Ready to cut the cord? With the 5 apps listed below, you can enjoy a variety of video content, save money and access your entertainment from just about anywhere while avoiding overpriced cable and satellite TV subscription plans.

What is Cord-Cutting?

Instead of paying for a cable subscription – which costs an average of $99 a month – cord-cutters rely on digital streaming services for streaming digital entertainment like TV and movies. By choosing to cancel your cable subscription, you can save quite a bit of money.

With these 5 apps, you can watch your favorite TV shows, movies, live TV, and more via the web.

Plex

plex
Source: Plex

Cord-cutters use Plex to stream their digitally-purchased media on various devices.

Plex is very simple, and can be used for many different things. This includes live local TV streaming with an OTA antenna, streaming digital content from video websites via Plex “channels”, and streaming/organizing your own previously-downloaded content.

Plex is simple to install, and available for Macs, PCs, and Linux. To get started, all you have to do is download Plex and set it up on your computer. Once you have Plex, you can set up specialized media “libraries” by selecting media folders on your PC which contain digital movies, TV shows, photos, and other media.

You can then stream your library from your PC directly to any device that is connected to your home network. Compatible devices include Smart TVs, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, smartphones and tablets.

Why do I need it?

Plex has a variety of different features that make it appealing to novice and expert cord-cutters alike.

Archive, organize, and stream your purchased digital content

If you have purchased and downloaded a lot of TV shows and movies from iTunes, Amazon, or other digital marketplaces, it can be hard to keep track of all of them.

Plex helps you sort through your movies and TV shows by attaching “metadata” from websites such as IMDB. This metadata provides movie/episode descriptions and keeps your collection of digital content organized.

As long as your computer is on and Plex Media Server is running, you can stream videos to your TV, tablet, or smartphone using the Plex app.

Watch and record live TV with an OTA antenna and DVR

Recently, Plex introduced live TV recording functionality. If you have a Plex Pass membership, you can use an OTA (over-the-air) digital antenna and a DVR to watch and record network television in your area.

This makes Plex a great choice for sports fans. You can watch all of your local games without a cable subscription, and you can even record games to watch later.

Related: How to Watch Live TV on Plex – A Complete Guide for 2017

Stream movies, TV shows, and more with Plex channels

Plex “channels” are community-made add-ons that allow you to stream digital content from a wide variety of internet-based sources. There are hundreds of Plex channels, which allow you to stream movies, TV shows, radio shows, and even podcasts.

You can install Plex channels directly onto your Plex Media Server, and these channels can be accessed on any device that’s connected to your home wireless network.

Related: 50 Best Plex Channels (Official and Unofficial) – Complete Guide for 2017

What does it cost?

Plex Media Server is totally free to set-up and use, which is one of the reasons that we like it so much. You can access most Plex features without paying a single cent.

However, if you want to support Plex and get access to more features, you can choose to purchase a “Plex Pass”, starting at $4.99/month.

This will allow you to use beta applications, as well as features such as live TV Streaming and DVR.

Related: Plex Pass Review for 2017 – Is it worth the money?

Netflix

netflix
Source: Netflix

The king of online movie streaming is still Netflix – our second pick for the most essential apps for cord-cutters.

Netflix is the top digital streaming service in the world. In fact, it’s been estimated that Netflix is responsible for up to 36% of peak streaming traffic in the US.

Why do I need it?

Netflix began by offering streaming movies and TV from other studios. Netflix has a ton of critically-acclaimed content from major cable networks, such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. Over the years, Netflix has expanded their content to include first-party Netflix Original movies and TV shows.

Netflix Original TV shows

Over the last several years, Netflix has created some exceptional, critically-acclaimed TV shows. These include shows like Stranger Things, the recently-released Mindhunter, House of Cards, and BoJack Horseman.

There are many more exciting shows on the horizon. Netflix has already partnered with Marvel to create shows such as Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist, as well as Marvel’s The Defenders. And early next year, superhero fans can look forward to an all-new Marvel-produced Punisher series on Netflix.

Netflix Original Movies

There are plenty of great Netflix original movies available, too. On Netflix, you’ll find critically-acclaimed dramas like War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba, as well quirky indie flicks like Okja and I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

What does it cost?

Netflix recently announced a price hike, but it’s still very affordable. Basic plans were unaffected. You can stream Netflix in HD on a single device for $7.99 a month. However, if you want to stream on 2 devices simultaneously, you’ll need to purchase a $10.99/monthly plan. And if you want to stream in 4K, you’ll have to fork over $13.99/month.

Hulu

Hulu
Source: Hulu

If you haven’t checked out Hulu in a while, you should give it another look. With Hulu, you get access to recently-aired episodes of hundreds of cable and network TV shows, as well as a large selection of movies.

Why do I need it?

If you watch a lot of cable TV, Hulu is the best way to keep up with your favorite shows – without paying for a cable subscription.

