Combine an antenna and online services, and you have more options than cable and satellite TV


You can't deny cable and satellite services are convenient options to watch your favorite programs. But they can also add up to a big expense.

The average bill is $154 a month, and that's why more people are giving up on negotiating for a better deal and cutting the cable.

But is this right for you? First you have to decide what programs you watch, and pick the right hardware to get what you want.

If you like the Super Bowl, Academy Awards or your news from Channel 3, then local channels are what you need, and the fix is simple.

Local broadcasters still send things over the air. Just plug in an antenna to pick up the signal. If your TV is a bit older, a converter box may be necessary. You can get one for $40.

However, most people want more than just local channels.

There is a ton of content available on the Internet -- keyword being Internet -- meaning you'll still need to fork over the money for an internet service provider.

Once that's done, the choice is yours. First, you can stream TV shows and movies to your computer. Network websites like provide free access to their television shows.

But if you are looking for a variety of options in one place, there are paid services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and Crackle.

Hulu and Netflix each offer their content for $7.99 a month. Amazon's service is $99 a year or about $8.25 a month. These same service can be viewed over your TV as well, but you'll need some additional hardware to make that happen.

Smart TVs have these services preloaded, but you'll often pay hundreds of dollars more than a regular TV.

You can also use certain Blue-ray players and gaming consoles to access content. Also not cheap.

If these options are out, you'll have to buy a dedicated device such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Fire TV. They range in price from $35 to $99 each.

Each of these devices plug into your TV using an HDMI cable and require Internet access over ethernet or Wi-Fi. That's it for hardware.

The website Lifehacker did a great comparison of TV show providers. You can compare your favorite shows on services such as Hulu, Amazon and Netflix here.

But cutting the cord isn't the best choice for everyone.

For example, even when you do cut the cord, certain cable networks like ESPN or HBO still require you to have a cable provider to watch their programming online.

It's a catch-22. Another reason, your cable provider is probably your Internet provider. While you can reduce the television portion of your bill, you'll likely always have to pay an Internet provider if you want to enjoy your favorite shows.

By the time you add in monthly fees for online services, you may end up paying the same price. Also, with cable there are no log-ins to remember or multiple subscriptions to manage. Your cable provider keeps everything organized on one bill.

Finally, live programming isn't always available to cord cutters. And as more sports programming moves to cable, cutting the cord may put your favorite team out of reach. And in many cases, these big sporting events aren't available for viewing online.

The benefits of cord cutting may be enticing, but it may be more of a hassle down the road.

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