Essential Guide to Cord Cutting - A Summary

Are you considering cutting the cord and looking for tips on how to watch internet tv online, learn how to live stream local news and sports, and even learn how to watch movies online without cable?

We’ve updated our rankings and reviews for 2019 – including major updates on which streaming apps we’re not recommending (hint: it’s NOT DirecTV Now any more). 

There are many articles online that talk about cord cutting; this article is different in that our focus is how to cut the cord WITHOUT having to use an antennae, without having to use any complicated equipment, without having to use a computer, and without having to download a bunch of different apps to your tv. 

Our focus is on how to cut the cord in a step-by-step manner that is easy to do for anyone of any age. 

My goal is to help you find streaming tv providers that are true “cable alternative” such that they will allow you to enjoy an internet tv viewing experience that is similar to cable, but without the high cost of cable.

What do I mean when I say we want a streaming tv provider that is a “true cable alternative?” Simply that the streaming tv provider (for example Sling or DirecTV Now) offers a viewing experience that is similar to cable tv (with similar networks, access to live local news and sports, a DVR, channel guide, etc), so that if you cut the cord and choose to watch tv online, you won’t miss cable tv because you’ll have everything you had with cable – except the high cost!

Guide to Cord Cutting - What You'll Find Here

If you follow the steps in this Essential Guide to Cord Cutting, you’ll learn how to choose a streaming tv service provider easily and quickly and most importantly you’ll set yourself up success with cord cutting.

Consider the following questions…

  1. Are you interested in HONEST REVIEWS of streaming tv service providers like Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Plus Live TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, etc?
  2. Would you like a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Cut the Cord so it can be super easy?
  3. Do you want to know about topics such as:

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then this article is for you and you’ll want to bookmark this post so you can refer back to it as you make your cord cutting decisions.

Inside this Essential Guide to Cord Cutting you’ll find links to helpful articles about how to cut the cord, in-depth videos on specific cord cutting topics, and more. Not only will we discuss all the major streaming service provider options for Cord Cutting 2018, but we’ll also talk about some important considerations you need to think about like finding local channels, whether or not you need a cloud DVR, and how easy/hard it is to find content on the various platforms.

I invite YOU to join the discussion so we can help each other finally cut the cord and ditch cable tv forever!

Guide to Cord Cutting - Table of Contents

  1. Why Listen to Me
  2. Target Audience
  3. That Helpful Dad’s Step-by-Step Guide to Cut the Cord 
  4. 10 Things to Know BEFORE You Cut the Cord
  5. The Main Options for Streaming TV Service Providers (Sling, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and more)
  6. Cord Cutting  – Video Reviews of Sling, DirecTV Now, Hulu, and more.
  7. Online TV Streaming Service Providers – The Individual Reviews
  8. Ranking the Streaming TV Service Providers
  9. Video Tips for Specific Cord Cutting Topics – Local Sports, NFL Network, Kids Shows, and more

Why Listen to Me? Becuase I am a Real Life Cord Cutter

Hi, I’m Mike, That Helpful Dad and I’m a real consumer just like you, not a paid endorser. I provide honest reviews people can trust and I’ve been doing it for years on this blog and my YouTube Channel. After years of frustration dealing with cable companies, I recently took the leap and cut the cord. I couldn’t be happier!

Cord Cutting is something I’m passionate about, but I realize that many people my age are still intimidated by the prospect of trying to cut the cord so on this page you’ll find lots of resources to help you make the cord cutting process easier.

In this article I detail what I learned along the way in the hopes that it will be useful to you as you make YOUR cord-cutting decision too. There’s a lot to consider and it’s easy to overlook some of the ‘hidden’ details that can be the difference between a positive experience or a frustrating one. That’s where I can help. 

Cord Cutting 101 - Target Audience for these Tips

While I am hopeful that there is something for everybody who is interested in this topic, I recognize that not everybody will find it useful. Like most of the other articles on this site, this info will probably be most helpful to people of my generation (the 35-55+ crowd). Tell me if this sounds like you:

  1. You’ve watched cable tv all your life, but you’re frustrated with the increasing cost of cable, the long-term contracts, the poor customer service, all the hidden fees and fake ‘taxes’ on the cable bill, and having to pay ridiculous charges for all those cable boxes.
  2. You are looking for cord cutting options that will allow stream tv online BUT you want an overall experience that is as similar to cable tv as possible.
  3. You don’t want to have to buy an antennae to get local channels – you want all your tv one place.
  4. You hate commercials and want to be able to fast forward through them OR at least know IF you can (and that depends on which tv streaming service you pick). 
  5. You like reading honest reviews from real consumers and are tired of fake ‘promotional’ reviews that don’t give you the real pro’s and con’s you need to know.

