How to Cut the Cord from Costly Cable to Free Streaming Step by Step Guide

How to Cut the Cord and Switch from Costly Cable to Free Streaming Step-by-Step Guide

[UPDATE 3/28/24] If you’ve ever thought about cord cutting before, now’s the time with this simple How to Cut the Cord step-by-step guide. It can be confusing to cut the costly cable cord and switch to free or inexpensive streaming. When we first considered cord cutting at our home, we went through an initial painless test to see what it would be like. We figured we would try streaming for a month while still paying for cable before making the final decision. We would add streaming and see if we could just watch streaming channels, without watching any cable channels for a month. Well, before the first week was done, we had seen enough and called the cable company to cancel our cable TV service and switched to all streaming. We cut our telecommunications bill by more than half (you still need to keep your Internet service) and we never looked back.

Now you can cut the cord too with the following simple step-by-step guide…

How to Cut the Cord: Step 1 — Get Connected for an Initial Streaming Test Drive

How to Cut the Cord with a Roku Express

You can easily start with an initial streaming test drive before making any final decisions about cutting your cable subscription. This way you may take as long as you like to explore what is available with streaming before taking the plunge and cancelling your cable TV service. This is how to cut the cord the painless way.

Fire TV Stick LiteIf you have a smart TV that lets you install smart TV apps or channels, and Internet service, then you already have what you need to do your own cord cutting test drive using your smart TV.

If you have an older HD TV like we do, then you will need to get an inexpensive streaming device in order to test out online streaming. Since this was just an initial test we grabbed a basic Roku Express HD Streaming Device with Remote for under $30. Another similar option would be an Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite. Some local libraries will even loan a streaming device for a week or so if you wish to try one for free.

You just plug the Roku or other streaming device into your TV’s USB Port for power (or use an optional power adapter if your HD TV doesn’t have a USB Port), attach the included HDMI cable from the Roku streaming device to the TV, and log into your home WiFi network. Set your TV input port to the HDMI Port you plugged the HDMI cable into and you’re off to the races!

How to Cut the Cord: Step 2 — Install and Explore Streaming Apps/Channels

The greatest difference between watching TV on a cable system or via streaming is in how everything is delivered and organized. On cable TV you have a linear list of live channels and/or a linear list of on demand titles. On streaming devices you have multiple apps/channels that you may install. Each of those apps/channels has their own interface which may consist of anything from one live channel, a few live channels or on demand titles, or a large selection of live channels and/or on demand titles as large as any single Cable service. Many of these are free, ad supported or subscription based. Many of the ad supported channels have fewer commercials than would be seen on a typical broadcast channel, sometimes not even enough time for a bathroom break, though of course you can pause whenever necessary. With so much on demand content available, including many full multi-season TV series, the biggest beneficial change you’ll quickly get used to is watching on your own time schedule. Rather than having to schedule your time around a live TV schedule you can follow your own schedule, though many live channels are also available if you prefer to view based on a live schedule.

The next step in how to cut the cord is to test out what’s available to stream. We quickly found out there is much more free content available than anyone would possibly be able to watch, even if they did nothing but watch TV 24/7. So, after the first week, we went ahead and cancelled our cable TV service. If you absolutely must watch something that is only available on one of the premium apps/channels, you can always add a subscription for any specific apps/channels you wish to add, a la cart. But, I suggest first doing a deep dive in some of the larger free apps/channels. You’ll most likely find something that you would enjoy watching just as much or better, for FREE!

The following is a list of some of the apps/channels you can begin to install and explore. To install any of these apps/channels simply navigate to the Add Channel button or menu option on your streaming device, browse or search for the desired app/channel and install.

