Cutting the cord is all anyone discusses these days. And can you blame them? Cable distributors are holding us hostage with their arbitrarily priced fees and trumped up taxes (#hugepunalert) in exchange for substandard services. The tradeoff is simply indefensible, especially as technology advancements have provided consumers with a viable alternative that adequately eliminates the middleman and connects us directly with our desired end goal of premium content consumption at little to no cost.
Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Sling TV have reconditioned us to embrace nontraditional methods of viewing our favorite TV shows. Unless we’re talking about sports, award shows, or political debates, nothing demands our live attention anymore. Appointment viewing or must-see TV is a thing of the past. As long as we can tune in at our convenience, or get our binge on when we’re ready, watching “On Demand,” or via Netflix are better than good enough for us.
It also doesn’t hurt that squashing your cable company allows you to reduce your monthly expenses by $100 or more. Because let’s be honest, how many of your 100+ cable channels are you regularly watching, anyway? Probably no more than five, maybe 10 the most. And if that’s the case, you’re averaging $10 per channel which is insane. Now, some might argue the convenience of watching reliable, high quality content is worth more than its weight in gold, especially when you’ve already spent mega bucks on a beautiful high resolution TV. And if you’re in this camp, I can’t do nothin’ for ya, man. But if your frustration with cable distributors has reached f**k yo’ couch peak levels, keep reading and find out how you can successfully watch live TV, including your favorite sports and news channels, and proudly stick it to the man at the same damn time!
Here are 5 major keys to successfully cutting the cable and the costs, but keeping your sports addiction alive.
Up Your WiFi Game
If you’re going cable free, that means a strong, stable WiFi connection is very necessary. Streaming players like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, or Apple TV run off of your WiFi connection. If it’s weak, then you’ll encounter annoying buffering delays and interruptions. Pay an additional $10-20 per month for ultra-powerful WiFi, and in turn, you’ll ensure that you’re getting the best performance from your device.
Cop a Digital Antenna + Your Own Modem
When you disconnect your cable, go full throttle and eliminate paying for broadcast channels too. Why? Because you can get those for free, the way the good Lord intended. Cable companies will charge you $20 – $40 per month for channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, etc. But you can purchase a digital antenna for a flat $12 from Best Buy and gain access to each of these channels and then some. Also, the picture will be just as crisp and clear as it was when you paid your cable company.
Also, when you arrange to return your cable box(es), do yourself a favor and also return the cable company’s modem. Most people don’t realize that you’re averaging a monthly cost of $10 to rent their modem. That’s $120 per year, which isn’t a ton of money. But when you think about it from year to year, $120 quickly accumulates to a few hundred dollars at best and thousands at worst. So, instead of just giving money away, jump on Amazon.com, do your research, and buy your own modem for $60. It’ll pay for itself in no time.
Hustle a Password
Now, once you have all of your equipment set up, you need to figure out how to hustle the system. The easiest hack is to reach out to someone who still pays for cable and beg, borrow, or steal the username and password they use to access their Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Optimum, etc. account. Your parents, sibling, boy/girlfriend, favorite auntie…whoever. This will grant you the ability to live stream ESPN’s family of networks via its app Watch ESPN. Or allow you to access HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, FXNow, FOX Sports GO, CNN Go, and a host of other networks that have developed mobile apps for multi-screen viewing.
However, if you don’t have anyone to selflessly help you achieve life goals, then you can subscribe to Sling TV starting at $20 per month for 20+ channels. But be careful. If you’re paying $20 for Sling TV, $7 for Hulu, $10 for Netflix, and $50 for WiFi, then your monthly “cable” expenses are pushing $100. And that totally defeats the purpose of cutting the cord to reduce cable costs in the first place. So don’t do that.
Watching Live TV
If hustling a password isn’t an option, and you don’t want to come out of your pocket to pay for Sling TV, there are some good alternatives available for consideration.
For most sports fan, watching ESPN is as essential as breathing and eating. The thought of going a day without tuning into “SportsCenter” or “First Take” will have us going through withdrawal like Pookie in New Jack City. It is simply not an option. Here’s what you need to do. Download Mobdro, an application that allows you to live stream every channel you can think of, to your device. For free. I’m talking ESPN, CNN, HBO, Nickelodeon, Bravo, HGTV, NBA TV…you name it and it’s there. The quality isn’t (always) high def and the only time that can be bothersome is if you’re watching live sports. But for the most part, you’ll be more than satisfied, especially when you think about how much money you’re saving monthly.
Lastly, be mindful, each device requires a different installation process, so Google or YouTube instructions based on your equipment.
Say hello to Kodi!
Obviously, each major sports league has its own app that you can use to watch their games. But it’s not free. So, if games aren’t on local channels, or ESPN, which you can access via Watch ESPN or Mobdro, then you need to download and install Kodi. But keep in mind, like Mobdro, installation instructions vary based on your device. Google or YouTube “install kodi (device name)” and rock out.
While it’s initially not the most intuitive program ever offered, Kodi remains the best answer to every cord cutters’ prayer because it provides apps and add-ons that connect you with damn near every album, movie, or TV show ever made, as well as live TV including sports.
For sports fans, Kodi add-ons that you need in your life are Pro Sport, Phoenix Sports, and SportsDevil, to name a few. These apps provide links to streams of every live sporting event here in America and overseas. If you have a secret rugby addiction, holla at one of these apps to get your fix. Love UFC fights but don’t want to pay $60 to order it? Holla at one of the sport apps on Kodi. But here’s what you need to know. Nothing is guaranteed nor perfect. There’s A LOT (!) of trial and error, and a whole lot of patience, required. Some of the links will be dead. Some links will appear to work and then crash or freeze after a few minutes, or the quality will be real mediocre. But don’t give up. Keep searching each link because you will be able to find a working option. I promise.
Additionally, there are some live TV apps, similar to Mobdro, such as Channel Pear and Ccloud TV, that allow you to stream TV; mp3 Streams and MixCloud for music. But, it’s Kodi apps like Exodus and Phoenix that receive high praise for its collection of TV shows and movies. You can find everything from old Hollywood films to classic hood flix, or the entire collection of a series like The Sopranos to everyone’s new instant cult favorite, Luke Cage, by easily searching Kodi. Even films that were released in the theater a month ago are on Kodi. And TV show episodes that premiered last night are up on Kodi right now, less than 24 hours later. With Kodi, the words “there is nothing on TV,” will never come out of your mouth ever again.
Most sports fans hesitate to cut the cord because they fear they’ll be lost without ESPN or the ability to watch live sports. But, hopefully the 5 Major Keys outlined above make you more confident in your ability to let go. Also, recognize that all of the information for a successful transition is right at your fingertips. Google and YouTube are the most valuable resources available. Seek and ye shall find whatever questions in need of answers. And while I’m not even close to being an expert on this subject, I’ll hold you down if you need additional support finally emancipating from your evil, greedy cable company.