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The Ultimate Cord Cutting Guide

By William O'Neal - Thu, Jun 15, 2017

It seems like everyday we’re offered yet another way to consume media content. Gone are the days of having to decide between the only two paid services in town: Netflix and Hulu. Now, would-be cord-cutters can cobble together their own “a la carte” menu based specifically on the shows and content they like. The thing is though, before we dive into how you can cut-the-cord, we need to talk about exactly what cord-cutting is.

While everyone pretty much agrees that “cord cutting” refers to someone who has ditched their cable bill, the conversation quickly shifts when you broach the subject of paying for television content at all. For the sake of this cord-cutting guide, we’ll talk about both paid and free options - as well as those that may require a cable or satellite subscription. Anyway you look at it, the SHIELD team is here to help you cut the cord.

This cord-cutting guide will be broken down into several sections: so-called “pure cord cutting” for folks who want totally free options, “cord shaving” options for people willing to spend a little money, and an “a la carte” section for those who just want to be able to watch whatever they like. So sit back, relax and prepare to cut-the-cord.

Cord Cutting for the Purist

So-called “pure cord cutters” believe that TV content should be free as either a matter of finances or philosophy. Either way, SHIELD is the perfect device for “cord cutting purists.” There are several apps that are perfectly designed for cord cutting purists. But before you jump in, your best bet is to invest in a digital tuner and antenna, as you’ll no doubt end up watching a lot of over-the-air HDTV.

When it comes to digital tuners we suggest the HD HomeRun Connect from Silicon Dust. The tuner costs around $100 and works like a charm. When it comes to HD antennas, pretty much anything you find on Amazon should work. Be sure to read our article, “How to Watch Live TV on NVIDIA SHIELD” for more on live TV.

Now that you’re all set up, several apps are must haves for cord cutters: Plex, Kodi, and Live Channels.

Plex (Free)

While keeping things in the cloud has surely taken off, the fact remains that a lot of us still have terabytes of media content. From movies and music to TV shows and pictures, Plex for Android lets you keep your content in one place while streaming it to any manner of data on pretty much any device imaginable. Now with Plex DVR, SHIELD users can also easily record all of their favorite shows and movies. You can even watch the content from mobile devices wherever you are. The latest version of Plex also boasts support for live TV.

Kodi (Free)

Kodi users love the ease with which the SHIELD Android TV box lets users stream all of their personal media to their big-screen TV. You can also download hundreds of community-created add-ons that provide access to popular internet streaming media services like Twitch, Vimeo, Vine, SyFy, NFL, Flickr, and more.

Live Channels (Free)

Live Channels is a native Android TV app that’s already on your SHIELD. Boasting a simple and intuitive user interface, with Live Channels you can effortlessly browse through channels, view program guides, and see programming details. Live Channels also lets SHIELD users DVR certain programs. For more on watching live TV on SHIELD be sure to read our article, “How to Watch Live TV on NVIDIA SHIELD.”

Cord Shaving, Your Best Options

Cord shaving is the latest buzzword in streaming. Simply put, cord shavers are folks who, while they don’t want to pay for a cable or satellite subscription, ARE willing to pay for something. When it comes to cord shaving, our two favorite apps are Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. Here’s what they have to offer.

Sling TV (Plans start at $20 / month)

The Holy Grail, and often most difficult thing for cord-cutters to resolve, is live TV. Sure, over-the-air HD is great for local TV but what about live cable TV? That’s where Sling TV comes in. For $20 a month you can stream everything from HGTV and ESPN to the History Channel and, of course, those ever-present Law and Order: SVU marathons on TNT. There are several different Sling packages so be sure to peruse their site for the networks you want before pulling the trigger.

PlayStation Vue for Android TV (Plans start at $29 / month)

PlayStation Vue is the latest live TV streaming app to come to SHIELD. Similar to other live TV streaming apps, with PlayStation Vue, SHIELD owners can watch movies, sports, and “On Demand programming” from a plethora channels including AMC, Comedy Central, Disney, ESPN, HBO, NFL Network, and SHOWTIME. PlayStation Vue plans start at $29.99 / month. We’re particularly partial to their DVD in the cloud feature that lets you easily record shows to watch whenever you’re ready.

