There’s nothing better than kicking back after a long day and watching some TV, is there?
But when you see the bill… Yikes!
The cost of cable and satellite TV has gone up and up, and you could be spending an average of $218 per month on it. Plus, do you really use all those premium channels??
Luckily, there are a ton of great alternatives out there, which will cost you a fraction of that. If you just started frugal living, a streaming service like YouTube TV or Netflix may be perfect for you!
Today, lets look at the best cable TV alternatives for you.
- FREE Local Channels – HD Digital Antenna
- Best Bundle Pricing – Hulu
- Least Expensive Streaming – Paramount+
- Most Popular Streaming Service – Netflix
- Best For Live TV – Pluto TV (free!)
16 Best Alternatives To Cable TV
Netflix is the go-to in our household in the evenings – we love it and have been users for a very long time!
But Netflix is the best streaming service, according to almost 240 billion people besides us.
It’s extremely convenient and hosts a whole range of things to watch – both TV programs and films.
They also upload a lot of original Netflix shows, which are great!
However, I just want to point out that Netflix doesn’t have live TV.
You pick what you want to watch, unlike cable channels that play things constantly.
It’s really affordable at $6.99 a month for the basic package with ads included.
You can use one screen at a time, and there aren’t HD options, but you get all the movies and shows they stream.
It’s a little bit more if you want to use it on more than one streaming device at a time, costs go up to $15.49 for 2 screens and $19.99 for 4 screens.
That may be worth it for a big family who wants to watch more than 1 thing at a given time.
2. Local Channels: HD Digital Antenna
HD Digital Antenna is one of the most cost-effective alternatives to cable TV out there.
No internet is needed for this option- it’s good free basic cable TV, just without those old-style rabbit ears for your TV.
No premium channels are included on this option,but how often do you need them anyway?
You will need to shell out for the cost of the antenna of course, but from then on, you’re good to go.
The antenna setup is typically only around $20, and once you buy it, you’re all set to hook up for basic cable channels.
The types of cable channels that you will be able to pick up varies, but you should easily get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc.
But, before cutting the cord for cable, make sure that you have a decent signal!
Some areas may do better with a different type of antenna or may need an antenna with a longer range if you live further away from a town or city.
The basic plan Hulu offers is a super affordable $7.99 per month – but with one catch: commercials.
But that’s pretty similar to cable TV, so not a big change for a lot lower cost!
If you want to watch your shows without commercials, you can upgrade to $17.99 per month to skip the little hassle.
However, you can only watch it on 2 streaming devices at a time – so they haven’t caught up with Netflix just yet, with 4 streaming devices on their top plan.
But if you’re a fan of TV shows, they show them on there on the day that they air – which isn’t possible with options such as Netflix.
Hulu streams live TV and channels like FX, Disney, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, and more- plenty of options for every member of your family!
You can also bundle Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+, which, if you want more streaming services, saves you money.
YouTube is completely free! It has been popular for a long time, with plenty of contributors adding original content.
Now, this isn’t the best option if you’re specifically looking for TV shows and movies for free, but there are videos on whatever you’re interested in!
I don’t know about you, but there has been many a time when I’ve been sucked into a YouTube rabbit hole and watched video after video for far too long.
But I don’t regret it! This is why YouTube is one of my favorites and one of the best alternatives to cable.
The best thing about YouTube? If you type something in, there’s going to be a video on it. There’s a video for everything!
This is particularly useful if you enjoy watching videos where you can learn something, or you love watching vloggers.
There are some films and shows that you can watch on YouTube, but you may have to pay a small fee, kind of like a rental streaming service that’s readily available at any time.
5. YouTube TV
YouTube TV isn’t the same thing as YouTube – this is a streaming service where you can find your favorite channels!
It’s a live TV streaming service with over 100 channels and networks, which is great for sports channels or if you want access to local news.
On YouTube TV, you can get access to your local channels and live TV, and then other channels and networks such as CNN and ESPN.
And you can use YouTube TV on 3 streaming devices at a time, so you won’t be fighting over screen time.
Or should I say the kids won’t be fighting? They can have access to channels like Cartoon Network and Disney, no problem!
Plus, YouTube TV offers unlimited Cloud DVR for 9 months- so you record as much live TV as you want without worrying about space.
It’s $65 a month, so YouTube TV is a bit more on the pricier side than the options we have looked at so far.
YouTube TV also has a free 2-week trial, so you can really give it a try before you stop using cable TV. I’m sure you won’t regret switching if this is your pick!
6. Sling TV
This is one of the options that is the most similar to cable TV, so if you really miss it, you may want to go for Sling TV.
Sling TV is another great live TV streaming service, as it works similarly to cable.
You get a choice of either Sling Orange or Sling Blue, both of which offer different channels.
You can watch 32 networks on Orange and 43 channels on Blue Sling TV.
Both packages cost $40 per month ($20 for your first month!).
