How to Cut the Cable TV Cord in 7 Steps

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Are you finally ready to cut the cable TV cord in 2024?

If you’ve been thinking about cutting the cord but don’t know where to start, this step-by-step guide will help you cancel cable and switch to streaming TV.

With so many cord-cutting options, the process can be complicated and overwhelming.

My Simple Guide to Canceling Cable TV

But when you’re just getting started with streaming TV, you don’t need to spend days and weeks researching the best way to cut the cable TV cord.

That’s my job!

Since 2016, I’ve helped thousands of people make the switch from cable to streaming.

This article features an updated 7-step plan that I developed for people who are new to streaming and want the best of cable TV at a cheaper monthly price

Let’s get started! 



1. Review Your Cable TV Bill and Set a Streaming Budget Goal

When people reach out to me about cutting the cord, it’s usually because their cable TV bill has gone up again. 

Some of the people I’ve helped used to pay $250 a month for cable TV and internet. 

To help narrow your streaming options, the first step of the process is to review your current cable or satellite bill to see what you’re actually paying. 

I also want you to check your bill to see if you’ll owe an early termination fee. 

Before you move ahead with the switch to streaming, I suggest that you call or live chat with your cable TV provider. I want you to ask them three questions: 

  1. I’m thinking about dropping my cable TV service. Is there anything you can do to lower the price? 
  2. If I switch to an internet-only plan, what are my options and how much do they cost? 
  3. Let’s say I decide to cancel cable TV and/or internet service. Will I owe an early termination fee? 

The answers to these questions should help you decide if now is the right time for you to cancel cable TV and switch to streaming.

Next, estimate what you’re willing to pay every month for TV and internet combined.

Don’t overthink it: If the cable TV company’s best offer of $250 per month isn’t good enough for you, what is? $200? $175? $150? 

Set this number as a preliminary streaming budget goal. We’ll adjust it later on.

2. Decide If You Need a Live TV Streaming Bundle

When you’re cutting the cord, there are a few types of streaming services to choose from and some overlap between them.

To keep things simple, here’s how I like to categorize them:

  • Live TV streaming services
  • On-demand streaming services
  • Free streaming services

Live TV Streaming Services Explained

Live TV streaming services are the most expensive, which is why I’ve dedicated this entire step to determining if you really need one. 

YouTube TV is the leading premium live TV service and my #1 pick for new cord cutters.

At the time of this writing, you can expect to pay around $75 to $80 a month for a live TV streaming service that will replace your cable TV bundle. 

Premium live TV services include local channels, sports channels like ESPN and cable news channels. 

Sling TV is a “Premium Lite” service. Sling can be a more affordable option, but it has limited local stations. I like it for people who can pick up locals with an antenna. 

By the way, if an antenna works where you live, that’s still the way to go.

There are also cheaper live TV streaming services like Philo and Frndly TV that focus on entertainment cable networks –  not locals, sports and news.


Ask yourself this: 

  • Do you watch local broadcast TV channels? 
  • Do you watch sports networks like ESPN? 
  • Do you watch cable news (CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc.) and business networks? 
  • Do you still watch cable entertainment shows? 

If so, you’ll most likely want a premium live TV service like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo or DIRECTV STREAM. I compare the pricing, channels and features in this separate article.


Premium live TV services deliver much of the same content that you’re used to getting with cable and broadcast TV. Unfortunately, they won’t necessarily save you a lot of money. 

Still, many people prefer them over cable or satellite because most live TV services don’t have hidden fees and long-term contracts. 

You typically prepay for only one month at a time. Cancel whenever you want.

The biggest complaint I hear from people about live TV services is the same complaint they have about cable and satellite. With any live TV bundle, you pay for a lot of channels you don’t even watch. 

Alternatives to Live TV Streaming Services

A lot of cord cutters aren’t willing to spend $75 a month for a live TV service. In that case, my best advice is to get an antenna if possible. 

I have a Mohu Leaf indoor antenna that picks up my local stations. It cost less than $50.

Then, depending on your budget, you can always sign up for on-demand streaming services that have the best shows and movies. 

Popular on-demand services include Netflix, Disney+ and Max. 

To save money, consider the plans with ads. Some are still under $10 a month.

I should also mention that you can stream a lot of great content, including original shows and movies, on free ad-supported streaming services. 

My favorites are Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi and Freevee. 

Key Takeaway About Live TV Streaming Services

The further away you get from the live TV bundle with expensive locals, sports and news channels, the more money you’ll save.

But if you do want a live TV streaming service, know that most offer free trials

That makes it easy to test out one or more live TV services while you’re still paying for cable to make sure streaming is right for you. 

