How to watch cable for free?
You don't need cable to get TV for free. Jim Rogash/Getty Images
This month marks my four-year anniversary since quitting cable, and I couldn't be happier.
I finally got to the point where I could afford to live without roommates in a crowded New York City apartment, and one of the first decisions I made on my own was to only sign up for internet, not cable TV.
And it turns out I haven't missed much.
In fact, I can watch a ton of free HD TV without paying out the nose for Time Warner Cable's service. Instead, I bought an HD antenna for about $25. HD antennas let you pull in network TV from stations like NBC, Fox, CBS, and ABC from the airwaves for free, the same way people used to watch TV decades ago before cable was a thing.
There's a lot of great stuff on those channels too. During football season, I can watch NFL games on CBS, Fox, or NBC. I can watch my local news broadcasts on the various network affiliates. I can watch the nightly news broadcasts and "Meet the Press" every Sunday. Sitcoms. Dramas. You get the idea.
Couple that with my Apple TV and Netflix subscription, and I'm not missing too much. In fact, I'd say at least 80% of my TV watching has shifted to Netflix since I cut the cord and I'm never bored. I estimate that I've saved about $3, 000 over the last four years by cutting the cord.
My HD antenna works great too. All networks are required by law to broadcast in HD for free, and the picture is actually better than what you get over cable because it's uncompressed. You just screw it into your TV's coaxial cable plug and you're good to go. It's not the perfect solution — there's no DVR and I hate missing a lot of live sports, especially Mets games — but for someone like me who doesn't watch a lot of TV, it's the perfect setup. Plus there's a bar across the street from my apartment where I can watch the Mets.
I'd also recommend most people buy a $89 Roku 3 over the new $150 Apple TV to watch Netflix and other streaming services. Apple TV is wonderful, but Roku has a better interface and more options for content. Plus it does almost everything the Apple TV can do for $60 less. Only get the Apple TV if you already own a lot of content through iTunes and/or plan to use AirPlay a lot.
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