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The ad hater’s guide to cord-cutting

Written by corres2

For some cord-cutters, extricating themselves from cable isn’t just about a lower TV bill. It’s also about escaping from advertising.

When you ditch cable or satellite TV, it’s possible to set up a plan in which you’ll never have to sit through commercial breaks again. While the right combination of hardware and streaming services can cost a bit more, the added expense is worthwhile if you hate being interrupted by advertisements.

Here’s what you need to consider for an ad-free cord-cutting setup:

Use ad-free streaming services

The most obvious way avoid ads as a cord-cutter is to choose commercial-free streaming services. That way, your viewing experience will never be interrupted by annoying ad breaks.

The list of ad-free streaming services is long, so subscribing to lots of them at the same time would waste an absurd amount of money. My advice, as always, is to pick one or two “base” services that will comprise most of your TV viewing, then add or drop others on a month-to-month basis.

As I noted last week, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu have the largest selections of streaming TV shows by far. Netflix and Prime are ad-free by default, with the former costing $13 per month for HD video or $16 per month for 4K HDR, and the latter costing $9 per month for just video and $120 per year with other Prime benefits (free shipping, etc.). Hulu’s commercial-free service costs $12 per month, twice the price of its standard plan.

Ben Patterson/IDG

Netflix is just one of many ad-free streaming services for cord-cutters.

From there, you can start plugging in additional streaming services based on your needs and interests:

  • Disney+ ($7 per month or $70 per year) is great for Marvel and Star Wars fans, as well as for family-friendly programming.
  • HBO Max ($15 per month) combines HBO’s prestige programming with other content from the WarnerMedia catalog.
  • CBS All Access ($10 per month or $100 per year without ads) provides next-day access to CBS shows and a growing number of originals.
  • Peacock ($10 per month, launching July 15) has shows from NBC and movies from Universal.
  • Showtime ($11 per month), Starz ($9 per month), and Epix ($6 per month) have all the same programming as their cable channel counterparts.
  • Apple TV+ ($5 per month, $50 per year, or free for a year with a new Apple device) offers a small but growing number of original movies and shows.
  • YouTube Premium ($12 per month) removes ads from YouTube across all your streaming devices.

Some streaming services are available for free, even without advertisements. Hoopla and Kanopy let you check out free movies and shows with a library card (if your local library participates), while the PBS and PBS Kids apps provide lots of on-demand video from public broadcasting. (An optional $5-per-month PBS Passport donation entitles you to a larger selection.)


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