3. Compare Your Internet Options

All streaming services require an internet connection, so high-speed internet service is a must for cord cutters. 

Your local options may include fiber internet, cable internet and 5G home internet services. I have a free tool on MichaelSavesDeals.com to help you compare the best available internet plans in your area.

If you currently bundle TV and internet service from your cable company, you can typically keep internet as a standalone service.

However, it may cost slightly more because you’re losing the bundle discount by dropping TV. 

To help you pick an internet plan that will meet the demands of live TV streaming, there are three main factors I want you to consider: 

  • Price 
  • Download Speed 
  • Data Caps

Price 

If your only choice for internet service is through your cable provider, call them to see how much an internet-only plan will cost.

But if your local phone company also provides internet plans, be sure to check their prices.

When I polled my YouTube community about the cost of internet service, 35% of the 785 people who responded said they pay $50 to $75 a month. This is what I personally pay.

In some cases, you can lower that price by purchasing your own modem and router instead of renting equipment.

Competition helps. The more internet providers in your area, the better the deals. Since new customers typically get the best offers, switching to a new service may be good for your wallet.

Download Speed

When you’re making the switch to streaming, your internet provider may try to upsell you a plan with higher download speeds.

In most cases, you don’t need a gig speed plan that you see heavily advertised on TV.

My internet download speed is typically between 200 and 300 Mbps with Verizon 5G Home Internet, and I have no issues with lag or buffering.

For a typical household, I recommend buying an internet plan with download speeds ranging from 200 Mbps to 400 Mbps. It’s possible to stream with a 100 Mbps plan, but service may not be as reliable. 

With an internet plan that has download speeds of 200-400 Mbps, a handful of devices can connect to the network at the same time and performance won’t suffer.

If you live in a larger household, consider a 400-600 Mbps plan.

For people who do a lot of gaming, you also want to shop for a plan with lower ping to ensure smoother gameplay with less chance of annoying lag.

Fiber and cable internet are typically better than 5G internet when it comes to ping/latency.

Data Caps

This is an important warning: With the rise of streaming, some internet service providers have added data caps to their plans that can result in extra fees.

Since streaming TV uses data, this could be an issue for heavy users and large households.

If the internet service providers in your area have data caps, they may offer you the option to pay an extra $25 to $50 per month for unlimited data.

However, internet providers insist that the overwhelming majority of customers don’t hit their data caps.

The Rise of 5G Home Internet Services

For more than a year, I’ve been conducting a long-term test of two 5G home internet services: T-Mobile and Verizon. 

These services use cell phone towers to bring the internet to your home.

At the time of this writing, 5G home internet services start at around $50 a month and have price locks so your rate doesn’t go up after the first year. 

Some other features: 

  • No contracts
  • Equipment included
  • Unlimited data
  • Easy self-installation

Plus, these services have additional discounts if you have a phone plan with them. 

Unfortunately, they’re not available everywhere. You can enter your address on T-Mobile and Verizon’s websites to check availability.

Despite attacks about reliability from cable internet providers, 5G home internet services have been growing and most people are satisfied with them. 

However, they wouldn’t be my first pick for households that are heavily into gaming.

4. Get Your Equipment Together

Streaming services don’t have monthly equipment fees like cable, but you may need to purchase a streaming media player for every TV set in your house.

Notice that I wrote “may.” Not everyone will need to buy additional equipment.

For a one-time cost of less than $50, Roku has several options for first-time streamers. I recommend that you buy either the Roku Express 4K+ or the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.

Roku devices plug into your TV and connect to the internet to allow you to stream. Each device comes with a remote so that you can navigate all of your streaming apps. 

If you’re intimidated by this part of the process, don’t be.

When you hook up the Roku and turn on your TV set, step-by-step instructions will appear on the screen. 

Other inexpensive streaming media players include the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Chromecast with Google TV. They’re good alternatives to Roku’s entry-level devices.

For a more premium viewing experience, I like the Roku Ultra. This is what I use on my main TV set.


KEY POINT: If you own a fairly new smart TV, you don’t need to buy a separate streaming device. Popular streaming apps should be pre-installed or available for download.

However, I like having a Roku anyway for its simple menus and access to free content that you won’t get elsewhere. 


5. Finalize Your Monthly Streaming TV Budget

By now, you’ve gathered a lot of information that will help you set a monthly streaming TV budget and decide if canceling cable TV is really worth it for you. 

For this step of the process, add up the recurring costs for streaming services and your internet plan. 

