Cut the Cable - Resources and Links


#1

I am starting a Cut the Cable thread with a list of resources and links to be updated on this page. I cancelled my cable subscriptions last month and haven't looked back (saving $150/month) and have found a few streaming services online. Hoping to amalgate them from previous threads as well as any additional/new resources. This post and the below post will serve as a resource for myself and anyone else interested in cutting the cord.

First Tier Content Streamers and Providers:

Netflix - https://www.netflix.com/

Hulu - http://www.hulu.com/

HBO Go - http://www.hbogo.com/

Amazon Prime - http://www.amazon.com/Prime-Instant-Video/b?node=2676882011

Live streams:

Sports:
World cup soccer Live Stream 2014
- http://www.cbc.ca/sports-content/soccer/brazil2014/
- http://www.vipboxam.co/sports/world-cup-2014.html

Various Sports Streams - http://www.vipboxam.co/

CNN: http://www.stream2watch.me/live-tv/cnn-live-stream

Hockeystreams.com (PAY)
Ballstreams.com (PAY)
Major League Baseball: MLB.TV (PAY)
NFL Game Pass (PAY)

Applications:

XBMC - Home Threatre Open Source Software - an app that allows you to manage media, functions as a PVR and streams audio and video - http://xbmc.org/ (FREE)
XBMC Addons - one of the largest Add on sites for XBMC - http://www.xbmchub.com/blog/ (FREE)

Google chrome extension (Hola Better Internet) region unblocker

Media Hint (has gone to paywall version)

TVFool.com - website telling you which tv ntork channels are free over the air in your neighborhood

Guides:

Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/articles/getting-rid-of-cable-tv-the-smartest-ways-to-cut-the-cord-1405472757


#2

Good idea. I did this for awhile but eventually went back to cable. Mostly for sports, which is tougher to get OTA now. Anyway I still have links that may be of help. Heres the various network streaming sites:

ABC: http://abc.go.com/

CBS: http://www.cbs.com/

NBC: http://www.nbc.com/

FOX: http://www.fox.com/

CW: http://www.cwtv.com/

TNT: http://www.tntdrama.com/

USA: http://www.usanetwork.com/

FX: http://www.fxnetworks.com/

AMC: http://www.amctv.com/


#3

saving for future post


#4

Some of those streams in the first post are very much grey market/straight up illegal, fyi.


#5

I don’t think there is any actual law against viewing the content on those sites. The sites may get in trouble, but not you the view.

I’ve cut the cable for over a year now. I get by quite comfortably with:

Now, a lot of my life is made easier with a $5 / mo. subscription to http://unblock-us.com. My setup has a local router and an “American” router which has the appropriate DNS settings on it. So, most of my content devices are on the American router so that I can get content up here that I can’t normally get as well as getting around local blackouts for sports games. This Unblock-us service also has a nice feature where I can pull the site up on my iPad / iPhone and flip a switch to change the content region for Netflix (as there are items such as Dora The Explorer that are not available to American Netflix subscribers, etc).

NHL Gamecenter (really is a much better experience than actual cable sports mostly due to the added options of how / when I can watch the games and the sheer content)
Netflix
Hulu Plus

+a variety of network websites already listed above.

Sure, I don’t get to watch the shows live, but, in my household that is just fine. I also fill some gaps with iTunes purchases. I’m already paying for Internet for work, so that is essentially ‘free’ (well, written off), so I’m saving that money already as well as the money for not paying for cable ($60-100 / mo.). Gamecenter is the biggest purchase at $120 a year…then $8 / mo for Netflix. Add in the few iTunes purchases and I’m still coming out quite far ahead of the game with the added bonus of a lot of the content not being tied to the TV / PVR.


#6

I think HBOGo requires a cable television subscription. No good for cable cutters. Yet. I hope they eventually provide it free of entanglement to cable TV.


#7

I can confirm HBOGo requires a cable contract that includes HBO. Now I have heard some rumors to the effect that they are considering dropping this requirement, but I’m not sure how reliable or what time frame.

I also cut the cable, though currently have it (my wife and I moved, they were running a package where adding cable was literally cheaper than just internet for a bit). Personally it matters very little to me, I have very little free time due to work/ school/ baby, so on an average week I might watch 2 hours of TV. So cutting the cable for me was painless. My wife watches more TV, but honestly Netflix has been more than sufficient.

