The average American family pays between $75 – $100 each month for cable television (source). If your budget is already tight, this line item can really take its toll. You might be thinking about cutting cable, but what are the best cable alternatives?
Whether you are trying to get out of debt, want to save money, or hate being a slave to the cable company, finding a way to reduce or eliminate your monthly cable bill may be on your mind. But, how can you still watch sports or your favorite tv without cable? Is it even possible?
Fortunately, it is.
There are many services and options available for you to use that can not only help save you money on cable but might even help eliminate it completely. While you’ll find several options below, I would not recommend using all of them. Doing so could result in paying more and not really lowering your cable bill.
HOW TO WATCH TV WITHOUT CABLE OR SATTELITE
Before you decide to cut cable completely, there are a couple of things you need to know. These services are streamed over the Internet. That means you must have a strong internet connection and that you’ll also need the proper equipment on your TV.
If you have a newer smart TV, you can usually connect to any of these without any issue. However, if you do not, have one, you will need to get a Roku player, FireTV Stick, Google Chromecast or other devices, as this gets your TV online. Make sure you read the equipment each service requires, so you make sure you purchase the right product.
While some of these streaming services will include your local channels, not all of them will. If that is the case, then you will also need a digital tuner antenna. One that many have used with great success is this BRSTV antenna for just $24! It has a range of 50 miles and is slim and easy to hide in your home.
Keep in mind that you will need to install the equipment on each TV set in your home.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU CUT CABLE TV
Before you decide to find an alternative to satellite or cable tv, you need to make sure you are ready to do so. Make sure you do the following before you decide to eliminate cable.
Know your programming
Keep a TV journal for a month. Make a note of the networks and programming you watch every day. Doing so helps you know for sure which programs you watch regularly and those you don’t. That way, when you start doing your research for streaming services, you know the channels you want to make sure they offer.
You need to run the math to make sure it is OK for you to cut the cord completely. Keep in mind that you may be paying for internet service as part of a bundled fee through your cable or satellite provider. You will still need to pay for monthly internet service in addition to the streaming service providers you need for your programming needs.
To start, check with your current cable provider and find out how much you will pay each month for internet only. Make sure it has decent speed or your services will buffer while watching programming.
Then, research the different providers that offer the channels you want to watch. Find out how much you will pay each month for them.
Total the cost of your internet service and cost of monthly streaming services needed to find out how much your bill will be. Compare this to your current cable bill to find out if it would be worth it to cut the cord or not.
If the cost is about the same, you may want to stay where you are at. However, if you notice a significantly lower amount, then it may be time to try other cable alternatives.
Review all options
Once you know the networks you need and what your budget looks like, then it is time to research the streaming service providers. Try to use only a couple of them as if you pay for every one of them. Otherwise, you may be overwhelmed with too many streaming options (trying to remember which one has each network). And, you might not save that much by paying for too many providers.
CHEAP CABLE ALTERNATIVES
Once you have decided you are ready to get rid of cable, it’s time to figure out which streaming services you need. There are many out there, but they aren’t all the same.
It is important to get the one or two that have everything you need, so you really are saving money. After all, if you pay for every service available, you’ll be no further ahead as you’ll be paying the same amount as you did when you had cable.
Below you’ll find some of the best cable alternatives, so you can watch your favorite shows and networks.
Sling allows you to watch not only programs on demand, but also live sports and other programs! Some of the most popular LIVE channels include:
- Food Network
- Disney Junior
- ….. and many more!
What makes this service unique is that you can get LIVE TV a la carte. That means you don’t end up paying for channels you never watch!
Sling allows you to try them for free for 7 days, then the service continues for as little as $20 a month.
HULU WITH LIVE TV
Hulu has gotten into the live streaming game too! Their live service offers more than 50 channels including news, sports, movies and more making it a popular cable television alternative. The channels available from Hulu Live include:
- ….and more
Hulu Live offers a free 7-day trial and then you can continue starting at $30 a month.
Another streaming service you may want to consider is DirecTV Now. This one offers more than $60 channels at a cost of $35 a month. If you want more channels, you will pay more. If you want every channel (120 in all), your total cost will be $70 monthly.
