Cutting the paid TV cord


Tony Sumrall Contributing columnist

Tony Sumrall Contributing columnist


This is gonna be a long one so I’m breaking it into multiple columns because there are lots of ways to “cut the cord” (i.e. drop your satellite/cable provider). There are free services (IPTV is just one of many alternatives), paid services, and there are still the old over-the-air (OTA, i.e. use an antenna) alternatives. With all of these alternatives, there are ways to record shows. We’ll try to get into all that but it will take a while.

First, I want to go back to last week’s column and clarify a few things. My apologies for being so late getting my column’s links onto my website. The folks that I pay to host my website (i.e. they provide the computers and storage and Internet access from one of their installations) went down hard for about five days which means I didn’t have access to my site. I’ll be changing providers in the near future so, hopefully, that won’t happen again.

Next, I have some favorite Bluetooth headphones/headsets/earbuds. I have quite a few because, well, it’s like a hobby for me. And the ones I have I tend to use for a specific purpose. My favorites for TV: https://go.ttot.link/TVOpenEar1https://go.ttot.link/TVOpenEar1; https://go.ttot.link/TVOpenEar2; https://go.ttot.link/TVOpenEar3 and https://go.ttot.link/TVHeadphones.

I prefer any of the first three because I can still hear what’s going on around me but often use the fourth simply because of latency.

When it comes to headsets for telephone/zoom/skype/facetime/etc., I prefer https://go.ttot.link/Plantronics5200 but it’s kinda pricey. Nearly as good but a bit more fragile and a lot less expensive is https://go.ttot.link/5200WorkAlike.

For music I rotate among the various quality headsets I have but my current favorite in earbuds is https://go.ttot.link/AnkerLiberty3. They’re sort of expensive but they go on sale often.

Back to this week: There are a number of ways to watch what you want.TV stations have moved to a digital transmission format which travels farther and is of better quality than the old over-the-air (OTA) transmissions.

Undoubtedly you’ve heard of most of the big subscription-based streaming movie and TV services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Paramount+, Hulu, Sling TV, Youtube TV. But did you know there are a lot of free streaming services? They typically don’t provide the ability to record any programs. You either watch live or watch one of their on demand movies or shows, but if a program is playing or is gonna play and they don’t have that particular item available on demand, you’re out of luck if you can’t watch it live.

One of my favorite free services is Plex TV (https://go.ttot.link/PlexTV). There’s a lot to see there so be prepared to explore. Among others, they have the Hallmark Channel, an NBC News channel, Bloomberg Television, Reuters, Today All Day, a ton of local channels from all over the country, plus movies both on demand and movie channels that shows movies on a schedule. And they have one of my favorite channels — AXS TV. It’s a channel about music that shows concerts, interviews (Dan Rather interviewing Crosby, Stills and Nash is excellent!), shows, and movies about music and artists.

Another one of my favorites is Pluto TV (https://go.ttot.link/PlutoTV). It has quite a few live TV channels including news from CBS, CNN and Sky News. Also, sports, music, classic TV (Dick Van Dyke, Happy Days, etc,) plus on demand movies and TV shows. If you create a free account you can pick your favorite chanhttps://go.ttot.link/CNetFreeTVnels and they’ll be easily available.

While live Pluto TV seems to concentrate on CBS stations, Tubi TV (https://go.ttot.link/TubiTV) presents Fox and ABC in their live TV section. For live sports they have Fox, NFL and MLB plus a few others. If you’re a sports fan, you might want to check them out, And, of course, they have a selection of movies and older TV series along with some original content.

Those are three of my favorites. All have apps or you can use their website and if you explore them fully you’ll be busy for quite a while. But there are many others which you can find by searching for “free TV streaming.” One article that is a good starting place is https://go.ttot.link/CNetFreeTV.

You’re all probably aware of some of the paid streaming services but did you know that some also have a free tier? They’re ad supported so you’ll have to sit through ads every so often but they can be a great free alternative since they are all legitimate, established streaming services.

Sling TV has a free, ad-supported service at https://go.ttot.link/SlingTVFree with live news from, among other sources, ABC and CBS, plus QVC, AFV, Bon Apetit. Again, lots to choose from. And yes, they have an app or you can watch on their website (and you can cast from the app).

Freevee (https://go.ttot.link/Freevee) is a free streaming service from Amazon. It used to be known as IMDB TV prior to Amazon buying them). Being from Amazon, you’d think you could escape the commercials with an Amazon Prime account, but you can’t. Ads pop up every so often and you can’t skip them. Freevee’s shows are all on demand — no program guide. You select what you want to watch and watch it. The selection is a bit limited as there are some movies/shows that are free if you have Amazon Prime (but you still have to watch ads), otherwise you have to purchase them. But the free selections aren’t bad — old TV series like Bewitched and All in the Family and newer ones like Chicago Fire. The newer ones tend to only give you one episode for free so be aware of that before you get involved with a show.

Peacock (https://go.ttot.link/PeacockTV) is another paid service that has a free tier. It’s NBC so they have NBC shows/channels like Saturday Night Live and Dateline, plus channels for classic TV and even a Hell’s Kitchen channel. Many of the channels are also available on demand, but again, be aware that some may only give you one or a few episodes for free.

Can you replace your paid cable or satellite service with totally free services? I’ll give a qualified “yes” but you’ll have to work at it and likely have to wait if you want to see many of the currently broadcast shows.

Email me with questions, comments, suggestions, requests for future columns, whatever at [email protected] and don’t forget that I maintain links to the original columns with live, clickable links to all the references at https://go.ttot.link/TGColumns+Links or https://go.ttot.link/TGC+L.

Tony Sumrall, a Hillsboro native whose parents ran the former Highland Lanes bowling alley, is a maker with both leadership and technical skills. He’s been in the computing arena since his graduation from Miami University with a bachelor’s dgree in systems analysis, working for and with companies ranging in size from five to hundreds of thousands of employees. He holds five patents and lives and thrives in Silicon Valley which feeds his love for all things tech.

Tony Sumrall Contributing columnist
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/07/web1_Summrall-Tony-mug.jpgTony Sumrall Contributing columnist