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If you’re looking to break up with your cable provider while still being able to watch TV and enjoy your favorite shows, you’re probably looking into the alternatives to cable TV.
Once you start looking, you might be completely overwhelmed by the now saturated streaming services market.
Alternatives to cable TV can include paid streaming services, such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu, DirecTV, Netflix, and many more.
And since you probably watch various shows on different cable channels, you won’t be able to subscribe to one streaming service and call it a day.
Instead, you will have to subscribe to more than one streaming service.
To make things easier, I will do a high-level and detailed breakdown of the best cable alternatives, including paid and free options, so you can finally cut the cable TV cord and save money.
Table of Contents
Best Alternatives To Cable TV
The Benefits Of Cable Alternatives
Many households chose to ditch traditional cable TV for one, or several, of the alternative streaming services available.
The most significant benefit of breaking away from cable TV is saving money in the long run and not being tied to a cable TV subscription with a cable provider.
After all, why pay for hundreds of channels when you only watch a handful?
A cable bill can run anywhere from $25 per month for a basic cable package to $75 per month.
This price is only for cable TV and does not include taxes, equipment fees, and other charges.
The problem with streaming services is that it is not hard to start subscribing and end up racking up the bills that equal your monthly cable bill.
What To Do Before Cutting Cable TV
Before you cut the cord and decide to use a streaming service or two, there are other more straightforward options for you to consider.
The first is to keep your cable TV subscription.
You can negotiate decent discounts if you change the package you subscribe to or even agree to a contract.
For example, if you don’t watch sports channels but do watch entertainment channels, then you might be able to get a basic package and save money.
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Or you can downgrade your cloud DVR to lower your bill.
Another option is to switch providers.
Cable and satellite TV providers give the best deals to new customers.
And most define a new customer as someone who has not been a customer for two years.
So cancel cable and sign up for satellite TV.
After two years, customers are considered new to the cable company, and you can get the best deals.
Rinse and repeat.
Finally, and a far easier option is to use Rocket Money.
Rocket Money is an AI assistant that will negotiate bills for you, among other benefits.
You let Rocket Money deal with the cable company and get you a lower rate.
Over 70% of the time, they are successful and save users on average $350 a year.
Rocket Money is your assistant to help you find and cancel subscriptions, track your spending, create a budget, and more. Join the other 80% of people saving money thanks to Rocket Money.
How To Save Time Comparing Alternatives To Cable
Before we get into the best alternatives to cable, I want to make finding the right ones for you simpler and faster.
The first thing you need to do is review how you watch TV.
What cable channels do you watch most often? What shows are your favorites?
Do you enjoy watching sports? Do you watch local channels?
Knowing all of this will make selecting a streaming service much more effortless.
For example, if you know you need live TV, you can first focus on the streaming services that offer this.
Or, if you live a busy life and unlimited DVR is vital to you, you first look for this.
After that, you can work to find another streaming service to fill in any gaps.
Finally, check out what streaming devices you can watch on.
You might find you can’t watch on Apple TV, but you can on Roku.
The more planning you do, the less frustrating it will be when it comes time to look at the various options you have to choose from.
An Overview of Cable Alternatives
As of this writing, there is no “one size fits all” option for a cable TV alternative.
You can break down the alternative options to cable TV into a few categories:
- Subscription-based streaming TV. This option includes live TV streaming services like watching live sports and popular cable channels.
- Non-subscription-based streaming services. You can watch free services anytime that offer movies and TV shows.
- Free to you services. Think local TV channels.
When discussing the best cable TV alternative with friends, I recommend they sign up before they replace cable.
By signing up while still having cable access, they can get a feel for the live streaming services to see if it is a good fit.
If not, you can still watch TV with your cable package.
Let’s look at an overview and cost comparison of the cable TV alternatives.
Below is a high-level breakdown of the most popular streaming services on the market and their starting price:
|Streaming Service||Price||Channels||Free Trial|
|Amazon Prime Video||$15||N/A||No|
The Best Alternatives To Cable
Below is a detailed look into the best cable TV alternatives to choose from.
#1. Sling TV
Sling TV is one of the live TV streaming alternatives offering three bundle options and many extras you can add to your services.
Bundles range from $35 per month to $50 per month, and all bundles come with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage.
For example, the Orange package costs $35 a month, offers one streaming device, and comes with 31 live TV channels, including the Disney Channel, ESPN, Cartoon Network, the History Channel, the Food Network, and more.
The Blue package also costs $35 a month but comes with 41 channels, mostly family and entertainment channels, and no sports channels.
This package allows three simultaneous streams.
You can also add more news channels, sports channels, kid’s channels, and more to these packages.
