10 of the Best Cable Alternatives for Saving Money

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If you’re evaluating your budget and looking for ways to cut back, one of the first options you should consider is changing your TV service. Millions of Americans have been ditching cable and satellite TV services in favor of some of the best cable alternatives.

You can easily spend over $100 per month on TV, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a growing number of cheaper options that also offer a great deal of flexibility.

In this article we’ll look at 10 options that are cheaper than traditional cable or satellite packages. Some of these options offer live TV, and others favor streaming of TV shows and movies.

Many households, including mine, use a combination of a few of these options to replace cable TV and still save a good bit of money each month.

→ Related reading: 101 Practical and Realistic Ways to Save Money

The Best Cable Alternatives

1. HD Antenna

One of the most cost-effective ways to watch television is to use an antenna. The modern HD antennas provide an incredible HD picture for channels that are within your range.

The number and variety of channels you get will depend on your location and the range of your antenna. In general, the closer you are to a major urban area, the more channels you will get. Most major cities have NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox-affiliated channels within range.

One of the reasons this is such a great option is that you’ll have the upfront cost of buying the antenna, but there is no monthly cost. Antennas are not expensive and you could be watching free network TV with just a small upfront cost.

My wife and I purchased an antenna when we canceled cable five years ago, and we’ve been using the same antenna ever since. I’d recommend getting one with some range, especially if you don’t live in an urban area.

With a simple antenna you can get free over-the-air programming of local news, lives sports (most NFL games are on the major networks), and many of your favorite shows. You can purchase an antenna today for $20-$50 and enjoy free TV for years.

For most people, an antenna will be part of the plan to replace cable, but not the entire plan. Use an antenna in combination with some of the other options featured in this article.

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[2018 Latest] Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna Long 65-80 Miles Range – Support 4K 1080p & All Older TV's Indoor Powerful HDTV Amplifier Signal Booster - 18ft Coax Cable/USB Power Adapter
HDTV Antenna - Newest Portable Indoor Digital Antenna, 120 Mile Long Range with Amplifier Signal Booster for 4K HD VHF UHF Local TV Channels with 13ft Coaxial Cable Support All Television(ANT-338A)
1byone 50 Miles Amplified HDTV Antenna with Amplifier Booster USB Power Supply to Boost Signal and 20ft Coaxial Cable, Shiny Antenna
ViewTV [2018 VERSION] 50 Mile Digital TV Antenna Flat Indoor Amplified HDTV - UHF/VHF 1080P Channels w/Detachable Signal Amplifier - 10 FT Copper Coaxial Cable - Black
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[2018 Latest] Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna Long 65-80 Miles Range – Support 4K 1080p & All Older TV's Indoor Powerful HDTV Amplifier Signal Booster - 18ft Coax Cable/USB Power Adapter
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[2018 Latest] Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna Long 65-80 Miles Range – Support 4K 1080p & All Older TV's Indoor Powerful HDTV Amplifier Signal Booster - 18ft Coax Cable/USB Power Adapter
Free Shipping
Current Price
from $26.95
Get it at Amazon
Product
HDTV Antenna - Newest Portable Indoor Digital Antenna, 120 Mile Long Range with Amplifier Signal Booster for 4K HD VHF UHF Local TV Channels with 13ft Coaxial Cable Support All Television(ANT-338A)
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HDTV Antenna - Newest Portable Indoor Digital Antenna, 120 Mile Long Range with Amplifier Signal Booster for 4K HD VHF UHF Local TV Channels with 13ft Coaxial Cable Support All Television(ANT-338A)
Free Shipping
Current Price
$39.99
Get it at Amazon
Product
1byone 50 Miles Amplified HDTV Antenna with Amplifier Booster USB Power Supply to Boost Signal and 20ft Coaxial Cable, Shiny Antenna
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1byone 50 Miles Amplified HDTV Antenna with Amplifier Booster USB Power Supply to Boost Signal and 20ft Coaxial Cable, Shiny Antenna
Free Shipping
Current Price
$22.99
Get it at Amazon
Product
ViewTV [2018 VERSION] 50 Mile Digital TV Antenna Flat Indoor Amplified HDTV - UHF/VHF 1080P Channels w/Detachable Signal Amplifier - 10 FT Copper Coaxial Cable - Black
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ViewTV [2018 VERSION] 50 Mile Digital TV Antenna Flat Indoor Amplified HDTV - UHF/VHF 1080P Channels w/Detachable Signal Amplifier - 10 FT Copper Coaxial Cable - Black
Free Shipping
Current Price
$11.99
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Highlights of Using an HD Antenna:

