As technology races on and there are more options for TV viewing, people are becoming aware of the many alternatives to cable TV. Expensive cable TV packages can put a serious dent in people’s budgets and in their financial goals.

If you get a good deal on a cable TV package you can pay a smaller monthly fee for a period of time, but eventually the real story comes out and your cable TV premiums are doubled or even tripled after the trial period ends. Not to mention expensive installation fees, rental fees and other miscellaneous charges that can come with cable packages.

A cable package without movie channel choices (the basic cable package that’s really just there to improve TV reception) might be more affordable, but leaves you, the viewer, with not much more than traditional TV show viewing choices.

The bigger cable packages offer a lot more shows and movies, but are expensive and often unaffordable for many individuals and families.

Alternatives to Cable TV are Actually Better

I remember when cable TV first hit the major metropolitan city I grew up in, in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. The first family to get cable TV lived just a couple of miles away from us, and I would eventually go to tech school with their next-door-neighbor. They were famous, that’s for sure.

Everyone was amazed at the fact that there were now options to have a plethora of channels available instead of the usual 5 or 6 local channels. The cost for cable at that time? $7.95 a month.

That would be $26.78 a month in today’s dollars, but most cable companies today are charging a much higher rate than that.

Luckily, advancements in technology such as live streaming means there are more ways for people to have access to a broader range of TV shows and movies than simply paying for a costly cable package.

Here are some of the options you have available to you if you’re ready to cut the cord and find a more affordable option to cable TV that still allows you to have a larger selection of viewing choices.

Note: You will need to have Internet access in order to take advantage of these cable TV alternatives.

1. Sling TV (The best alternative to cable)

Sling TV is cool because you don’t need rental equipment and you won’t pay installation fees. You can just stream shows from your TV, tablet phone or computer.

Sling TV offers customers several viewing options. There is the Sling Orange package, which currently costs $20 a month and offers 28 channels including ESPN1, 2 and 3, HGTV, and one of my personal favorites: the Food Network.

They also offer the Sling Blue package, which currently offers 44 channels and costs just $25 a month. Sling blue offers different channels than the orange package, such as the Fox Sports and NBC sports network, Bravo, AMC, the Cartoon Network and the History Channel.

You can get both packages for a total of $40 a month (a $5 discount from normal pricing) or you can get one package and choose from a number of add-on packages that range in price between $5 and $15 per month.

By being able to customize your viewing choices, you can save money off of many traditional cable TV package offerings. Sling’s ala carte’ offerings put you more in charge of which channels you are paying for as you watch TV.

Note: Local network channels are only available in select markets with Sling.

2. Netflix

Netflix is one of the more popular streaming services available as an alternative to cable TV. They offer three packages.

The Basic Package

Here are the details behind Netflix’s basic package.

  • $7.99 per month, plus taxes
  • HD and Ultra HD not available
  • 1 streaming device at a time
  • Unlimited viewing
  • Viewing on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet or TV
  • Cancel any time
  • First month free

This would be an acceptable package if you live alone or in a smaller household and don’t care about the ability to stream in high definition.

The Standard Package

Netflix’s standard package costs a bit more, but is worth it if there is more than one person in the household. This is the package we currently use at our house. Here are the features.

  • $9.99 per month, plus taxes
  • HD available, but not Ultra HD
  • 2 streaming devices max
  • Unlimited viewing
  • Viewing on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet or TV
  • Cancel anytime
  • First month free

The Standard Package is good if you will have more than one person watching at a time.

The Premium Package

Netflix also offers a premium package. Here are the details.

  • $11.99 per month, plus taxes
  • HD and Ultra HD available
  • 4 streaming devices max
  • Unlimited viewing
  • Viewing on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet or TV
  • Cancel anytime
  • First month free

This would be a good package for a larger household with many viewers; our family of six generally doesn’t have more than two people on Netflix at a time so we stick with the Standard package.

