Cable and satellite tv can be expensive and huge drains on your monthly budget. There are several alternatives to cable and satellite tv, but it can tough to choose the best substitute for cable tv.
Here is my list of top cheap cable alternatives to help make the decision easier while slashing your tv bill!
According to USA Today, the average monthly tv bill in 2017 was $100.98. That translates to spending around $1,200 a year just on tv – Yikes!
We were spending about $150 a month – just on cable (insert groan here). Many people even spend upwards of $300 a MONTH on their cable bill. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but it's probably more common than you realize.
About 3 and a half years ago, we decided to cut the cord. We hated paying huge monthly cable bills and felt that we could save a lot of money by using alternatives to cable and satellite for watching tv.
We aren't huge tv watchers, but we do have certain shows that we really enjoy and follow. And we wanted to try different substitutes for tv options with the hope that we only pay for what we want. I don't know about you, but I HATE paying for huge packages just so that I can get the 8 or 10 channels that I want.
Personally I'm loving the move to a la carte tv!
Exploring The Best Alternative To Cable and Satellite TV
Luckily, in this day and age, there are so many great alternatives to cable TV! There are substitutes available for people who want to watch current seasons of shows, those who love sports or want to binge on entire series or lots of movies,
Even though getting rid of cable seems like an easy way to save some money, it can be hard for many people to take the leap.
Today, I’m going to walk you through the best alternatives to cable and satellite tv so you can finally ditch cable and start saving money right away.
How to Watch TV Without Cable Or Satellite: 12 Great Cheap Cable Alternatives.
If you are paying for cable TV, just think of what else you could do with that money if you found one of the many great alternatives to cable TV!
By learning how to cut the cord and get rid of cable, you can learn how to save money (a lot, in fact!) over your lifetime. That money could be better spent on retirement, traveling, family, and more.
1. Cutting The Cord Is Simple With A Digital Antenna.
I don't know about you, but when I think about antennas, I picture the old ugly classic rabbit ears that we had when I was a kid. With those rabbit ears, we only got a few channels and only 1 or 2 were decently clear.
I admit that when my husband suggested we use a digital antenna, I cringed. But when he told me how far antennas have come, I was game to try.
For a very modest $15-$20 investment, a digital antenna can let you cut cable while still getting local (and other) channels without monthly fees!
Antennas are now all digital (and give a picture in HD), and that means they are sleek and allow you to watch your favorite TV shows with crystal clear reception.
Before you invest in a digital antenna, check to see if you have a smart TV that has an antenna built-in. If you do, it should find local channels for you for no additional cost.
Honestly, Netflix is my favorite way to watch TV because it has some GREAT shows and movies. A modest monthly fee and no commercials make Netflix one of my top cheap cable alternatives.
Netflix regularly changes what they offer adding more titles and occasionally removing some. This keeps the service feeling new and interesting. It’s also impressively good at learning the types of shows you like and making recommendations – it's nearly always on point for me.
For several years now, Netflix has been devoting a lot of time and money into creating original content, including popular shows like Ozark, Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, Arrested Development, and more.
There are three Netflix pricing plans:
- Basic ($8.99/mo): gives you unlimited movies and shows on ONE device.
- Standard ($12.99/mo): Unlimited shows and movies with HD picture quality; can watch on up to two screens at a time.
- Premium ($15.99/mo): This plan has HD and Ultra HD picture quality; can watch unlimited shows and movies on Netflix on up to four devices at a time.
3. Amazon Prime Video
I'm a big fan of Amazon Prime Video! Like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video has been devoting huge amounts of resources to creating original content (you gotta check out Red Oaks, Sneaky Pete, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).
Amazon Prime Video also has new releases and classics of your favorite movies and shows.
If you currently have an Amazon Prime subscription, then you already have access to Amazon Prime Video (if you aren't already a Prime member, you can get a 30-day FREE TRIAL). This makes watching through Amazon Prime Video a good way to reduce your number of monthly subscriptions.
Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime Subscription, which is $119 per year or $8.99 per month. There are also premium channel add-ons like HBO, Showtime, and more (which we have purchased for limited times to watch shows like True Detective and Ray Donovan).
>>Get your first 30 days FREE <<(plus enjoy lots of other benefits of Prime membership).
If you want to watch the current season of your favorite network shows, Hulu is one of the best cheap cable alternatives for you.
Similar to Netflix and Amazon Prime, Hulu has been busy releasing original content with Hulu Original series like Castle Rock, The Path, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Casual. Hulu also caters to movie lovers with a good library of movies.
And, while some streaming services are starting to increase their monthly costs, Hulu has actually lowered the cost of their lowest level of service from $7.99/month to $5.99/month.
Hulu’s plan options include:
- Hulu $5.99/mo: stream over 85,000 episodes of your favorite shows, movies, and Hulu Originals.
- Hulu (No Ads) $11.99/mo: same as the above, but you get an ad-free experience (yes, please!).
- Hulu + Live TV $44.99/mo: You get access to everything in Hulu’s library and streaming live TV.
- Hulu Premium Networks $8.99-$14.99/mo: You can pay for premium cable channels when you want them, including HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.
