Expensive cable packages can put a serious dent in your budget and your financial goals. Thankfully, there are several great streaming services that are excellent alternatives to cable TV.
Basic packages can be affordable. However, once you start adding in all of the bells and whistles things get costly.
Are you ready to reduce expenses and help your budget by cutting the cord to cable TV?
Top Cable TV Alternatives
Here are some of the best alternatives to Cable TV if you’re ready to cut the cord.
Many of these streaming services allow you to have a larger selection of viewing choices than with traditional TV. However, they’re a lot more affordable.
1. Sling TV
Sling TV is a great alternative to cable because you don’t need rental equipment and you won’t pay installation fees. You can stream shows from your TV, tablet phone, or computer.
Another nice thing about Sling TV is that it offers customers several viewing options. For instance, there is the Sling Orange package.
It currently costs $30 for the first month, and $40 thereafter. They offer 30+ channels. The package includes ESPN1, 2, and 3, HGTV, and one of my personal favorites: the Food Network.
They also offer the Sling Blue package. It currently provides over 45 channels and costs just $30 for the first month and $40 a month thereafter as well.
Blue offers different channels than the Orange package. Some inclusions are Fox Sports and NBC sports network, Bravo, AMC, the Cartoon Network and the History Channel. However, some channels are the same.
In addition, the company also offers a third option: Sling Orange/Blue. You can get both packages for $45 for the first month and $55 a month after that.
The package you choose will probably depend on the channel selections you’re most interested in.
Note: Local channels are only available in select markets with Sling TV.
Learn More: Sling TV Review
Philo is a streaming service that gives you over 60 channels for just $25 per month. They also offer unlimited DVR and no contracts.
Some of the channels Philo offers include:
- A&E and AMC
- BET and Comedy Central
- The Hallmark Channel
- MTV, MTV Classic and MTV Live
- HGTV and The Cooking Channel
And dozens of others. You can add on movie channels like Starz for an additional monthly charge. Plus, this streaming service offers a 7-day free trial, and you can cancel anytime.
If you are evaluating multiple streaming services, Philo’s trial can help you determine if this is one of the best alternatives to cable for you.
Learn More: Philo Review
Hulu is most similar to Netflix (which we’ll talk about next) when it comes to streaming service packages. But it also has some cool features that you won’t find with Netflix.
Hulu’s basic $7.99 per month package gives you the ability to view all the movies in the Hulu library. You can also watch complete episodes of many popular TV shows. It also includes Disney+.
One downfall with Hulu’s $7.99 package is that you’ll view your shows complete with commercials.
However, if you’re willing to pay $17.99 each month you can view TV episodes commercial-free. The smaller package includes current TV shows, classic favorites, kids shows, Hulu originals and more. It also includes DIsney+ and ESPN+
Hulu also offers its Hulu With Live TV package. This package includes everything Hulu basic includes. The cost? $76.99 per month. That’s getting a little closer to the cable TV package price.
This is one of the live TV streaming services that gives you the ability to stream over 50 of the top live and on-demand TV channels. This package includes sports channels, news, and entertainment.
It includes popular cable channels such as:
- The History Channel
- The Golf Channel
- ESPN1, 2 and ESPN News
- Fox News, and Fox Sports 1 and 2
- FX, FMX and FXX
- The National Geographic channel
- Disney and Disney Junior
Relevant article: Hulu VS Hulu Plus: Which is Better?
4. Paramount Plus
Paramount Plus is a streaming service that offers over 30,000 TV shows and movies.
You can find selections from popular cable channels such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., Paramount Pictures, exclusive series shows, and more.
As of this writing, Paramount Plus offers two plans: The Essential Plan and the Premium Plan.
The Essential Plan costs $5.99 per month or you can pay annually at $71.99 per year. Note that the Essential Plan does not include any CBS local channels.
However, you can watch NFL football that’s aired on CBS via a separate live feed.
Paramount Plus’ Premium Plan costs $11.99 per month or $143.89 per year. This is a commercial-free plan that does include CBS local channels.
Note that the Premium plan will air commercials when you’re watching a live TV stream.
Netflix is one of the more popular streaming services available as an alternative to cable TV. They offer three packages starting at $6.99 per month. $6.99 for the Basic plan, $15.49 for the Standard, and $22.99 for the Premium plan.
Netflix is currently offering over 10,000 movies and TV shows to viewers. But, the real draw for many seems to be their Netflix original TV series offerings.
The company boasts of the more popular exclusive TV series, such as The Good Place, House of Cards, and Orange Is the New Black.