The only downside is that I can not watch hockey or baseball legally without cable. The Blackhawks only have maybe one game a week not on Comcast Sports Net, or NBC Sports Net. the same is also largely true of the Cubs, but that’s doing me a favor. Still if you follow sports there are almost no legal alternatives. Many of the leagues offer some form of streaming subscription, but be very careful to read the terms. Regional exclusivity contracts with the cable providers means that even if you pay the $80 or whatever directly to the NHL, you still can not stream any game that is broadcast in your local market. This effectively means that unless you are a fan of a team from a different city, you really can’t watch any games.

Now sure I could suggest a host of different solutions, VPN, proxies, grey streaming sites, and such, but the point is that it is exceedingly difficult and/ or legally dubious to do most any of them. Doesn’t mean I don’t go that route, but neither am I going to advocate them here.


#8

I have been pretty pleased with PlayOn as an additional option. It will basically let you stream from just about any website that has streaming content to your TV via plugins. I use it to stream to my Roku. I also use PlayLater which is basically a DVR for streaming content. It lets me record stuff from Hulu or Netflix then load it for the kids. It has helped us not pay for cable for the past 2 years, using that, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.


#9

NFL Gamepass is pretty great if you’re outside the US, or can pretend to be. Here in the UK the only games that get blocked are the couple a week that Sky shows, and those are available after 24 hours. Haven’t tried proxying into another country to see if it works like Netflix or if it blocks based on credit card nationality. MLB.tv is even better if you like baseball in the UK, but unfortunately I’m a Cubs fan, so I can’t say it’s much fun.

For VPNs, Tunnelbear is extremely easy to use and you can choose the country you want to tunnel via, which would be helpful for people wanting to leach off us BBC licence fee payers, for instance.


#10

I am 3+ years without cable now and a huge sports fan. Shell out for NFL GamePass and MLB.tv every year. In most ways they are actually a lot better than having cable, since you can watch any game you want and to get the equivalent out of cable requires shelling out for the most insane-o sports packages.

In case people don’t know, Xbox 360 and Xbone no longer require XBL Gold to use things like MLB.tv or Netflix.


#11

Is PlayOn an “official” Roku channel or is it a private one? How easy is it to set up? We’re about the make switch to no-cable as I was finally able to convince my wife. I’ve got a roku, netflix, amazon. For Roku I’m thinking either Plex or PlayOn. Any opinions either way?


#12

I don’t recall if it official or private. On the PlayOn website there is a helpful page that will link you right to the channel. It was pretty simple to set up. I don’t recall any trouble at all. There are additional plugins for PlayOn that make it easy to get more esoteric streaming content as well. I pretty much just use the standard ones though.

Regarding PlayOn and Plex, I couldn’t tell you. Haven’t used Plex.


#13

Plex is much better for local media, playon is superior for streaming from various sources, like the NBC website or whatever.


#14

I have done this recently Del, in addition to Netflix, I use the following resources:

High quality, high speed internet without any bandwidth limits.

[B]High Quality, professionally installed, amplified HDTV Antenna.
[/B]
I got it for news, and live event programs (Oscars, Olymics, Super Bowl, CBC’s FIFA World Cup, that sort of thing). Picture quality is fabulous and I get 22 channels here in Toronto. Works for me.

[B][U]The Most Important Thing to Get: XBMC
[/U][/B]

If you do not have XBMC installed, you need to stop whatever it is you are doing right now and go fix that. It is the killer app of the internet. There is no single programming service on planet Earth available that is better than XBMC. And it’s free (because for the most part, it is all pirated stuff - but done as slickly as can be done to make it work perfectly and transparetly, on demand.)

General Viewing of series/movies/ live streaming of all channels (degraded quality) XBMC has it all and then some. It replaces Netflix, perfectly, at a cost of $0.00.

XBMC has streamed access to all recorded movies, shows and series at a HD quality level as high – and often higher higher than – Netflix or Hulu. Streamed access to live programming and essentially all cable channels through Mashup is also available, though usually at a degraded picture quality. It’s ok. Recorded shows, however, is where XBMC shines.

