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Watching cable TV is one of the great American pastime things to do. Who doesn’t love relaxing at home on the sofa watching action-packed movies with surround sound in effect.
If the cable providers in your area are like mine, they probably try REALLY hard to be your friend.
Your cable providers probably offer you great promises of cable and internet bundles so you can watch whatever you desire.
What isn’t so great is when the $150 cable bill arrives each month.
At that rate, you can spend close to $2,000 a year to satisfy your entertainment itch.
That $150 number is a conservative number as some households have a bigger cable bill than $150 a month.
That is the price you pay to watch your favorite movies and TV series.
Well not anymore.
Relax you don’t have to sacrifice your home television viewing experience.
What is the Best Alternative to Cable or Satellite TV?
There are several great and even some free alternatives to cable TV.
You are probably thinking how can I watch TV without cable or satellite?
By utilizing one of these alternatives to cable TV and cutting the cord on cable, you won’t have to miss any of your favorite shows and you’ll be saving significant money on top of it.
Can You Still Get Local Channels Without Cable TV Providers?
Absolutely. Some of these TV streaming services noted below include local TV channels.
Some of them just include specific cable network channels that you can purchase à la cart.
You can use an over the air HDTV antenna to pick up all local channels in your area.
Best Paid Alternatives To Cable TV
Check out these great cord cutting options below:
Netflix is one of the most popular alternatives to cable TV available. A lot of people use Netflix to watch movies and some of their favorite TV shows.
There are three pricing plans:
- the cheapest one which is a basic plan for $8.99 a month
- standard plan for $12.99 a month
- a premium plan for $15.99 a month at the time of this posting
There are different services offered with each plan. One of the differences between the plans is how many screens you can watch Netflix on at the same time.
Another difference is if you want standard definition, HD, or Ultra HD.
What is great about Netflix is there are several ways you can view and multiple devices you can use the Netflix service on.
Some of those devices are included below:
- Streaming media players, smart TVs, game consoles, set top boxes, Blu-ray players, smart phones and tablets, PCs and laptops.
You can also use streaming sticks through the use of an HDMI cable as well to the back of your TV.
- Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, and Nvidia Shield TV.
You will need to have an Internet connection available to use any of these devices.
2. Amazon Prime Video
A lot of people nowadays have Amazon prime membership. If you are paying for this service you also have one of the best alternatives to cable TV which is Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon isn’t just for shopping, they also offer great movies and some TV series as well.
You can also rent additional movies through Amazon prime video if it’s not included as part of your subscription package.
Amazon Prime Video works on streaming media players, set top boxes, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, gaming console, iPhone or iPads, android phones, or tablets.
Is Hulu a good replacement for cable?
Hulu claims to have the largest streaming library and live TV available over any other service on the market.
Their website at the time of this posting states 85,000 TV episodes and movies.
That’s a lot of media.
Plans start at $5.99 a month and most episodes are available the day after they air on broadcast or cable.
You can also have Hulu with up to six user profiles additionally.
For $44.95 a month, you can subscribe to Hulu + Live TV. You can add live TV to your basic Hulu and have 60+ channels of live sports and breaking news.
There is also a TV guide to help navigate channels and you can record live with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage.
If you are looking to add specific cable channels to your plan, you can do that à la cart as an available ad on.
Some of those channels would include:
4. Sling TV
Sling TV claims to offer no useless channels, no long-term contracts, no hidden fees, and easy online cancellation.
At the time of this posting they are running 40% off the Best of Live TV.
Sling TV functions a lot like satellite television.
The current pricing is $15 per month if you choose their sling orange or sling blue plan.
Those two plans have a predetermined mix of cable TV networks.
If you choose their combined orange and blue plan for $25 you have access to most of the cable channels that traditional cable companies offer.
In addition, they also give you local TV and provide you with a free HD antenna.
Additional promotions include a free Roku express when you subscribe and pre-pay two months of sling TV at the time of this posting.
Philo claims to offer a TV experience you will love. Philo also functions a lot like satellite TV and cable where they offer some of the cable channels.
For $20 a month, you can have access to 58 main stream cable channels.
If you are into sports however, this choice is not for you as they do not offer any sports channels.
An additional benefit of Philo is they offer unlimited recordings.
That’s right you can save as many shows as you want and record them and binge watch them later. You don’t have to pay for any cloud storage.
You can watch Philo on up to three devices at the same time, there is no contract, you can cancel anytime, and re-sign up.
6. DIRECTV NOW
DIRECTV NOW is another streaming service that functions a lot more like traditional cable. Their cheapest package is about $50 a month.
That includes 45+ channels (including HBO) at the time of this promotion.
You can add other premium networks such as Cinemax and Showtime. Each one is an additional $11 a month currently.
There is no annual contract, no satellite, or cable boxes.
7. PlayStation Vue
This functions a lot like traditional cable as well.
The cheapest plan for the PlayStation Vue is the access plan for $44.99 a month.
This includes the popular live TV channels and essential networks such as
- The Disney Channel
They offer four plan options with no annual contracts. Their top-of-the-line plan is the ultra plan which is $79.99 a month.
