Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating retired people cancelling cable TV service

Cord Cutting 101 – A Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting


Cord Cutting can sound scary at first with a ton of options and decisions to be made, but you will find it is surprisingly easy and you may already have everything you need. We want to be here to help you cancel cable TV and legally stream your content online so you pay less and still get all your shows.

Here are our four steps to becoming a cord cutter with our Cord Cutting 101 guide!

Step 1. Streaming Services

There are a lot of live streaming services, and it may seem overwhelming at first but it is easier than you may think.

You will likely need more than one streaming service but the good news is almost all of them offer a free trial. We suggest you take advantage of the free trials to see what fits your needs.

Here is a quick overview of the most popular streaming services.

Netflix—With new content added weekly Netflix has thousands of hours of movies and TV shows available, making Netflix the largest streaming service in the world. You will find a ton of content from major networks and movie studios including Disney movies and shows. Netflix is also the leader in original content you cannot find on cable.

Hulu—Do you want your content the day after it originally airs? Hulu is a great option for anyone who wants to watch recent shows from networks like Fox, NBC, ABC, FX, Spike, and hundreds more.

Amazon Prime Instant—Amazon Prime not only gets you free two-day shipping and free music, it also gives you access to thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon’s partnership with HBO brings you a vast selection of HBO shows as part of your Prime membership.

Whereas Amazon Prime does not give you access to everything available on its Amazon Instant service, it does have TV shows from many cable channels available the next day—starting at $1.99—and also offers recently released movies for rent. So, not only do you get an immense amount of free content, but Amazon Prime is also a great way to rent recent movies and buy recent TV shows.

Sling TV—If you really want live TV, check out Sling TV. For $20 a month you get over 20 channels streamed live to your TV. You can also purchase add-on bundles for an extra $5 a month to give you channels like sports, news, etc. Sports fans will be happy to know Sling TV will give you access to all the ESPN channels with their $5 sports package, and even access to the WatchESPN app.

If you are looking for 100% free options, check out our post about free streaming apps by clicking HERE.

Step 2. Pick Your Device

The next thing you need is a device that will stream what you want to watch to your TV. Currently, the top four selling devices are Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Apple TV. All are great options for different reasons, so make sure you choose the one that is best for you.

Here are links to our full reviews for each device.

Roku: http://cordcuttersnews.com/review-roku-4-our-first-look/

Chromecast: http://cordcuttersnews.com/review-the-new-chromecast-2/

Fire TV: http://cordcuttersnews.com/review-the-new-fire-tv/

Apple TV: http://cordcuttersnews.com/review-the-new-apple-tv-a-disappointment-or-success/

Step 3. Antennas

An antenna is a huge part of being a cord cutter, and most Americans can easily pick up 30+ channels. With many of the most popular TV shows being 100% free and in HD over the air, an antenna is a great way to watch sports and your favorite show without paying high cable bills.

The number of channels you receive will vary depending on where you live. We recommend going to AntennaRecomendations.com and typing your address into their channel finder to see which channels are available in your area. This will also help you figure out if an indoor or a roof-mounted antenna is needed to get the channels you want.

We recommend buying a mid-priced antenna—not the cheapest but also not the most expensive. Buying an antenna is a onetime expense so get a good one that will last for many years.

Step 4. Try it Out

OK, you are all set up and ready to go, but before you cancel cable TV, unplug your cable box and try being a cord cutter for a month. When my family canceled cable it took us about two weeks to find all the shows we wanted. Once we found the content we wanted, we never looked back. However, it was nice to know that if we couldn’t initially find a program we could still watch it on cable until we found it on our streaming service.

Congratulations You Are Now A Cord Cutter!

That’s it—you have successfully set yourself up as a cord cutter. All you need to do now is call your cable TV provider and tell them you want to cancel your cable TV! Make sure to tell them to put you on their do not call list so they don’t call you every day for years to come. You can find out how to be put on a do not call list at your old cable company by clicking HERE.

Do you have a suggestion for our Cord Cutting 101 guide? Post it in the comments.

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Need cord cutting tech support? Join our new Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.

