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Do You Need Cable for a Smart TV?

New to smart TVs? Learn how and where to watch your favorite channels, shows, and movies without cable by using streaming services, free apps, and more.

If you’re wondering whether you need a cable box in order to get your favorite channels on a smart TV, we’re here to help you decide.

Long story short, you no longer need a cable subscription to watch your favorite shows and movies on a smart TV. There are many options available if you’re looking to rely solely on streaming. However, you’ll want to make sure to weigh your options before “cutting the cord.”

Here’s how you can enjoy your smart TV without signing up for traditional cable.

How to Use a Smart TV Without Cable

When it comes to using a smart TV without cable, you have several options. Some of the most common include:

  • Live TV services
  • Antenna
  • Free streaming services
  • Subscription video on demand

Streaming Services That Offer Live TV

Streaming has completely changed the way we consume content. There are many streaming services to choose from, which allows users to select and subscribe to the platforms with the content they enjoy most. You can even take SmartMove’s Streaming Quiz to find out which will be best for you!

Here are two of the most popular live TV streaming options (during the writing of this article) that allow you to watch your favorite shows anywhere:

  • Hulu + Live TV:Hulu is known for its diverse collection of movies, TV shows, and live TV offerings. Its packages include many types of cable channels, including sports, world news, and on-demand TV options.
  • YouTube TV:If live streaming is what you want, YouTube TV has everything you need. It offers 70+ channels, including local channels, sports, movies, and much more.

Subscription Video on Demand

Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services are platforms that charge a monthly fee in exchange for access to a library of movies, TV shows, and other types of content.

While they don't typically offer live TV, they do have thousands of hours of content for you to enjoy. Some of the most popular SVOD apps include:

  • Netflix:Perhaps the largest and most recognizable SVOD service, Netflix has a huge library of movies, documentaries, TV shows, original programming, and more.
  • Amazon Prime Video:Amazon Prime gives you more than lightning fast deliveries. It also includes access to Prime Video, which has thousands of movies, TV shows, and original content.
  • Disney+:Disney+ is much younger than Netflix and Prime Video, but it’s just as powerful. It’s where you can find all Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content.
  • Hulu::Like the other streaming services above, Hulu has a massive library of movies and TV shows. Unlike those services, select Hulu packages - as mentioned above - also provide access to live TV, including local channels, sports, news, and more.

Free Video on Demand

Did you know there are free streaming apps where you can watch shows and movies at no cost? There are many options, but here are three of the most popular platforms:

  • Tubi:Tubi has loads of free shows and movies to choose from. Its selection includes content from major studios like Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM, and countless others.
  • Pluto TV:What makes Pluto TV different is that it offers both on-demand movies and live TV. While the live TV options are limited, there are a wide variety of channels.
  • Crackle:Owned by Sony, Crackle has a mix of TV shows, movies, and original programming, all for free.

It’s important to remember these free options are ad-supported. That means instead of paying with your money, you pay with your time.

Streaming Services That Offer Local Channels

Whether or not a streaming app offers local channels typically depends on where you live and the package you select. Visit the website of each service, enter your zip code, and find out what local tv channels you’ll be able to watch.

Below are a few of the most popular services that include local channels:

  • YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Fubo:These services generally offer local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. The availability of those specific channels may depend on your region.
  • DirecTV Stream:Like the others, it offers access to local channels from major broadcast networks, depending on regional availability.

Over-the-Air Channels

If you can’t access the programs you’re searching for or don’t want to pay the monthly cost, there’s another option — over-the-air (OTA) channels.

To access these you just need to purchase an HD antenna. Then you will be able to watch local news, regional sports, and more. The programming you receive is dependent on the service in your area.

Other Ways to Watch Content on Your Smart TV

There’s more than one way to stream the best TV shows and movies on your smart TV.

Options like game consoles, Blu-ray players, and other streaming devices (Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, etc.) can easily plug into your smart TV’s HDMI port.

Smart TVs Work Best With Fast Internet Services

Your smart TV may not seem so “smart” without a high-speed Internet connection. If your Internet isn’t fast enough, it will likely result in buffering and poor picture quality.

Whether you use WiFi, broadband Internet, or an ethernet cable, one thing is for sure — your smart TV needs fast Internet to reach its maximum capability.

Luckily, SmartMove makes it easy to explore, compare and contrast the best Internet providers in your area.

Learn Which Cable TV Providers Are in Your Area

While this guide focused exclusively on non-cable options, it’s important to remember modern Internet service providers and cable TV now offer many of the same benefits as streaming services. Plus, some providers like Xfinity have partnered with apps like Xumo to create combined streaming and live TV options.

SmartMove can help you find out which cable TV providers are in your area today.

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