Sling TV offers premium channels you can add to your subscription for movie lovers, like Showtime, Starz, and Epix, but not HBO Max.
Finally, the service does include some regional sports networks as well, but not all. So before you sign up, make sure you ask first.
If you’re looking for a customizable experience, Sling TV will be your best cable replacement service.
SlingTV is one of the best streaming services offers low prices and lots of channels, including regional sports networks and premium movie channels. Start your free trial today!
This streaming service has many pricing options ranging from $6.99 per month, including ads in place of commercials, to $75.99 per month for a bundle with no ads to enjoy your favorite TV shows without interruption.
Hulu Live offers live TV, and you can record up to 50 hours of content with the cloud DVR.
Bundled services are also available, including Disney Plus and ESPN+, which you can add to any other Hulu plans.
Premium add-ons include HBO Max, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.
Qualifying students can take advantage of Hulu’s student discount program for $1.99 per month.
The fact that you can fully customize your Hulu plan makes it one of the best streaming services.
Hulu is one of the best streaming services out there. Customize your package with the channels you want, including live TV. Bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+ to save even more. Get started today and save money.
#3. YouTube TV
YouTubeTV is a live TV streaming service with several cable TV channels and sports networks, includes unlimited DVR storage, and allows three simultaneous streams and six accounts per household.
Pricing for YouTube TV starts at $54.99 for the first three months, then $64.99 per month.
YouTube TV also offers a 7-day free trial available, so you can cancel if it turns out it’s not a good fit.
Philo is one of the newer online streaming services and is an excellent option if you are not into news or sports.
For $25 a month, you get access to 64 channels and unlimited DVR.
They carry the most popular channels, including Comedy Central, AMC, HGTV, and Nickelodeon.
There are premium channels you can add on as well.
Philo also offers a 7-day free trial.
#5. DirecTV Stream
DirecTV Stream offers four streaming bundles starting at $69.99 per month up to $149.99 per month, depending on your budget and what you are looking for.
They also offer a free trial.
All bundles come with unlimited cloud DVR storage, and you can stream on an unlimited number of devices.
Not sure what bundle is for you?
Check out the DirecTV Stream website, which has a feature that lets you filter what channels you watch today, and they’ll recommend which bundle is best for you.
If you have a smart TV or streaming device like Roku, Fire TV Stick, or Chromecast, you can watch DirecTV with the app.
Sports fans are the primary target audience for this service.
They offer a wealth of live sports, entertainment, and local channels.
Live sports include NBA TV, MLB Network, NFL Network, etc.
Another benefit to fuboTV is there is no contract to sign, allowing you to cancel at any time, and most plans offer a 7-day free trial.
Paramount+ is another new TV streaming service that evolved from CBS All Access.
This package mainly offers cable networks owned by CBS, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Nickelodeon.
Plans start at $4.99 a month and offers a 7-day free trial.
Other Great Paid Streaming Services
In addition to live streaming, other paid streaming services come with seemingly endless catalogs of TV and movies.
Netflix offers three different plans, so you can choose the pricing that fits your budget.
If you have a larger family that requires simultaneous streams, you will want to go with the Standard or Premium options.
You can feel confident in choosing a plan because Netflix allows you to change or cancel your subscription at any time if the plan you choose doesn’t work out.
Netflix was one of the first streaming platforms to produce original TV shows and movies.
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Some of the most popular are Stranger Things, The Crown, and The Umbrella Academy.
#9. Disney Plus
Disney Plus is one of the most affordable options running $7.99 a month, or you pay annually to save money.
It’s also one of the most family-friendly services out there.
It is home to many fan favorites, including Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and TV shows that originally aired on the Disney channel.
You can bundle this service with Hulu and ESPN+ to save even more money.
Currently, Disney Plus does not offer a free trial.
#10. Apple TV+
This streaming service is exclusively available on Apple TV for $4.99 per month after a 7-day free trial.
Apple TV+ also offers many original TV shows only available to its subscribers.
You can also stream Major League Baseball on Fridays with daily coverage.
#11. Amazon Prime Video
Get the most out of your Amazon Prime membership with Amazon Prime video only.
Membership runs $139 per year or $14.99 per month.
Prime Video also allows for a customized cable TV alternative experience, with the option of subscribing to additional channels and networks through their service.
You should consider investing in Amazon Fire TV for the best experience if you do this.
#12. HBO Max
HBO Max isn’t just movies.
The package includes Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and more.
The ad-supported plan is $9.99 a month, while the ad-free version includes ultra HD and costs $14.99 a month.
You can get discounts if you pay annually, and unfortunately, there is no free trial offered.
#13. Discovery Plus
If entertainment is your interest, consider Discovery Plus.