  • KBlanco

    I don’t see a step involving determining which OTA type of DVR you might want? You should do your research as there are offerings from Channel Master, Tablo and Tivo each of which has their pluses and minuses. But you have to think about how when you cancel your cable (or satellite) then the provider is going to want their stuff back. After selecting a DVR you should spend your time burning off shows and movies from the cable/satellite providers DVR, and play at being OTA when you’ve still got cable. This way when the new DVR arrives you can seamlessly drop cable, return the equipment and pick up with the new DVR so you don’t miss recording anything…

    • Admin

      Thanks KBlanco! We have reviewed the Tablo DVR and have a Channel Master on its way for a review in the next week or so. Check back as we will update this post.

  • Reggie
  • Mike Roker

    While Cord Cutting may appear to provide financial relief – its important to realize that ISPs like Comcast have started introducing data caps in several markets – they increased that footprint to several more cities starting this month.

    I called Comcast to complain about the 300GB cap … instead they referred to it as a trial to test customer acceptance. They were wanting to hear customer feedback on this new data cap. They said it was ok to share their toll free number so comcast customers could provide their feedback. So here goes …

    Comcast Customer Security Assurance (CSA) at 1-877-807-6581

  • Bob

    Cut the cord!
    Comcast is EVIL.

  • Fred L.

    You mention Sling TV, but not PlayStation VUE?

    Contrary to the name, you do NOT need a PlayStation to use PlayStation VUE. An Amazon Fire TV (console or stick) will fit their requirement.

    Even though it works with the iPad, you *must* have a Playstation 3, 4 or Fire TV as a requirement.

    Anyway, VUE is a far better service than Sling:

    PROS:
    * 5 simultaneous streams
    * Cloud DVR with unlimited storage (programs disappear automatically after 28 days). Just add a show to your “favorites” and from that point all episodes are recorded on the Cloud DVR.
    * You can start many TV shows over if you tune in late. Almost all. On Sling, it was very few.
    * Starts at $29 for 55 channels, up to $45 for 100 channels.

    CONS:
    * Only works on PlayStation 3 or 4, Amazon Fire TV (console or stick), iPad. And you *must* have one of those three consoles – an iPad only will not work. So Sling TV wins out on compatibility, as it is on Mac, PC, iOS, Android, and a bunch of consoles including Roku.

    Blows Sling TV out of the water.

    • Admin

      This guide was written long before Vue came out. It sounds like it’s time for a updated guide.

      • Fred L.

        I didn’t notice the date. Yes, time for a revamp. Much has changed!

    • Peter

      If these are 55 channels with ads and reality shows, they’re 55 channels I don’t want at any price. I enjoy great ad-free streaming TV for $23 a month. In my mind, THAT blows anything else out of the water.

  • Cancelled cable 8 months ago when went with Fire TV Sticks and Netflix on the 4 tvs in the house, but I haven’t glanced at Netflix on since sideloading KODI onto my Fire TV Sticks 4 months ago.

  • Phil

    We cut the cord a few months ago and went with one of the Playstation Vue packages on Amazon Fire TV’s and it’s saving us a lot of money each month. There’s been a couple issues we’ve run into with cutting the cord. First, we’re basically in an Antenna OTA deadzone so getting local channels hasn’t been ideal. We’ve tried 2 Mohu antenna’s with no luck including the outdoor one, I could try a much bigger antenna, however my next door neighbor has one in his attic and has had no luck as well and our HOA won’t approve us attaching it to the house so that’s been a bummer. Luckily since signing up for Vue they’ve added the local NBC affiliate and FOX affiliate so we have 2 options there. We’re still trying to figure out CBS and ABC.

    The second issue is managing out wifi with the increased use with Streaming. Occassionally if we’re streaming during peak hours while someone is using wifi on another device the TV will lag and buffer. We’re stuck with Comcast for internet as it’s the only option here, but we’re not using their equipment and have a really good router, so I think the problem is more on their end since it’s really only happening during peak hours. Ideally I’d like to get all of the Fire TV’s off of wifi and on wired connections and not have to deal with this issue unfortunately though our house wasn’t wired for data connections throughout the house so we’re looking into adding some. Most likely we’ll be hiring someone to do this as I don’t have the experience or desire to figure out how to add connections or cut holes in the walls to get the data points (patch panel is in the finished basement).

    These may be 2 topics to add to your revised guide, especially the internet and wired connections because it can be annoying and discouraging to people thinking of cutting the cord.