The 7 best alternatives to traditional cable TV

Even more convenient was when HBO Go came to TVs, set-top boxes and game consoles connected to a big screen by the way of Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Xbox 360.

Showtime, which was dropped along with CBS by Time Warner in the carrier dispute last week, followed HBO's lead by launching Showtime Anytime a few years ago.

Yes, CBS deleted the "log in via your Time Warner account" from its Showtime Anytime website. But that doesn't mean Dexter and Homeland-hungry subscribers are completely out of luck.

Both HBO and Showtime allow the uncouth tactic of asking a friend or family member for their cable account username and password and logging in that way.

Cable companies may hate this as much as you hate blackouts, but at least HBO seems to think that having more people watch their programming is a compliment.

There are also official websites and apps for watching MLB.TV, ABC, NBC, CW, PBS, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime and The Discovery Channel.

All of these channels produce high-quality programming, and they finally realize that TV watchers want more than some second screen features and bonus footage.

Boxee TV

Shut down, but not shut out

4. Boxee TV

Price: $99 Boxee TV from

Thinking about cutting the cord entirely? Think about investing in the Boxee TV from Boxee, even though the company that was recently bought by Samsung and the device isn't being supported anymore.

This still-available Boxee Box successor contains a lot of the same apps that other media streaming devices come with. The difference is that it adds a coaxial input in the back for an antenna. Remember those?

Purchasing an over-the-air antenna allows you to receive your local broadcast stations free of charge - CBS is here along with ABC, NBC, Fox, CW and PBS stations. There are a lot of odd channels you've never heard of too.

What's missing after the Samsung buyout is what Boxee TV used to offer - a way to record high-definition over-the-air programs with the world's first cloud DVR.

This Boxee TV service used to cost $9.99 a month, but now the readily available device just acts as an app-filled box that has the all-important coaxial cable that modern displays lack.


Aereo assault

5. Aereo

Price: $9/month from Aereo

Aereo is also on the forefront of disrupting the cable scene by means of tiny antennas located in a datacenter. Adjacent are cloud-powered DVRs that let you watch and record local stations through the internet.

This offloads the hassle of installing your own antenna, and the channels and DVRs are accessible by mobile and set-top boxes.

The technology behind Aereo has been so much of a disruption that the company was immediately sued when its service launched. The lawsuit was struck down and the controversial service remains.

Aereo starts at just $9 a month for 20GB of cloud DVR space, but watching broadcasts is limited to New York, Boston and Atlanta at the moment.

Aereo is heading to Utah Aug. 19, followed by Chicago on Sept. 13. On Aug. 8, the company announced that Miami, Houston and Dallas are set to receive its service, also in September.

Unfortunately, if you're not located in these areas, you fall outside the range of coverage. The good news, however, is that Aereo is showing no signs of slowing down.

Hulu Plus

Costs money and has ads, but still an option to watch current TV shows

6. Hulu Plus

Price: $7.99/from

While Boxee has you covered when it comes to watching and recording local content, Hulu Plus is still one of the best ways to catch up on shows for $7.99 a month.

That doesn't include CBS shows as the service refers everyone to or Showtime, and it includes ads, even for paying Hulu Plus subscribers.

Nevertheless, the service is jointly owned by Comcast, Disney and 20th Century Fox, so it has plenty of NBC, ABC and Fox shows available on demand. It can take a few days (and sometimes weeks) for new episodes to launch, but if you want to catch up on Master Chef or The Bachelorette, Hulu Plus is your place.


Google's Trojan horse to take over your TV

7. Chromecast

Price: $35 from Best Buy and Google Play

Chromecast may be the rookie media streaming adapter on the market with five of the same apps that other devices have, but it does something unique: it mirrors the Chrome browser to a big-screen TV.

That's pretty valuable when you want to watch TV show episodes that are only available on the web through official websites, but you don't want to watch it on a laptop.

Share the free TV-viewing experience with the entire household thanks the Chrome tab extension that mirrors the browser to Chromecast.

It even allows you to wander away from the tab and keep using your computer. The Chromecast keeps pulling the video data from the internet, freeing up your computer as a second screen.

'The no bundle package'

There's really no silver-bullet solution to replacing traditional TV or overcoming carrier disputes that occur right in the middle of your favorite TV show's season finale.

Apps and websites will only get you so far, and antennas are only good for local stations, not the hundreds of channels offered to you by cable.

However, bundling together two or three of these ideas should get you most of the content that is lost when cutting the cord or enduring a blackout caused by cable company fighting.

It should also enable you to tell your cable company that you're switching to their no bundle package with extreme satisfaction.

Matt Swider