FREE Streaming Apps/Channels with Large Collections of Live and On Demand TV/Movies/Shows/Videos

  • Pluto TV: 1000’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Plex: 1000’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Tubi: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Xumo Play: 100’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Crackle: 100’s of On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • freevee: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Filmrise: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Fawesome: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • Rumble: 1000’s of Live & On Demand Shows & Videos, FREE
  • redbox: 1000’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, Most FREE with ads, Rent $3/title, Buy $11/title
  • The Roku Channel: 1000’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE & Premium
  • YouTube: 1000’s of Live & On Demand Shows & Videos, FREE & Premium
  • KlowdTV: 68 Live Channels FREE, Premium $2.50/mo to add OAN or $10/Mo for 131 Channels
  • Stirr: 100’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • FreebieTV: 100’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • DistroTV: 100’s of Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • kanopy: 100’s of Movies FREE with Library Card

Specialty Apps/Channels

  • History: 1 Live Stream & 100’s of On Demand TV Shows, FREE & Subscription
  • National Geographic TV: 100’s of On Demand & a few Live TV/Movies, FREE & Premium
  • The CW: CW On Demand TV Shows & Movies, FREE
  • Newsmax TV: 1 Live Stream & On Demand TV Shows, FREE
  • Real America’s Voice: 1 Live Stream & On Demand TV Shows, FREE
  • FrankSpeech/LindellTV: 3 Live Streams & 100’s of On Demand Shows, FREE
  • Epoch TV: Epoch TV & NTD Shows, FREE & Premium
  • RSBN Right Side Broadcasting Network: 1 Live Stream & On Demand RSBN Shows, FREE
  • Angel Studios: The Chosen & Other Angel Shows, FREE
  • Salem News Channel: 1 Live Stream & On Demand Shows, FREE
  • Dark Matter TV: Curated On Demand Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, & True Crime TV/Movies, FREE
  • Dust: Sci Fi Shorts, Films & Podcasts, FREE
  • The Archive TV: Retro & Classic Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • CometTV: 1 Live Stream Sci Fi Channel, FREE
  • Sky News: 1 Live Stream & On Demand Clips
  • PBS: Live & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • PBS Kids: 1000+ On Demand Kids Videos, FREE
  • ABC News Live: 1 Live Stream & On Demand ABC News TV, FREE
  • CBS: Live & On Demand CBS TV/Sports, FREE Live, Provider log in for On Demand
  • CBS Sports: 1 Live Stream & On Demand CBS Sports TV Clips, FREE
  • Mixible: 1 Live Stream & On Demand Shows & Clips, FREE
  • WeatherNation: Live Local and National Weather, FREE
  • Many other TV Stations offer Apps/Channels you can install to watch them directly.

Local Channels

  • Very Local: Live Local TV, News, Weather & On Demand TV Shows, FREE
  • Local Now: Live Local TV, News, Weather & On Demand TV/Movies, FREE
  • HaystackNews: Live Local TV, News & Weather, FREE
  • NewsOn: Live Local TV, News & Weather, FREE
  • LocalBTV: Local TV in Selected Areas, FREE
  • Many local stations offer Apps/Channels you can install to watch them directly.

Premium Apps/Channels

  • Discovery+: 1000’s of On Demand TV Shows, Premium Plans $5-$7/mo
  • Peacock TV: 100’s of On Demand TV/Movies, Mostly Premium Plans $5-$10/mo with Limited FREE Content
  • Hulu: Live TV & On Demand TV, Sports, Movies, Premium Plans including Disney+, ESPN+ Bundles $8-$70/mo
  • Netflix: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, Premium Plans $7-$20/mo
  • Amazon Prime Video: 1000’s of On Demand TV/Movies, Amazon Prime $15/mo
  • Paramount+: Live & On Demand TV/Movies, Premium Plans including Showtime Bundles $5-$15/mo
  • HBOmax: Live & On Demand Movies, Premium $10-$150/mo
  • philo: Live & On Demand TV/Movies, Premium $25/mo
  • Vidgo: Live & On Demand Sports/News/TV/Movies, Premium $65-$100/mo
  • Sling TV: Live & On Demand TV/Movies w DVR, Premium $25-$55+
  • FuboTV: Live & On Demand TV, Sports, Movies, & DVR, Premium Plans $75-$95/mo
  • frdly TV: Live & On Demand TV w DVR, Premium Plans $7-$11/mo
  • Disney+: Live & On Demand TV/Movies, Premium Plans including Hulu, ESPN+ Bundles $10-$20/mo
  • Other premium Apps/Channels are available as well.