  • No monthly cost
  • HD quality
  • The number of channels you get will depend on where you live and the range of your antenna
  • Many channels are not available through an antenna

2. Sling TV

Sling TV

There are a lot of things to love about Sling, including the price. At just $25 per month, the price is much lower than you are paying now for cable or satellite TV. Another thing that makes Sling great is the selection. No one watches hundreds of different channels, and with Sling you don’t have to pay for lots of channels that you don’t want.

Sling offers a few different packages that you can choose to get the channels that you want the most. Their packages include networks like NBC and Fox, as well as cable channels like ESPN, ESPN2, CNN, HGTV, USA, TBS, TNT, and more.

With Sling you’ll be able to watch live TV via streaming. You’ll need a streaming device like a Roku, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV or others in order to watch Sling on your TV. They usually have an offer where you can get a free device (like the Roku for example) if you pre-pay for a few months of Sling.

Sling also offers some upgrade packages at very reasonable prices. I’ve used Sling in the fall and winter the past several years to watch college football on ESPN. Their sports package upgrade includes channels like ESPNU and the SEC Network for just an extra $5 per month.

They also offer a cloud DVR upgrade for $5 per month. Premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz are all available as well.

With Sling there are no contracts, so you can start and stop the service anytime.

Highlights of Sling TV:

  • Prices start at $25 per month
  • Multiple different packages allow you to get the channels that you want
  • Stream live TV over the internet

3. Hulu

Hulu

Hulu is another great alternative, and also gives you a few different options. The cheapest plan is $7.99 per month ($5.99 per month for the first year) and that allows you to stream from their library of thousands of TV shows and movies. Possibly the nicest thing about Hulu is that most of the episodes become available shortly after they air (like maybe the next day). Most other services, like Netflix, require you to wait a long time (a year in some cases) before the new episodes are added.

The cheapest Hulu plan includes some commercials You can upgrade to a no-commercial plan if you’re like.

Another option is Hulu with Live TV, which starts at $39.99 per month. With this plan you’ll get access to the full Hulu library of movies and TV shows (with limited commercials) and you’ll also be able to watch more than 50 channels live (ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, CNN, HGTV, A&E, and more), including news and sports.

An enhanced cloud DVR is available as an add-on, and so are premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax.

Highlights of Hulu:

  • Prices start at $7.99 per month, which gives you access to stream their library of TV shows and movies (cheapest plan includes commercials)
  • Most TV episodes become available shortly after they air
  • Upgrade to include live TV from 50 channels for $39.99 per month

4. Netflix

Netflix

Netflix is, of course, incredibly popular. While it doesn’t offer live streaming, the vast (and growing) library of movies and TV shows makes it a viable cable replacement. My wife and I canceled cable five years ago, and our family uses Netflix for 80%-90% or what we watch now.

Pricing for Netflix starts at just $7.99 per month, but that plan does not include HD. With the $10.99 per month plan you’ll get HD, and you’ll be able to stream on 2 different devices at the same time. You can also upgrade to the $13.99 per month plan for ultra HD and to stream on 4 devices at the same time.

You can use a device like Roku or Amazon Fire TV to stream Netflix. A lot of Bluray players and smart TVs also have Netflix apps built in, which makes it really easy and convenient.

Netflix offers a large library of movies and TV shows that can be streamed. The selection changes from time to time (especially with movies), but there is always a lot to choose from.