Here’s an example: 

Streaming TVInternet Service
YouTube TV: $72.99/month
Netflix (Ads): $6.99/month
Disney+ (Ads): $7.99/month
Max (Ads): $9.99/month
$75/month

This cord-cutter subscribes to YouTube TV as their live TV streaming service. Plus, they have on-demand services Netflix, Disney+ and Max.

Their total monthly price for streaming services is around $100. 

For internet service, this cord cutter has decided to keep a standalone plan with their cable company for now. That’s $75 a month. 

Their total monthly price for TV and internet combined is $175. 

After you’ve calculated your monthly streaming costs, compare that number to your current cable TV and internet bill.
Hopefully, streaming will be less expensive. 

Keep in mind that you will need to adjust your budget over time. Streaming services are not immune to price hikes. 

For example, YouTube TV’s price has doubled since it launched in 2017.

Like cable and satellite companies, live TV streaming services have to negotiate with the media companies that own the channels. When live TV services raise prices, they always cite the rising cost of content. 

On-demand services are facing rising content costs as well and most services besides Netflix are unprofitable. 

These services have been aggressively increasing the price of ad-free plans. 

I’ve had to add about 10% to my annual streaming budget over the last few years, but it varies depending on the services you have. 


Note: To keep things simple, I’ve excluded one-time equipment costs from this step. If you need to purchase an antenna or a streaming device, budget for those expenses accordingly.


6. Cancel Cable TV Service 

You’ve crunched the numbers.

You’ve tested streaming services.

You’ve compared internet options.

And you’ve bought the equipment you need to stream. 

Now, you can contact your cable TV provider to cancel cable TV service!

If you called your cable company during the first step and asked the three questions that I mentioned earlier, there should be no surprises. 

That’s because you already know their best offer, how much an internet-only plan will cost and if there’s an early termination fee.

From my experience helping people cut the cable TV cord, it’s best to cancel by phone and call early in the day. That way, there usually won’t be a long wait time. 

If you want to keep internet service with your cable company, review the plans ahead of time and be prepared for a sales pitch. 

Remember, most households don’t need gigabit speed internet. 

Once you’ve dropped cable TV from your plan, make sure that you promptly return any rental equipment to your provider to avoid paying additional fees.

7. Comparison Shop and Explore Ways to Save

Now that you’ve cut the cord, there are a few levers you can pull to fight back against the rising cost of TV – which does extend to streaming services. 

My #1 savings tip is to rotate your subscriptions, particularly with live TV: 

Here’s an example: 

If you only need live TV streaming for football season, you could cancel YouTube TV during the off-season and try a cheaper option like Sling TV or Philo. To save even more money, consider dropping live TV altogether. Many people use an antenna for local stations and supplement with free and cheap streaming apps.

Rotating on-demand services can also save you money. I try to pay for only three streaming TV subscriptions at any given time. 

Here are more ways to save: 

  • Select plans with ads
  • Prepay for an annual plan to save up to 20%
  • Take advantage of Black Friday deals 
  • Check credit card rewards and special offers 
  • See if your phone provider offers streaming perks 
  • Rely solely on free streaming options 

Here’s another tip: When you go online to cancel a service after a promo ends, don’t be surprised if you’re offered another promotion. Sometimes this can extend the savings for a few more months. 

If you found this article helpful, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel for more streaming tips. I also update streaming deals on MichaelSavesDeals.com.


More Content From Michael Saves:

55 thoughts on “How to Cut the Cable TV Cord in 7 Steps”

  1. Hi! I recently cut the cable cord and now have only Xfinity Internet. It comes with Flex, but I also have a Roku, should I be using these both? I am fairly new to streaming only.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. After time wasting searches for clear concise workable info on cutting the cord, finding your site was like an oasis in the dessert. Looking forward to kicking cable to the curb and saving a few $$$.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. I have seen comments online that YouTube TV makes it “impossible” to cancel service once you start it. Frequent comments are that after being unsuccessful canceling it online they try calling YouTube TV support and never get anyone to answer the phone. Do you have experience with the cancellation process or suggestions?

    Reply
  4. Michael, I own a smart tv, do I still need to buy a Roku devise? I am thinking about cutting the cable, but all of this scares me so.

    Reply
    • Don’t be scared. I think I mentioned in the article that with a smart TV you may not *need* a Roku, but it’s good to have. Roku has more apps available that your smart TV manufacturer because Roku is so popular. You can get a Roku Express 4K+ and follow my video on my YouTube channel to set it up in 5 minutes.

      Reply
  5. You do not even discuss the use of a PC connected to a TV…Used PCs are small, and inexpensive and when combined with wireless a keyboard and mouse make the best streaming platform.

