Free)

Cutting the cable cord with wire cuttersBills, bills, and more bills! Your mailbox is overflowing with them, and it seems like every month they get a little higher. If you’re trying to reel in your expenses, you may be considering cutting the cable cord — but losing your cherished TV time is not an option. If you’re determined to cut the cable and watch TV for free, then follow these tips on how to watch TV without cable or satellite and get rid of cable once and for all!

How to Cut the Cable Cord

You can’t start enjoying almost-free TV without getting rid of your cable first. However, don’t call your cable company and tell them you want to cancel their service without following these steps.

1. Plan for alternative entertainment.

One of the hardest parts of quitting cable is realizing how much you depend on it for entertainment! Make sure you’ve got a backup plan in case there’s a gap between canceling your service and getting your cable-free TV set up. Some good cable-less entertainment options include making arts and crafts, cooking a family meal, and having a good old DVD-powered movie night with your besties.

2. Put your internet to the test.

Unless you plan on banishing most technology from your life, you’re likely going to need a reliable internet connection to keep watching TV without cable. That’s why it’s important to figure out if your internet is fast enough for streaming. Call your internet service provider or use a tool like Speedtest to find out your connection speed. Then, compare it to the recommended streaming speeds on the table below to see how your WiFi stacks up.

Internet Speeds for Streaming Table
Number of Devices Streaming ConcurrentlySuggested Speed for Standard Definition StreamingSuggested Speed for High-Definition Streaming
13 Mbps7 Mbps
215 Mbps25 Mbps
336 Mbps50 Mbps

Remember, this chart is only for reference! Depending on how many devices are actively using your internet, you may notice reduced streaming speeds or lower-definition playback. Think you need to upgrade your internet service? Before quitting your cable, learn more about the TV options available to cord-cutters — some don’t even require WiFi!

3. Learn about cut the cable options available to you.

Cord-cutters have two main options for watching TV without cable or satellite — the first is to catch local channels on an antenna and the second is to get live or on-demand entertainment with streaming services. You can choose one or a combination of both. Here’s what you should know about each.

  • Antenna: Watching local channels with an antenna requires a small upfront investment to purchase the receiver device (between $10 and $40) . If you live near tall buildings or forested areas, setting up the antenna to receive signals might be difficult, requiring you to move the device every time you change channels. Additionally, your channel selection will be dependent on where you live and won’t include premium channels like HBO and Showtime. Enter your address into NoCable’s local signal finder to see which channels are available in your area, and which way to orient your antenna to find them.
  • Streaming services: Streaming services are a great option for people who enjoy a variety of shows but don’t enjoy paying their cable companies for a bunch of channels they never watch! Does that sound like you? If so, you’ll need to invest in a smart TV or another device that enables you to stream, like this Samsung 4K LED smart TV.

Once you’ve got your device set up and connected to the internet, decide which streaming service(s) you want to use. There are plenty of free and paid options for you to choose from, including live TV streaming services and ones with on-demand programming. Below are a few to consider:

 

Service/App NameTypeMonthly Cost for Basic Service*Noteworthy Programming/Channels
NetflixOn-demand streaming$8.99Original content and shows and movies from various networks
HuluOn-demand streaming$5.99Original content and shows and movies from popular cable networks
Amazon Prime VideoOn-demand streaming$8.99Original content and thousands of movies and shows on demand
Disney+On-demand streaming$6.99Disney movies from the classics to today along with original Disney content
Sling TVLive TV$25Choose from packages containing your favorite cable network channels
YouTube TVLive TV$49.99Live stream popular cable network channels and access original content
Tubi TVOn-demand streamingFreeStream thousands of popular shows and movies for free
Pluto TVLive TVFreeStream free versions of popular cable network channels and original content
Individual Network AppsLive TV or on-demand streamingFreeThe CW, ABC, NBC, PBS, etc.

*Prices accurate as of writing.

Those are just a few of the many services you can use to watch TV after ditching cable. Now all you need is to plug in that smart TV, download the apps, and start watching!

4. Call your cable company.

Now that you’ve got everything lined up to watch TV without cable, it’s time to cancel your service. Call your cable or satellite company and let them know you won’t be needing the TV portion of your plan anymore. Why do we say “portion?” Many cable providers also offer internet services. If your current plan is bundled, you will have to specify that you only want to cancel the TV service — or risk being left without an internet connection! Expect resistance from the customer service team — they are often trained to offer incentives that will keep you from cutting the cord.

Once you get verbal confirmation that your cable’s canceled, ask the representative if and when you can expect any final charges and fees to come through. Make note of these details in your calendar or phone, and keep an eye out to verify that your cable has really been canceled.

5. Celebrate your freedom (from cable).

Samsung UHD Smart TV

Internet? Fast. Cable? Canceled. Rad home theater setup? … pending!

If you’re on a tight budget, you may feel like you can’t afford a great smart TV to help you cut the cord. However, with Rent-A-Center’s 6 Months Same As Cash option, you can find plenty of smart TVs within your budget! The smart TV of your dreams can be yours after making a few small and flexible payments — no credit needed! Shop Samsung TVs and rad home theater systems online or visit your local Rent-A-Center to find the stuff you need to cancel your cable without canceling your love of TV.

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The good things in life don’t have to be out of reach. RAC is here to make the things you want and need accessible, and Front & Center is your resource for living well on a budget.

Each week, we’ll bring you tips and tricks for infusing simplicity, style—even a little fun—into every aspect of your life and home. From decorating advice to money-saving strategies to opportunities to share with others like you, we’ll give you ideas that inspire. Live well, friends. And send your submissions, suggestions and questions for the blog to blog@rentacenter.com. For all customer service inquiries, please contact our Solution Center team at 1-800-422-8186.