November 29, 2019
You want to cut the cord and still get CNN?
You've heard about the cost benefits of cutting the cord and saving lots of money from your cable bill, are ready to do it, but there's one big concern.
Sure, you can buy an antenna and pick up local channels, or just use a streaming player like Roku or Amazon Fire TV to pick up dozens of free networks, but what about national news?
Bottom line: If you cut the cord, you'll lose access to the full network feed of the news networks. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News won't let you watch the 24-hour live broadcasts on their apps for Roku and Fire TV without authenticating your cable subscription.
You can sign up with one of the streaming alternatives, but you'll end up spending nearly as much as you do on cable now, if not more.
That said, we have a few ideas that might be helpful.
These are streaming services that offer a lower monthly price with no equipment rental, offer a theoretically lower price than cable, but barely.
The service here that wins price-wise, hands down, is Sling TV, which costs $30 a month ($25 for Sling Blue, plus $5 for the news add-on). But while you can get MSNBC and CNN, Fox News isn't available. Sling is available on the major streaming players, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.
The other cable TV alternatives are very pricey: AT&T Now (formerly DirecTV Now) is $65 a month, compared with $55 a month for Hulu with Live TV and Fubo, and $50 for YouTube TV. All offer the three news channels plus many others.
The cable companies themselves, under pressure to stem the cord-cutting exodus, now offer their brand of streaming services as well, with caveats. The good news: no equipment rentals, and the ability to watch on TV or via smartphone apps or computer.
The fine print: You get the broadcast TV channels, cable-like fees and a handful of channels of your choice. In a handful of markets, Spectrum offers "TV Choice," with 10 cable channels for $30 a month. Comcast's Xfinity Stream starts at $35, but if you want the CNN, MSNBC, Fox News trifecta, it jumps to $80 a month.
CBSN, ABC News Live and NBC News
The big three of the broadcast networks have dedicated streaming news channels, which are available on the three most popular streaming players, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple. Get to know them. They are free.
CBSN is the most full-featured, with 24-hour, CNN-like programming, with live anchors behind a desk and reporters in the field. NBC and ABC have some anchored content, but they are primarily showing the same clips that get shared on YouTube and live feeds. For instance, live coverage of the impeachment hearings have been available, and the networks cut into press conferences from around the country as well.
Pluto TV and Xumo
These two streaming services, available via Roku, Amazon and Apple, look to replicate the traditional cable TV experience, with a menu of multiple channels that are heavy on movies and news. Both channels are free and touted as counterprogramming to monthly subscriptions.
There is a CNN channel on Pluto, but it's mostly clips that get shared to social media and an occasional live feed. Pluto also has NBC News and Bloomberg. Xumo has CBS, NBC and ABC News Live.
Two last cord-cutting options
Buy an antenna. You won't get the news networks, but if you're good with watching local news—the evening and morning news—you'll save yourself a bundle.
And finally, if none of this works for you, there's always one last idea, and it won't cost you a dime.
Can you live without seeing the video picture?
The popular online radio service Tune-In offers free audio feeds of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and others. You can pick it up on Amazon and Google connected speakers, or via the app on Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV. Additionally, MSNBC makes all of its prime-time shows—Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Brian Williams, et al—available as free podcasts.
And if it's sports you're after, well, that's a whole other story.
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