You can save some money if you decide to start using a streaming service or satellite TV instead of cable. You can have all the cable channels you want and save money every month. Streaming services will give you more content than you can watch at half the price of cable TV services.
The only thing you need to watch TV without satellite or cable is a solid and fast internet connection. If you want to pick up local channels and watch the majority of popular shows, sports and news, you can buy an antenna. You probably already own streaming devices such as tablets, cell phones, etc. But you should consider investing in a device that will be connected directly to your TV. Next, let’s take a look at some of the best cable alternatives currently on the market.
Live TV Streaming
There’s a reason why streaming services have gained so much popularity lately, as they offer the best features available at best prices. Whether you want a more budget-friendly option, the highest channel count or the best DVR, live TV streaming has something for everyone.
Here are the most popular providers, their prices, and channel counts:
- AT&T Watch App — $15 a month for over 30 channels
- Philo TV — $16–$20 a month for 37–46 channels
- Sling TV — $25–$40 a month for 30–50 channels
- Hulu with Live TV — $39.99–$43.99 a month for 60 channels
- YouTube TV — $40 a month for 73 channels
- DIRECTV NOW — $40–$75 a month for over 120 channels
- fuboTV — $44.99–$49.99 a month for 74–90 channels
- PlayStation Vue — $44.99–$79.99 a month for 49–90 channels
DIRECTV NOW is DIRECTV’s way of offering its satellite TV for those who don’t want to be locked into long contracts. You can also add HBO for $5 a month. That is a great deal, considering most providers will charge at least $15 a month for it. You will also be able to view some of the most popular networks like the Travel Channel, Sundance TV, and HGTV. Furthermore, their cloud DVR allows you to record 20 hours of live TV that you can keep for 30 days.
With some of the most popular channels and the price of only $25 a month — Sling TV gives you great value for your money. However, if you like to binge-watch your favorite shows, Hulu has a huge library of on-demand content. While YouTube TV is good, it’s still not available in many areas.
Streaming platforms allow you to watch your favorite shows on a flexible schedule and without having to sign any long-term contracts. The only downside is that you won’t be able to watch live TV with these services. But you can still view original content and on-demand movies and shows.
Here are some of the best streaming platforms and their prices:
- CBS All Access — $5.99–$9.99 a month
- Hulu — $7.99–$11.99 a month
- Netflix — $7.99–$13.99 a month
- Amazon Prime — $12.99 a month or $99 a year
- HBO NOW — $14.99 a month
Netflix is the king of original content. Their hit shows like “Stranger Things” and “Peaky Blinders” have solidified the platform’s popularity. The streaming service also offers a variety of movies, and its library is constantly expanding.
Hulu also offers fan-favorite shows, such as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” on-demand. Amazon Prime is not the most up to date when it comes to their movie selection, but it offers many classics. However, their original programs haven’t taken off yet, except for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
If you want to watch it all, you can combine a live TV streaming service such as Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW with Hulu or Netflix. Also, Hulu Live TV includes everything from Hulu’s regular library in case you want to watch both and not subscribe to two services.
Investing in an antenna allows you to have access to local HD channels forever, with a single payment. Most people don’t know this, but you can get great local channels if you buy an indoor TV antenna. You can also view the ones such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC in HD and for free.
Best indoor antennas and their prices:
- Vansky — a one-time payment of $24.95
- Mohu Leaf — a one-time payment of $39.95
- Clearstream Eclipse — a one-time payment of $39.99
Keep in mind that providers change their prices quite frequently, so you should always make sure to check the pricing available on Amazon — as it might be lower there.
A lot of streaming services don’t offer the greatest selection of local channels. Buying an HD antenna is the best way to circumvent that downside. However, if you can’t find a good spot in your home to install it, an HD antenna might not be the best option for you.
The Best Streaming Devices
Streaming devices are great for when you want to watch something on your TV and easily control it without using a remote. They are also known as streaming players, and when you link your TV to the internet, you can use apps like DIRECTV NOW, Sling TV, and Hulu. All of these players come with their interface from which you can select different apps and games.