Note: All premium prices mentioned were in effect as of 2/8/23 and subject to change.

How to Cut the Cord: Step 3 — Add Additional Devices to Enhance your Streaming Pleasure

Once you are satisfied with the available streaming channels and decide to take the plunge, cut the cord and cancel your cable TV subscription, there are additional devices you may add to enhance your streaming pleasure.

How to cut the cord with the Roku Smartphone App RemoteInstall the Roku Smartphone App for Interactive Voice Remote & Wireless Bluetooth Headphone Listening

Noise Cancelling Wireless bluetooth headphonesIf you install the Roku Smartphone App on your Apple or Android smartphone you can use it as a Roku voice remote control to control any available Roku device, even the entry level Roku Express which only comes with the basic non-voice remote. You can use the app to search for content using your voice or the smartphone keyboard. You can then watch the found content on your Roku device/TV. You may even watch the Roku Channel right on your smartphone. The Roku smartphone app also allows you to listen to your Roku TV through wireless bluetooth headphones paired to your smartphone.

Roku Express 4K+Upgrading to More Powerful Roku Devices

If you are satisfied with a test drive of the base Roku Express unit and decide to cancel your cable service you may continue using the base unit of course or upgrade to more powerful Roku devices. We moved the base Roku Express to one of our secondary HD TVs and purchased a couple of Roku Express 4K+ devices for our primary TVs. The Roku Express 4K+ supports 4K HD video and includes the voice remote with TV controls for power/volume. The voice remote makes searching for content much faster and easier. There are even more powerful Roku devices available including systems with full cinematic surround sound as well as other streaming devices from other brands.

Roku Streambar Pro, 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Cinematic Sound

GE Multi-function Remote ControlAdd a Multi-function Remote to Control Your Entire Entertainment Systemonn. Universal 6-Device Remote

If you are adding a Roku (or other) streaming device to an entertainment system consisting of multiple devices such as TV, surround sound audio system, Blu-ray and/or DVD player, and possibly still a cable box, all the separate remote controls can become quite unwieldy. So, another step in how to cut the cord is to integrate your new streaming player with your other devices. Luckily there are multi-function universal remote controls available that may be used to control all your devices, including the streaming device, with a single remote.

One such remote that we tried was the 6 device GE Universal Remote Control. This remote has large backlighted buttons and is capable of controlling 6 different devices with buttons for TV, streaming player, Blu-ray player, cable box, DVD player and audio system. It may be programmed to have the volume buttons always control the audio device, regardless of which device mode is being used. The remote works well and the large backlit buttons are easy to see in the dark. The only drawback of this remote control is that it tends to exhaust the 2 AA batteries rather frequently and the remote needs to be reprogrammed each time the batteries are changed which gets a little annoying. Luckily the programming is quite easy and the Streaming button is pre-programmed for the Roku streaming player already.

[UPDATE 3/28/24: Unfortunately this remote control didn’t last very long. After about a year the OK button and the Volume +/- buttons stopped working. So, we just switched to an onn. Universal 6-Device Remote. This ONN remote has all the same functionality as the GE universal remote did with the added ability to learn programming for specific buttons directly from another device’s remote control. Hopefully this ONN remote will last longer than the GE.]

How to cut the cord with an HD Digital TV AntennaAdd a Powered HD Digital TV Antenna for Additional Local Channel Viewing

As mentioned above, some local TV stations are available for viewing right through the streaming device, especially for local news, weather and some sports. If you want to enable additional broadcast channel viewing though, you may also add an indoor or outdoor powered HD digital TV antenna as the last step in how to cut the cord and cancel your cable TV subscription. Depending on the distance to the broadcast stations in your area, different antennas in different positions will produce the best results. I would start with an inexpensive indoor powered antenna first and try it in different locations in the room to see where it gets the best results.

Now you’re ready to cut the cord and enjoy endless hours of streaming TV at a much lower cost than available on cable.

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