A la Carte, What you Want, From Where you Want it

A la carte viewing has long been something that the people wanted and the cable and satellite providers did not. And that’s the great advantage of SHIELD. Whether you’re into movies, TV shows, or sports, there are some great options available. Here are our favorites.

HBO Now ($14.99 / month)

HBO Now is the new standalone streaming service that gives you all of HBO including every season and every episode of HBO's original series. If that’s not enough, you’ll have access to the biggest and latest movies. A cord-cutter’s dream-come-true, HBO Now doesn’t require you have a subscription with a participating cable or satellite TV provider. If, however, you do have access to a participating cable or satellite TV provider then you can access all of HBO’s content with the free HBO GO app.

Amazon Video (Plans start at $8.25 / month)

Stream popular movies and TV shows including Amazon exclusives like “The Grand Tour” and “The Man in the High Castle.” Amazon Video also has access to IMDB data about the actors, songs and trivia related to your videos during playback with X-Ray. Prime members can sign-up for and stream videos from channel subscriptions including HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and dozens more.

SHOWTIME ($10.99 / month)

With the SHOWTIME app, cord-cutters can watch whatever is airing live on SHOWTIME or even benefit from on-demand access to every season of every SHOWTIME Original Series. Once downloaded users will benefit from a 30-day free trial. After that the service is $10.99 a month. Similar to HBO, if you do have access to a participating cable or satellite TV provider then you can access all of SHOWTIME’s content with the free SHOWTIME Anytime app.

Netflix (Plans start $7.99 / month)

With more than 65 million subscribers globally, Netflix not only can be credited with starting the cord-cutting revolution, in many respects they’re still the king of the hill. Founded in 1997, while it’s difficult to nail down exactly how many movies are available on Netflix, according to some sources their digital library is around 170TB. That’s a lot of movies. With the ability to stream movies on pretty much any device imaginable, the fact remains that the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, with its support for 4k and Gigabit Ethernet, is hands down the best way to experience Netflix. If that’s not enough, Netflix just recently began streaming content in the all-new HDR (high dynamic range) video format and they’ve also been added to Universal Search functionality on SHIELD, arguably making SHIELD the Best Streaming Device for Netflix.

Hulu (Plans start at $7.99 / month)

While Netflix is the thing king of movie streaming services there’s no denying Hulu. Known mostly for its television content, Hulu also boasts a great movie catalog.

Pluto TV (Free)

Watch 100+ TV channels handmade for the Internet, free on any device, anywhere. The folks of Pluto TV have one mission - to entertain the planet. They hand-pick and organize millions of hours of clips, full episodes and viral sensations into TV channels for the web.

CBS All Access! ($5.99 / month)

While it’s possible to watch your local CBS broadcast in HD with an HD antenna, CBS All Access! adds something extra, the ability to watch more than 6,500 episodes of your favorite CBS shows on-demand. New episodes of current shows will be available on-demand the day after their first airing. Of course if the signal from your HD antenna is spotty you can use CBS All Access! to actually stream your local CBS broadcast. In addition to current shows, CBS All Access! will also let users watch classic shows like “Star Trek” and “I love Lucy” ad-free. After a one week free trial CBS All Access! is $5.99 a month.

MLB.tv ($24.99 / month)

Watch every 2017 regular season game LIVE or on demand in HD quality. MLB.tv has DVR controls that let you pause and rewind live game action, or jump to big plays with milestone markers. Watch either the home or away team’s broadcast and never miss your favorite announcers calling the action.

While the above apps are great, thanks to Googlecast, with NVIDIA SHIELD, you’re not limited to only consuming content that’s available in the Google Play Store! Any app that works with your Android phone can be “cast” to your SHIELD Android TV.

If you don’t already own an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, run out and grab one today.

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