Cable television has been the best source of entertainment for the American audience for several decades. However, in today’s age of online streaming and social media, this form of entertainment has turned into a lumbering dinosaur. Despite US cable providers like Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, Optimum, and Bright House Networks enhancing the visual quality of your TV shows, you’ve to pay through the nose to watch your favorite shows. Nevertheless, the advent of live online streaming technology has made life much easier than before. In this guide, I will cover all the pros and cons involved in cord cutting.
What is Online Streaming?
Online streaming is the act of watching live and on-demand videos using your Internet connection. You can stream online content via free websites like Crackle, Youtube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. Subscription-based streaming channels like Sling TV, PS Vue, Direct TV Now, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a much richer and wider list of movies and TV shows.
How Does Cord Cutting Work?
To cut the cord, you need to have a Smart TV first. Modern day sets usually have built-in apps for this purpose. You don’t have one? No issues! You can still use your old LEDs for live TV streaming. It’s a simple and inexpensive procedure. You can either use streaming sticks or game consoles for this purpose. Here’s a list of the best streaming devices you can use to watch TV online.
- Roku: Powered with an inventive interface and built on a 4K resolution, Roku 4 gives you access to thousands of channels. In the future, you can expect the company to release Roku Premium Ultra with better features.
- Chromecast: Google’s Chromecast is probably the cheapest of the lot. The downside, however, is that you need to use your computer or smartphone to cast content to your TV via Chromecast.
- Amazon Fire TV: If you wish to go by bigger brand names, you can go for Fire TV. Amazon’s 4K player is a pretty impressive Android-based streaming device.
- Apple TV: If you’re fond of high-priced branded stuff and you prefer to have some privacy, you can opt for Apple TV. It’s a great choice for iPhone, Macbook and iPad lovers.
- PS4/Xbox One: Hardcore game fans can go for Xbox One or PS4. Although these devices cost $350 to $400, they can give you a dual experience—live TV and gaming.
- PC/Mac: Normal laptop or computer users can connect their computers to their television sets via DVI or VGA cable, display ports or HDMIs. If you have a keyboard and a wireless mouse, you can easily access any video or music streaming service of the world.
- Android/iOS:If you don’t mind watching videos via a small screen, you can use your Android, iPhone, or iPad to for online streaming. All major channels are compatible with smartphones.
What Streaming Services are the Best?
Once you have set up your devices, you just need to pick a provider for your service. Online streaming services are mainly divided into two categories:
- Video-on-demand (VOD) and live streaming services. Renowned providers like Amazon Prime ($99/year), Netflix ($8-$12/month) and Hulu (same as Netflix) are the best VOD streaming services.
- If you want to watch live TV channels like ABC, NBC, Disney, ESPN, Fox, or Discovery online, your best bets are Playstation Vue, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now. You can easily choose a provider based on your budget and personal preferences.
Why is Online Streaming Better than Conventional Cable Television?
- Online streaming services offer you access to unlimited channels at reasonable costs. Unlike conventional television, you don’t have to pay the cost for watching individual channels.
- You get to pick which shows you want to watch, where you want to, and whenever you want.
- A lot of these streaming services are ad-free.
- You don’t have to pay hefty bills because most subscriptions are reasonable.
- Most streaming services offer free trials. This allows you to explore these online channels risk-free.
- You don’t need to commit to long term contracts and can even cancel the service whenever you want.
Things to Consider Before Cutting the Cord
There are some points you have to consider before making the jump to live streaming. First, you need a reliable Internet connection. You might suffer constant buffering if you’re Internet speed is too slow. Another thing you have to consider is that you might need to subscribe to multiple streaming services to watch all your favorite shows.
Major streaming channel are geoblocked i.e. they are only available in certain regions. You can bypass these regional restrictions by using VPN or Smart DNS, however. Either solution mainly allows you to spoof your location online.
If you want to use live online streaming as a source to watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS games, you should be aware that blackout restrictions might prevent you from watching your favorite team live online. Again, you can use VPN or Smart DNS to bypass blackouts.
Cord Cutting – The Final Verdict
Whether we like it or not, online streaming services are the future. Otherwise, AT&T wouldn’t have launched DirecTV Now, their stand-online streaming service. Is cord cutting worth exploring? The aforementioned benefits aptly answer the question. You might not end up dropping your cable subscription, but with nothing to lose, you should definitely try out online streaming if you haven’t done so already.