If this sounds like you, then this article is for YOU. BTW if you like my tips, be sure to sign up for my weekly email tips so you can read them at your leisure. Visit my home page to sign up. 

If you’re a millennial or someone who is already super tech-savvy then the info here is probably gonna be too basic for you.  No worries. I understand. But hey, if you have some tips to share about this topic, by all means, help us older folks out and add your comments to the mix.  

FREE Step-by-Step Guide to Cut the Cord

E-Book Version

You should see a pop-up window that offers this free gift but if you didn’t get one just click my pic to visit my home page and subscribe to my site – it’s a free subscription and you’ll get 4 free e-gifts – one of which is my 35-page Guide to Cutting the Cord.

Video Version

This is a 30+ minute comprehensive video that will  walk you thru the the process I personally followed to cut the cord and it will set you up for success.

10 Things to Know BEFORE You Cut the Cord.

STOP – before you spin your wheels trying to cut the cord and not really knowing what you’re doing or where to start, let me save you some time. There are some important considerations you need to know about BEFORE you cut the cord. These include:

  1. How to stream LIVE LOCAL Sports and News.
  2. What Channel Lineups and Channel Packages are offered by the different streaming tv service providers? Can you customize the channel packages with Sling, DirecTV Now, and others? 
  3. Does every streaming tv service provider offer a DVR? Are they all the same?
  4. What On-Demand TV Shows and Movies are offered? Can you skip through commercials while watching on-demand content?
  5. Is there a limit on the number of tv’s you can stream on at one time?
  6. How will you access the streaming tv service providers app? Do you have enough internet speeds? Do you need a wifi mesh router to reduce buffering?
  7. Can you add premium channels like HBO, Showtime, NFL Redzone? What if a particular channel you want to watch isn’t available? 
  8. What promotions are available from Sling, DirecTV Now, and others?
  9. What about a Channel Guide? Is the service easy to use to find what you want to watch? 
  10. How much can you really save by cutting the cord? Is it really worth your time and efforts?

These topics are so important that I’ve discussed them in detail in a separate article. Check it out here…

Streaming TV Service Providers - Main Options

Here are the online tv streaming service providers we’ll be discussing in this article:

  1. Sling TV
  2. DirecTV Now
  3. PlayStation Vue
  4. Hulu with Live TV (AKA Hulu Plus)
  5. YouTube TV

I recognize there are other options that will allow you to stream tv online such as Philo, Fubu TV, and more. As well as standalone services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Kodi, and lots more, however this particular article is focused on the streaming tv service providers that will allow you to have an overall experience that is as close as possible to cable tv – that means being able to watch LIVE TV, view LOCAL channels, watch major ‘cable’ tv networks (ESPN, TBS, HGTV, etc), watch Regional Sports Networks, use a DVR, have a channel guide, and more. 

Because we are looking for a true cable alternative, we’ll focus on Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu Plus Live TV, and YouTube TV in this article – depending on where you likve, most of these will fit the bill. 

Cord Cutting Streaming TV Provider Reviews - The VIDEO

In this video you’ll get a comprehensive comparison of Sling vs DirecTV Now vs PlayStation Vue vs Hulu Plus Live TV vs YouTube TV and more all in this one video. 

Streaming TV Service Providers - The Reviews

Sling TV Review – Summary

Sling TV was the first major online tv service provider and it’s still one of the most popular.

Pro’s: 3 channel packages and numerous customization options. Stream anywhere. Low overall costs ($20-40). 50-hour DVR. Good user interface. Easy to use overall.

Con’s: Terrible Local Channel and Regional Sports availability in many areas (need to use a separate antennae). DVR is $5 extra, doesn’t work on all channels, and you can’t always skip commercials. Orange plan only offer 1 stream at a time. To get all their channels you have to subscribe to Orange + Blue plan.