There’s also the option of having both for $55 per month.
Sling TV is worth looking into if you’re after a more customizable package based on the channels that you watch.
7. Amazon Prime Video
Hands up if you have an Amazon Prime account? If so, then you already have access to their video streaming service!
The cost of Prime is $8.99 per month, but you could pay $14.99 a month for Prime membership and get Prime Video plus Prime Shipping and other perks.
You can get access to TV shows and movies, but the great thing about Prime Video is that if the thing that you want to watch isn’t available, you have the option of renting it.
You can also buy a streaming device called the FireStick to hook up to your TV and use Prime Video and any other streaming apps you have!
You won’t have access to sports channels, so that’s something to think about when you are choosing your best cable TV alternative.
8. Max (HBO)
You can actually use HBO through other streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon Prime.
However, if you want to get it on its own then you have the Max option – it’s the same cost if you have it as a standalone or add-on.
It’s $9.99 per month with ads, comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can cancel it whenever you want.
For no ads, it’s $15.99 per month to stream 2 devices or $19.99 to stream 4 devices.
9. Local Library
When was the last time you visited your library? Things have really changed, and you can get so much more than books now!
Believe it or not, you can get a lot of movies and TV shows on DVD at your local library.
It’s a great idea for movie night to grab some snacks and a few free movies from the library!
If you have a library card, borrowing them will be free – but make sure that you return it in time, or you’ll get a late fee.
Plus, the libraries work together, so if your closest library doesn’t have what you want, they can reach out to another location and have things mailed to them.
Or you can pop over to that location and see what else they’ve got!
Some libraries have online streaming services, like Kanopy or Hoopla, so it’s worth checking out your local library’s website to see what they’ve got going on.
10. ESPN +
This one is for all those sports fans who need to keep up to speed on all the latest games!
ESPN + is ESPN’s new streaming service, and it’s all within the ESPN app, so there’s no need to download anything extra.
With ESPN +, you can get access to live games and events, films, and more with regional sports networks.
It costs $9.99 per month, or you can bundle with Hulu and Disney+ and only pay $12.99 for all 3 services.
11. DIRECTV Stream
Formerly AT&T TV Now, you can use DIRECTV Stream to stream live TV, regional sports networks, news, movies, and more through this service.
If you’re looking for something that is pretty much the same as normal cable, DIRECTV Stream is it.
It’s a bit steep at $64.99 – $144.99 per month between the 4 different plans.
However, DIRECTV Stream is still less expensive than regular cable to get live TV- just not as cost-effective as most streaming services.
There are 75 – 150+ channels, depending on which package you choose.
You can also get access to movies and other live TV on DirecTV Stream- like National Geographic, Discovery, and more.
12. Apple TV+
Apple isn’t one to shy away from a bit of competition, and they’re giving it their best shot with Apple TV+, a low-fee streaming service.
It’s priced at $6.99 per month, and you can get it for free if you purchase an Apple device for 3 months.
They even have a streaming device if you don’t want to just use the app, so you have other options within the Apple TV world.
Apple TV+ is a bit different from the other streaming services that we’ve looked at so far, as it doesn’t have a huge amount of typical shows or movies available.
It seems to be mainly concentrating on unique shows from its own brand, but it seems to be catching up and adding more over time.
I don’t think I’ve seen so many stories about a TV-related thing before Disney + came out – it was all over social media!
I don’t blame anyone, though, as I love a bit of Disney myself. This is perfect if you’re a Disney fan!
There’s the usual Disney stuff, but don’t forget about all of the Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and more! Disney owns pretty much everything by now.
The service is priced affordably at $7.99 per month.
Or you can bundle it with Hulu for $9.99 per month or with Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
Philo is probably the streaming service that is the best value for money in terms of being similar to cable TV in the choices offered.
You are able to get access to 70+ channels, which include AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and more.
You can use Philo on all of your streaming devices, and it will cost you $25 per month – with a free 7-day trial.
The one drawback I think it has is that they don’t have many sports channels or news networks.
Paramount+ is a newer streaming service that may be the most cost-effective option on my list.
Its essential plan is only $5 per month. Such a great deal!
Or you can sign up for no ads at $10 per month.
You can stream shows from CBS, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, and more.
Right now, they also have a deal that you can get your subscription 50% off an annual plan.
So instead of paying $60 0r $100 per year, it’s only $30 or $50!
16. Free Live TV Streaming Services
Why not make your digital entertainment completely free?
There are plenty of free streaming services for an endless amount of shows and movies with your family.
I’ve used Pluto TV mainly, where you can scroll through channels just like you would with regular cable.
You can also get access to some shows and movies- like I can see the first 6 seasons of Taskamster without paying for a new subscription!
But any free streaming services will wind up having ads, making it even more like regular cable.
So you’ll have to decide if free is worth ads, this is for you.
