Pay For Only The Content You Watch
If you watch only a few favorite shows, it may be cheaper to purchase and download seasons of the shows you like from Amazon, Google, or iTunes. This strategy works especially well if you dont need to watch particular shows immediately, if you prefer to binge-watch, or you buy, rent, or borrow the DVD or Blu-ray box set when available. For example, a full season of Game of Thrones at the Google Play store was $30 at the time we checked, while season two of Mr. Robot was only $20.
Even if you watch a dozen or so shows a year, buying those seasons may be less expensive than paying for a cable subscriptionand youll be able to watch on your TV, computer, phone, or tablet. We looked at 16 of the most popular TV shows across different networks back in 2016 , and the average price for a full season of these shows from the Google Play store was just under $25. On iTunes they were just under $32 a season, while on Amazon they were just about $29. Given that the average monthly cable bill at the start of that year was $99 per household, you could afford to buy between 38 and 48 TV-show seasons a year, depending on where you buy them, for the same price as cable, and have more flexibility in watching them.
Make Sure You Have Adequate High
The first thing to consider when dipping your toes into the streaming world is whether or not your internet situation can support cutting the cord.
Youre going to need a high-speed network in your home thats capable of streaming your live and on-demand content in addition to your regular internet usage. Thats going to cause a strain on your connection that cable and satellite TV does not.
Each streaming service has its own minimum internet speed for optimal high-definition viewing, but Team Clark has landed on 10 Mbps as the minimum speed to target to feel comfortable that youll get a quality stream.
You can read more about the internet speed requirements for streaming services here.
In the early days of streaming TV, a good internet connection was a big hurdle for people on limited budgets and those who live in rural areas.
But as internet speeds increase across the country, the access to service fast enough to stream television has become much better. And many potential cord-cutters are already paying for some sort of high-speed internet.
Make Your Dumb TV A Smart TV
If you donât have a smart TV you may need to purchase a device, such as a Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire stick, or Apple TV, to stream free entertainment options to your TV. Each TV streaming device offers different free and paid services you can subscribe to. Once you have a streaming TV, you may be able explore many of the free videos on YouTube, too.
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At& t Watch App Alternative To Cable TV
The App is a straightforward alternative to cable tv than its AT& T TV counterpart. In this service, you can get over thirty live TV channels with 15,000 on-demand titles, as are shown below. All these come at a monthly price of $15.
Key Features of AT& T Watch App
- STREAMING OPTIONS: Compatible browsers and devices
- LOCAL CHANNELS: Not available
- CHANNELS: 30+
- FREE TRIAL: Seven-day
You can skip the $15 monthly fee if you are a subscriber to the AT& T Unlimited and More phone package. Simply activate and begin to watch as part of that phone plan deal.
The two images show the limited channels in this service. On the upside, it packs great inclusions such as TLC, CNN, as well as A& E. The channels are more than sufficient to entertain you for the low price.
Screenshot of AT& T Watch App channels from their official site
Note that this package doesnât include local networks or regional sports channels. Also, you can get premium add-ons for an extra fee.
Free TV Channels From Major Networks
Some of the major networks broadcast content for free online. Its usually not the most current episodes, but unless youre addicted to a particular series, that may not matter.
If youre in the mood to kick back and watch Joanna Gaines transform a house on HGTV, it may not matter that she did it a few months ago.
How would you access them?
From your laptop or tablet browse to any network and look for a link for free TV. Here are a few Ive found:
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Sling Vs Youtube TV Vs Hulu Vs Fubo Vs Directv Channels Compared
4 October 21
We did the math to see which cord-cutting service has more of the 100 most popular channels
When it’s time to cut the cord, your first thought may be “how am I going to get all the channels I love?” And then you start playing a very tedious game of “who has what channel?” To help you with this, we’ve run compared five of the best cable TV alternatives to the top 100 most watched channels of 2020 )
Our results may surprise you, but our scoring system is simple. Services get one point for offering a channel in their entry-level package without any caveats and half a point for having it in a specific package or add-on.
This list is accurate as of October 4, 2021. The spat between YouTube TV and NBCUniversal ended, and those channels are still on that service.
Alternatives To Cable TV Thatll Save You Money
If youre still paying for cable TV, its very likely that you are spending a ton of money each month on your bill that you could be putting towards something that gives you a much better value. After all, cable is a pretty outdated way to watch television, and with most cable companies creating new ways to increase their customers rates, you could be getting a much better deal somewhere else.
