One of the points I often try to make in this column is that cutting the cord doesn’t have to involve spending upwards of $50 per month on a bundle of streaming cable channels.
You can make choices and trade-offs, instead. If you’re willing to go without regional sports or specific cable channels, you can still get plenty of entertainment from cheaper services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. And if you’re able to get over-the-air channels from an antenna, you can even watch some major sporting events and prime-time shows for free.
Still, making sense of how to cut cable without a big channel bundle can be overwhelming, which is why I’m intrigued by a new website called MyBundle.TV. In addition to telling you which live TV streaming services offer your favorite channels, the site also suggests ways to ditch bloated bundles outright. While the site is clearly a work in progress, it’s still worth checking out, especially as live TV services become increasingly expensive for a shrinking amount of must-see content.
Pick your bundle (or don’t)
Here’s how MyBundle.TV works: When you first visit the site, it’ll ask some optional questions about your viewing habits, such as the types of TV viewers in your home, your favorite TV genres, and whether or not you need DVR service. (To skip all these preliminary questions, just click here.)
The site then presents a list of cable channels and lets you check off the ones you need. You can also search for specific channels, or browse by genre. After coming up with a channel list, the site asks for the email address you’d like it to send its results to (this is also optional). It then displays a list of streaming services that fit the bill.
MyBundle.TV isn’t the only site of this kind. I’ve previously recommended others, such as The Streamable and Suppose.tv, and both of those are still great tools for comparing different live TV streaming services. What I like about MyBundle.TV, however, is how it takes a more holistic view of your cord-cutting options, looking beyond the bundle as a way to save more money.
If you select broadcast networks such as CBS or Fox in your must-haves, for instance, MyBundle.TV will suggest combining an antenna with slimmed-down channel bundles such as Sling TV ($25 per month and up), Philo ($20 per month), and Frndly TV ($7 per month and up). These bundles don’t include full broadcast channel coverage, so they’re much cheaper than most other live TV services.
Depending on which cable channels you chose, MyBundle.TV might also suggest alternative streaming services that provide similar content. Putting Discovery on your list, for instance, will result in a recommendation for CuriosityStream, a $3-per-month service with original documentaries and nature shows. If you select Nick Jr., the site will suggest checking out Pluto TV, a free service that now offers lots of programming from the Nickelodeon back catalog. While these services don’t provide the exact same content as the cable channels they’re supposed to replace, they might be good enough if maximum savings is your goal.
MyBundle.TV still has plenty of room for improvement. The current version of the site won’t tell you what to expect for over-the-air channel reception in your home (for this, you should head to AntennaWeb and enter your address), nor will it get into detail on what’s available through services like CuriosityStream (Reelgood remains a better resource for that). And unlike The Streamable, MyBundle.TV doesn’t let you search for specific shows or sports teams when building out your must-have channel list. Even in its current form, though, it’s still a useful starting point for figuring out how to cut the cord.
Help with a key cord-cutting decision
The case for cobbling together your own cord-cutting plan is getting stronger as live TV services continue to raise prices. Just last week, Hulu announced that it will hike prices for its live TV service from $45 per month to $55 per month in December. YouTube TV and FuboTV raised prices by $10 per month earlier this year, and AT&T TV Now is enacting its second price hike of 2019 this month.
The reality is that live TV prices are getting out of control—not just for traditional cable and satellite providers, but for streaming services as well—as content producers demand more money to carry their channels. For those who can get by without live sports, the value of these bundles is quickly eroding. And even among people who’d love to keep those channels, I’ve talked to plenty who live on fixed incomes and simply can no longer afford them.
In my own beginner’s guide to cord-cutting, one of the first things I suggest is figuring out whether you need a channel bundle in the first place. The more tools that can assist in making this decision, the better.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.