They’re also backing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot that was released this year. We’ve been subscribing to Netflix for about three years now, and we’ve been fairly satisfied with our time there.
They’ve got a decent selection of movies and TV shows in a wide range of genres. So they will keep you entertained if you decide to cut the cable TV cord.
If I had anything negative to say about Netflix, it would be that the movie choices are pretty average. They don’t offer a lot of super exciting choices.
When it comes to cable alternatives, Peacock TV is NBC’s answer to the streaming craze. Basic Peacock is free when you sign up with your email. They don’t even ask you for a credit card!
With Peacock’s streaming service, you can get access to streaming movies from major Hollywood studios such as DreamWorks and Universal. You can also watch thousands of episodes of current and classic TV shows.
They’ve got kids shows too, such as Where’s Waldo? and Curious George. Sports and News lineups round off your viewing options.
Peacock Premium is an upgraded plan NBC offers. For $5.99 per month, you get access to even more content and you get limited ads.
Peacock Premium Plus costs an additional $6 per month and allows you to watch ad-free.
7. YouTube TV
You’ve likely watched hundreds of videos on YouTube absolutely free of charge.
However, YouTube also has YouTube TV, one of the most popular live TV streaming services that gives you access to premium viewing.
YouTube TV is one of the best cable alternatives and offers 85+ channels of sports, entertainment, news and more.
For $50.99 for the first three months, then $72.99 thereafter, you can watch live streaming of channels such as:
- NFL Network
- Comedy Central
- The Food Network
- Cartoon Network
Just like cable, YouTube TV allows you to record and save shows for up to nine months for your viewing pleasure.
YouTube TV is very easy to use and access allowing for all members of the family to enjoy.
8. Prime Video
Prime Video is a streaming service that is free when you purchase Amazon Prime.
What’s better is that Amazon Prime is only $139 a year. For non-prime members, you can pay $8.99 every month for just Prime Video.
You’re probably better off getting the entire Prime package. This is because it comes with a host of benefits such as free two-day shipping.
Some categories include:
- Popular movies
- Various sporting shows
- Amazon original shows
- Popular TV shows
- Kids TV and movies
- Classic movies
- Exercise and fitness shows and movies
The streaming service also offers other genres such as Faith and Family movies and Award Winning Short Films. The Amazon Instant Video streaming service is currently boasting over 18,000 movies and 2,000 TV shows.
That’s a hefty offering compared to Netflix’s combined 10,000 available movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime is one of the best cable tv alternatives.
Additionally, during football season, Prime will show Thursday night football games.
Bonus: If you take advantage of Amazon Instant Video by purchasing Amazon Prime, you’ll get other benefits. For example, you’ll get on-demand, ad-free music streaming.
9. Disney Plus
With Disney+, you can stream all things Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic and more. Disney+ has exclusive movies, series and documentaries as well.
It costs $7.99 per month if you want to pay monthly for Disney+. Or you can save a few bucks and pay annually for just $79.99.
One cool thing about Disney+ is that it’ll let you download titles and keep them downloaded for as long as you’re an active member.
The streaming service also grants unlimited downloads for up to ten devices as long as you’ve got the space on your devices. And you can stream up to four devices at a time while using Disney+.
Disney+ is compatible with several devices, including Apple and Android phones, Amazon Fire TV, and Sony PlayStation 4.
Note: As of this writing, Disney+ has a special where you can get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN for just $14.99 per month. If you’re a sports fan and are looking for cable alternatives, this could be a great family package.
fuboTV offers cable channel options without the cable TV price. The streaming giant calls itself “the perfect mix of sports and entertainment.”
fuboTV has three plans to choose from. The fuboTV Pro package offers 124 channels plus hundreds of sporting events and costs just $74.99 per month.
Fubo has four packages, offering the first month free:
- Pro ($74.99 per month) – Includes 169 channels
- Elite ($84.99 per month) – Includes 244 channels, plus extra News and Fubo channels
- Ultimate ($99.99 per month) – Includes 287 channels, plus extra News and Fubo channels, Showtime, and Sports Plus
- Latino ($24.99 per month) – 58 channels
If you’re a sports fan you might want to sign up for ESPN+. EPSN+ offers live sports viewing as well as ESPN originals.
With ESPN+ you can watch football, baseball, golf, basketball, soccer, tennis, combat, and more.
ESPN+ is priced at $10.99 per month or $109.99 per year.
Sporadic bundle offerings can get you streaming on Hulu, Disney, or other partners for a slightly higher monthly premium.
This is the perfect cable TV alternative for the avid sports fans in your house.
DirecTV is a pioneer in satellite TV but now offers streaming services. For $69.99 per month (The Entertainment Package) you can get access to many offerings from DirecTV.
