5 Best Alternatives To Cable TV

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Cutting the cord, also known as getting rid of cable TV, has become a lot more popular recently.  This increased popularity is great for your wallet as companies compete to offer you better deals than your standard cable TV.  In my house, we’ve been without cable TV for over 6 years now and will share with you the best alternatives to cable TV.

First, why would you want to cut the cord?

According to Leichtman Research Group, the average monthly bill among TV satellite providers is around $100. This means that you can save around $1,200 each year by cutting the cord.

Don’t worry, we understand how much you love laying in bed after an exhausting day at work to watch your favorite show.  So we’ll point you to options that give you your favorite channels but leaving a lot more cash in your pocket.

Hulu

Hulu is by far one of the cheapest video streaming services available. It offers a solid library of movies and TV shows, in addition to the robust live TV option.

The emphasis on Hulu’s content is primarily on TV shows. Hulu offers thousands of episodes of TV shows from some of the most notable network providers.

Let’s talk about subscription plans. Hulu’s basic streaming plan costs only $5.99 a month. Note that this plan is ad-supported. To get rid of the ads, you can get the ad-free version for $11.99 a month.  This basic plan gives you full access to a huge library of popular TV episodes and movies, from brand new episodes to classic TV shows.

Now, if you’re like me and want to watch live sports, local channels, and some cable shows.  Then you’re going to want to go with Hulu + Live TV for $44.99 a month.

Hulu + Live TV includes the following TV channels and more:

  • CBS
  • ABC
  • NBC
  • Fox
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN News
  • NBC Golf
  • TNT
  • TBS
  • A&E
  • HGTV
  • Food Network
  • FX
  • USA
  • History Channel
  • CNN
  • CNBC
  • Fox News
  • Lifetime
  • FS1
  • FS2
  • Oxygen
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney
  • Disney Jr
  • E
  • and many more

With this and an inexpensive home cable internet service, I’ve cut my old cable bill by more than half.

Hulu also offers a wide variety of add-ons, Cinemax for $10 a month, HBO for $15 a month, and Showtime for $9 a month. These add-ons allow you to watch movies and TV shows provided by each of those networks, in addition to their live feeds.

There are also special add-ons for Hulu’s Live TV plans like Enhanced Cloud DVR, which gives you 200 hours of storage and the ability to fast-forward through advertisements. There’s also the Unlimited Screens add-on, which removes all restrictions on simultaneous streams. Each one of these add-ons cost $10 a month and you can get both for $15 a month.

Hulu also offers its Entertainment add-on for $8 a month, giving you a number of extra channels such as Discovery Family, Science, DIY, and the Cooking Channel.

Overall, Hulu is a great alternative for cable TV, and is what I’m currently using in my home.

Sling TV

Sling TV is the most popular TV streaming service in the United States. As of June 30, 2019, it reached over 2.47 million subscribers. What exactly makes Sling TV so popular? Well, Sling TV offers you two main plans: Sling Blue and Sling Orange. Each plan starts at $25 per month. You can also get both plans for just $40 a month.

Sling TV was what I used for several years before I made the switch to Hulu + Live TV.

Sling TV Orange Plan

The Sling Orange plan is for people who plan on watching Sling TV by themselves. However, if you plan on sharing your Sling TV membership with your family, you should go for Blue.

The Sling Orange plan allows you to view TNT, TBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, CNN, AMC, IFC, Cartoon Network, Food Network, DIY Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, History, A&E, Lifetime, Newsy, Flama, Bloomberg, and AXS TV. Additionally, you get to watch Cheddar, which is a tech channel that can only be viewed on Sling TV.

Sling TV Blue Plan

The Sling Blue plan pretty much shares the same channels, but more than just one person gets to watch Sling TV at a time. Note that Disney-owned channels are unavailable on Blue. On the bright side, you get to watch channels from NBC, Fox, and Viacom.

Okay, now that we’ve got the basic plans out of the way, let’s talk some premium. With Sling TV, you get to subscribe to a bunch of premium channels for an additional cost. You get to see HBO for $15 a month and Cinemax for $10 a month. And for $9 a month, you can watch both STARZ and STARZ encore. SHOWTIME has also joined the game for $10 a month.