For people who travel frequently and arent home enough to justify the costs of cable anymore, or for those who just arent finding anything they like in the channel listings any longer and are therefore looking to slim down their spending, this article is for you!
If youre ready to cut the cord, weve got you covered with a list of alternatives you can choose instead of cable where you can find, watch, and enjoy your favorite content without putting a dent in your wallet.
1. Netflix Obviously, we have to start off this article with the master of cable alternatives. Though Netflix got its humble start as a mail-in movie rental business, it has now become a streaming platform used by people around the world. From your favorite old shows like Cheers and Friends to the newest Netflix originals, this streaming service has everything you need to enjoy a quality television-viewing experience for far less money than youd pay monthly for cable TV.
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Figure Out How Youll Watch Local Channels
If you need access to your local channels without cable, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX or PBS, youll either have to sign up for a streaming service that provides them or try to get them for free with an antenna.
Antennas are relatively cost-effective and provide free access to local channels broadcasting in your area.
But the quality of access to these channels is directly correlated to the power of your antenna and your distance from the towers of your local TV stations. If you live relatively near those towers, you may need an antenna that reaches only 20-50 miles.
Mohu Leaf, which is one of the top-rated antenna brands for cord-cutters, offers a metro antenna for under $20 through Amazon. It has a 25-mile range. However, you may require a more powerful and costly antenna if you live in a rural setting.
How To Watch News Channels Like Cnn Fox News & Msnbc Without Cable
Good news! All of your favorite 24-hour cable news networks have YouTube Channels. You can find recent clips of shows and news stories on their channels.
And, they even LIVE STREAM news most of the day. Live streaming is just like watching the news channel on cable.
You can find tons of daily coverage and FREE live streaming from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, BBC News, Sky News, & DW News on their YouTube Channels.
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Free Live TV Providers
For a more extreme form of saving money, you could use a free live TV streaming service instead.
Two names dominate the area: Pluto and Plex. Between them, the two services broadcast a surprising number of premium networks, including CBSN, CNN, NBC, Sky News, and Bloomberg, as well as dozens of music channels, kids channels, and niche interest channels.
In the UK, the two major free services are BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. Both provide live access to the full suite of TV channels for each network. If you are outside the UK, you can use a VPN to access them. We recommend ExpressVPN.
Do You Care About Watching Sports
Sports fans have an increasing number of streaming options that show live games, but depending on which sport you follow, the local team in your area and how many games you want to watch, it can get costly. Channels devoted to pro basketball, hockey and baseball teams, known as RSNs , are available on most cable networks but are rare and expensive on streaming services. These are the channels you’ll need to watch most regular season games for those sports.
Unfortunately, live TV streaming service DirecTV Stream’s $85 plan is often the only option if you want to watch your local RSN via streaming, although in some parts of the country a somewhat cheaper service will carry your channel. Coverage varies widely by sport, team and city, so check out our dedicated guides for more details — including exactly which services carry your local team and how much they cost.
NFL pro football games are usually carried on local CBS, Fox and NBC networks, but you’ll typically need an antenna, a live TV streaming service, Paramount Plus or Peacock to watch them. Amazon Prime Video also streams many Thursday Night Football games free for Prime members, and will host Thursday Night Football exclusively from 2022. And of course you’ll need ESPN, available on most live streaming services, to watch Monday Night Football.
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Top Picks For Live Streaming Services:
AT& T TV subscription service for live local and national channels, regional sports included with some packages, cloud DVR available, can include other streaming services, requires a compatible device.
ESPN+ subscription service for live sports & original content.
fuboTV subscription service for live sports, news & entertainment. Includes cloud DVR and on-demand shows.
Hulu+ Live TV subscription service for 65+ live channels , and the entire Hulu streaming library, requires a compatible device
Philo monthly subscription with 60+ channels, no contract, unlimited DVR.
Sling Free free, ad-supported, no credit card or registration required, offers paid rentals and Pay-Per-View events
Sling TV monthly subscription, includes DVR, watch sports, news, and entertainment with 30+ channels, 80k+ shows and movies on-demand
Free Cable TV Alternatives
In addition to the paid options, there are a few free alternatives you can choose from if youre looking to keep costs down.
