Cutting the cord
As Paul Simon might have sung if the Internet were around back then, there must be 50 ways to cut your cable cord. Here are a few that will still allow you to watch television:
• Antenna. Cable has been so ubiquitous for so long that a lot of people have forgotten that TV can be watched for free. All you need is an antenna (and, if your TV set was manufactured before 2007, possibly a digital converter box) to get dozens of broadcast stations. Cost: Around $50 for an indoor antenna that will pick up stations within 30 miles; about $100 for an outdoor model that extends the range to 50 miles.
• Aereo. Think of this service as Antenna Deluxe. Aereo picks up only broadcast stations, but it routes the signals to your home via the Internet, which means you can also watch them on a computer or a smart phone. It also has a built-in recording capability, so you can watch shows on your timetable, not the networks’. Cost: $8 a month.
Gaming consoles. The Xbox, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation, besides allowing you to kill zombies or refight World War II, can all deliver the Internet onto your television, where you can watch TV programming services like Hulu.com, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube’s premium channels. Cost: From $200 to $300.
• Roku. This set-top box hooks into the Internet via Wi-Fi or the Ethernet, then turns your TV set into a Web browser with access to about 1,000 different channels — everything from Moroccan television stations to a Seventh Day Adventist channel. Cost: From $50 to $100.
• Apple TV. Another set-top box. Its big advantage over Roku is that it allows you to screen TV shows and movies from Apple’s iTunes. Big disadvantage: It lacks some channels Roku has, notably including Amazon Instant Video.
All the gaming consoles and set-top boxes have access to a lot of free programming. But most network TV shows will be available only from a programming service. They sell individual episodes for as little as $1, while monthly subscriptions generally run around $8. The programming services are also starting to produce their own shows: Netflix’s political-conspiracy thriller “House of Cards” became the first Internet-only series ever to win an Emmy (two, in fact) at this year’s ceremonies. Another Netflix series, the prison drama “Orange Is the New Black,” was the most buzzed-about show of the summer.
Big packages of sports programming from the NBA, the NHL and major league baseball are also available, but for those you’ll pay cable-style prices, as high as $200 a season.