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Streaming / 31 Mar, 2015

The ScreenBinge Cord Cutting Guide

Have you cut the cord yet? No you haven’t! Then what are you waiting for? Do you like to pay expensive cable bills each month? Or are you one of those die hard loyal cable subscribers?

Cord cutting is the latest thing these days and has been on the rise for a few years now. People across the world are switching to cable TV alternatives and cutting the cord.

If you haven’t cut the cord yet, don’t worry. Trust us when we say that you will relish saving that extra cash once you kiss your cable company goodbye.

Note that this is the official Screen Binge Cord Cutting Guide and has been made after consulting dozens of experts and couch potatoes who eat,  breathe and sleep TV. Feel free to contribute by leaving your cord cutting story in the comment section. Cheers!

 

cord cutting

1.0 Why You Should Become A Cord Cutter

When it comes to cutting the cord, there can be many reasons why you would want to switch to cable. People who do so mostly make the decision based on the realization that they are paying good money for bad channels that they either never got the chance to use or hated outright.

You can be paying up to $160 per month for a Comcast cable subscription that includes cable TV, internet, and phone service. You might even end up upgrading to the $200 dollar package – out of desperation. But the small voice in your head keeps reminding you that skipping through 300+ channels is not what you want at the end of a tiring day. You know that you deserve to be able to watch your favorite shows without any wait.

2.0 The Modern Way To Watch TV

Today it is normal for TV lovers to spend around $65 on high speed internet per month, $8 on Netflix and $8 for Hulu Plus monthly subscriptions.

Others opt for Amazon Prime for a $99 yearly account (which offers other great deals and discounts including the Instant Video service). Add all those services together and end up with roughly expense of $89 per month.

Compared to the $200 you were spending before, this allows you to save more than a hundred bucks each month. It also gives you the power to stream any title at any time.

3.0 How to Cut the Cord

Take the leap and start by cancelling your cable subscription.

The next step is to find the list of channels and services you would need to stream content onto your television screen. There are a host of free and paid services to choose from:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • HBO Go & HBO NOW
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Sling TV
  • Crackle
  • YouTube
  • Pandora

After you have subscribed to anyone or multiple services (depending on the shows you want to watch) the next step is to select the correct device for cord cutting. You can also use content aggregators, like CanIStream.it, to find where you can watch particular shows.

The next section provides all the details that you need to know about which devices are present and which could work for you.

4.0 Choose the Correct Devices for Cord Cutting

Cord cutting allows you to watch content on your laptops, mobiles or tablets by allowing you to unplug your television and throw it out of the window. You will be able to stream all your favorite movies and TV shows on the big screen.

This is where you need a set top box (STB) or one of those dongle sticks for streaming different content onto your television screen. There are over-the-air (OTA) devices like antennas, screen mirroring devices, and gaming consoles that can also be used.

I had to dig deep to investigate about each device that would be best for cord cutting. However the final choice remains in your hands.

5.0 Smart TVs

There are various smart TV’s available in the market and is the ultimate cord cutting device. A smart TV is a blend of traditional television with the latest computing technology, and integrated with internet connectivity feature.

Smart TV comes with different apps that are either preloaded or can be easily downloaded from the app stores. By connecting your Smart TV to the internet connection and using these apps, you can stream your favorite TV shows or movies.

There are a range of apps such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, and various apps that will allow you to binge watch multiple media content on your smart TV. If you face geo restrictions on your smart TV then refer to our VPN & Smart DNS section below.

6.0 Apple TV

If you are one of the people that live, breathe and praise everything within the Apple ecosystem, then Apple TV is for you. Apple TV also makes sense for those that have a well established iTunes library.

apple tv

The device connects to your HD television through the HDMI port and connects to your home Wi-Fi network. Apple TV has built in streaming apps like Hulu or Netflix. Plus it allows you to purchase different episodes and movies if they are not available on your streaming services.

You can also use Apple TV to screen mirror your favorite content from your iOS device using the AirPlay feature onto your television screens. You can easily learn how to stream on Apple TV (internal link Apple TV Guide) using different cord cutting guides.

7.0 Roku

This is the most frequently preferred device used for cord cutting and is undeniably one of the best set top boxes. Among the various streaming boxes, Roku has a simple interface and offers numerous channels. From the likes of paid streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to various free services like Crackle.

Roku also has this unique feature where you can plug your earphones in the remote, allowing you to watch all the high exploding, action pack blockbusters on loud volume. It helps if you don’t want to wake-up your room-mate or your SO.

roku

Roku’s long list of channels allows you to stream your favorite TV show or movie and unlike other streaming devices that push you to watch certain shows over others, Roku puts you in control.

