If you’re still paying for cable TV, it’s very likely that you are spending a ton of money each month on your bill that you could be putting towards something that gives you a much better value. After all, cable is a pretty outdated way to watch television, and with most cable companies creating new ways to increase their customers’ rates, you could be getting a much better deal somewhere else.
For people who travel frequently and aren’t home enough to justify the costs of cable anymore, or for those who just aren’t finding anything they like in the channel listings any longer and are therefore looking to slim down their spending, this article is for you!
If you’re ready to cut the cord, we’ve got you covered with a list of alternatives you can choose instead of cable where you can find, watch, and enjoy your favorite content without putting a dent in your wallet.
1. Netflix – Obviously, we have to start off this article with the master of cable alternatives. Though Netflix got its humble start as a mail-in movie rental business, it has now become a streaming platform used by people around the world. From your favorite old shows like Cheers and Friends to the newest Netflix originals, this streaming service has everything you need to enjoy a quality television-viewing experience for far less money than you’d pay monthly for cable TV.
Try Netflix’s Standard streaming plan today for just $12.99/month and watch in High Definition on 2 devices at once, or upgrade to the Premium plan for $15.99/month and watch on 4 devices at once in Ultra HD quality.
2. Hulu – Next, another high-quality streaming service you can rely on that won’t break the bank. The absolute basic package offered by Hulu costs $5.99/month – about the same as those fancy lattes you love to splurge on! With the ability to stream over 85,000 shows, movies, Hulu Originals, and so much more, you will not miss the restrictions of cable. Plus, Hulu is fully customizable because it lets you add on certain features you love like unlimited screens to watch on, an enhanced cloud DVR, and even the Espanol add-on. With the next plan up (the one without ads) costing just $14.99/month, the prices are well-worth what you’ll experience with Hulu.
3. Amazon Prime – If you still think Amazon is only for buying products, think again! Amazon Prime is a stellar streaming service where you can access exciting Amazon Originals and new release titles. Plus, if you already have an Amazon Prime account for shopping purposes, you already are able to stream Amazon Prime Video with your current subscription. To access even more titles, you can add-on premium channels like HBO, Showtime, STARZ, and more.
4. HBO Now – Speaking of premium channels, let’s move on to HBO Now! After giving it a shot during your free 7-day trial, you can decide after whether or not to take the plunge and include HBO in your streaming repertoire. Luckily, you can also cancel or restart your services at any time, and with low costs of just $14.99/month, you might end up loving everything HBO Now can offer you. Don’t forget to check out the student discount rates if you’re currently in college or grad school!
5. Disney+ – Of course, we can’t forget one of the newer additions to the collection of popular streaming platforms. Launched in the late fall of 2019, Disney+ features a wide variety of content that is both original as well as titles belonging to the several networks and franchises that they own including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and others. Disney+ is therefore an excellent streaming choice for families, as it features a healthy mix of entertaining and educational content for children of all ages and for families who love getting together for a movie night!
6. Sling TV – Sling is the newest way to watch the cable shows you love without paying the cable prices you don’t. Watching channels like Disney, TNT, TBS, AMC, Comedy Central, USA, and more is super easy with Sling, and you can even watch the games you love on ESPN, ESPN 2, NFL, and other major networks.
With three different plans, you can choose the way you want to watch television. Start with the lowest package priced at $25/month for channels like Disney, Comedy Central, and Food Network or upgrade to a higher package to get access to even more channels.
7. Get a Digital Antenna – Remember the days of adjusting and readjusting the bunny ear antennas on your old bulky TV set until The Twilight Zone was coming in with only the minimal amount of fuzz? Well, put that image out of your mind, because the antennas of today are nothing like what we had to deal with as kids in the late 90s. Digital antennas are super inexpensive because there aren’t any monthly costs to using them, and they’re a great alternative to cable because they give you all the local channels you love with a high image quality.
8. ESPN+ – For those who might be out of the loop, we want to fill you in and let you know that ESPN+ can actually be purchased as its own service. For just $4.99/month, it serves as a great alternative to cable channels for those who love their sports and can’t get enough football, soccer, and other athletic games. If you’re unsure about how it works, ESPN+ allows customers a 7-day trial to see if they like what they experience.