Watch the most recently-released TV shows

Hulu offers streaming, on-demand content from over 50 cable channels, including Comedy Central, A&E, ESPN, TNT, FX, USA Network, and more. This means you can watch the most recently-aired episodes of popular shows such as Mr. Robot, The Walking Dead, and South Park, among hundreds of others. You can also watch content from traditional television networks like FOX, NBC, and CBS.

Watch Hulu Live and On-Demand TV

Recently, Hulu announced a beta program where users can sign up for live TV streaming. This package includes both live and on-demand TV, and spans more than 50 channels, including major sports networks like ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as cable news stations such as CNN and MSBNC.

While it’s not cheap (a base subscription starts at $39.99) Hulu Live and On-Demand TV works very well. If you really need live TV to watch sporting events and news, it’s worth the investment.

Hulu Originals

Following the lead of other streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Hulu recently began creating original content of their own. One of their most recently-released shows, The Handmaid’s’ Tale, took home the 2017 Emmy for “Best Drama Series”.

Hulu also offers original comedy shows like The Mindy Project, and will begin airing a new weekly political commentary show with Sarah Silverman, called I Love You America.

While Hulu still has a while to go before it catches up with Amazon Prime or Netflix in the original shows department, there are many great originals that are available only on Hulu.

What does it cost?

Hulu starts at $7.99 a month. However, this includes advertisements. For an additional $4, you can remove ads from Hulu. If you want to go ad-free, you have to pay $11.99 a month, which is more expensive than a basic Netflix subscription ($7.99) or Amazon Prime Video subscription(around $8).

For live streaming TV, you’ll have to hand over $39.99 a month. While that may seem steep, it’s still quite a bit cheaper than a comparable cable package and on-par with competing services like Playstation VUE, DirecTV NOW and Sling TV.

Crackle

Crackle
Source: Crackle

For cord-cutters looking to save money, Crackle is a good choice. Unlike Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, Crackle is totally free. Instead of charging for a subscription, Crackle is totally ad-supported.

Why do I need it?

Crackle may be the most underrated app on our list. Here’s what we like about it.

Large, constantly rotating selection of movies and TV shows

Crackle has a surprisingly large library of on-demand digital content. The TV selection on Crackle is very diverse, including classic sitcoms like Seinfeld and The Critic, as well as television dramas such as The Shield and Walker, Texas Ranger.

The current selection of films available on Crackle is also impressive. You can watch quirky documentaries like Jodorowsky’s Dune, classic critically-acclaimed films such as Leon: The Professional, as well as more recently-released films like Chappie and The Ides of March.

In total, there are usually around 250 full television episodes and 50 movies available to stream on Crackle. The selection changes often, so there is always something new to watch.

Unique original content

Just like other video streaming services, Crackle has begun producing its own original shows. While Crackle doesn’t have nearly as much original content as a company like Netflix, there are some great content to choose from.

On Crackle you can find dramas such as The Art of More and thrillers like Chosen and StartUp. Other originals include Sports Jeopardy!, and several original films like Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser and The Throwaways.

What does it cost?

Nothing! That’s one of the main reasons we’ve put Crackle on our list. While the selection of content is not as varied as a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, it’s totally free.

IPVanish

IPVanish
Source: IPVanish

If you’re a cord-cutter, you’re going to run into some difficulties with “geo-blocked” web content. Some videos are not yet available in certain countries, and lots of free content, such as the BBC iPlayer, is geo-blocked, and inaccessible in America.

In addition, some people who use Plex channels to stream content from websites have been hit with DMCA notices or warning letters due to “streaming illegal content”, even if they never accessed copyrighted material.

For both of these reasons, a VPN app like IPVanish is a smart investment.

What is a VPN?

VPN is short for “Virtual Private Network”. A VPN allows you to browse the internet through a safe, encrypted connection that shields your network activity from government and ISP spying.

A VPN creates a “virtual” connection between your computer or other device and a specialized server. Then, your web traffic is “funneled” through to the web server via a secure connection. This allows you to protect your internet activity.

In addition, you can use servers located in other countries to access “geo-blocked” content.

Why do I need it?

VPNs allow you to do things such as bypass ISP throttling, use Kodi safely, and unlock geo-blocked content from other countries, such as the UK.

We chose IPVanish because in our in-depth review, it offered the best performance. IPVanish has fast connection speeds, hundreds of servers, and a comprehensive “no-logs” policy that protects your web information.

What does it cost?

You can purchase a month-to-month subscription to IPVanish for $10.00 a month. Alternatively, you can purchase a 3 month subscription for $8.99 a month, or a yearly subscription for $6.49 a month.

Save $870 With the Top 5 Most Essential Apps for Cord-Cutters!

Not sure if cord-cutting is right for you? Let’s do the math!

If you choose the most expensive subscription option for each of our above recommended apps – including live TV from Hulu – your total monthly costs would be $68.96. This is still less expensive than the average cable bill.

You won’t just save money. You’ll also be able to more easily watch your favorite TV shows and movies on just about any device, instead of just your own TV.

I you choose the least expensive subscription option for each above app, your monthly costs would only be $27.46. This would save you nearly $870 per year, assuming your cable bill costs around $99/month.