Consumer Reports: Successfully Cutting Cable

Three things that have traditionally kept people tied to cable: sports, kids' programming, and addictions to shows such as Game of Thrones that were only available with a pay TV service. But all that's starting to change.

More and more media companies are announcing plans to deliver their TV programming directly to consumers, providing new alternatives to traditional pay TV services like cable. Nickelodeon and HBO are about to start offering streaming-only services. That means you can subscribe to those networks and watch their programming without having a cable subscription. It’s the beginning of an à la carte option for what had been cable-only TV channels.

Another option is Sling TV from Dish Network, which Consumer Reports just reviewed. The Internet-based streaming-TV package costs just $20 per month and gives you more than a dozen basic cable channels. Those include heavy hitters such as ESPN and ESPN2, CNN, Food Network, the Disney Channel, and soon, AMC. You can get additional packs with extra news, sports, or kids’ shows for $5 apiece per month.

Consumer Reports compared Sling TV with cable and says the picture quality isn't quite as good, and Sling TV has a 1-to-2-minute delay. But those concerns may not be enough to keep some want-to-be cord cutters away, especially if they're able to get free over-the-air network broadcasts using an antenna.

Consumer Reports says that you can get an indoor antenna for far less than $50. If you live near a major TV market, there's a good chance you'll be able to get many local networks.

For those looking to get rid of cable, take note of the channels you watch the most and see whether they're part of a streaming service or if they offer their own. Remember, you'll also need a decent broadband connection to stream lots of video.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

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