9. Philo – Philo is a super simple streaming service that costs just $20/month for over 50 live & on-demand TV channels. You can also record as much content as you want or watch your favorite shows on any device via the Philo app – plus, they also offer a 7-day free trial in which you’re free to stream for the first 48 hours without entering any billing info.
10. YouTube TV – While YouTube’s basic platform is a great way to find a wide variety of content for free, the company now has a live streaming service for TV called YouTube TV. For $49.99/month, you can subscribe to YouTube TV and watch over 70 different networks like ESPN, National Geographic, Animal Planet, FX, and so many more that you love to binge. You can also tack on some add-ons like Showtime, AMC, and Starz.
However, it’s important to note that though YouTube TV definitely is cheaper than most cable TV plans, the add-ons can add up very quickly and end up making your price the same as you’d pay for cable.
11. Pluto – Though it sounds hard to believe, Pluto TV is a live TV service that is absolutely free to download and use. You need to sign up with an email address to get the most out of it, but there are no contracts and you never have to give your credit card information. Available in the Google Play Store and the App Store for iOS products, you can watch over 250+ channels and thousands of movies for free wherever and whenever you want.
12. Showbox – Showbox is similar to Pluto TV in that it does not require a subscription, a credit card number, or any personal information at all. Simply download the app to any device you choose and start watching unlimited movies and TV shows for zero costs. Though Showbox does not yet have the ability to let users cast from their devices to a TV, you can download the app to your smart TV and watch it that way instead.
13. Showtime – Showtime Anytime is a live TV service that is now available for free with your Showtime subscription. For just $10.99/month you can get instant access to all the shows and movies that Showtime has to offer without the annoyance of ads. You can also download full episodes to your devices or watch on-demand wherever you are. Plus, with a free 30-day trial, you can test the waters first and determine whether or not Showtime has the content that will help you cut the cord with cable.
14. CBS – If you’re having a hard time leaving stations like CBS behind, try going directly through CBS to watch the content you love. With plans that start at just $5.99/month, you can access thousands of TV series, news & entertainment shows, and sports content from any and all devices you may have at your disposal. Plus, you can cancel anytime, so there’s no need to worry about getting stuck in a long-term contract.
15. FOX – Similar to CBS, FOX has their own platform through which you can access shows, movies, news, and sports. Also starting at $5.99/month, FOX has plans that you will love to use without having to shell out thousands of dollars a year. Get your favorite content on an easy-to-use interface that you can take anywhere and everywhere you go.
16. Fubo – Fubo TV is a live TV platform that gives you a free 7-day trial to try out. With no commitments and the ability to cancel at any time, you can choose from a variety of plans, including ones specially geared towards Spanish-speaking individuals and families. Watch your favorite channels like TLC, Discovery, TV Land, Bravo, and more – all in 4K quality viewing.
17. TV Sticks – Instead of paying through the nose for a bunch of channels you don’t even watch, try out a TV stick instead such as the Amazon Fire Stick. This TV stick in particular has Fire TV and Alexa built directly in the remote, making it easy to find the shows you love and use your voice to make commands. Best yet, the Amazon Fire Stick is just $50 and allows users to watch in 4K quality.
18. Crunchyroll – Anime and Manga fans will love the versatility of Crunchyroll. Starting at just $7.99/month, you can find a premium plan that suits your interests and budget and enjoy an entire library of ad-free HD shows that you love, like Naruto Shippuden, One Piece, and My Hero Academia. Plus, Premium members can watch simulcasts from Japan as soon as one hour after they’ve been broadcast in Japan.
19. Apple TV+ – We can’t leave out our iOS friends! With Apple TV+, you can pay as low as $5/month or even get it for up to a year for free when you buy an Apple product. Watch your favorite shows and the top movies of the moment on any Apple device, as well as Roku devices, LG or Samsung smart TVs, or even with Fire TV from Amazon. If you’re a student, you can take further advantage of Apple TV+ by adding the Apple Music Student Plan for free!
