“Cutting the cable”, or unsubscribing from television cable networks, has been a popular idea but hasn’t really caught on yet. Despite the growth of third party networks such as Netflix, most people are still subscribed to a cable network. There are several ways you can cut the cable, however, and still get by with most of the shows you used to watch.
Unfortunately, it’s still impossible to cut the cable and still legally get every show you want to watch. Game of Thrones is infamous for this – unless you subscribe to HBO, you won’t be able to get Game of Thrones from any other provider, such as Hulu or Netflix. The reason this happens is because cable companies are trust monopolies. HBO controls Game of Thrones from the moment it is filmed to the day it airs. This means that they control how you watch Game of Thrones. If they want to make you subscribe for $20 a month then raise the price, there is no other way you can get Game of Thrones, as nobody else is allowed to sell it. If you want to watch those shows the only way you can cut the cable is to pirate those shows.
If you still want to cut the cable, there are other options available to you. You can still buy antennas to get free, basic networks. Advances in cell phone radio technology have bled over to television antennas, making them about 10% in mass as they were a few decades ago. The FCC mandated in 2009 that OTA (over the air) television signals must be digital, meaning that the transmission frequency is higher and there is less noise and a stronger signal. The new technology advances in antennas also mean that you can get a signal where you couldn’t ten years ago. Amadou Diallo from Forbes claims that “on the lower floor of my Brooklyn brownstone, I can get 60 OTA channels with a small tabletop antenna like the $50 Mohu Curve, which has a 30-mile antenna range”. These signals are also broadcasted in HD, and the signal is often uncompressed, which makes it look better than the compressed signal coming over the cable.
The next option is to take advantage of different streaming sites such as Hulu and Netflix, as well as marketplaces such as Google Play and Apple. There are a couple of different options here, depending on what you want to watch. If all you want to watch is Netflix and Hulu, get a Chromecast. It is one of the cheapest options out there, costing only $35 at the time of writing this article. Basically, you plug it into your TV and set it to stream your content using a smartphone or computer running the Chrome web browser. You can also stream videos from YouTube and the Play Store, or stream a tab from Chrome directly to the TV. This device is still one of the more limited streaming options, though. The most popular set top box today is the Apple TV. Aside from Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube as well, it can stream various other channels, such as Disney, and sports channels including ESPN. The Apple TV can also stream your purchases from the iTunes store.
Cable cutting today is possible but it’s not perfect yet. There are still quite a few restrictions on the content you can get, including Game of Thrones and some smaller live sports matches. Cutting the cable is still much cheaper than subscribing to a cable company. Amadou Diallo from Forbes is paying a third of what he used to by using only free OTA television and streaming solutions such as Netflix. If you can live without getting some of the content you used to, cable cutting is definitely an interesting option.