    Reply
  6. I have 2 homes and would like to pay for only one streaming service. I know I have to have internet at both locations. I would like to use the streaming service at either location. Thank you so much for your help

    Reply
  7. We DVR so many things. How does that work, if we go to digital antenna and a streaming service? Can we still record things to watch at another time?

    Reply
    • Depends on the streaming service. Live TV services all have some sort of cloud DVR. On-demand services there is no need for DVR since it’s all available at any time. For recording network TV, you could look into purchasing a separate DVR such as Tablo.

      Reply
  8. Hi, I cut the cable cord quite awhile ago and found someone (which was not easy) to put an antenna on the roof for my HDtvs and was more pleased with the programming and picture than what I got with the ever-increasing bill on cable. But I just lost my favorite channel, ME-tv, which moved from WTTG channels in D.C. to a much lower-powered transmitter and no amount of rescanning is locating the channel tho I get other D.C. channels just fine. Someone on the ME-tv FB page suggested I use a Roku–but isn’t that just the same problem? You would hook it up to your antenna and scan and it’s not going to find the station either, or is it? and, yes, I know there’s a special app that is supposed to allow you to stream ME-tv on Roku…but would that work if the station is now ‘unavailable’ in my area (which is approx. 60 mi. from D.C.) ? I’ve been trying to find someone who can answer this.

    Reply
  9. Hello Michael,
    thank you for posting this article, it is very informative about the steps I need to take to cut the chord with Xfinity cable tv who’s prices have just went up again which I can no longer sustain. Now I’m about the try the steps you suggested. I’m leaning towards the free trial of Youtube TV.
    I have 2 televisions and One of them is not a smartTV just a regular flat screen Toshiba. How can i get the streaming to work on that TV?

    Reply
  10. I have a B&B and 5 TV’s..2 smart TV’s and 3 that I need a convertor box because the TV is not smart or digital. Will I need to buy smart TV’s to replace the 3 or Roku’s for each?

    Reply
  11. I’m a senior and confused on how all this works. I only watch ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Bravo, Lifetime, BET and Food Network. I pay $60/mo just for cable. How do you know which apps have these networks? I can’t find a list to compare the different companies. I don’t care about live streaming (means watching it the night it premiers, right?) because I usually catch up on all the shows over the weekend (using a DVR) – so I think ‘on-demand’ is what I would use? Any assistance would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • I have an older article that may help you: https://michaelsaves.com/streaming/compare-live-tv-streaming-channels. Your favorite channels are owned by multiple companies, which is common — but that’s also what keeps people trapped with high bills. Antenna for locals is best. Bravo content is available on Peacock Premium. BET is with Paramount Plus. You can find Food Network and some Lifetime content on Discovery Plus. That’s your on-demand option. The live TV services will have everything in one app, but it’ll cost around $70/month!

      Reply
  12. I am on a fixed income, and struggling like most of us..I cut the cable but still have my internet with Xfinity, and also the Infinity flex..and still paying around $65..I wanted to get HULU live, but that is going to cost me $69.00 extra..they are killing me with the equipment costs and “broadcast” fees..so my best option is to purchase my own modem? I’m up in age and get confused with all of this…..so should i get a modem that is like the “tower” I have?

    Reply
    • Hi Sandra. If you are connected to the internet, you already have a modem/gateway. Hulu Live replaces your cable TV package, not your internet plan. If the price of Hulu Live is out of reach, I would look at more affordable streaming plans. There are many.

      Reply
  13. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your help $ saving ways for seniors. You appear quite patient with us folks.
    I have a question about smart TV’s. Are older smart TV’s outdated at some point, causing buffering problems or slow channel changing, or can those problems be internet quality regardless of the TV? And, do smart TV’s update themselves? Or, is there a need for Smart TV’s to update at all? After how many years do I need to buy a new Smart TV?

    Reply
    • Hi Bill. My attitude is that if your smart TV’s picture and sound are working, don’t get rid of it. Instead, hook up a Roku, Fire TV Stick or similar device for streaming. I have a Samsung TV and find it slower than using my Roku — and my Samsung is new! As for internet connection, go to Speedtest.net on your computer. If it’s good, you can likely rule that out. You could always buy an inexpensive streaming stick (some of them are less than $25 when on sale) and see if it improves the issues you’re having with buffering and slow navigation. I like the Roku Express 4K+ for an entry-level device. I have a video on my YouTube channel about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6MhMk6ebq0

      Reply
  14. I think YouTube TV will be best for me to start, along with some add ons. My Internet is going to be through FIOS–not a big hit because I qualify for the $30 off through ACP.