Hulu also lets you customize your plan even more with add-ons like unlimited screens, enhanced cloud DVR, Espanol add-on, and more. It's truly an a la carte experience.
5. Sling TV
Sling is a great option for live tv. We have had it for a couple of years now. It gives you access to shows on some of the most popular networks, including HGTV, Disney, AMC, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, and more.
Unfortunately, if you want local channels, Sling doesn't currently provide them in many markets – check your market to be sure.
Sling TV is one of the best alternatives to cable TV for sports lovers because it has ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, NFL Network, and add-ons like SEC Network, NHL Network, and NBA TV. I will say that from our own personal experience, Sling lacks a little in providing the big name sporting events: the Superbowl, the World Series, and more.
Sling also regularly runs promotions for free streaming devices (right now it's an Amazon Fire TV Stick) when you sign up and pay for a couple of months of service.
- Orange $25/month (first month is $15) includes channels like Disney, Food Network, ESPNs, TBS, Comedy Central, and more.
- Blue $25/month (first month is $15) includes channels like USA, AMC, Lifetime, TruTV, and more.
- Sling Blue and Orange Combo $40/month (first month is $25) includes all the channels in Blue and Orange.
Looking For Other Ways To Slash Yor Monthly Expenses? Check Out:
6. YouTube TV
YouTube now has their own live TV service, and you can watch shows from 70+ different networks – including ESPN, Bravo, Animal Planet, TLC, National Geographic, FX, and more.
YouTube TV costs $49.99 a month, and there are some add-ons available, such as:
- Showtime $7 month
- AMC $5 a month
- Starz $9 a month
- NBA League Pass $40 a month
As the most expensive option on this list, YouTube TV alone is nearly half the cost of the average cable bill. Be sure to consider this when thinking about adding options.
But I will say that YouTube TV allowed us to watch the World Series when we couldn't watch it on Sling (we used the free trial to do that).
Philo offers simple pricing and gives you access to over 50 channels for live and on-demand TV, unlimited recording, and there is a Philo app to watch it on any of your devices. And, it has some of the most popular channels, like AMC, TLC, Nickelodeon, Food Network, and more.
Philo is only $20 a month. There is a 7-day free trial, and you don’t have to enter any billing information for the first 48 hours of your free trial.
8. HBO Now
HBO Now is available through many other streaming services, like Hulu and Amazon Prime, but HBO Now is available on its own if you only want to pay for HBO shows and movies. The cost is the same whether you purchase it as an add-on or on it’s own, and there is a student discount available:
- HBO Now is $14.99 per month.
- Comes with a 7-day free trial.
- You can cancel and restart whenever you want.
- HBO Now can be streamed on multiple devices.
Disney+ – the newbie on the block – offers classic Disney movies, original series, short-form content, and documentaries. Disney owns several franchises and networks, so these are also available on Disney Plus:
- Star Wars
- National Geographic
- Fox classics like the Sound of Music (I ws so excited to find this!)
This is a great option for families at a relatively low cost – Disney+ will be $6.99 a month and includes unlimited downloads, access across devices, and more.
Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN, and there is a discounted bundle package including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ that runs $12.99 per month.
PLUS for a limited time, if you have an unlimited plan with Verizon, you can get ONE YEAR OF DISNEY+ FREE (we're currently binging on the new Star Wars series Mandalorian thanks to this free access!) AND EVEN MORE – save on Verizon with Rakuten (and get a cash bonus just for signing up!)
10. The library
Not only is the library a cheap cable alternative – it’s completely free!
Libraries have a HUGE selection of movies (even new releases), complete series of TV shows, and more.
And what's more, many libraries have partnerships with other libraries, so if you can’t find what you want at one library, it’s might be available at another.
Many libraries now give you digital access with your library card to TV and movies through free services like:
There may be some restrictions on how many shows and movies you can watch a month, but free is a great thing if you’re cutting the cord to save money.
Calling all sports lovers! ESPN+ is one of the lowest cost alternatives to cable TV. It’s $4.99 per month and you can watch live sporting events and ESPN+ Originals.
12. Go straight to the source.
For some cable and network channels, you can go straight to their website online and watch their TV shows right there for free. Internet access is all you need in order to do this!
Depending on the channel, you might only be able to watch the most recent episodes or ones that are a little older.
There ya go! 12 GREAT cheap cable alternatives all cost $50 or less (with most being significantly less).
How Much Money Are We Saving By Using Alternatives To Cable And Satellite?
We cut the cord years ago because we couldn't stand paying so much money for so many channels we just weren't watching yet not getting certain channels that we wanted without paying even more.
The other thing that drives me nuts about our cable company was that we had regular price increases on something that was already super expensive. An extra $20-$25 a month is insane!
I don't know about you, but I just don't have time to talk to our cable company every six months so that I could negotiate our cable bill down.
Since cutting the cord, we pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sling. And even with all those tv options, we are saving over $1,200 per year.
Seriously, that's an insane amount of money to save!
Cutting the cord and using one of these top alternatives to cable will change your life – for the better! Check out these cheap cable alternatives and start saving money right away!
Are you thinking about getting rid of cable? What alternatives to cable TV do you have?
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