You can choose live viewing of up to 160 channels and choose from over 80,000 streaming titles.
Choose from popular cable channels such as:
- FXM and FXX
- Game Show Network
- Hallmark Channel
- Golf Channel
And a long list of sports channels as well. If you sign up at the right time, you can get discounted prices and cash bonuses.
DirecTV offers three other packages as well which offer you a larger viewing selection, but the prices are steeper and you could pay as much as $150 a month.
13. Apple TV+
Apple TV+ is a cable TV alternative for those who enjoy Apple Originals. The Apple Originals collection of shows is limited to several dozen.
A far cry from Netflix and Hulu’s thousands of selections. However, Apple promises a new series of shows every month.
In its newest venture, Apple TV+ is offering live streaming of Friday night MLB baseball.
And at $9.99 per month ad-free, it’s an affordable luxury. You can watch Apple TV+ on any Apple device.
Apple TV+ comes with a free 7-day trial. Look for specials for three-month free trials when you buy a new Apple device.
14. Frndly TV
Frndly TV claims they offer some of the most affordable live TV programming, and at only $6.99/month, we can’t argue.
It offers 40+ LIVE streaming channels and many on-demand services and DVR services. Some of the most popular channels include:
- Hallmark Channel
- The HISTORY channel
- The Weather Channel
- Outdoor channel
- Sportsman Channel
- Many more
There are 1,000+ on-demand movies and shows, plus the LIVE streaming options. You can watch Frndly TV on most devices, including FireTV, Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, and IOS mobile apps.
Frndly TV also offers unlimited DVR hours and 72-hour lookback, giving you 72 hours to watch a show after it’s aired. With the premium plan, you can keep any shows you record for nine months and multiple movies and shows at once.
It offers three services:
- Basic – $6.99/month – Live and on-demand TV and watch on a single TV
- Classic – $8.99/month – HD TV, watch on two screens simultaneously, unlimited DVR, recordings stay for three months
- Premium – $10.99/month – Watch on four screens at once, have unlimited DVR, and keep recordings for nine months
15. HD Antenna
Along with all of the streaming options mentioned above, there are other cable tv alternatives.
You might be amazed at how many channels you can view without a cable package by simply hooking up an HD antenna in your home.
Using a site called Antenna Web, I looked up our rural area address. I found out that we could get access to up to 55 channels if we installed an HD antenna at least 30 feet above the ground. For free!
Then I checked an urban zip code in our state. Antenna Web said they could get 73 channels by installing an HD antenna!
Not everyone can install an HD antenna 30 feet above their house or apartment. However, even lower-level apartment TV viewers can add several channels to their viewing choices. They can do this by using other types of high-definition antennas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions when it comes to alternatives to cable.
What is the right antenna to use?
When you shop for antennas, you’ll find three descriptions: directional, multi-directional, or omnidirectional. A directional antenna works best if all of the broadcasting stations near you are near each other.
Most of the time indoor models work fine as long as you meet one criterion. Your home must be located within twenty miles of broadcasting stations.
If you are further away than that, an outdoor antenna would be best. An outdoor antenna will likely give you the best viewing results even if you’re close to stations.
What is the cheapest way to watch TV?
The least expensive way to watch TV is at your local library (100% free). Your next best option, after the cost of hardware installation, is a digital antenna. Other options that have minimal costs are inexpensive streaming services.
Depending on the sports season and what you’re currently binge watching, you can mix and match subscriptions to keep costs down.
Is there a substitute for cable TV?
Yes, there are options. Streaming devices and sticks offer viable cable TV alternatives. Most popular are Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.
See what works best for the shows and needs you have by comparing prices and offers. HD Antennas offer a great option as well.
If you want to watch your favorite shows or movies without having a cable or satellite package, there are many alternatives to cable TV.
Consider checking out your favorite TV stations online at their channel websites or by browsing YouTube. You may find episodes and movies that they broadcast for free or for a small fee online.
Or for a more substantial viewing menu, consider signing up for one of the streaming services mentioned above.
Most of them come with a free trial – anywhere from seven days to thirty days long. And many don’t require you to sign a contract. You can stop or start the service as you please. Free trials are a great start to finding alternatives to cable tv.
We’ve been using streaming services like Netflix and Hulu for nearly six years now. We find they fit our viewing needs. And we have no desire whatsoever to go back to paying for a cable TV or satellite package.
Are you considering canceling your cable TV subscription to find cheaper ways to watch your favorite shows and movies? If so, there is a good chance that one of the best cable tv alternatives mentioned above will be right for you.