20. Vudu – Much like Amazon Prime video, Vudu is a place where you can rent movies online – only you don’t have to pay any monthly subscription costs! Though you do have to make an account, you can rent movies at your leisure without having to commit outright to a long-term plan. Most titles range from 99 cents to $5.99, so there’s no limit to how often you want to stream new releases that would cost way more in the theater.
21. Xbox Video – If you’re a video gamer with an Xbox to spare, then Xbox Video might be the perfect cable alternative for you. For no additional costs (other than your subscription costs, of course), you can add your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Disney+ onto your console and enjoy them however you please. With no limit to the amount or types of apps, you can add music, TV, movie, or other streaming apps to get access to your beloved entertainment content all in one place.
22. Family Video – Did you forget already about the beauty of video rental stores? Family Video is still a prominent player in this industry and has a huge range and variety of old classic films and new releases. Since each movie is only a few bucks (as long as you don’t rack up late fees by returning the movie past its return date), you can make movie night a lot more enjoyable and inexpensive than it would be at the theater by enjoying a top-rated film in the comfort of your own home. Don’t forget to splurge on some snacks on the way out!
23. Redbox – Many grocery stores and chain stores like Walmart have a section where they keep their Redbox. For introverts who want to choose a movie in peace, Redbox allows you to enter your info, choose your movie, and pay for it without ever talking to a customer service associate. When you’re finished enjoying the movie, simply return it to the box and pop it back in through the return slot.
24. Visit Your Local Library – If you’ve forgotten the beauty and convenience that a library can encapsulate, it might be time to visit a public library that is local to you. Not only do most libraries have a wide selection of DVDs that you can check out with your library card, but many also streaming services attached to them for free like Kanopy and Hoopla where you can watch movies and TV shows with your library card.
Keep in mind that there may be restrictions on how many titles you can watch a month, but if you’re looking to cut costs, this could be a good solution for you.
What Technology Do I Need for These Cable Alternatives?
Though for some alternatives listed like the antenna which needs to be plugged into a wall outlet to function properly, the majority of other services listed in this post only require you to have a stable internet connection. As we said previously, you do need to pay for many of the streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, though the others such as Pluto and Showbox don’t require any credit cards to be entered because they’re completely free to use.
Just make sure you have a reliable internet connection with fast enough speeds to handle video streaming, and you’ll be on your way to watching the TV you love without the hefty costs and difficult contracts of cable television.
How Much Money Can Cutting Cable TV Save You?
For many people who have already cut the cord from their cable provider, their reason for doing so is often because the shows they found themselves watching were predominately from streaming services like the ones we listed for you above, or because they weren’t finding anything they enjoyed watching on cable.
Additionally, so many ex-cable customers explain that they were on the phone with their cable company multiple times in a year haggling over their bill and making threats about cancelling their service just to get discounted rates. After all, cable companies are known for hiking up customers’ rates as often as every few months which can be even more frustrating when you’re not fully satisfied with your particular plan’s service or channel selections anyways.
Cable customers often pay at least $100-$200 a month for television – absolutely unreal rates, especially when you could combine multiple streaming services and pay less than you would with cable. So, why continue to empty your wallet to your cable provider when you can cut the cord and move on to better alternatives and solutions?
Buyer Beware: Don’t Over Stack Services
Though the alternative cable services listed above can save you thousands of dollars more per year than you would save with a traditional cable provider, it’s vital to note that going a little too crazy can cost you just as much. For example, paying for subscriptions to Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu can cost around $42-48/month depending on the plans you choose, which would be more versatile and less expensive than something like a basic DirecTV plan priced at $59.99/month. However, if you also tack on Amazon Prime and Disney+, you can end up paying about the same as you would with cable.
Of course, having all of these platforms will still generally give you a wider variety of content than cable, but if the idea of cutting the cord with cable is to save you money, then swapping DISH Network or Spectrum for multiple streaming services isn’t going to do much for your budget.
Instead, pick three (maybe four, depending on the plans you choose and your personal budget) services to choose from by researching their content libraries and determining which would be the best fit for you. For example, though Amazon has an extensive children’s section, Disney+ might be better for your family if you have young children who love cartoons, educational nature documentaries, and Disney classic films.
You’ll thank yourself for putting in a bit of research, and you’ll get your wish by saving way more money than you would with a traditional cable TV package.