Let’s be factual: Cable television is costly.
Nothing’s better than lying down on the couch, with food to watch TV after a long hard day at work.
Well, it might be one of my favorite daily rituals after work and even yours but paying the exorbitant bill at the end of the month is sure not.
Advancements in technology have provided us with many alternatives to cable TV, such as live streaming, internet, Netflix etc. With these alternatives you can watch your favorite shows, movies, news and sports without paying for expensive cable TV.
We personally have been using a combination of cable TV alternatives in 2020; an antenna for the local channels, a live streaming service and Netflix for entertainment and sports.
This is the exact reason why a lot of people have cut the cord and opted for cable TV alternatives, as it saves a lot of money which could be spent on other needs of living or even traveling.
There are many cable TV alternatives present today. But a lot of options can be confusing and hard to choose from. Therefore, I have prepared this detailed guideline on the best cable TV alternatives out there in the market.
But one thing you need to keep in mind is that you will need a stable internet connection for most of these alternatives.
All these alternatives to cable TV vary in the content they offer and the cost but are much more affordable and convenient than cable TV packages. These options cover everything that you get on cable TV from local news channels to sports and offer even more variety than the cable TV.
Cable TV Alternatives for Local Channels
People who turn on their TV just to watch the local channels are the most reluctant to cut the cord, why?
Because they are made to think that they cannot get local channels without cable. That’s a tactic cable companies use to stop people from cutting the cord.
You can watch your local channels without cable and nearly for free with an Antenna. No, not the ugly, big ones for which you have to climb the roof and put it on top of the house to catch signals.
You must also be thinking of the blurry, noisy screen after reading the word antenna. But worry not, since we are talking about digital antennas that are slim, small and can be placed right next to your TV.
Their installation is easy, allowing you to watch your local channels in crystal clear image and are relatively cheap as you don’t have to pay a monthly cost.
You only have to buy the antenna once and that’s it, no other charges for you whole life. For people who live in rural areas or far away from the broadcast towers, an outdoor antenna with good reception will work.
There are many good digital antennas that you can purchase such as Mohu, 1byone, Wsky and Antennas Direct etc.
Channels Available: local news, sports and entertainment channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and independent stations.
Cost “One-time antenna purchase approximately”
Note One antenna will connect to one TV only, if you have more than one television you will need an antenna for each one
2-Live Streaming Services
If you only want to watch local shows than the antenna will suffice but most cord cutters want to watch most of the channels available on cable.
The best alternative for that is Live streaming services that offer a lot of different channels including sports, entertainment, and local news but are less costly than the cable TV. So, if sports are a must watch in your house than live streaming services maybe the best option out there for you.
All the live TV streaming options vary in the list of channels they offer, price and cloud recording service.
So, it’s important that you thoroughly check which channels are being offered to make sure what you want to watch is included.
We have briefly described the best live Tv streaming services available in the market, the different channels they offer and the cost.
Hulu is a live streaming service that allows you to watch your favorite channels and shows without having to overpay for it or become locked in a fancy contract.
When we cut off cord, we tried a bunch of streaming services and found Hulu the better one. Why? Because it offers a lot of variety in channels at a lower cost.
Basic Hulu or just Hulu resembles Netflix in that it offers original Hulu content, and shows from specific major channels like ABC, CBS, Fox along with some cable networks.
All this at only $5.99 per month, a quite affordable and cheap means of entertainment.
Hulu Basic Comes With:
But the drawback to Hulu is that you have to wait 24 hours after a show has aired to watch it on Hulu.
If you don’t want to wait 24 hours than either watch the original Hulu content, that are available right away, or upgrade to Hulu Live.
Hulu Live: is in simple words an upgrade to basic Hulu or Hulu with Live Tv channels. Its just like cable without the expensive contract and exorbitant fees.
Hulu Live provides more content than whatcable Tv offers at nearly half the price. At $54.99 per month, with Hulu Live you get:
|Basic Hulu||Basic Hulu without ads||Hulu Live||Hulu Live without ads|
|Content||Ad-Supported Hulu Library content||Ad-Free Hulu Library Content||Ad-supported Hulu library Content 65+ Channels||Ad-Free Hulu Library content 65+ channels|
|Free Trial||30 days||30 days||7 days||7 days|
What my family likes the most about Hulu live is the cloud DVR service and the ability to watch on two screens which has put an end to the daily fights on the remote.
Now me and my sisters watch our favorite Tv shows on the lounge Tv while our brother gets his daily football dose on the other one.
The cloud DVR storage lets us record the shows we are not able to watch during the day.
The Hulu channel list is an extensive one, containing most of what there is to watch on the Tv; news, entertainment, sports. And what’s not available can be added to Hulu Live as an adds on.
