January 8, 2021

Cable Alternatives: Get Rid of Cable and Still Watch TV

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Why pay more for cable when you don't have to? There are plenty of better options. With this list of cable alternatives, cut the cord today.

It wasn't so long ago that if you wanted to watch TV, you had only a couple ways to do it, and all of them were too expensive. If you got by with just basic cable, you'd still be paying $30 a month or more.

Then there were the extras. Movie channels. Music. Pay-per-view. Suddenly you were paying a hundred dollars a month, or more. You had 900 channels, but the middle 400 or so were mysteriously inaccessible. And still you found yourself flipping channels—because nothing was on.

Those days are over. Now you can watch what you want, when you want, for a reasonable price. Take a look at the options below to see which cable alternative is the best fit for you.

Philo: No Contract TV On Demand

Philo is a service offering live and on-demand TV without a contract. Watch popular channels like A&E, AMC, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and dozens more.

Sign up and get over 60 channels and unlimited DVR for $20 a month. That means you can record all your favorite TV shows and watch them up to 30 days after they air.

It's available for online streaming, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast via Android. Stream on up to 3 devices at once and create up to 10 profiles per account.

They also offer add-ons like Epix ($6/mo) and Starz ($9/mo). There's a 7-day, no-obligation free trial to see if you like it.

What It Costs
$20 a month

What You Get

  • Over 60 channels of live and on-demand TV
  • Unlimited DVR

Sling TV: App-Based Streaming

Sling TV is an app-based TV streaming service offering access to over 50 channels for $30 per month. They offer multiple streaming plans based on what you like to watch. For example, their Blue plan is best for those into News and Entertainment, and their Orange plan is good for Sports and Family content.

Both plans include 10 hours of DVR, and you save 25% when you sign up for both.

Sling TV works on a wide range of devices including Apple, Android, Roku, Chromecast, Samsung, LG, Fire TV, TiVo Stream, Xbox, and more.

You can access local channels free with Sling if you have an HD Antenna.

What It Costs
$30 a month for Sling Blue or Sling Orange, with a 25% discount if you sign up for both.

What You Get

  • Over 50 channels
  • 10 hours of DVR
  • Stream on 3 devices simultaneously with Blue, 1 with Orange, 4 with both

Hulu: Online Streaming for $5.99/month

Hulu is an online streaming service offering access to thousands of shows and movies, including exclusive original content like the Animaniacs and Monsterland. The base plan, which includes commercials, is $5.99 per month, while you can access live TV for $64.99 per month.

There are several add-ons available, including HBO Max, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and Starz, and when you sign up with Hulu, you can fuboTV: For Spanish Speakers and Sports Fans

fuboTV is a little pricier than some of the other choices, but it offers live on-demand access to TV and sports, plus over 100 channels.

Pricing starts at $64.99 a month for the Family plan, which will get you 118 channels, 250 hours of cloud DVR, access on 3 screens at once, and over 130 events in 4K.

Spanish speakers will appreciate fuboTV, which is only $24.99 a month, and comes with 32 Spanish language networks and over 100 sporting events. Sports fans will enjoy access to several dozen sports channels, and news enthusiasts will love their selection of news networks.

Watch on Apple and Android devices, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, and Chromecast via Android

What It Costs
$64.99 a month

What You Get

  • Access to 100+ live and on demand TV channels
  • Dozens of sports channels, including ESPN and ESPN2
  • News from Fox, MSNBC, and more
  • 250 hours of Cloud DVR
  • Watch simultaneously on 3 screens

ESPN+: Exclusive Sports Content

If you're a sports fan, consider signing up to stream live sports and exclusive originals with ESPN+, a digital streaming service starting at $6.99 a month.

You'll get access to the entire library of 30 For 30 documentaries, as well as popular shows like Peyton's Places with Peyton Manning, Detail with Pau Gasol, and Bettor Days with Mike Greenberg.

You'll also get exclusive UFC pay-per-view events and studio shows like Dana White's Contender Series.

Keep in mind, ESPN+ will not give you access to traditional ESPN channels, which must be streamed through another cable, satellite, or digital provider.

What It Costs
$6.99 a month

What You Get

  • Access to thousands of exclusive live events, original studio shows, and series
  • Ability to purchase UFC PPV events
  • 30 for 30 library and ESPN films

Amazon Prime Video: Bundle Shopping with TV

If you're already paying for free shipping with Amazon Prime, then you automatically get access to Amazon Prime Video, which has a huge library of movies and TV shows to stream on your computer, TV, and other devices.

If you aren't already paying for Prime, you can access it for $8.99 a month—and if you're interested in trying it out, there's a 30-day free trial.

What It Costs
$8.99 a month

What You Get

  • Stream Amazon's library of movies and TV
  • Rent content that isn't available on Prime individually

Vudu: Digital Rentals

Vudu by Walmart is a digital video rental and streaming service. If you are looking for a free option, Vudu is worth a look. They have a large library of movies and TV shows that you can access for free in exchange for watching commercials, though much of this content is older.

They don't have a subscription service, so if you want to watch newer content, you'll have to buy or rent things individually. One useful perk—if you buy physical copies of DVDs through Vudu, you'll instantly gain access to digital versions to watch online.

