William the Conqueror, it is said, began by eating a mouthful of English sand.


As I write this, more than 40 million people in the United States alone have cut the cord and banished the cable company from their lives. What we have here, beyond any doubt, is a genuine phenomenon. We're witnessing a kind of cord-cutting frenzy as people of all ages, all regions, and all walks of life thumb their noses at traditional cable and opt, instead, for the freedom of a cable-less lifestyle.

If you're looking to join this movement, I have some good news right off the bat: Unlike William the Conqueror, you don't need to eat a mouthful of sand to get started. Ah, I hear you ask, but where do I start? If you have even a passing familiarity with watching TV without cable, you know that it's a sprawling, labyrinthine, and constantly changing topic. So many shows! So many channels! So many services! So many devices! Where, indeed, do you start?

I'm glad you asked, because that's exactly where Cord Cutting For Dummies comes in. I've traveled the entire cord-cutting landscape from east to west and from north to south. I've connected the devices, subscribed to the services, and installed the apps. The result is the book you're holding (physically or virtually).

About This Book

Cord Cutting For Dummies shows you not only how to get the cable company out of your life but also what to do after that. This book takes you on a tour of all the main (and a few minor) ways to watch TV without cable.

In Part 1, you learn lots of good reasons why you should cut the cord (plus a few sensible reasons why going cordless might not be a good idea for you) and you get a step-by-step plan for going cord-free.

In Part 2, you get your post-cord life off to a free and easy start by learning all about over-the-air TV, where you get high-quality channels free (yep, that's right: free). You learn how over-the-air TV works, what equipment you need, and how to set everything up.

In Part 3, you dive into streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. You learn about streaming media players and smart TVs, and how to get your Internet access ready for streaming. You then check out a bunch of free and paid streaming services.

Finally, in Part 4, you learn ten ways to save money after you've cut the cord and ten tips for troubleshooting streaming problems.

The chapters present their info and techniques in readily digestible, bite-size chunks, so you can certainly graze your way through this book.

Foolish Assumptions

Cord Cutting For Dummies is for people who are new (or relatively new) to cord cutting. This doesn’t mean, however, that the book is suitable for everyone. I've made a few assumptions about what is necessary if you want to flourish in a cable-free world. Here they are:

  • You know how to connect devices to your TV.
  • You have an Internet connection and a Wi-Fi network.
  • You can use a web browser to navigate to a particular website given that site's address.
  • You know the basics of launching and using mobile device apps.

That's about it, really. Cord cutting is a big topic, but it's not one that requires a huge amount of technical literacy. And what literacy you do need I explain as we go along.

Icons Used in This Book

Like other books in the Dummies series, this book uses icons, or little margin pictures, to flag info.

Remember This icon marks text that contains info that’s useful or important enough that you’d do well to store the text somewhere safe in your memory for later recall.

Technical Stuff This icon extra information that either is a bit on the advanced side or goes into heroic, often obscure detail about the topic at hand. Do you need to read it? Not at all. Does that make the text a waste of page real estate? I don’t think so, because the information is useful for folks interested in delving into the minutiae of cord cutting. If that’s not you, ignore away.

Tip This icon marks text that contains a shortcut or an easier way to do things, which I hope will make your life — or, at least, the data analysis portion of your life — more efficient.

Warning This icon marks text that contains a friendly but insistent reminder to avoid doing something. You have been warned.

Beyond the Book

To locate this book's cheat sheet, go to and search for Cord Cutting For Dummies. See the cheat sheet for some recommended streaming media services for kids' programming, sports, and news.

Where to Go from Here

This book consists of a couple of hundred pages. Do I expect you to read every word on every page? Yes, I do. Just kidding! No, of course I don’t. Entire sections — heck, maybe even entire chapters — might contain information that’s not relevant to you.

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the King of Hearts tells Alice that she should, “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” But you don't have to follow his advice here.

However, if you’re just getting started down the cord-cutting road — particularly if you’re not sure you even want to cut the cord — no problem: I’m here to help. To get your cord-cutting education off to a solid start, I highly recommend that you start with Chapter 1 to find out if you really do want to go cable-free. If you do, continue with Chapter 2 to find out how it's done. From there, you can travel to the post-cable territory of Chapters 3 and beyond.

If you have some experience with cord cutting or you have a special interest or question, see the table of contents or the index to find out where I cover that topic, and then turn to that page.

Either way, happy cord cutting!

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