Assuming you’re hard to please and the above-mentioned options aren’t enough for you, here is a bunch of other add-on packages that are each available for $5 a month:

  • Heartland Extra – The Cowboy Chanel, Family Net, PixL, Sportsman Channel, RFD-TV, World Fishing Network, and the Outdoor Channel.
  • Sports Extra – SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, beIN Sports, Univision Deportes, Universal Sports, Campus Insiders, Outside Television, and ESPN Goal Line.
  • Kids Extra – Disney XD, Disney Jr, Duck TV, Baby TV, Boomerang, NickToons, Nick Jr, and TeenNick.
  • World News Extra – HLN, Fusion, Euronews, NDTV 24×7, News 18 India, BBC World News, France 24, RT, MSNBC, The Blaze, and CNBC
  • Comedy Extra – TruTV, Spike. MTV, MTV2, Logo, TV Land, CMT, GSN, and El Rey.

There are a bunch of other packages that you can subscribe to, but it would take us a little while to get through all of them. If you’re not seeing anything that interests you, Sling TV tends to add to its lineup of channels every few months, so be on the lookout for more to come.

Netflix

From an incredible range of award-winning original content to the featured classic and beloved TV shows, there’s no doubt that Netflix can offer more than your cable TV at a more affordable monthly cost of $9 for its basic plan, $12.99 for its standard streaming plan, and $15.99 for the premium streaming plan.

With a standard or premium membership, you get to stream in HD. However, you only have the option to stream in Ultra HD with the premium plan, which is strongly recommended for people who tend to be concerned about the viewing quality.

The real difference between plans is how many devices are allowed to stream at the same time. For a basic plan, you’re only allowed to watch on one screen, a standard membership allows for two screens, and a premium membership allows for four.

What’s great about Netflix is that all of its plans allow for unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. Also, you get to watch from anywhere and on any device. Additionally, you can cancel your subscription whenever you want.

Netflix Premium Plan

We highly recommend subscribing to the premium package for a few reasons. If you’re in a house full of people, it’s a no brainer to get the premium plan. Also, if you’re into older movies, a premium plan will allow you to watch them in Ultra HD which displays such movies with fantastic quality that makes them seem like they’ve been filmed very recently.

Netflix offers a bunch of convenient features, the most notable being its Skip Intro button. As the name suggests, this button allows you to get past the title sequences in every TV show. You can also create more than one user account so that each family members can get recommendations that suit their taste.

Netflix features parental control functions that can be accessed in the Settings tab. Using these functions, you can control the type of content that your children get to watch. Another awesome option that Netflix offers is the ability to rent DVDs and Blu-rays for an additional monthly fee.

The Starter package allows you to rent two discs every month, while the Standard and Premier plans allow for an unlimited number of rentable discs. Netflix doesn’t even charge you any late fees. You actually get two-day shipping and returns for free with all three packages.

At this moment, Netflix offers over 10,000 movies and TV series for its users. But the real prize is Netflix’s original content such as the famed House of Cards and the insanely popular Orange Is the New Black. Netflix will keep you entertained for hours on the daily, so get rid of your cord already.

Amazon Video

Amazon is now everywhere, not just as a shopping option, but as a streaming option as well. An Amazon Prime Video membership is highly affordable at just $13 a month. Amazon offers you a 30-day free trial period so that you can check out what it has to offer before you commit to it.

One of Amazon’s most convenient features is the ability to buy or rent titles that you can’t find in its catalog for streaming. This doesn’t mean that Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have an array of movies and shows to offer, it’s just good to know that you can watch anything you want.

Amazon also features a parental control function so that you can prevent family members from making purchases with your card. And not to state the obvious, but you can also prevent them from watching certain content using this function.

Amazon Video Prime doesn’t recommend titles for you. Instead, it leaves you to browse for the titles you want to see without clogging up your home screen with recommendations that may or may not interest you. You even have the option to browse by channel, which isn’t allowed with other streaming services such as Netflix. Keep in mind that you have to pay for each channel’s content.

Some channels allow you to purchase a single episode at a time as a way to avoid subscription. You can also find movies that may appear available for streaming, but once you point the cursor on one of them, you realize that you need to pay an extra fee to watch them. You’re likely to find this with channels such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

Amazon Prime Video also allows you to search by title or by genre. However, the former can be a little frustrating since it tends to show you fee-based options along with the available-to-stream options. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s homepage, you’ll know how crowded it looks, making it hard for you to find the link for Amazon Prime Video.