Unlike Cable Tv you can watch Hulu on almost any device, even your mobile phone. the Hulu compatible devices include: Samsung, LCD and any other smart Tv, Tablets, Laptop, desktop computers, IOS, Android, Apple Tv, Roku, Amazon Fire stick and many more.
One of the main drawbacks of Hulu is that it has Ads. If you are used to watching cable Tv than it won’t be much of a nuisance. Otherwise, Hulu has a Hulu without ads plan as well but in reality, it is also not completely free of ads.
In short words Hulu Live is much better than cable Tv as it offers the best cable content along with On-demand content.
Channel lineup: 65+ channels and original Hulu shows Cost: $54.99 per month and $60.99 per month for no ads
Sling is one of the best Cable Tv alternatives out there in terms of customization and options. It is the cheapest way to cut the cord and watch live Tv, especially live sports which stops many people from cutting the cord.
Sling Tv is just like live Tv except that it’s streamed via the internet. Sling, run by Dish Network offers three different packages; Sling Orange, Sling Blue and sling Orange/Blue.
But with Sling orange, you can only stream at one screen at a time. This package provides a great mix of sports, entertainment and lifestyle channels with ESPN being the main highlight.
This package channel lineup doesn’t include ESPN, Disney and many other sling orange channels just like Sling Orange doesn’t come with Fox and NBC.
But not only does it have Fox sports it also includes NBC Sports and NFL sports, making it a perfect choice for sports fans. Another key point of this package is that it provides 3 screens at a time, so you won’t have to fight with your siblings for showtime.
Sling Tv lives up to be the most customizable Live streaming service out there by providing specific Add-Ons, which it calls Sling Extras. With these extras, you can customize your Tv for the content you want to watch.
The most prominent extras available are Sports extra (NBA TV, NHL, RedZone, ESPN channels), comedy extra( CMT, Logo, MTV etc.), Kids extra, News extra, Lifestyle extra, HBO and Showtime.
Free Trial: If you are still not sure which package to choose then try the free 7-day trial by Sling TV.
Compatible Devices: Smartphones, tablets, Laptops, computers, TV.
Cost: 30 per month for Orange and Blue package, $45 for Orange/Blue
The channel lineup includes CBS, ESPN, HGTV, ABC, Fox, MLB Network, CNN, Disney, etc. In 2019, dedicated channels for kids, PBS and PBS Kids were added to the YouTube TV channel Lineup.
Just like YouTube, YouTube Tv’s interface is also very simple and easy to use as it is to find shows to watch. An unlimited cloud DVR storage is available which means that you can save as many shows as you want and watch them later.
The recordings are kept for nine months. Moreover, you can stream YouTube TV at 3 devices simultaneously, making it an economical choice for students and big households where many people want to watch TV at the same time.
Free Trial: A 5-day free trial is available.
Cost: $50 per month
Compatible devices: Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, iPhone, iPad, Tablets, Samsung, LG
If you are not a sports fan than Philo might be the option for you. Philo is a live streaming service that doesn’t include sports channels in its channel lineup.
If you are a sports fan or you have kids who love watching Disney, then Philo is not the one for you as both are not included in Philo’s package.
But as compared to other live streaming services like Hulu Live, Sling and YouTube Tv, Philo offers a lot at nearly half the price, it includes:
- 59 channels
- Unlimited Cloud DVR storage
- Saved shows will be available for 30 days.
- 3 screens
To stream Philo, you only need a compatible device and a high-speed internet connection.
Compatible devices: Mac and Windows (on a web browser), iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.
Cost: $20 per month
Free Trial: Philo also offers a hassle and tension free 7-day free trial which can be availed by providing just your mobile number. Payment details need to be provided on the 2nd day of trial for continuation.
Fubo Tv is specially tailored for the sports fans out there that cannot live without their daily dosage of soccer.
Fubo TV offers a variety of sports channels including NBCSN, Olympic Channel, NFL, NBA, MLB, FS1, CBS Sports, Gold Channel, Big Ten Network and regional sports network along with some news and entertainment channels.
Even though it includes a variety of sports channels, but ESPN is not included in any of the plans, which is quite a disappointment to some sports fans.
Fubo offers 4 different plans:
- Standard: At $55 per month, it includes 103 channels, 30 hours of cloud DVR storage and sharing on 2 screens.
- Family: At $60 per month, it offers 103 channels, 500 hours of Cloud DVR storage, and 3 screens.
- Ultra: Starting at $75 for the first 3 months and then $80, it includes 169 channels, 37 entertainment channels, SHOWTIME, Sports Plus, 500 hours of Cloud DVR storage and 3 Screens.
- Latino Quarterly: Billed every 3 months, for $20 per month, it includes 30 Latin channels, 500 hours of Cloud DVR storage and 2 Screens.
