Many people replace their cable with a combination of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling, PlayStation Vue, and Amazon Video. These are all great and between these services you can find the vast majority of the content available on cable and you don't need all of them to watch most of the content you're used to seeing. But there is also a large library of free and legal content available on YouTube.
YouTube is a nearly endless ocean of content ranging from the highest quality productions to people opening boxes while being filmed by a smartphone. The great thing about it is that you can find content in any area covering the topics that you care about the most. But it can also be used to fill some of the content gaps that you might miss after cutting the cable cord.
As a quick note, all of these channels produce legal content. You can find channels full of copywritten material but that isn't the aim of this article.
As is the case with most cord cutting articles, the elephant in the room is sports. It's a content type that holds back many people from cutting the cord but there are some channels that do a good job giving you a sports fix. These names will be very familiar because the rights to most sporting events owned by various networks and leagues but these organizations do a good job of putting highlights and content online.
ESPN and Fox Sports 1:
Each of the major sports leagues make sure to put out their own highlights as well. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all do an excellent job sharing highlight reels and more content covering their respective leagues.
There's also MLS's own channel for soccer content. If you like sports that are more niche or from overseas, there's a good chance they share highlights on their own official YouTube channel.
If you're looking for more local content, many local affiliates will have a regional version of their network or you can find specific networks that focus on an area. Similarly, many teams have their own highlights and content as well including interviews.
Due to sports broadcasts being licensed by networks and leagues, your best bet is to start with leagues, big networks, and specific teams and then build out your subscription list from there.
News and entertainment
People can be touchy when it comes to news networks. Many viewers have loyalty to certain networks based on their political stance, regardless of if networks claim to be fair and balanced. So finding a news channel on YouTube that works for you is going to need to be a bit more personalized.
Each of the major networks has their own YouTube channel but you can also get this content using an OTA tuner. If you want to stay on YouTube you can of course and get content from ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. In addition to clips and segments, many of these networks also put out live content directly to YouTube live for certain stories.
An area that mixes news and entertainment more than just about any type of content is late night comedy. Luckily for those using YouTube, this type of programming is often produced by people who know they have to reach young people through the internet. That means that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Last Week Tonight, The Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live all crank out regular content on YouTube.
The beauty of YouTube is that you can find entire channels dedicated to certain types of news and content. These specialize a lot more than major networks that have to appeal to a wide audience.
If science is your thing, Seeker (formerly DNews) is a great channel. You can also check out asapScience and minutephysics. If you prefer movies and TV you can watch Screenjunkies, WatchMojo, or a plethora of individuals on YouTube such as MrSundayMovies, or Andre the Black Nerd.
If you're looking entertainment news, YouTube has it in spades, probably even more so than cable. Some big-name channels include E!News, TMZ, and Entertainment Tonight but you can also look NickiSwift for punchier shorter clips of entertainment-related content.
Many musical artists have their own official Vevo channel and many singers and songwriters create their own original content and sing covers. The best way to find these is to find a few that you already like and then keep an eye out in the recommended video section on the side of these videos or on your YouTube homepage.
This is just the beginning
As stated earlier, YouTube has an almost countless number of channels. You can find content covering just about any topic that you have even the slightest interest in, from how-tos, to comedy shows, to anything between.
And YouTube actually does a good job of recommending channels and videos for you to watch based on your history. As you subscribe to more channels and watch more videos, your home section with recommended videos becomes more accurate to your taste in videos while also recommending channels that you've never watched before.
It's not cable, but that's okay
YouTube, not including YouTubeTV which an entirely different animal, is not going to replace traditional cable but that isn't a bad thing. YouTube is meant to be a place for content creators large and small to make original content. It's not meant to be a destination for the Big Bang Theory and live sports. But that doesn't mean that you can't help fill some of the gaps cutting the cord creates.
There's a wide variety of content available, much of which is shorter and easier to digest than full-length appointment television. So while YouTube may not be a cord-cutting replacement for cable, it is certainly worth being a regular part of any cord-cutters collection of content.
Which YouTube channels are your favorite to help fill the gap after cutting the cord? Let us know in the comments and on social media.