    My MAIN concern with streaming is the DVR capability, as I rarely watch anything in real time. I tape most of the network shows, then watch late at night. I can’t get a straight answer on YouTube’s DVR. It says unlimited, but it sounds like I can only watch it on the phone or computer. I need to be able to watch my DVR items on the TV. Do you know if that is possible through YouTube TV?

    Reply
  15. Great info.
    we have Roku’s
    and still paying for internet.
    ? is it possible to run the tv’s off of Hot spot from our phone?
    or
    ? Do we still need to pay monthly for intenet to stream ( mostly Youtube TV and Netflix) ?

    Reply
    • Yes, you typically need the internet to stream. Hotspot provides an internet connection, but it can be restrictive because some services don’t work well with hotspots and there’s usually a data /speed limit.

      Reply
  16. Great information
    do I need to buy a roku device for each TV similar to the cable boxes or dose the one device spread to all TV s in the home
    Thanks for the reply

    Reply
  17. Michael, your articles are so helpful, thank you!!

    My Mom is elderly and struggling with memory loss. Thus, a super simple menu is a must for her.

    Do you have any articles that show how to set up streaming so that 1) the service opens up without having to click on an app (less clicks is better). 2) the interface is simple and much like current tv menus (guide-like, similar to xfinity or fios, etc.) and 3) can set up only the channels she wants b/c she watches very few and finding them is impossible for her b/c she cannot remember the number of the channels any longer.

    I hope this makes sense, and I am sure many others are struggling to help their loved ones save money but also not get ‘lost’ in the interface (they are so busy!). This is similar to asking for a flip phone for our parents if you think about it b/c smartphones are also too busy for them! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Thanks for all of your helpful advice. I have two questions. First, I tried installing the Roku channel on my computer, but had a lot of trouble with it. When I tried contacting customer service for help, I found that there is none. All I got was links to various “how to” articles. I’m not tech-savvy and reading all of that was even more frustrating. Is there a streaming device that you recommend, that has better customer service, for those of us who might need help?

    Second, is there a DVR device that can record OTA broadcasts from an antenna as well as from a streaming app, or do I have to record programs separately?

    Reply
  19. I am in the “free trial period” for You Tube TV. A couple of questions…
    1. How do I set up the “same” screen option listing my channels for each of my devices (TV’s, iPads, cell phones)?
    2. On my Samsung smart TV I can’t figure out how to put the You Tube TV app in my app lineup for that TV…it only shows the You Tube app…any suggestions.
    3. Is there a “You Tube TV tutorial” available on the You Tube app or anywhere that I can use during my 21 day trial period?

    Thanks for the help.

    I am preparing to cut the Spectrum cable/internet/land line bundle after 39 years of use…any suggestions?

    Reply
  20. I am getting a new smart tv with several smart streaming apps. My cable internet provider speed is limited to 10mbps. I understand that I will need to drop them and switch to higher speed service. In my area options are limited to cableless service. I’m confused over whether I need to continue live TV for the perhaps one dozen channels that interest us. HughesNet and Xfinity seem to be the only two options available to get the speed I need. I am new to the streaming concept but have streamed Netflix via Roku. Any pointers/advice is appreciated.

    Reply
  21. Michael,

    Thanks for the excellent research and reporting you do.

    Would this work: (1) internet connection with Verizon 5G Home Internet; (2) iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air as the streaming devices; (3) DirecTV Stream as the streaming service (I watch a lot of sports)? As a test for life without cable, I’ve been watching a lot of video on an iPad — an iPad mini in fact — using Spectrum’s streaming service while keeping the Spectrum cable service until I I’m ready to cut the cord. I’ve been very satisfied with small-screen viewing. Can I ditch both cable and the tv set and just stream with the devices I have? Thanks.

    Reply
  22. Michael,
    I’m new to your YouTube channel. Thank you for the detailed information. My wife and I recently closed on a second (Vacation) home and would like to provide Streaming TV for Renters. I’ve researched YouTube, Hulu and Fubo websites but couldn’t find answer to a question I have. Is there a way to have a Login that I could manage the account (whichever streaming service) and have the renters login with a user login that does not have access to the account information. This would allow me to limit any risk of a renter selecting Add-On’s to the service?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Yes so with YouTube TV you can basically use a second email address for your rental property and share the account access with that email. This would be using the family sharing feature. In your case, you would just be doing this to not share your primary email with all your guests. And people who are beneath the account owner with YouTube TV cannot make purchases.

      Reply

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