Some of the networks included in the lowest tiered plan include:
- ID Networks
You can DirecTV Now for free for 7 days and if you like, then you can continue for $35 a month.
Most of us know about Netflix. What I love about this streaming service is the ability to establish different sign-ins for each family member. That way, I can restrict what my youngest is allowed to watch!
Netflix has original series, movies and even entire seasons of your favorite shows! My kids have found some fun new programming and we’ve enjoyed countless movies as a family.
You can try it for free for 30 days and then continue for as little as $7.99 a month.
Staring at $40 a month, Playstation Vue allows you to stream some of your favorite LIVE programs. Just like Sling, they also allow live streaming of some of your favorite networks.
Their basic plan includes:
- Food Network
- and several other networks
As mentioned, the basic service starts at $40 a month, but if you want more channels, you will pay more. Sign up now for a free trial.
AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
If you have an Amazon Prime account, you have access to hundreds of tv shows, original series, and movies. Just connect your streaming device to your Amazon account and start watching!!
CBS ALL ACCESS
One thing many people may not realize is that CBS does not allow any of its programs to be streamed via Hulu or Netflix. If you want to watch past shows, you must subscribe to CBS All Access.
You can watch regular live TV on one of the above networks, but you won’t have the library of shows as you see with others. Try it for free for 3 days and then continue at $9.99 a month.
If you are looking for a line up of family-friendly and Christian programming, Pureflix is the answer. You can stream movies and programs including documentaries, Christian based movies, and family-friendly programming.
Try Pureflix for free for 30 days and then continue at $99.99 annually (paying annually saves you $32).
HOW TO WATCH SPORTS CHANNELS WITHOUT CABLE
When I talk to readers about cutting cable, the one reason many don’t is they don’t want to give up watching sports. They love watching their favorite team and don’t want to miss a play. Believe it or not, there are ways you can still catch your favorite sports without cable!
The one thing many people question is the cost for some of these subscriptions. They can seem pretty steep. However, if you do the math, only subscribing to the one you need can end up saving you money in the long run.
Subscribing to ONE sports channel + Sling TV
Even if you pay for the most expensive sports program listed below ($200) + Sling TV, your total annual cost would be $440 annually. If your monthly cable bill right now is $75, your annual cost would run $900 a year. Just by dropping cable, adding NFL Sunday ticket + Sling, you would save more than $450 a year!!
Subscribing to ALL sports channels + Sling TV
If you are a sports junkie, then you might be thinking about adding all three of these services to your plan. Your total cost for sports could run as much as $438 a year (purchasing all top-tiered programs). Add the Sling TV subscription of $20 a month and your annual cost is $678. You can still save more than $200 a year!!
If the only sport you like to watch is baseball, it could be very worth the cost of paying for MLB.tv. After all, if you pay for cable for baseball, you could save big money!
The annual cost is $113 for the entire season – all games – including spring training! Or, just select one team and your cost will run $87.50 annually.
Let’s do some math to show you how this can be a better deal:
If your monthly cable bill is even $75 a month, that is $900 a year. Even if you pay for SlingTV (above) at $20 a month PLUS pick up MLB.tv, your annual cost would be $353. You’d save nearly $550 in just one year!!
NBA LEAGUE PASS
This is the one for the basketball fans. NBA League Pass offers both a full and half price season pass. You can stream the games at home or on your favorite device – so you never miss a shot!
The cost is as low as $60 a year (for one team) or as much as $125 for all games for all teams.
NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket is the perfect way to catch every football game each weekend. This service runs around $200 a season. The good thing is that you’ll never miss a single game – no matter where you live in the country.
I mentioned them above as a network that live streams many networks, including ESPN, FS1 and more. But, one thing that many viewers need is regional sports networks.
For example, we live in Kansas City. That means we watch the Royals games on our regional Fox Network. SlingTV offers this same programming on their “blue” tier or the NBC Regional action on the “orange” tier.
That means we can still have access to all of those games – and don’t need cable!
This streaming network also offers several sports channels. If you opt for the CORE tier, you will pay $44.99 a month and gain access to all of your favorite sports channels, such as NFL Network, ESPN, MLB Network, NBA TV, Regional Fox Sports and more!
There are many alternatives to cable available. Chances are that once you cut the cord, you’ll never miss it!