Cutting The Cord: 7 Alternatives To Cable & Satellite TV

April 7, 2014  |  

More and more American households are cutting the cord on cable television subscriptions.

Last year, measurement firm Nielsen announced they’d began tracking the viewing habits of 5 million households that consume entertainment on Internet-connected devices and TVs. Dubbed the “zero TV” households by Nielsen, these non-traditional viewers tend to be younger than 35 years old, childless; and 75 percent own at least one TV set that is connected to the Internet, not a cable or television service. Nielsen found that virtually half of the “zero TV” homes (48 percent) watch TV shows through online subscription services like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus or Netflix.

With complaints of rising prices, sheer lack of interest and viewing limitations, zero watchers have left cable TV behind. It’s not always an option due to offerings in certain markets and the need for the high-speed Internet service, which is available through these providers, but many people are ready for the change. Here are several alternatives to cable you may want to explore:

Try networks/TV shows’ sites

Free is the perfect price, and there are ways to watch your current shows for that exact price point via the show or network’s website. So, let’s say you missed Scandal (and can wait about a week), you can watch it on ABC Go. Networks like CBS, Fox, NBC and provide limited content for free on their websites as well.

You’ll want to catch the episodes within a few days of a new episode airing because many networks remove them shortly after posting.

Purchase to watch

If you’re not willing to wait and need to watch those recently released shows and movies, you’ll have to pay. Whether you decide to pay-per-episode or via subscription, you’re guaranteed to get the latest shows:

iTunes—The media management service allows users to either purchase single episodes or season bundles of numerous TV shows for no more than a of couple bucks. When you purchase a TV episode or movie through iTunes, you can download and watch them offline at your convenience. This comes in handy when traveling or bored and without a Wi-Fi connection. As long as you can access your Apple account, you’ll be able to watch your iTunes content. If you’d like to watch the content once, with no plans of watching it again, users can opt to rent content to save additional money.

iTunes is the favorable option because you don’t have to wait for an entire season to be released in order to purchase a single episode, which isn’t the case for all services.

Google Play— You can buy or rent single movies or television show episodes, as well as entire seasons of television content, from Google’s entertainment hub. While many Android holders use Google Play, anyone with a Google ID can use it online.

Subscription-based service

The following are supported by the majority of the TV streaming boxes and services—

Amazon Instant Video/Amazon Prime

Amazon Instant Video allows you to buy and watch single episodes, season packs or movies. An Amazon Prime subscription gives you access to some additional content, as well as unlimited streaming access to thousands of movies and TV shows through Instant Video. It’ll cost you $99 for a one-year membership, a $20 uptick from its original $79 price tag.


The delay between a season’s close and its arrival on streaming services is annoying, but Hulu Plus ($7.99) is pretty good on delivering the latest episodes. You’ll usually find shows the day after they air on Hulu, which can’t always be said for Netflix.


If you’re looking to binge watch and view a backlog of shows, Netflix is the likely pick. Its generous library of movies from every genre and shows that are currently airing is well worth the $7.99 per month.

We’ve listed the top but there are others, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Crackle, among others, out there. The original programming provided through Hulu (Miss Fits, Fresh Meat, Line of Duty) and Netflix (House of CardsOrange Is the New Black) has furthered the way consumers view TV content.

How do you watch TV? Do you stream or are you more of a traditional TV viewer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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