Alternatives to Cable TV: A World of Options

The Internet is really cool. It used to be that to entertain yourself in front of a screen you had to pay a big company every month to get a wire installed that let you watch a handful of  channels. Now, you can pay that same big company every month to get access to history’s biggest network of enjoyable content, on demand and 24/7. The choice appears to be a no-brainer, so why are people still paying for cable? Aren’t there alternatives to cable TV?

It turns out that Big Cable still has a few powerful advantages: initial runs of expensive, well-produced TV shows and live sports broadcasting.

Things are changing, and this post will explain why these advantages are quickly eroding and show you some of the more popular options for cutting cable.

Alternatives to Cable TV

Television

NetflixNetflix

  • You probably already know about Netflix
  • Thousands of commercial-free movies and TV shows for a reasonable price
  • More and more original and exclusive shows
  • Only available in select countries and some catalogues have poor selection

Hulu

Hulu

  • Lots of shows and movies, often added at a faster pace than Netflix
  • Free and Paid accounts have commercials
  • US only

…and more!

  • There are lots of shows that are streamable for free on broadcaster websites, Amazon Prime, iTunes and more. Navigating these is a bit of a pain, but thankfully sites like CanIStream.it help streamline the process.
Sports

Sports are a different beast. At this point, live game broadcasts are really the only thing holding most sportsfans to cable. Thankfully, most major sports have realized that they’re missing out on a large number of fans who really don’t want to get cable.

Unthankfully, sports streaming packages are subject to what they call “blackouts,” where local market or nationally televised games are unavailable. It is unfortunate. Still, if you live outside of your favorite team’s local market, these options could be ideal.

NBA League PassNBA League Pass

  • Live, archived, condensed games and highlights
  • Multi-game viewing, stats
  • Note: NBA International League Pass is not subject to blackout restrictions!

NHL GameCenter LIVENHL GameCenter LIVE

  • Access to the NHL Vault, with Classic games and full-length replays

NFL GamePass

NFL GamePass

  • NFL RedZone, condensed replays, archives
  • For Canadians, check out this post which has some tips on getting the full experience

MBL.tvMLB.tv

  • Multi-game viewing, live DVR, and more
  • MLB.tv Premium with mobile device support and home/away choice

Football/Soccer/World Cup?

  • Right now this world is still a minefield
  • For the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, this post should help you find where you can watch the games online in your country

HDTV Antennas

  • Did you know that there are dozens of completely free HD channels broadcast over the air? They’re practically waiting for you to watch them; an ideal example of alternatives to cable TV. To take advantage, you’ll need an HDTV over the air (OTA) antenna. The Wirecutter has a great rundown of the best ones to get.
  • You can even get an OTA DVR like Tablo to make your cable-less experience even more like (the good parts of) cable.
Hardware
  • Your computer
    • We really think that you might already have all you need to watch your alternatives to cable TV.
  • Set-top boxes
    • Roku, Apple TV, etc. with some restrictions.
  • Mobile devices
    • If you don’t have a TV or like to watch stuff on the go, most if not all of the services mentioned above have mobile apps available on all major platforms.
Getting Control

If you decide to use your computer as a replacement for a set-top box (or even as a replacement for a TV altogether), you’ll find that controlling everything at a distance is a bit of an issue.

That’s why we’ve created Apptui. Apptui turns your phone or tablet into a remote that can control your entire computer. Not only that, we’ve built Apptui so that you get specific remotes depending on what app/site you’re using. Watching something on Netflix? We have a remote for that. Same for Hulu and many more.

Alternatives to cable TV