If you’re thinking about discontinuing your cable service, you may be wondering about the best way to continue getting content from ABC. Fortunately, there are several new options for tuning into ABC that don’t involve expensive cable plans. Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to watch ABC without cable.
Buy a “Skinny Bundle” TV Service
So-called “skinny bundles” from streaming TV services offer an excellent, inexpensive way to watch ABC and other cable TV channels live via the internet.
Here are the top skinny bundle services that offer ABC.
Sling TV doesn’t have great local TV coverage, but if you can get Sling TV in your area it’s not a bad deal. Sling TV is negotiating deals with ABC, Fox and NBC affiliates. However, it has yet to reach an agreement to carry CBS stations.
|Sling Orange||Sling Blue||Sling Orange + Blue|
|Fire TV Support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Special Offers||FREE ROKU DEAL||FREE ROKU DEAL||FREE ROKU DEAL|
Sling TV’s Orange plan plus the Broadcast extra ($25+$5) will get you ABC if you buy a subscription to Sling TV.
Sling TV lets you get a $5 discount if you get both Orange and Blue, bringing the final cost for both plans to $40.
The base price for Sling Orange recently increased from $20 to $25. That price also came with an boost in the number of channels on offer, however.
Sling TV limits you to a single stream if you only get Sling TV Orange. If you live alone, you may not care. However, this “one stream at a time” limitation may be a turnoff if you intend to share your Sling TV account.
Even though you do have to pay to get Sling TV’s DVR, it does give you 50 hours of cloud storage with no expiration dates. One major caveat: not all channels can be DVR’ed. Disney-owned channels like ESPN and ABC do not support DVR functionality. This is not just a Sling TV limitation. You’ll find Disney locks out recording across other streaming services as well.
Sling TV has apps for Amazon Fire devices, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and Android/iOS devices, LG/Samsung Smart TVs and Xbox One.
Sling TV is one of the cheapest skinny bundle services out there and it does offer ABC in some areas. Even with DVR service added, Sling TV is a pretty good overall deal. Be sure to check the Sling TV site first before you try out Sling TV, though. If you don’t live near a major city, you may not be able to get ABC via Sling TV.
When we recently took a look at which skinny bundle services offer the best local TV coverage, Hulu With Live TV came out on top.
In addition to ABC, Hulu With Live TV has Fox, CBS and NBC.
Unlike DirecTV and Sling TV, Hulu only offers one monthly streaming TV package. For $39.99/month, you get a subscription to 55+ cable channels.
In addition to ABC, Hulu With Live TV subscribers also get TBS, FX, TNT, USA Network, A&E, SyFy and many other cable TV staples. However, AMC is not on the menu.
If for some reason you don’t want Hulu’s on-demand option rolled into your Live TV subscription, you can also purchase a Live TV Only subscription. Hulu only offers a $1 dollar discount on Live TV Only, however, so you might as well go for the regular subscription if you do choose Hulu With Live TV.
One of the biggest perks of Hulu With Live TV is its vast supply of on-demand content. If you sign up with Hulu With Live TV, you can access all of Hulu’s movies and TV shows for free.
Hulu’s DVR is also pretty good. You can record up to 50 hours of content, with no time or slot restrictions. You can double your recording time for an additional $14.99/month fee.
By default, Hulu With Live TV limits streaming to 2 devices. However, with the $14.99/month Unlimited Screens package you can stream on unlimited devices within your home network and even share your account with 3 devices outside of it.
Hulu With Live TV didn’t have many apps at first, but now you can stream live TV on your web browser, iOS/Android devices, 4th-gen and newer Apple TVs, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire devices, Samsung Smart TVs and Xbox 360/One consoles.
Hulu With Live TV is one of the best skinny bundle services out there. Hulu With Live TV delivers ABC and other live TV channels, plus a huge repository of on-demand TV shows and movies. You also get a great cloud DVR. On the other hand, Hulu With Live TV is somewhat expensive, especially if you opt to tack on all the extras.
DirecTV Now already has pretty good local TV coverage, but it has big plans to expand.
According to a statement issued in June of this year, DirecTV’s goal is to make deals with 70% of all ABC, Fox and NBC affiliates.
“We will keep the momentum going, and have plans to keep the number of local channels growing on DirecTV Now.” – AT&T Chief Content Officer Daniel York
Check the DirecTV Now website to find out whether or not your local ABC station has made a deal with DirecTV Now.