This includes 85+ networks and some premium networks such as HBO and Showtime. Those are included for no extra fee.
8. à La Cart Streaming Services
You can purchase individual streaming cable channels.
Those would include HBO Now, Starz, Showtime, CBS, All Axis and many others.
All you need to view these on TV is a Smart TV,Roku, or Amazon fire stick.
Best Free Alternatives to Cable TV
YouTube has millions of videos in their database. I like to think of watching YouTube videos as active content entertainment.
You can literally pick any type of content that you may be interested in watching. I’ve also watched cable TV shows and episodes that have been on YouTube.
2. Local Library
An option that is often forgot about is the library. Your local library may contain media that you can check out, and not just books.
Many libraries offer DVDs for citizens to check out free of charge.
This service has been around for decades even before streaming TV was a thing.
There are all kinds of videos you can check out. At most metropolitan libraries, their inventory includes everything from cooking shows, yoga workout videos, and even TV series not to mention all kinds of movies.
3. Free Cable Channels
There are a handful of cable channels that offer free shows online. Go to the cable channels website and check out their shows for free list.
If there is a particular TV series that you like, there may be a chance that you can watch those episodes online for free.
Sometimes there are restrictions such as the show may not be available immediately and only a certain number of episodes may be available online.
Some of the networks that offer free shows would include:
- History Channel
- Comedy Central shows.
If you have a device such as Amazon fire stick or Roku, there are some channels on the Roku home screen there also offer free TV shows and TV series.
Cord Cutting With An HDTV Antenna
If you want to completely eliminate monthly cable bills and are looking for a 100% free alternative to cable TV, this is the option for you.
Cutting the cord on cable is one way to save money on your housing costs. Modern day digital TV antennas are completely different than those TVs with rabbit ears complete with UHF and VHF knobs.
The picture that is offered nowadays for over the air television is digital and in some instances even HD.
The quality for over the air local TV is far superior than the local TV you receive through your cable company.
High definition signal over the air is not suppressed like the cable companies manipulate it to be.
Get Tons Of Local Channels FREE Over The Air
With the appropriate HDTV antenna, you can pull channels from as far away as 75 miles with appropriate conditions.
I currently have an HDTV antenna and I can pick up channels from another country, about 40 miles away as the bird flies, when conditions are right.
Cable TV can’t offer that for free.
There are all kinds of local news channels, sports, cooking shows, classic TV and movies, movie channels, and also kids programming that’s all free with an over the air HDTV antenna. Local free TV is a great way to practice living stingy in your household.
Three things you need to receive over the air digital broadcast television:
1. Digital TV
The old analog TV can no longer receive over the air signals.
2. The right HDTV antenna for your location
You can check out the FCC website that gives miles and distance to the broadcast towers of specific networks from your location.
That will help you determine which HDTV antenna will work best for you.
3. Knowledge of where the broadcast towers are located
Some Additional Tips for HDTV Free Television Over The Air Success
For superior TV viewing to maximize your viewing options, an outdoor installation is best for your HDTV antenna.
You can install it in your living room but the range will be significantly impacted due to interference.
A simple and direct installation is the best. The more splitters you have, the higher the signal loss.
Use a low noise amplifier to boost your signal strength.
If you are able to install your over the air antenna on your roof, make sure there is an option (if possible) where you can rotate the antenna to receive signals from different areas.
By moving the antenna or having the option to move it 360°, you can rest assured that you will hit several broadcast tower transmissions.
Which TV Streaming Service Is Best?
While there is no universal answer to this question, it largely depends on what your TV viewing preferences are.
If you are a person that spends a lot of time in your man cave complete with a home theater system watching movies, then you may do better with a TV streaming service that includes a large selection of movies and sports.
Conversely, if you can live without sports, Amazon Prime Video or Netflix may be better options for you.
Summary: Alternatives to Cable TV
Yes cord cutting was one of the things I stopped buying to save money.
When it comes to cord cutting on cable, there are many options to consider affecting your home entertainment and TV viewing.
The most cost-effective solution is to sign up for a service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.
Using an HDTV antenna, preferably one that is mounted outside, will greatly increase your TV viewing options for local broadcast stations.
Signing up for other TV streaming services may or may not save you any additional money from your current cable provider.
However, one benefit is that you can watch and stream TV on various devices outside of your house.
Some of those include computers, laptops, iPhones, and iPads.
So you are gaining flexibility in your TV viewing, however you may not be saving much money over traditional cable provider subscriptions.
If you are looking for completely free alternatives to cable TV, an HDTV over the air antenna is the best option along with your local library and YouTube.
By utilizing YouTube and your local library, you can pretty much find any type of content to watch for free that you may be interested in.
When it comes to alternatives to cable TV, it all comes down to you what type of content you want to watch.
Once you have that figured out, there are solutions that can get you there and hopefully will also save you money over your current cable provider subscription.
Looking for more ways to save money?
Check out our Saving Money Guide: Saving Money Strategies That Work