In the past few years, Netflix has been very aggressive with creating and releasing Netflix-original shows and movies, and these programs have really added to the value of a Netflix membership.

Highlights of Netflix:

  • Pricing starts at $7.99 per month (cheapest plan does not feature HD)
  • You’ll get access to stream their large library of shows and movies (no live TV)
  • Shows become available a full season at a time, so you may wait a year or more to get access to new shows
  • Netflix produces a growing number of shows and movies that are only available through its service

5. Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is similar to Netflix in several ways. It does not offer live TV, but you’ll get access to a large library of movies and TV shows for streaming. Like Netflix, Amazon also has some exclusive content that you can only get through its platform.

Prime Video is available for Prime members. You can get a Prime membership for $12.99 per month, but remember that Prime Video is just one of several benefits of membership. Of course, you’ll get free 2-day shipping on most orders fulfilled by Amazon, access to stream music, and photo backups.

If you’re already a Prime member be sure that you check out Prime Videos. If you’re not already a Prime member you can sign up for a 30-day free trial here.

Highlights of Amazon Prime Video:

  • Available to Amazon Prime members ($12.99 per month)
  • You’ll get access to stream their large library of shows and movies (no live TV)
  • Shows become available a full season at a time, so you may wait a year or more to get access to new shows

6. Fubo

Fubo

Fubo is a sports-centric streaming service that also includes your local networks and popular cable channels like HGTV, USA, A&E, AMC, and more. At $44.99 per month ($39.99 for the first month), it is one of the highest-priced options on this list.

The amount of games that are streamed live makes it a good option for sports fans, but if sports isn’t a major interest for you, you’ll be better off with one of the other options.

One of the nice features from Fubo is a free cloud DVR with 30 hours of space. Aside from the DVR, you can also replay almost any game, show, or movie aired in the past 3 days.

You can watch Fubo using a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV.

Highlights of Fubo:

  • $44.99 per month
  • Sports-centered service
  • Includes live TV from local networks and cable channels
  • Includes cloud DVR with 30 hours of space


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7. PlayStation VUE

PlayStation VUE

PlayStation VUE offers live TV streaming starting at $44.99 per month (other packages are more expensive). The cheapest plan includes your local networks, ESPN, ESPN2, Disney, HGTV, TNT, TBS, USA, and more. You can also get access to add-ons and premium channels.

Two great features are the cloud-based DVR that can store hundreds of hours of content, and the ability to stream on 5 devices at a time.

To use PlayStation VUE you’ll need a PS3, PS4, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV.

Highlights of PlayStation VUE:

  • Live TV streaming starting at $44.99 per month
  • Includes cloud DVR with hundreds of hours of storage
  • You don’t need a PlayStation to use this service

8. YouTube TV

YouTube TV

YouTube TV offers live TV from 60+ channels, including your local networks (in most metro areas). The cost is $40 per month, which is still a good bit less than a cable subscription.

YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR with no storage limitations, and you can even record simultaneously. You’ll also get 6 accounts with their own signins for everyone in your family, and you can watch up to 3 streams at the same time.

You can use a device like the Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast devices, and more.

Highlights of YouTube TV:

  • $40 per month
  • Live TV from 60+ channels
  • Includes cloud DVR with no storage limits

9. Network Websites

Many networks and channels offer some or all of their shows on their own websites. These shows are usually available only for a limited time, but this is still a great option for free (some offer paid plans as well). You can watch on your computer, tablet, phone, smart TV, or use an HDMI cable to connect a laptop to a TV.

10. Your Local Library

The last option I’ll mention is your local library. Many libraries have great collections of DVDs and Blu-rays that you can borrow. Some libraries offer them for free, and others charge a small fee for rentals. If you’re looking to keep your entertainment costs as low as possible, be sure to visit your library and see what options they offer. You might be surprised.

READ NEXT: How to Create a Budget That Works

Best Cable Alternatives