8.0 Chromecast 

Here is a streaming stick that has been making headlines for many months. Using Google Chromecast, you can stream channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, HBO Go, Pandora, YouTube, and many more.

chromecast

Apparently Chromecast is cheap as compared to some other cord cutting devices, hence its popularity. You can also use the ‘Cast’ feature to mirror the content of your Android device onto the television screen.

But do you know what the most annoying thing about Chromecast is? It is that Chromecast does not come with a remote and you have to use your Android mobile or tablet as a remote.

Now this might sound absurd to many, but when you are new to cord cutting, finding your phone to switch the between channels can prove to be a bit irritating at times.

9.0 Amazon Fire TV box or Stick

The newest of the streaming set top boxes, Amazon offers it’s Fire TV and Fire TV stick. Equipped with powerful hardware, it allows you fast online streaming along with the feature of playing different Amazon games.

Amazon Fire TV box has voice recognition system and you can use it to search for your favorite content. It is compatible with Hulu Plus, Amazon’s own content, and Vevo. The service performs exceptionally well but offers limited channel options – which are bound to expand in the coming future.

 

amazon firetv

Having said that, the service shows a lot of promise and Amazon Fire TV box or stick is a must-have for all Amazon Prime users as well as to those users who do not have a hefty streaming appetite for online streaming but enjoy light entertainment from time to time.

10.0 Boxee Box

People went crazy when Boxee Box was first released. Boxee Box allows you to stream online while catching over-the-air (OTC) channels. If you fancy recording certain shows you can pay for their cloud storage feature as well.

 

boxee box

However, the latest version of Boxee Box was a little troublesome and many users reported running into problems with the device – so make sure you get a friend to help you out.

11.0 Android TV

There are different Android TV’s that you can buy and they all come in their own shapes and sizes. Using Android TV, you can stream content on Netflix and Hulu. It runs on the latest Android operating system and provides an interactive display.

Although you can use the device to turn your television into a smart TV, you should check which channels are available on different manufacturers and look at their guides about how to stream on Google TV.

12.0 WD TV Box

This is a smart little device that plays many of the famous media formats. It connects to your television’s HDMI port and you can play movies, videos, show images, and also play music on your USB devices. You can also stream different channels from the likes of Hulu, YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, and others.

When looking into the cord cutting device, it is perfect for those that have loads of downloaded content. As the device plays various formats, it makes a good device to use.

13.0 Gaming Consoles

Every gaming enthusiast knows that modern game consoles are perfectly primed out of the box for all streaming purposes.

gaming consoles

 

Those that don’t own one should know that the initial cost would be significant as the latest gaming console would cost you roughly about three hundred dollars.

The best thing to do is to go for the latest PlayStation 4, as Sony has introduced its PlayStation Vue TV streaming service. There are around fifty channels to access and with Sony making deals with different network channels you can get some impressive lineup of content.

14.0 Live Stream Events

Now that you have selected the correct device for your cord cutting journey, here is an ugly truth – no live events. However, there is hope because you can get a league pass, use your OTC device like antenna, or use streaming services like Sling TV.

You can purchase a league pass for different sports and watch all the live games on your favorite device. For example. you can use an NBA League Pass that streams all live NBA games on Roku.

Then there are different sports network channels you can subscribe to, just like Hulu or Netflix. However, there is the problem of Blackout; you won’t be able to watch certain games airing in particular locations. You can bypass this problem by using a VPN service (see below).

Sling TV service provides the solution to your live sports streaming craving. The service offers cable channels without the need for cable subscription. It is like watching cable TV online as Sling TV provides various live TV channels including ESPN as one of them.

15.0 VPN & Smart DNS for Cord Cutters

VPN services offer a wide range of features for cord cutters. It is the perfect tool for you if you live outside the US or are planning to travel abroad. With the help of VPN you can connect to different servers located in various locations, allowing you to unblock some of the channels on your travels and also to bypass blackout issue.

You would need to configure the VPN service on your router or on your PC / Mac and then share the internet connection with any of the cord cutting devices. This way you will be able to use IP provided by your VPN provider and lift the geo restrictions.

For an additional price, most VPN services offer smart DNS add-on which helps in streaming different content without affecting your internet speeds. Within US most people use the service for data protection purposes but VPN comes in equally handy if you are traveling aboard.

Our advice for all the cord cutters is, to check each service in detail or try them out first during the trial period. IPVanish is a VPN provider that has good performance and provides uninterrupted streaming with its numerous servers in 150 countries.

You can also choose from other VPN providers such as HideMyAss.

