Are you thinking of joining millions of Canadians and becoming a cord cutter? Before you make the decision, it’s helpful to consider what your options are once you say goodbye to your cable TV package. Fortunately, there are tonnes of options to choose from.
An HD antenna is the modern equivalent to bunny ears (note to our younger readers: that thing you see on top of the Simpson’s TV set), except it gives you free HD TV. HD antennas cost between $40 and $120 and can be found at stores like Best Buy, Staples, and Wal-Mart.
Once you install one, you get free access to lots of TV—basically, all your local broadcast stations. For example, an HD antenna user in Toronto can expect to receive 67 channels, including all major networks. If you watch a lot of news, local shows, and local sports, you definitely want to consider an HD antenna.
All that said, regular HD antennas only pick up signals from a range of about thirty kilometres. Also, HD antennas need line of sight to broadcast antennas. Not a big deal for residents of major cities, but rural users should look into amplified HD antennas, which have a range of about eighty kilometres.
If you have a very recent TV, it’s probably a smart TV with streaming capabilities. TV manufacturers know that people are cutting the cord with their cable TV provider, so they’re making TVs with built-in streaming apps and the expectation that they’ll be hooked up to the Internet.
If you don’t already have a smart TV , fear not. Streaming devices can be fairly inexpensive and easy to use. On the relatively inexpensive side you have streaming sticks and set-top boxes from companies like Apple, Roku, Google, and Amazon. Here are 2017’s best devices so far. What you pick will depend on what apps you want, what you’re willing to spend, how important 4K (that is, the highest resolution currently available) is to you, whether your TV has an HDMI input, and what streaming services you’ll want. There’s a device out there for every need and budget. In fact, there are likely many devices.
Of course, aside from the relatively inexpensive streaming sticks and set-top boxes (i.e., a receiver that lets you watch satellite, cable, or internet TV), you can also stream from modern game consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Finally, you can always use a computer as a streaming device. Place your desktop or laptop in the same room as your TV, and connect them using an HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or DVI cable.
You already know about Neflix and Amazon, the two most popular streaming services out there. What you may not know is that there are over a dozen other streaming services available to Canadians, including Crave, Acorn TV, iTunes, Google Play, Shudder, and more. A good way of exploring what all these streaming services have to offer—or to find your favourite show and figure out if it can be streamed—is to search using Just Watch.
Of course, sports are usually a major barrier for would-be cord cutters. However, all the major leagues—NHL, MLB, NFL, and NBA—offer streaming packages. For example, a stream that gives you nearly every MLB game costs $120 per year.
There’s more variety than ever for a cord cutter. If you’re thinking of cutting your cord, just follow these five easy steps.