Compatible devices: mart Tv, Android, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, IOS, Amazon
Free Trial: You need to enter the payment details to start a 7-day free trial
AT&T TV Now is the same as a normal cable with News, Sports, entertainment etc. and costs nearly the same too, starting at $65-$135 per month depending on the package you choose.
Owned by the DirecTV, it was one of the best streaming services with a lot of channels until the prices were increased in early 2019.
Now the basic plan costs $65 per month and includes 45+ channels which are less than what other streaming services provide.
There are many packages available, but the most popular two packages are:
Both the packages include 500 hours of cloud DVR storage and can be streamed at 3 screens at once. Even though AT &T TV Now cost much more than its competitors, what makes it attractive to its customers is the large number of channels and HBO which is not included in most other streaming services.
Compatible devices: Apple Tv, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Smart TV, IOS, Android, Tablets, Computers
Free Trial: A 7-day free trial is available
3-On Demand Streaming
Other than Live Tv streaming services there are on demand streaming services that provide selected original content that you may not be able to access anywhere else.
The most popular on-demand streaming service these days is Netflix which features original content along with other television shows and movies.
These on-demand streaming services have their pros and cons, but they can be the best alternative to cable TV if used in combination with a digital antenna. The three best On-demand streaming services are:
Netflix is the pioneer of cable TV alternatives, that spurred people to cut the cord and save money.
Netflix is an on-demand streaming service that offers highly acclaimed original content, award-winning documentaries, TV shows, movies, anime and more.
One other selling point of Netflix, that its users like the most is that it doesn’t have any commercials like the live streaming services and cable TV. All this is available in an affordable price ranging from $9-$16 per month depending upon the plan you choose.
Basic: At $8.99 per month you get all Netflix content in SD quality on 1 screen
Standard:For $12.99/month you get 2 screens with HD quality
Premium:4 screens with Ultra HD quality at 15.99/month
Netflix plans suit all kind of people; single, families and students. It is cheap, affordable and has quality content the most famous being their original series like House of cards, orange is the new black and stranger things.
In addition to the original content, they have a massive library of TV shows, movies, documentaries and cartoons to entertain the kids.
But if you are a sports fan or watching the news is in your daily activities than either get an HD antenna to stream local channels or some other streaming service might be the one for you.
Compatible devices: Laptops, computers, Smart TV, game consoles, IOS, Android, Apple TV
Free Trial: Still unsure if Netflix is the one for you? Then try the 30 days free trial and if you don’t like it cancel anytime before the trial ends.
You also get access to all the Disney classic contents like snow white, Pinocchio etc. that people of all ages equally like. Disney+ like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has also stepped into the original’s arena and their original The Mandalorian based on the Star Wars Universe is a huge success.
With Disney+, you can stream at up to 4 devices simultaneously and can download your favorite shows to view later when no internet is available.
If you like what Disney+ has to offer but still want sports and live Tv content than Disney+ offers add-ons like Hulu and ESPN for a reasonable price of $12.99 per month.
Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, IOS, Smart TV’s, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox
Free Trial: 7-day free trial
An amazon prime account includes prime video, free two-day shipping, prime reading, prime music, twitch prime (for games) and more.
Prime video hosts a large library of movies, Tv shows and documentaries. Like Netflix, they have also invested in original series which include Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The boys, the man in the high castle and more.
At first Prime video was more of a video streaming service than a cable Tv alternative but since a few years, they have started offering sports channels.
Now you can stream CBS, PGA, NBA, SHOWTIME featured movies and NFL games every Thursday night. All these and a vast library of content in such a low price along with additional amazon perks sounds like a good deal.
Compatible devices: Smart TV’s, Amazon devices, Android, IOS, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Windows, PlayStation
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
4-The Local Library
If you want to watch movies for free than your local library is the best place for that. Surprised?
Well you are not the only one, I was also surprised when I got to know that the local libraries have a huge collection of movies (even recently released ones) and TV shows in DVD or even BluRay.
These movies can be borrowed from the library for free. The only con to this alternative is that the content choice will be limited depending on what your library has to offer, and you will have to go to the library to get the movie.
Content/Channels: Varies from library to library
YouTube is one the most popular site for video streaming, hosting thousands of videos. It has a wide variety of content from travel vlogs, recipes, original content by YouTubers, educational content and even full movies and shows.
Channels: Wide range
6-Free Online Movies and Shows
One of the best ways to watch movies and TV series is streaming online. There are many sites online that offer free movies and TV shows, the only thing you need is a highspeed internet connection.
Each site varies in the content they offer, some offer old shows and movies while some offer even new ones. Many Tv Channels like ABC also allow online streaming of latest episodes free of cost.
Channels: Wide range