The first things I ever wanted to do with a computer were watch TV and play games. Over the last 30 or so years, I saw both television and computers undergo an evolution from separate wooden set-top boxes to conjoined twins in live 3D4KHDTV.
It seems as though electronic stores have a huge variety of cables, but I can tell you certain cables they’re missing. One in particular is coax to USB.
Both the fiber optics lines carrying the digital Internet signal and the satellite TV feed connects to your devices through a coaxial cable, though the TV connection is direct, and the computer connection is fed through a cable modem before being fed to your computer’s modem.
Television programming is centrally controlled – you can’t get on TV unless you’re chosen by those with TV stations.
Internet is different in that, for the first time in human history, you and I can create and broadcast content without prior approval from those in charge (so long as Net Neutrality exists, that is). Unfortunately this freedom is constantly challenged, and access to the Internet is being throttled by Internet Service Providers, who are often the very same companies losing cable subscribers.
Still, there’s a movement beyond DVRs to access content we want when we want it. Millions of people are cutting the cable bill in order to focus on accessing online content. If you’re scared to take the dip and become a cord cutter, here are some tools used to access all the content you love on television (and much more).
Netflix and Amazon Prime are two of the largest paid movie services, and each acts essentially like the premium movie channels available through a cable TV subscription. Rather than adding movies on top of an already-expensive cable subscription, these services allow you to only pay for movie streaming (and, in the case of Amazon Prime, free 2-day shipping on any orders). Their popularity caused HBO to start a similar service.
The downside to these services is movie companies make it difficult to watch all content in all regions at all times. So, on the pirate side of the Internet, torrents are used to download movies through a torrent client. Simply download your preferred torrent client (BitTorrent and uTorrent are among the most popular), then search torrent indexing sites like ThePirateBay (still standing, despite heavy retaliation from .gov trolls), KickAssTorrents, and ExtraTorrent.
Many older generations depend on CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, and Fox News for their news. While each of these does have content online, there’s a variety of livestreaming news services offered online that go above and beyond offerings from cable news stations.
HuffPost Live (supplement to the web’s most popular news site), RT (where Julian Assange once hosted his own show), and TheYoungTurks (home of former MSNBC anchor Ceynk Uygur) are among the dedicated, livestreaming, online news outlets featuring the same experts (and often anchors) featured on traditional news broadcasts.
Eager to bring media to new generations, these teams of professional journalists and personalities work diligently every day to provide the same level of (and in many cases better) coverage of all important current events.
Live sports can be difficult to find legitimately online, though they can often be difficult to find on cable as well. DirecTV and Dish Network have sport-centric packages like Red Zone, and cable companies often won’t air a local sports game that’s not sold out. Luckily pirates are constantly rebroadcasting NFL and other sports events without anyone’s express written permission.
I previously posted an in-depth guide to watching live sports online, but the long story short is you need VLC Player and either SopCast or AceStream. Search any live sporting event on your favorite search engine, followed by either “Sop” or “Ace,” depending on which program you use, and it will connect to a live stream of any football, basketball, rugby, futbol, baseball, UFC, boxing, etc. event happening right now around the world.
Many popular TV shows are offered through Hulu, and at least one or two floating episodes are typically available without having to subscribe to Hulu Plus. Some shows like South Park can also be viewed on the show’s website and ComedyCentral.com. HBO shows can be watched via the HBO App.
Older seasons and cancelled shows can often be found on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so those subscriptions do a great job of supplementing cord cutter needs.
For everything else, there’s torrenting, as described above. This includes shows not available on Hulu (like The Big Bang Theory) or that they force you into a Hulu Plus membership to watch without waiting.
Like live sporting events, any live event (the Oscars and Grammy’s, MTV/BET Awards, etc.) can be streamed and watched live on SopCast and AceStream. If your computer has an HDMI output, you can even watch them directly on your TV. Though Chromecast, Roku, and other set-top devices aren’t compatible, it’s possible to stream the content wirelessly through a variety of devices.
Utilizing these tools and online services, a cord cutter can watch all the same content available through a paid cable TV subscription, along with a slew of online-exclusive content. If you have any questions on how to access any particular content, please leave a comment below. Otherwise, enjoy life without an expensive cable bill.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has been featured on Huffington Post, The Street, BBC, Fast Company, Hardcore Droid, Cannabis Now, and more.