Here are some other free streaming services to check out:
- Sling Freestream (not the same as Sling TV)
DirecTV Stream is also an option for live TV (especially sports channels!), and I mentioned it above, but it isn’t a free option.
Or… Start a Different Hobby
The best alternative to cable TV? Pretty much anything that isn’t watching TV!
Rather than paying for YouTube TV or other streaming services, you can find other entertainment and fun things for yourself and your family.
There are plenty of free things to do or cheap date night ideas rather than vegging out in front of the tube!
Yes, putting on the TV and plopping on the couch is a great way to kick back and relax, but there are some other things that you could try instead.
They’re better for you and can be fun experiences with the family.
Good old reading! I’m a big fan of reading, as I believe that your writing, spelling, grammar, and imagination are all improved from reading.
You could use the time that you usually spend watching TV, reading a good book instead and learning something new.
Plus, you could get paid to read new books or books before they’re published!
TV…or exercise? It’s no surprise that a lot of people choose to watch TV instead, but giving some exercise a go instead is always a good idea.
You may hate the idea before you do it, but I guarantee that you will feel much better afterward.
If you’re worried TV has taken over your free time, it may be time to exercise and try something healthier for a change of pace!
Get Outside, Be Active
We live in a beautiful country, it’s time to get outside and enjoy it!
There’s nothing better than a stroll in the sunshine, or even on a rainy day. It’s good for you!
Play Board Games
Game night is a tradition that I want to carry on from when I did this as a kid with my family.
I’m not saying we didn’t watch plenty of cartoons, but we didn’t have as much to check out as there is now!
Playing board games with my family is one of my favorite memories – it’s fun and brings everyone together.
Start a Side Hustle
One of the best ways to spend your free time is to start up a side hustle.
It may not sound like one of the most fun things to do, especially if you have been at work all day already, but it can be a game-changer.
It’s a good idea to pick something that you will enjoy and see if you can make some money from it.
Then you can use that money to go towards your goals!
My favorite side hustles:
- Become a Proofreader – Love to read? Why not get paid to read others’ work and find spelling/grammatical errors?
- Take Online Surveys – Answer quick questions for money while you watch live TV, wait in the doctor’s office, or even sit on the toilet.
- Start a Money Making Blog – Our blog brings in over $10,000 per month! You could write about your passions and make a lot of money too.
- Start a Facebook Side Hustle – You can create Facebook Ads for businesses and get paid $25+ per hour.
- Become a Freelance Writer – Freelance writing can be an incredible side hustle to make $20+ per hour.
What is the best streaming service?
Netflix is the most popular streaming service, but picking the best depends on your needs.
You have so many options for live streaming services and on-demand shows and movies, but think about what you want to watch and how much you can afford.
If you want live TV like cable with unlimited Cloud DVR, YouTube TV might be your best bet.
If you can’t afford streaming services, a free streaming service like Pluto TV might be best.
If you can afford less than $20 a month on streaming, you can get Hulu or even bundle it with Disney+ and ESPN+- it’ll only cost $12.99 per month!
Or, if you want specific live TV channels, you can pay $40 a month with Sling TV.
Any one of these options will still save you money compared to regular cable, so one or multiple services might be the best pick(s) for you.
How much money can you save cutting the cord?
It depends on how much you were originally paying for your cable and which streaming service you decide to go with.
Say you were paying around $100 for your cable (a low ballpark for cable!).
If you chose something like Netflix at $9 per month, you’d be saving $1092 per year.
I do tend to see a lot of people doing a mixture of different streaming services, and you just want to be careful to pay for things you don’t use.
If you stick strictly with free streaming services, you’ll save much more every year.
Do you need internet to use these cable alternatives?
Yes, you need the internet to use cable alternatives like YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Apple TV+.
Most streaming services or live TV are through apps or websites, meaning you’ll need devices to use and the internet to connect to.
But it’s possible to get free internet or at least get cheaper options from your provider.
If you already pay for data- especially unlimited data- you could use your phone to watch these cable alternatives.
But some options aren’t just streaming live TV or movies- you can borrow free stuff.
If you use your library card to borrow physical movies from the library, you obviously won’t need the internet for that.
If you love watching live TV but want to cut costs, that doesn’t necessarily mean going cold turkey and giving up watching what you like to watch.
There are plenty of live TV streaming services and good old apps to watch what you want when you want.
It’s always a good idea to look into cheaper options for the thing that you want to see if it can save you money using YouTube TV, Netflix, or Apple TV.
It depends on what kind of shows and channels you like, but there are plenty of great services if you want to know how to watch live TV without cable or satellite.
There are some amazing cable TV alternatives out there for you to choose from. You can even get paid to watch Netflix.
Just pick the best streaming service or any other option that fits your budget or gives you your favorite shows.
Or be like us, and have a few streaming services- even having 2 streaming channels is less expensive than cable TV, so we feel no guilt in a little splurge!