Here are a couple of best streaming devices and their prices:
- Chromecast — $35
- Roku — $39
- Fire TV — $89.98
- Apple TV — $199.99
You can also opt out of buying a specialized device and use things you already have in your home, such as:
- Smart TVs
Depending on your phone and the service you use, you should be able to cast the screen on your TV. Tablets work similarly to phones, except they have bigger screens, which are better if you want to watch content on the go. You can also hook up your computer’s HDMI cable to your TV to stream content directly. However, if you already have a Smart TV, you will also have all of these apps ready to use, and you won’t need any additional devices.
More Cable Alternatives
If you don’t like any of the best cable alternatives for you so far, here are a couple more ways you can watch your favorite shows. Keep in mind that while some of these methods come at no monetary cost, others might cost you an arm and a leg.
Borrow Someone Else’s Login
Most providers’ websites will require you to log in to use their streaming services. You could ask the people you know to lend you their username and password to find out what happened in the latest episode of “The Bachelor.” However, if you’re the person who used to give out Netflix logins like candy, you know that this isn’t a long-term solution. Constantly using someone else’s account could even cause friction between the two of you.
Visit the Network’s Website
You can watch so many great shows on the network’s website at no cost. Although you will have to log in to gain access to certain shows, a lot of fan favorites are available for free. You can find shows like “Modern Family” on ABC, “This Is Us” on NBC, and “New Girl” on FOX without even signing in.
If you don’t watch a wide range of content that spans across different networks, you can simply buy an individual app created by a network or service provider. For example, if you only want to watch GOT, you can purchase the HBO Go app for only $15 a month. You can also get the SHOWTIME if you want to watch shows like “Who Is America.”
As you can tell, you can save a lot of money if you start using a streaming service. You can save thousands of dollars throughout a couple of years if you switch to providers like DIRECTV, DISH or Comcast. Next, let’s take a look at the money pits you’ll avoid if you use some of the best cable alternatives.
The rental fees for a single device can range anywhere from $10 to $20 a month. Thus, you will save as much as $300 a year on a single receiver. If you have a big family or live with many roommates, the savings will be even greater. You won’t have to pay for every individual device you want to use and will be able to save more money over time.
Getting ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 a month if you use cable service. However, if you buy an HD antenna, you will be able to watch these channels for a one-time payment of $20–$40.
Cable companies seem to think that watching content in HD is a luxury, and thus, charge you upwards of $10 to do so every month. But streaming services know that is an absolute must and offer 720p quality at the very least. Most of the time, you will be able to watch content in 1080p or more, and you won’t have to pay extra for it.
You might have to pay your cable company anywhere from $3 a month to watch sports. Although this isn’t a lot of money, why pay for something you can get for free? An antenna will give you access to all sports channels you can imagine — without the added fees.
Cable companies do have to pay to gain access to certain networks, but it’s you who has to foot the bill. Although these fees aren’t usually more than a couple of bucks, why would you pay for them when you don’t have to? It’s time to cut the cord and switch to any of the best cable alternatives mentioned so far.
On top of all of these, there are even more surcharges that keep piling on your bill. These may include franchise fees, FCC regulatory fees, as well as many others, depending on the provider and channels available.
Best Cable Alternatives — DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV
You can’t go wrong with any of the services listed, especially considering they all offer free trials. Depending on whether you want the most channels no matter the price or are looking for a more budget-friendly option, these two providers offer the best service.
DIRECTV NOW offers a huge variety of content even with their cheapest package. However, their prices are some of the highest on the market. You will also receive two simultaneous streams with every package, and you can pay an additional monthly fee to add a third device. Moreover, the provider won’t charge any additional fees if you want to switch from cable to their streaming services, and you won’t even have to sign a contract.
Just because Sling TV offers inexpensive packages, this doesn’t mean their service is inferior in any way. Although you get less content overall, you will still be able to watch some of the most popular premium channels. Also, if you want to watch EPIX or SHOWTIME at no additional cost, go with Sling TV.
All of the best cable alternatives mentioned are by far superior to cable with their features, prices, and channel options. Also, the majority of them offer amazing DVRs that make them even more convenient for your binge-watching your favorite shows. However, not every streaming service is the same. So always make sure to do your research to get all the features and channel options you want.
By switching from cable, you can opt out of being locked into contracts without missing out on your favorite channels. With these best cable alternatives, you can mix and match packages and providers to customize your viewing preferences and needs. You have nothing to lose, and you can try out most of these services for a free trial period to see if they fit your needs.