16.0 The Rules of Cord Cutting

Here are some of the rules that we came up with after our experience with cord cutting. Following them might help easily transition into this cord cutting realm (if there is such a thing).

Rule #1 – Don’t watch Shows Currently on Air

If you are new to cord cutting or are about to cut the cord, then make this your number one rule: don’t watch the currently airing shows.

This can be a dreadful and irritating experience. Your buddies will be discussing the latest episode of Game of Thrones and might spoil it for you because your streaming service will get it the next day.

Even with Amazon’s ‘Season Pass’ you get the latest episodes available for streaming the next day. So if you are someone who likes to watch the latest episode of your favorite show every Sunday night, the best thing to do is to stop immediately as you are only going to harm yourself with torture.

Rule #2 – Binge Watch Your Way Through!

A more easy way to stream all your favorite content is to wait until the entire series is (or certain episodes are) made available online for streaming. A reason why you should go for Netflix is that they dump all the episodes of the show on line in one go so that you can binge watch the complete season.

However, with HBO NOW all set for launch as a standalone streaming channel (that does not require cable subscription), you should be able to follow the latest season of Game of Thrones without any delay.

Rule #3 – Don’t Switch between Streaming Channels

Switching between networks to watch the same show can be notorious and at time frustrating.

For instance, if you binge watched your way through season 1 on one network but switch to the other streaming channel for the second season, you will find that not all the episodes will be made available, and only the latest one’s will be accessible.

Here Screen Binge recommends all Hulu users to upgrade to Hulu Plus as shows like Sons of Anarchy can be binge watched from start to finish with this upgraded package. Also, with standard Hulu account you only get the latest five episodes to watch.

Rule #4 – Try different Services before you Subscribe

When it comes to selecting which channels to select for your uninterrupted cord cutting experience, you should try the different services before you subscribe.

Most of these services offer free trails – use them to test the service. Using content aggregators is a good option as you can find out where your favorite shows or movies can be accessed from.

This way you will get familiar with the user interface of each streaming channel. You might need a little time or a bit of guidance to get used to Amazon’s Instant Video streaming service, but you will find that it is worth the learning curve.

The Verdict

Cord cutting is the latest trend and looks to be the next ‘big thing’ of 2015. However, cable providers are not going to give up without a fight and will try to squeeze all the life out of cord cutting services.

We hope you enjoy life without cable TV by using this cord cutting guide. Select services that you would need to watch content on, find out the appropriate device for turning your television into an HD streaming platform. Don’t forget to follow some of the cord cutting rules to make the transition easier.

Share your cord cutting stories and questions with us; or shows that might be worth binge watching in the comments below.

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  • Pam_L

    Forgive me, but how am I supposed to get Internet without an ISP? How do I watch local programming like the news with a ‘streaming’ service? I’m sure my understanding of all this technical jargon is not as sophisticated as some people’s, but we’re all negotiating our way through this brave new world of technology, aren’t we? And could someone also please clarify the following paragraph:

    “Cord cutting allows you to watch content on your laptops, mobiles or tablets by allowing you to unplug your television and throw it out of the window. You will be able to stream all your favorite movies and TV shows on the big screen.”

    Suppose I’d rather watch my favorite programs on my TV, rather than a computer screen, or God forbid, a tablet or smart phone?

    • Hi Pam.

      Thanks for the feedback. We’re EXTREMELY interested in making this guide easier for non-technical people to follow… Please do let me know more about how we can make it easier to follow for you in particular. 🙂

      As for ISPs… You are right. It’s the principle of shifting from a cable provider who gives you a fixed set of options to using the internet as your entertainment source. You may be stuck with an ISP but will have the choice in your own hands when it comes to the entertainment you consume.

      • Pam_L

        Thank you for replying. I’d still like you to clarify how I can stream all my favorite movies and TV shows on the big screen after I’ve unplugged my television and thrown it out the window. Furthermore, I’d still like to know how to get local news broadcasts through a streaming service.

        • Harris Sid

          We need something like an online channel list along with ways to unblock them if they’re allowed only in certain regions.

  • Duck_Season

    Hate to admit it, but since I found a FREE, peer-to-peer streaming site, it puts all those pay services to shame. I have Netflix also, but in Canada, so many good shows and movies are blocked, it is a total rip-off. Since going peer-to-peer, there is not ONE show or movie that they don’t have.

    • Harris Sid

      How’s the stream quality on those things? Is it dependent on the broadcaster’s connection?

      • Duck_Season

        I find it equal to, or even better than Netflix. As with any peer-to-peer platform, there are occasionally some bugs, but nothing that would send me back to Netflix. You can watch movies that are still in theatres, and shows the day after airing.