What It Costs
There is plenty of free-to-watch content with commercials. Sales and rentals start at a few dollars and go up to full-priced box sets.

What You Get

  • Free access to a streaming library with commercials
  • Ability to buy both digital and physical DVDs and Blu-rays and stream online

YouTube: Over 85 Popular Channels

You know YouTube for its creator-uploaded content, but YouTube can be a viable alternative to cable as well, with YouTube Premium and YouTube TV.

YouTube Premium is an ad-free version of YouTube's normal content, with the added ability to download videos for offline watching and access to YouTube Music.

YouTube TV is, as the name suggests, designed to be a more direct competitor to traditional cable services, with access to 85+ channels you probably know by name, DVR with no storage limits, and the ability to create up to 6 accounts.

What It Costs
YouTube Premium is $11.99 a month
YouTube TV is $64.99 a month

What You Get

  • With YouTube Premium, ad-free videos and access to YouTube Music
  • With YouTube TV, 85+ channels, unlimited DVR storage, 3 simultaneous streams, and 6 accounts per household

Netflix: Original TV and Movies

Netflix is synonymous with online TV and movie streaming. For $8.99 a month (for their basic plan), you get commercial-free access to their library of thousands of TV shows and movies, including original content.

You can watch Netflix from most internet-connected devices, including your phone. They've even got a kids section to make sure your little ones aren't exposed to anything too adult.

They don't have everything, and their library is always changing, but if you're looking for a wide variety of content with new things added almost every day, Netflix is worth a shot.

What It Costs
$8.99 - $17.99 a month

What You Get

  • Thousands of movies and TV shows including exclusive content
  • No ads

AT&T TV Now: Stream Over 45 Channels

With AT&T TV Now, AT&T does TV now. Stream over 45 channels for $55 a month, or splurge for Max—which includes HBO Max—for 60+ channels and more sports coverage.

You can access add-ons like HBO Max ($14.99/mo), Cinemax ($11/mo), Starz ($11/mo), Showtime ($11/mo), Epix ($6/mo), and their Movies Extra Pack ($5/mo).

What It Costs
$55 a month for 45+ channels
$80 a month for 60+ channels and HBO Max

What You Get

  • Stream live TV and on-demand
  • 500 hours of DVR
  • Premium extras

Disney+: For Kids & Kids at Heart

If you've got kids, or you're a big Marvel or Star Wars fan, Disney+ is a streaming service you should probably check out. They have all the famous Disney and Pixar titles you know them for, including older movies you're not likely to find in stores.

Much of the content that used to be on Disney Channel is now on Disney+, as well as new original content, like The Mandalorian.

Given their extensive library, and kids' penchant for watching the same movies over and over, at $6.99 a month, it's not a bad investment.

What It Costs
Currently $6.99 a month, prices will shift to $7.99 a month as of March 26, 2021.

What You Get

  • Access to Disney's extensive TV and movie library
  • Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Nat Geo, and other exclusive content

Peacock: Watch NBC Favorites

PeacockTV from NBCUniversal offers three separate plans—a completely free plan (with ads), where you can stream TV, movies, sports and news; a Premium plan ($4.99 a month, with ads), which unlocks content not available for free, and Premium Plus ($9.99 with no ads).

Peacock comes with all your NBC comedy favorites like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and every season of SNL. In fact, Office fanatics should take note: Peacock is the only place to watch the classic workplace comedy.

Peacock is supported on most internet connected devices including TV, computers, smartphones and tablets, Xbox, and PlayStation.

What It Costs

  • Free, with commercials
  • $4.99 with commercials and all content
  • $9.99 without commercials and all content

What You Get

  • Access to NBCUniversal's TV and movie library
  • Exclusive content
  • Telemundo

Other Cable Alternatives

  • HD Antennas
    Depending on where you live, you can access as many as 70+ TV channels for free by setting up an HD antenna.

    What you get depends on the type of antenna (directional, multidirectional, or omnidirectional antenna; indoor or outdoor) and where you put it—in some cases, higher is better.

  • Television Channels Online
    Many channels you already watch know that their customers are moving online, and they're providing more options to cater to them.

    Some are free, some aren't, but if there are shows you can't miss or channels you love, it's worth looking them up to see what online offerings they have.

  • Premium Channel Online Subscriptions
    Premium Channels—i.e., the high-number ones on the TV that came with a premium cable package—now often offer standalone streaming options.

    Check their websites (HBO, Starz, Showtime, and so on) to see what you can find, especially if you're only interested in their content.

  • The Local Library
    The oldest free option of all, the library probably has a bigger selection of TV shows and DVDs than you realize. All you need is a library card to get started.

Bottom Line

Cable companies used to have a stranglehold on your viewing capabilities, but that isn't true anymore. Usually, all you need is an internet connection and an email address to start watching.

If you're still paying for cable, maybe now's the time to cut the cord and opt for something cheaper and more versatile.

Grab some popcorn and set yourself free.

Jeremy Harshman is a protector of art and writing at CreditDonkey, a tv comparison and reviews website. Write to Jeremy Harshman at jeremy.harshman@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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