ABC comes with DirecTV Now’s basic “Live A Little” cable package. “Live a Little” costs $40/month and has over 60 channels (depending on your area).
With ABC, you also get USA Network, AMC, FX/FXX, TBS, TNT, Spike, A&E, plus sports channels like ESPN and some local FOX Sports networks.
DirecTV Now recently raised its base package price from $35 to $40. Other services also raised their prices, but this price increase was not met with a large increase in channels offered for that package.
When we reviewed DirecTV Now, we criticized the fact that DirecTV Now lacks DVR functionality. Since then, DirecTV has rolled out a cloud DVR beta – so they may be on the verge of an official release.
Simultaneous streaming is a bit limited, but you can watch DirecTV Now on 2 devices at once. PlayStation Vue and Sling TV both offer more in this department.
On the plus side, DirecTV Now has high quality streams and an excellent array of apps. DirecTV Now works with Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV, as well as web browsers and iOS/Android devices. However, DirecTV Now currently doesn’t work with gaming consoles.
DirecTV Now does have ABC. Additionally, its current $40/month price point is quite reasonable – and you can get a $15 discount if you’re an AT&T subscriber. When DirecTV rolls out its DVR feature, it’ll be an even better deal.
YouTube TV is increasingly coming onto the radar for its service. Its slow expansion is a bit of a problem, but the quality of service has been hard to match.
The service now offers ABC channels alongside other locals like FOX, CBS, and NBC. as well as dozens of top-tier cable TV networks.
There’s only one subscription option available through YouTube TV. For $40 per month, you’ll get a load of 60 channels. This includes ABC. You’ll also get access to popular networks like AMC, FX, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, TBS and more.
The uncomplicated pricing scheme works in YouTube’s favor, as it minimizes the difficulty of deciding which package works best for your needs.
YouTube TV’s growth has been in part because of the features it offers. For the cost, you’ll get unlimited cloud DVR, 6 user profiles, and 3 simultaneous streams. This is far more generous than most other services on the market.
There’s also a good amount of device support with YouTube TV. You can install and run the app on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox One, Apple TV (4th generation and above) and several smart TV brands.
If you’re using an Amazon Fire TV device, however, you won’t have any app available. Amazon and Google have been fighting for a few years now, with app blockades in each others’ app stores.
YouTube TV is an excellent option, with one caveat: it may not be available where you live. Although the service has quickly expanded, it’s not available in every market in the US, without much reason given as to why. If you’re outside of a major city, it likely won’t be available for you.
PlayStation Vue has a confusing name, but a well-regarded service that’s been struggling to catch on. You don’t need a PlayStation to sign up or use the service, and it’s a bit pricier than many of its competitors. But it’s also a favorite among those who’ve taken the dive.
PS Vue, as its commonly called, has several pricing plans to choose from. Prices range from $44.99 per month for the “Access” package, up to $79.99 per month for the “Ultra” subscription package.
Thankfully, you’ll get ABC alongside 45+ other channels through the lowest-cost option. “Access” also includes Disney channels and ESPN, as well as Cartoon Network. Fox Sports, FX, TBS, AMC and more.
PlayStation Vue offers up to 100+ channels, so you’ll need to explore the 3 other subscription options to determine whether you want some of the other channels on offer.
PlayStation Vue is feature rich, which considering the price is a distinct positive. Every plan comes with the option to have up to 5 simultaneous streams. No other service offers that many simultaneous streams natively without adding to the cost.
You can also have up to 10 different profiles or accounts with PlayStation Vue. That as well is more than most other services provide.
Also unique to PS Vue is the fact that you can have three separate live streams going at the same time. You will need a PS4 to enjoy that option, however.
Outside of this, PlayStation Vue doesn’t state how much storage space it provided with its DVR. However, it has a 28-day expiration period. It only describes its storage space as “lots”.
As stated, PlayStation Vue’s name is the confusing part. You can use PS Vue on iOS or Android devices, Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV(4th generation and up), Roku, and web browsers on Windows and Mac computers.
PlayStation Vue’s price may make most users a bit uncomfortable. But its features may also be a huge hit for individuals with big families or lots of roommates.
Use a TV Tuner to Build Your Own DVR
If none of the cable TV replacement services mentioned above carry your local ABC affiliate, you can still use a TV tuner to capture and record over-the-air ABC content. Here’s a quick summary of everything you need to do to get started.