For $4.99 per month, you can watch TV shows on Food Network, HGTV, Magnolia Network, A&E, Lifetime, OWN, Discovery, History Channel, TLC, and more.
And if you are active military or a veteran, you can subscribe for just $2.99 a month.
#14. Pure Flix
A smaller player is Pure Flix.
This family-friendly service offers movies, documentaries, and original shows.
They pride themselves on keeping violence, vulgar language, and adult scenes out of the movies and shows they offer.
They do not offer live TV streaming services or local channels, but they offer a free trial.
Pricing starts at $7.99 but is lower if you pay annually.
Free Cable TV Alternatives
In addition to the paid options, there are a few free alternatives you can choose from if you’re looking to keep costs down.
The downside: you’re not going to get all the TV shows you’re used to getting.
Owned by NBC, this platform comes with an extensive catalog of classics originally aired on local TV, such as Parks & Recreation, The Office, and more.
Some content is only available to paid users if you’re interested in an upgrade which will cost $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
Peacock Premium Plus unlocks content with few ads for $5.00 per month or $50 per year.
If you are a fan of wrestling, you can watch all the WWE pay-per-view events with a Peacock paid plan.
FOX owns Tubi, and it is 100% free.
Because the service is free to consumers, ads are sprinkled throughout the shows and movies.
Another plus to this service is no subscription is required. You can start watching TV on Tubi today with no strings attached.
Pluto.tv is a great option instead of cable or satellite service.
They offer both a live streaming service and on-demand shows.
You get 100s of channels and 1,000s of movies for free.
They are ad-supported so that you will see commercials, but this is one of the best free options to replace cable.
#18. Digital Antenna
The best option for watching local networks and channels and for people not interested in subscribing to a streaming service because it is 100% free is to get an antenna.
Many people don’t realize how many free channels you can get with a digital antenna.
In addition to the local channels you are familiar with, many local networks have niche channels too.
If you remember, back in 2009, television went from an analog signal to digital.
The change to digital allowed local networks to offer additional channels.
For example, you might remember channel 3, channel 3.1, and so on.
These additional channels tend to show reruns of classic TV shows and movies and additional local events.
In other words, you can save money by simply ditching cable and not subscribing to a streaming service.
You can buy a digital antenna at most stores and all are compatible with most TVs.
Here is a great option from Amazon for less than $40.
As an added benefit, you can mount the antenna inside your house.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked many questions about streaming services, mainly because there are so many, and the landscape continues to change.
Here are the most common questions.
Do you need internet to watch these alternatives to cable TV?
You do need an internet connection to watch TV with these services.
The only exception to this is if you use an antenna, in which you don’t need internet.
Cable companies have been raising the prices of internet-only subscriptions to offset the loss of cable customers.
Some have even been lowering the cost of basic cable services to keep customers.
Make sure you price out the cost of internet only, as it might be higher than you think.
Plus, if you plan to stream a lot of content, you will need a faster internet plan, which is more expensive.
What is the best streaming service?
The best service is all dependent on what you watch.
If you are into sports, you can’t go wrong with Sling TV or YouTube TV.
Hulu + Live TV is an excellent option if variety and live TV are what you are after.
As with many things in life, there is no one-fits-all answer for the best cable TV alternatives.
What are the worst cable TV alternatives?
Again, the only worst alternatives to cable TV are those that don’t meet your needs.
If you like watching shows on many networks, opting for Peacock or Paramount+ doesn’t make sense.
But they could be perfect options for other people.
Should I get rid of cable?
Getting rid of cable is a personal decision and one that you have to look at the whole picture.
Cable does cost a lot of money, but you have to think about what you are giving up and the effort you have to put in to keep watching what you enjoy using other methods.
If you find you rarely watch TV or only watch a few select channels, you can get rid of cable and be happy.
Is streaming cheaper than cable?
Individual streaming services are cheaper than cable.
The problem is that you often need more than one service to watch everything you enjoy.
And for some people who live to watch everything, it can cost you as much or more money.
I recommend you first call your current provider and try to negotiate.
It’s less time-consuming, and you might be able to save a lot of money.
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What is the easiest way to get streaming services?
Most people have a smart TV where the apps for many of these services are built-in.
This type of television makes it easy to watch since you don’t have to change your routine.
If you don’t have a smart TV, there are a lot of streaming devices to choose from.
Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast are the most popular options and should support many services listed.
There are the best alternatives to cable TV to choose from.
The list is long and is growing longer by the day.
With so many streaming services on the market to choose from, it can be a little daunting to choose the right one for you.
But if you do your homework and know what you enjoy watching, you can make the process a lot easier.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.