The decision to drop cable just got a little easier this week with the announcement of DIRECTV NOW. Despite the overt expectation one may have. The newly minted DIRECTV NOW service has nothing to do with a satellite dish. Instead it functions as an over-the-top service that provides many of the channels provided by traditional cable at a fraction of the cost. And most pivotally, in contrast to the similar DishTV service that emerged over 2 years prior DIRECT TV also has includes the main network feeds. Well at least most of them. CBS is the sole holdout. And for the sake of clarity, over-the-top means you must still pay someone for internet service first.


With the cost of cable TV continuing to rise the incentive is strong to ditch that bill for $100-200 a month. But oh the magical question, can you find sufficient entertainment services to replace it. For many the occasional movie on Netflix is enough.


Perhaps one of the biggest questions is actually the oldest. Can you live without the major networks. Yeah, those free ones that existed before cable ballooned to hundreds of pay channels. The answer will depend on your viewing habits and comfort level with on-demand vs. traditional appointment TV. On the face of it onDiTB-demand sounds like an all-around winner. But old habits die hard, and some still prefer the old schedule of nightly shows.

Others watch the NFL and require at least FOX and CBS to be happy. Maybe the nightly news is a part of your daily fix. So here we name the top alternatives to making up a new media plan that conserves your monthly cash flow while satisfying your need for great content.


With a long list of original programs, 4K content and more Netflix makes it tough to say no, even if you already have cable. Also offering downloadable versions of shows and content. Making it ideal for long flights or trips where Internet is not an option.


You may have Amazon Prime already. Anyone that shelled out the $100 annual fee for 2-day delivery gets Amazon Prime video gratis. Not the same selection as Netflix, but interesting none the less.


Kodi is a mixed bag. You may have everything or nothing depending on the repositories you install.


Hulu has many of the same shows that appear on TV as on demand viewing.


HBO channels and shows unbundled from the cable service. Delivered over-the-top.


This is the closest bundle to replacing your existing cable for $20-40 a month.


Dish has many of the more common feeds like ESPN, Discovery, TNT and TBS. 20-30 of the more common ones yes, but not the main networks.


The best value is with the one service that is still completely free. With a $10 antenna attached to your HDTV you can pick up 10-20 channels directly over the air. The channel mix and signal quality varies depending on your viewing area and the range of your antenna. But free is tough to beat. So on a budget it’s still pretty awesome to get NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, PBS.

It may be just the fix for A fans. The missing channels may include ESPN, FOX Sports, TBS or perhaps the Big Ten network. 

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