Sling TV Review – VIDEO

Sling TV Review – FULL ARTICLE

DirecTV Now Review – Summary

DirecTV Now is a major player in the online tv service provider world and it’s rapidly growing in popularity.

DirecTV Now used to be the streaming tv service provider my family used but we have since moved away from them. 

Pro’s: Numerous customization options, and up to 120 channels! Excellent local channel and regional sports channel availability. Stream anywhere.  Good user interface – similar to watching cable tv. HBO is included in some plans. Overall DTVN is very easy to use. 

Con’s: Higher costs starting in 2019. Only 2 streams at once unless you pay more. Free DVR is only 20 hours (you can pay $10 to get 100 hours), you can’t always skip commercials (especially for on-demand content) and the commercials are often annoying, 

DirecTV Now Review – VIDEO

PlayStation Vue Review

PlayStation Vue is actually pretty awesome and you do NOT need to own a PlayStation to use this service. 

This is the service my family currently uses. 

PlayStation Vue is truly a great way to cut the cord and get an experience that is very similar to watching cable tv – especially for older folks like me.

Pro’s: 4 channel packages,  numerous customization options, and up to 90 channels with premiums included! Excellent local channel and regional sports channel availability. Up to 5 Streams at once. Stream anywhere. Reasonable overall costs (as low as $40/month). FREE DVR with UNLIMITED Storage and you CAN skip through commercials. Good user interface – similar to watching cable tv. Very easy to use. One of the few providers to offer NFL Red Zone!

Con’s: The DVR is only 28 day storage. They have recently lost some networks and don’t have all kids channels. 

PlayStation Vue Review – VIDEO

PlayStation Vue Review – FULL ARTICLE

Read our full honest review of PlayStation Vue here…

PlayStation Vue Reviews, Tips, and FAQs

Hulu with Live TV Review – Summary

Hulu with Live TV (AKA “Hulu Plus”) may be a good option for some people seeking to cut the cord, but it’s still a relatively new service and there are some kinks to keep in mind. 

Pro’s: 60 channels for about $4r. Good local tv and regional sports coverage. 3 simultaneous streams and paid option for ‘unlimited’ streams. 50-hour Free DVR. 

Con’s: only 1 channel lineup no customization options. Can’t skip commercials with DVR unless you pay $15/month for “Enhanced DVR” (also provides 200 hours storage).  Hulu recently update their interface to include a passable channel guide.

Read our full review of Hulu Plus Live TV Here…

Hulu with Live TV Review, Tips, and FAQs

Hulu Plus Live TV Review – VIDEO

YouTube TV Review – Summary

YouTube TV is another relatively new ‘major’ player in the world of online tv service providers. Given that Google owns YouTube (and just about everything else in the world) I would expect that YouTube TV will continue to improve over time. Right now (in my opinion) it’s still too raw for most people looking to cut the cord.

Pro’s: up to 80 channels for about $40. Awesome Free DVR with UNLIMITED storage and you can usually fast forward through commercials. Decent user interface. Sometimes great promotions (like up to 2 months free). They’ve recently added more local channels.

Con’s: still not available in many areas. Lack of local live tv and regional sports networks in some areas. May not work on Amazon Fire TV devices. Only ONE channel lineup and minimal customization options. You can’t skip commercials for on-demand content and if there is an on-demand version of show you recorded on the DVR it will bypass your DVR recording and make you watch commercials! No HBO option.

YouTube TV Review – VIDEO

Ranking the Streaming TV Service Providers

Based on the info provided in our detailed reviews for each service and using a ranking scale that is focused on choosing a streaming tv service that is most like a traditional cable tv viewing experience, here are my personal rankings. 

If Local Channels Matter (News, Weather, Sports)

  1. PlayStation Vue
  2. YouTube TV
  3. DirecTV Now
  4. Hulu Plus Live TV
  5. Sling TV
  6. Philo TV

If Local Channels Do NOT Matter

  1. Sling TV (possibly even Philo TV)
  2. YouTube TV
  3. PlayStation Vue
  4. DirecTV Now
  5. Hulu Plus Live TV

Cutting the Cord and Ditching Cable - What's YOUR Take?

That concludes our Essential Guide to Cutting the Cord. Was this helpful? If so, please share this article with your friends.

Have YOU already cut the cord? What online streaming tv service provider are YOU using? What tips have you learned that can help others – let us know so we can all learn together. Thanks!

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