How to cut the cable cord

Posted by Todd Anderson

Todd Anderson writes about the internet, hardware, and new technologies. He has covered mobile devices, cameras, medical devices, and health and wellness products in emerging spaces. Todd hasn't had cable in over ten years.

How to Cut the Cable Cord – Streaming TV Services

September 27, 2021

Are you wondering how to cut the cable cord and join us in the cable-free future of streaming news, sports, and entertainment?

According to Leichtman Research, 1.1 million people cut the cord on their cable TV  between April and July 2021. Every single major cable service provider in the United States lost customers during this time period. As staggering as it is, this number actually represents a slow down in customer attrition only because there are fewer customers left to leave cable television. 

We began documenting our journey to cut the cable cord in 2016, but I haven’t had cable in ten years. It’s difficult to describe what a wilderness we experienced a decade ago with only Hulu and YouTube over a 10 Mbps (usually slower!) signal.

More and more people are discovering how to get everything they need from an internet connection and cord cutting streaming services. And more apps and platforms are making it easy to cut the cable. 

Replacing Live TV when you cut the cable cord

There are many reasons to hang on to that live television experience. Whether it is an ongoing show or just live news, a live feed on your television just makes sense to us. Fortunately, we’re far enough into the streaming era now that you don’t need to worry about missing live broadcasts once you cut out cable television. You have tv options besides cable.

In fact, it’s a little difficult to explain all the options because it is so easy to get live television now.

Let’s break it down a bit:

How to get live news

If you want to stream for less cost, all you need is a Roku television (or Roku box) and an internet connection. The Roku channel store has tons of options in their News and Weather category.

How to watch local news with a Roku device

Most of these services offer a live stream as well as clips of news stories. Additionally, most are free because they run periodic advertising. Roku has a blog post explaining this in depth.

If you don’t want to go with the Roku brand, there are many other streaming boxes that either have built in channels or allow you to “cast” apps to your television. Once you have one of these boxes, you can download apps from CNN, MSNBC, PBS, FoxNews, or others to cast to your television. All of those apps have live streams. Even YouTube is full of live streams from major news networks.

Sling is another option that even offers a way to enjoy local channels through your television. Streaming boxes are really affordable cable tv in an interface.

Think of it this way: Channels are really just apps and your television set is now a giant tablet. Smart televisions have an operating system built in. Streaming boxes like Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire stick, the Apple TV box, and so many others are just operating systems in a box that display apps on a television without its own OS.

How to get live, local news and other programming

Getting live local news is still somewhat of a challenge because most local stations don’t have their own app capable of live streaming their broadcast. Not to worry, YouTube TV has a huge selection of local providers. On that link, you’ll see a space to add a zip code so that YouTube can show you all the local channels available to you through their service. 

How to watch current television seasons on streaming services 

Hulu was in the current television game early and continues to carry current seasons of shows from several networks. If you’re looking for total stream tv, YouTube TV is essentially a cable replacement and carries current programming from 85+ channels. 

When you’re looking for other options besides cable, almost every major network provides an app to stream their programming.  

Peacock — NBC’s streaming service — has a number of streaming “channels,” including a few news broadcasts and sports channels. In addition, Peacock has tons of movies and TV series on demand.

Paramount + does the same for CBS programming and includes live sports.

ABC has apps for every mobile OS and streaming box.

We’re going to break down as many options as we can below. But up next, sports.

How to watch sports live

Even a couple of years ago, it was difficult to find all the sports you might desire when you cut the cable cord. You’ll still want to explore your sporting options to select the right service for you. The key is to determine what teams or leagues you want to follow. From there, you really get to pay for only what you want.

Roku and Sling have sports options. ESPN, the NFL, and many others offer coverage. Disney—which owns the major sports network ESPN—even offers a plan that combines Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN. YouTube TV has NFL, NBA, and MLB networks.

Unfortunately, there is no single solution to all your sports streaming needs. But we are getting closer to a future in which we choose exactly what we subscribe to.

How to stream movies and shows

We’re in a golden age of streaming shows and movies. Besides Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, every major movie network has their own streaming app: HBOMax, Starz, Showtime, Paramount +, Peacock.

If you’re a dedicated Hulu or Amazon Prime user, you can even add on the movie services you prefer to build your own entertainment package.

Breaking it all down

We can’t keep up with all the developments but we hope to give you an overview of what you can expect so that you can be better informed when you make your decisions to cut the cable cord.


Service or AppMonthly PriceMovies and SeriesOriginal ContentCurrent TV SeriesRent MoviesLive SportsLive News
YouTube TV$64.99xxxxx
PeacockFree – $9.99xxxx
Paramount +$4.99 – $9.99xxxxx
Hulu$5.99 – $69.99xxx
Netflix$8.99 – $17.99xx
Amazon Prime$12.99xxxx
HBOMax$9.99 – $14.99xxx

Are you looking for specific cable channels to stream?

One of the best resources we’ve found is from The Streamable who have an in-depth comparison of which networks are carried by which service.

Plenty of resources to cut the cable cord

It can still feel a little scary to cut cable out of your life in 2021. Fortunately, we’re well past the days of looking for hacks to get local news and current shows. If anything, we now have a glut of options to stream everything you want as well as a surfeit of content to guide you to cord-cutting nirvana. If you need more information, check out CNET, Decider, Tom’s Guide, and Digital Trends for their advice on how to cut the cable cord in 2021.

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