The great thing about Amazon Prime Video is that you don’t have to wait for your video to load. Also, Amazon offers a very convenient mobile app. We’re fans of the screen because it’s unique and very informative. Some people may find it a little distracting, but we think it’s great.

What we don’t like, however, is the fact that the overlay screen takes too long to disappear, but that’s just us nitpicking. All things considered, Amazon Prime Video is a much better deal than your cable TV deal.

HDTV Antenna

Simply put, an HDTV antenna gives you a few more channels than basic cable TV without any monthly fees. However, there’s an endless deluge of antennas available on the market and it’s hard to distinguish between a high-quality model and a low-quality one. Before we reveal some of the best HDTV antennas on the market, there are a few factors that you need to consider.

  • Price – A high-quality antenna doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, you’ll find plenty of great antennas for around $50. You can find two types of HDTV antennas: non-amplified and amplified. The former tends to cost less than the latter. However, amplified antennas are worth the additional cost because they provide more channels with better quality.
  • Location – This is by far the most important factor you need to consider before buying a good antenna. In a nutshell, you want to have fewer obstructions between your antenna and the broadcasting tower as possible to enjoy great reception. To find out the optimal location for your antenna, you can either hire a professional to install it or simply through trial and error.
  • Type – Amplified antennas need an external power source, while non-amplified models don’t require any. An external power source can either be a plug on your wall or a USB connection. Amplified antennas are ideal for rural and suburban areas that are far away from any broadcasting station, while if you live in a city, you can settle for a passive unit.

ClearStream ECLIPSE Amplified TV Antenna

The ClearStream Eclipse is one of the most popular amplified indoor antennas on the market. It can pick up around 32 channels, depending on the location. It also features a pretty long coaxial cable that gives you the ability to find the ideal spot to achieve optimal reception. Moreover, the antenna features a circular design that allows you to easily mount it on the wall.

This antenna has one of the longest reception ranges among its competition at around 50 miles. It’s highly recommended for people in suburban areas that live far away from TV towers. Some of the channels you can pick in high definition include NBC, ABC, PBS, and CBS. The best thing about this unit is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, showing how confident the manufacturer is in its performance.

ClearStream Micron Indoor Antenna

Good reception is all you really need from an antenna and the ClearStream Micron provides the best reception you can possibly get. However, this model doesn’t have an impressive range. It’s only capable of receiving signals at a 30-mile radius. Regardless, you’re likely to get around 25 channels in urban areas and around 35 in suburban areas in good quality

The design isn’t all that impressive, but it’s not that bad either. It features a hard plastic frame, in addition to sliding feet. We’re not particularly pleased with the feet because they don’t really stay firmly in place and tend to fall the moment you pick up the antenna. It comes with a lengthy cord that will grant you enough freedom, but the design doesn’t allow for a lot of placement options.

AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna

If you live in a city or if you’re constricted by a tight budget, this non-amplified indoor antenna is your best bet. We absolutely love how easy the setup process of this antenna is. It’s also one of the most affordable options on the market. Further, being a non-amplified model, it doesn’t need an external power source. All you have to do is find an ideal location and connect to your TV.

For a non-amplified antenna, the AmazonBasics certainly has an impressive range of 35 miles. This is considered short compared to its amplified counterparts, but it still performs very well in both cities and suburbs. However, we’d recommend this unit only for people who live nearby a TV tower more so than those who dwell in the suburbs.

Conclusion

It has become quite clear that your cable TV cord isn’t worth all that money you spend on it. You can watch all of your favorite channels for a much cheaper monthly fee and in incredible quality.

We’ve used all of these services over the past few years, but not all at once.  Our current setup is Hulu + Live TV for main TV watching.  This has put thousands of dollars back in our budget since we’ve been cable-free for several years now.

Which service will you pick to finally cut the cord and start saving some serious cash?

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GP

Hi, I'm GP. A personal finance expert with a mission to help Entirely Money readers break free of money worries. Combining a finance-focused education background (B.S. in Finance and MBA with Finance focus) with over 15 years of personal and corporate finance experience to help you achieve your financial best life!