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 some of the more popular exclusive TV series, such as 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 have been fairly satisfied with our time there.

They’ve got a decent selection of movies and TV shows in a wide range of genres that will keep you entertained if you decide to cut the cable TV cord.

3. Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a streaming service that is absolutely free when you purchase Amazon Prime, but it can also be purchased separately for $8.99 a month.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to purchase it separately, however, since Amazon Prime is only $99 a year ($10.99 a month if you’d rather pay on a monthly basis – the $99 per year comes out to $8.25 per month) and comes with a host of benefits such as free two-day shipping.

Similar to Netflix and other streaming services, Amazon Instant Video includes a variety of TV watching options in different categories, such as:

  • Popular movies
  • Various sporting shows
  • Amazon original shows
  • Popular TV shows
  • Documentaries
  • Kids TV and movies
  • Classic movies
  • Exercise and fitness shows and movies

The services also offers other genres such as a Faith and Family movies category and an Award Winning Short Films category. The Amazon Instant Video service is currently boasting over 18,000 movies and 2,000 TV shows, according to this recent report.

That’s a hefty offering compared to Netflix’s combined 10,000 available movies and TV shows.

Bonus: Those who take advantage of Amazon Instant Video by purchasing Amazon Prime also get on-demand, ad free music streaming, Kindle Unlimited (free reading of over 1,000 Kindle books and magazines), free unlimited photo storage and more.

Other benefits to Amazon Prime members include the 5% cash back rewards program that comes with the Prime credit card, and a thirty-minute head start on Amazon Lightning Deals.

So, while Amazon Instant Video won’t give you access to cable TV goodies such as sports channels or popular movie channels, it will greatly increase the number of TV shows and movies you have available to watch, and that at a super affordable price.

Note: While Amazon Instant Video wasn’t compatible with Apple devices for years, this has changed with the recent development of the Amazon Prime Video App for Apple. Now Apple users can watch Amazon Instant Video selections on their Apple devices.

4. Hulu

Hulu is most similar to Netflix when it comes to streaming subscriptions, but it also has some cool features that you won’t find with Netflix.

Hulu’s basic $7.99 per month package offers viewing of all of the movies in the Hulu library, as well as viewing of complete episodes of many popular TV shows. 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 $11.99 per month you can view TV show episodes commercial-free. The smaller package includes current TV shows, classic favorites, kids shows, Hulu originals and more, however it comes with a limit of streaming to just one device at a time.

Most current TV show episodes are available on Hulu the day after they air.

Hulu also offers its Hulu With Live TV package. This package includes everything Hulu basic includes, along with the ability to stream over 50 of the top live and on-demand TV channels including sports, news and entertainment.

The cost? $39.99 per month. That’s getting a little closer to cable TV package prices, although it sounds like they offer a lot more than you’d get with a basic cable package, including popular cable channels such as:

  • The History channel
  • HGTV
  • The Golf channel
  • ESPN1, 2 and ESPN News
  • Fox News, and Fox Sports 1 and 2
  • FX, FMX and FXX
  • The National Geographic channel
  • Oxygen
  • Disney and Disney Junior

There are other channel offerings with Hulu Live as well. When I checked with one of our main local cable TV suppliers, they were offering 140+ channels for $70 a month, but this was a limited offer that expired after a mandatory two-year agreement.

So, while Hulu may not offer all of the cable channels, it offers many of the popular ones at a fraction of the cost of cable TV packages.

Bonus: You can purchase HBO, Cinemax and Showtime streaming with Hulu for an additional monthly fee.

5. PlayStation Vue

One of the more recently released streaming subscription services is PlayStation Vue. Despite the name, PlayStation Vue streaming isn’t just available on the newer PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 devices.

You can also stream with them on your web browser, your Apple or Android TV, your Amazon Fire TV and on other devices as well, including mobile devices.

While PlayStation Vue costs more than the other services we’ve talked about, it still may be cheaper than what you would pay for your local cable or satellite packages. Here are the details on their available packages.