[B][U]HD 1080p, DTS Surround, Kickass Quality Live SPorts Through XBMC
[/U][/B]

Please note that there are ALSO a plethora of Video Add-ons for XBMC - and some of those allow for ALL of the below streaming sports services to be added to your XBMC start menu. That does not make these additional services free, as you still need to add in your subscriber name and password, but it means that XBMC is your one-stop complete hub for watching all saved files, streamed files or live HQ streaming sports. It’s all there - and you can use your smartphone as a remote to control it all, too. I cannot recommend XBMC highly enough. If you are not using XBMC, [U][I]you are missing out on the best killer app on the internet.[/I][/U]

XBMC also acts as a PVR, by the way. So it literally covers the bases. There are all KINDS of reasons to get an Intel NUC setup as your Media Centre in your living room to run XBMC. You can even do it through a Raspberry Pi for much less (though it’s not as fast at loading channels as an Intel NUC or other HTPC is.)

[B][U]Live and Archived SPORTS
[/U][/B]
In particular, I enjoy my sports programming and I am not prepared to leave the quality and timeliness of those broadcasts to the vagaries of fate. I would NEVER have cut the cord if I did not have a reasonable access for my live sports programming. I subscribe to both Hockeystreams and MLB.TV. I would subscribe to Game Pass for NFL too, but frankly, it’s simply too poor a value compared to Hockeystreams and MLB.TV for me to pay for it. I’m a hockey and baseball fan though, NFL I can take or leave. If your priorities are otherwise, maybe it makes sense for you.

Ballstreams.com is an excellent service and provides the same quality of NBA broadcasts streaming as does Hockeystreams. I jut happen to be a fan of hockey, not basketball. If you are a NBA fan – Ballstreams.com is the way to go.

Both Hockeystreams and Ballstreams are grey marketed streaming services based in the Netherlands. Not entirely legit, but not entirely illegal. either. Whatever the case, I can vouch that their service is reliable and there is no dickery with their billing. They have been in operation with Hockeystreams for at least the past three years (it may well be more, I simply don’t know).

[B]Hockeystreams.com: [/B]Hockeystreams provides every NHL, AHL, Junior Hockey and most European Hockey leagues for that matter, live or archived, Home or Away, streamed in 1080p for $110.00 per year. Available on every platform there is: Windows, Mac, Linux. Ipad, Android, Roku, XBMC client, Apple TV, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One. etc etc etc.

[B]Ballstreams.com[/B]- Ballstreams provides all NBA games, draft and trade deadlines, without exception, home and away, streamed in 1080p for $89.99 per year. Available on every platform there is: Windows, Mac, Linux. Ipad, Android, Roku, XBMC client, Apple TV, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One. etc etc etc.

[B]Major League Baseball: [/B]MLB.TV Premium is still the best live and archived official sports streaming service. All games, home or away, in video or audio, subject to local blackout for live games (the Toronto Blue Jays are no longer blacked out though as they have a special deal with MLB) for $129 for the season. It was on for half-price this past week for Father’s day.

[B]NFL Game Pass:[/B]All games, plus pre-season for $220.00. The poorest value of all the major streaming services, by far, however.


#15

You can get wildly different prices for NFL GamePass if you use a VPN to buy it from another country. I think it was either the UK or Japan that was the best deal for me last year.


#16

I don’t know what it costs in the US, but the package I’m on (Season Plus - basically everything live but the playoffs, which are available as replays) cost GBP 129.99. Didn’t strike me as much of a bargain, to be honest, though I’d rather pay that than give money to Murdoch and get far fewer games.


#17

It’s definitely not a bargain no matter which way you slice it, but the cost to get the same number of games from a cable package is pretty insane. You should be able to get live playoff games from it using a VPN regardless of where you signed up for it (I think Germany is what I used for playoff games). Plus I think using a US VPN gets you NFL Red Zone which is AMAZING.


#18

It includes Red Zone in the UK. Very handy for when the Bears games are blacked out, which is usually twice a season.


#19

Now that it’s been rooted, the amazon firetv is actually a great streaming platform. It can run full XBMC including mounting external storage, and has remote-capable netflix, youtube, and (obviously) amazon streaming apps. It also runs the android googleTV plex client, which is far superior to the roku’s plex client. $99.

The android firetv isn’t the best XBMC platform; a chromebox handily beats it, but the chromebox costs $200 and won’t do netflix or amazon.

I actually plan on replacing my geriatric wheezing (core2duo) HTPC with an Alienware Alpha when it comes out in the fall. It’s $550, with a core i3 CPU, a 750Ti-comparable GPU, 500GB HD, 4GB RAM, and comes with an xbox360 controller and windows 8.1.


#20

Question about XBMC. Where/how do you get streams / downloads of TV shows? Are there plug-ins that do this?