The downside: youre not going to get all the TV shows youre used to getting.
Owned by NBC, this platform comes with an extensive catalog of classics originally aired on local TV, such as Parks & Recreation, The Office, and more.
Some content is only available to paid users if youre interested in an upgrade which will cost $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
Peacock Premium Plus unlocks content with few ads for $5.00 per month or $50 per year.
If you are a fan of wrestling, you can watch all the WWE pay-per-view events with a Peacock paid plan.
FOX owns Tubi, and it is 100% free.
Because the service is free to consumers, ads are sprinkled throughout the shows and movies.
Another plus to this service is no subscription is required. You can start watching TV on Tubi today with no strings attached.
Pluto.tv is a great option instead of cable or satellite service.
They offer both a live streaming service and on-demand shows.
You get 100s of channels and 1,000s of movies for free.
They are ad-supported so that you will see commercials, but this is one of the best free options to replace cable.
#18. Digital Antenna
The best option for watching local networks and channels and for people not interested in subscribing to a streaming service because it is 100% free is to get an antenna.
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The Benefits Of Cable Alternatives
Many households chose to ditch traditional cable TV for one, or several, of the alternative streaming services available.
The most significant benefit of breaking away from cable TV is saving money in the long run and not being tied to a cable TV subscription with a cable provider.
After all, why pay for hundreds of channels when you only watch a handful?
A cable bill can run anywhere from $25 per month for a basic cable package to $75 per month.
This price is only for cable TV and does not include taxes, equipment fees, and other charges.
The problem with streaming services is that it is not hard to start subscribing and end up racking up the bills that equal your monthly cable bill.
How Much Money Can Cutting Cable TV Save You
For many people who have already cut the cord from their cable provider, their reason for doing so is often because the shows they found themselves watching were predominately from streaming services like the ones we listed for you above, or because they werent finding anything they enjoyed watching on cable.
Additionally, so many ex-cable customers explain that they were on the phone with their cable company multiple times in a year haggling over their bill and making threats about cancelling their service just to get discounted rates. After all, cable companies are known for hiking up customers rates as often as every few months which can be even more frustrating when youre not fully satisfied with your particular plans service or channel selections anyways.
Cable customers often pay at least $100-$200 a month for television absolutely unreal rates, especially when you could combine multiple streaming services and pay less than you would with cable. So, why continue to empty your wallet to your cable provider when you can cut the cord and move on to better alternatives and solutions?
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The Best Cable TV Alternatives You Can Buy Today
Sling TV is getting a huge interface change that really brings it up to snuff with the competitors and helps keep it the best cable replacement alternative right now and the one both TG staffers Henry T. Casey and Kelly Woo chose to replace cable.
Sling TV starts off cheap , though the cost can balloon if you choose add-ons. The service offers two basic packages of channels , then lets viewers pick and choose smaller extras, which usually cost $5 per month. One of our editors is currently testing all the cable replacement services, and has found Sling to be a top competitor, and notes that the new Sling app on Fire, Roku and other platforms is a well-designed upgrade gaining new features by the month. Sling’s new app is still expanding to more platforms, so don’t worry if it’s not on your device yet.
From sports to comedy to kids’ programming to foreign language channels, Sling TV has a little something for everyone. The service’s DVR features are not bad, either. For more details, including lineups and pricing and more, check out our What Is Sling TV? page. Even Sling’s Orange+Blue package is still more affordable than most of its competitors’ base packages. Sling’s also updating its app, with a new and improved interface that’s rolling out in waves. Plus, it’s coming to all Echo Show devices, so you can watch TV around the home.
Read our full YouTube TV review
Read our full FuboTV review
Sling TV Review: Verdict
Sling TV is an attractive option for cord-cutters who want to replace their cable-television package with a live TV streaming service. The low cost of the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans make them affordable as long as you like their channel lineups. The top-tier Sling Orange & Blue is only slightly more expensive and provides access to most top cable channels, including ESPN.
The flexibility to add a la carte channels and themed extras, as well as premium networks, means Sling users can mix and match to meet their preferences. The biggest downside we encountered during our Sling TV review is the meager DVR storage, which got better in 2021’s update but still pales in comparison to YouTube TV.
But if you want live TV for relatively cheap, Sling TV could be your path to cutting the cord for good.
Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Toms Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When shes not watching TV and movies for work, shes watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.
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