First, buy a TV Antenna
Modern TV antennas offer outstanding picture quality. In fact, the 1080p resolution feeds that you get via the airwaves look even better than comparatively laggy 720p cable channel feeds.
The two leading digital TV antenna brands right now are Amazon and Mohu. Products from both brands offer cheap yet extremely effective antennas with lots of features. Typical TV antenna prices range from $15 to $20.
Then, get a TV Tuner
SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun TV tuner is convenient, flexible and you don’t have to stick it into the side of your computer. All you have to do is plug it into your WiFi router, and then you can watch live TV on any device that’s connected to your network.
Another cool thing about HDHomeRun TV tuners is that they are very affordable compared to ordinary DVR systems. SiliconDust’s most basic HDHomeRun tuner costs just $80. No other TV tuner can compare.
Next, unlock HDHomeRun’s DVR feature
Typical DVR vendors make you pay extra to use their EPG (Electronic Program Guide), but SiliconDust does not. If you only want to watch ABC live, you don’t have to pay any monthly fees. You do, however, have to pay $35 per year to unlock the DVR.
HDHomeRun’s DVR service lets you use your computer’s hard drive to save recorded TV shows. If you need extra space, you can buy any NAS (Network Attached Storage) device and connect it to your HDHomeRun network.
HDHomeRun is compatible with a variety of different platforms, including Amazon Fire TV / Fire TV Stick, Mac, PC, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, Android, Kodi, Plex and more.
Optional: Get a Streaming TV Stick / Box
Unless you have a smart TV or a video game console that works with HDHomeRun, you’ll need to get some type of streaming stick to watch your DVR’d ABC content on your living room TV.
One of the most best and most user friendly options out right now is Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. An Amazon Fire TV Stick costs $40 and is very easy to figure out.
All you have to do is plug your Amazon Fire TV Stick into your TV’s HDMI jack to get started. Then, enter your WiFi password, hop over to the Amazon Appstore and download the free HDHomeRun app.
Once you sign up for DVR service ($35 per year), you’ll be able to record ABC and skip past all the commercials.
Amazon Fire TV is slightly bigger than Fire TV Stick and a bit more expensive ($55) but it also as better features and can play ultra HD 4K video streams.
Android sticks and boxes
Though Amazon Fire TV devices are easy to use and can understand voice commands when paired with Amazon Alexa, they’re also somewhat limited and locked down. In order to install apps that aren’t listed in Amazon’s Appstore, you have to go through an elaborate process.
Android set-top boxes and sticks are more flexible because of Google Play. Google Play has more apps compared to Amazon Appstore.
Total “Roll Your Own” DVR setup cost: between $135 and $175
To set up a Do-It-Yourself DVR to record ABC and other over-the-air TV station feeds, you’ll need to spend about:
- $20 for a TV antenna.
- $80 for an HDHomeRun.
- $35 to upgrade to HDHomeRun’s DVR plan.
- Optional: $40 for a TV stick / box.
That brings the total cost of turning your computer into a DVR to around $135.
Our Verdict: The Best Way to Watch ABC Without Cable
There are two main paths you can take to watch ABC without cable. Skinny bundle TV services provide an excellent all-in-one cable replacement solution. However, if you want to save money you may want to consider setting up an over-the-air compatible DVR system on your computer.
The best skinny bundle for ABC
Hulu With Live TV offers arguably the best skinny bundle that includes ABC. With Hulu With Live TV, you also get access to Hulu’s massive library of on-demand movies and shows. Hulu With Live TV is pricey, though – especially if you pile on extra features.
If you’re an AT&T customer, DirecTV Now offers the best skinny bundle deal for ABC. AT&T subscribers can get DirecTV Now for just $20. Even without the $15 discount, DirecTV is not a bad deal – and we expect DirecTV Now will get even better as DirecTV continues to add new features and work out deals with more local TV broadcasters.
The cheapest way to watch ABC without cable
All you need is a $20 TV antenna to watch ABC live on your living room TV. However, if you want the ability to zoom past commercials you’ll need to spend a bit of money to record ABC programs using your computer and an HDHomeRun TV tuner. Once you buy all the equipment you need to use your computer as a DVR, though, you’ll be able to watch ABC and all your other local broadcast networks in an entirely new way for only $35 per year.