The Access Package

The PlayStation Vue Access Package costs $39.99 per month and includes almost fifty channels, including ESPN 1 and 2, the Learning Channel, Food Network, Fox Business and some local channels including CBS and Fox.

The Core Package

Their Core Package is just $5 more than the Access package at $44.99 per month. Containing nearly sixty channels, you’ll find offerings such as Bravo, HGTV, ESPN 1, 2 and ESPN News, the Travel channel, USA, WE, Disney and Disney Junior and more.

The Elite Package

Their Elite Package offers roughly ninety channels and costs $54.99 per month. Some of the favorites in this package – including the channels mentioned in the Access and Core packages – are the E! Entertainment channel, the Family channel, the Cooking channel, Fusion, and National Geographic.

The Ultra Package

PlayStation Vue’s Ultra Package is $74.99 a month; however, it includes all of the channels in the Elite package, plus HBO and Showtime.

Again, you would want to compare the PlayStation Vue package prices to your local available cable packages to see whether or not the PlayStation Vue is a better deal. In my major metropolitan city, the PlayStation Vue pricing did beat out many of the popular cable packages.

6. HD Antenna

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 and found out that we could get access to 55 channels if we installed an HD antenna at least 30 feet above the ground at our house. For free! When I checked an urban zip code in our state, Antenna Web said they could get 73 channels by installing an HD antenna!

While not everyone has the capability to install an HD antenna 30 feet above their house or apartment, even lower level apartment dwelling TV views can add several channels to their viewing capabilities by using other types of HD antennas.

What Types of HD Antennas Are There?

Indoor or Outdoor?

HD antennas are available in both indoor and outdoor models. Outdoor antennas are more often used for home owners or renters and generally go on the roof of a dwelling. Indoor antennas are a bit more discreet looking and can be placed in various areas in a home or apartment.

Most of the time indoor antennas work fine as long as your home is located within twenty miles of broadcasting stations. If you are further away than that, an outdoor antenna would be best. Even if you are close to broadcasting stations however, an outdoor antenna will likely give you the best viewing results.

Directional, Multi-Directional, or Omni-Directional?

When you shop for antennas you’ll find three descriptions: directional, multi-directional or omni-directional. A directional antenna works best if all of the broadcasting stations near you are in close proximity to each other.

If the stations are in the same general direction but are a bit further away from each other, the multi-directional antenna may work best.

If the broadcasting stations in your area are in different or opposite directions from each other, the omni-directional antenna will likely be your best choice.

The Antenna Web website mentioned above gives you a map of where broadcasting stations are when you enter your zip code so that you’ll know which direction the stations are from your house.

Not all antennas are the same, so it’s important that you read the reviews and find the best rated antenna for your home or apartment. Here are four of the higher rated HD antennas we found on Amazon.

Outdoor Antennas

Indoor Antennas

While an HD antenna won’t give you all of the channels you would have access to if you purchased a monthly cable subscription, it will certainly increase the number of channels you can watch on local TV.

7. Online Viewing

Many TV stations – especially the larger ones like ABC and CBS – give web site visitors access to their show episodes that have played recently when you visit their web sites directly. Even some cable TV channels such as The Food Network have full show episodes available online for web site visitors.

YouTube also shares movies and TV show episodes for legal viewing, although you may have to pay a small fee to watch some of the available movies or shows.

If you want to watch your favorite TV shows or movies without having a cable package, consider checking out your favorite TV stations online at their web sites, or browsing YouTube, and finding episodes and movies that they broadcast for free or for a small fee online.

If you are seriously considering cancelling your cable TV subscription in order to find more affordable ways to watch your favorite TV shows and movies, there is a good chance that one of the options mentioned above will be right for you.

With the variety of popular TV shows and movies available through venues other than cable or satellite, there’s simply no need to spend more for your TV viewing preferences.

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