Are you wondering “How do I get rid of cable and still watch TV?” or “How can I get cable channels without cable?” Are you looking for the best alternatives to cable TV?
More than five years ago, we decided to cut the cord. We have never watched a lot of TV, but we researched some cable TV alternatives anyway. With the best cable alternatives, we knew we could still watch our favorite shows if we wanted to while saving money.
Like many people who are looking for alternatives to cable TV, we decided to go with Netflix. Now that we travel full-time, we often cancel and restart our subscription depending on whether or not we’ll have reliable internet.
Also because we travel full-time, we have met many, many people over the years who go to great lengths to keep their cable/satellite channels. Luckily, in today’s world, there are so many great alternatives to cable TV.
There are options for people who love sports, people who want lots of movies, people who want to watch current seasons of shows, and more.
We cut the cord and got rid of cable, and we haven’t missed it one bit. Seriously, we haven’t even thought about it!
If you want to save yourself money and cut the cable TV cord, then I want to let you know that it is definitely possible.
Out of all of the ways you can watch TV shows and movies, cable is definitely the most expensive option out there. And, according to USA Today, the average monthly cable bill in 2017 was $100.98.
If you have cable right now, then you are likely spending around $1,200 a year on cable alone.
I know of many people who spend even more on cable TV, many over $150 a month, and I even had someone tell me that they spend over $300 a MONTH on their cable bill. While that may seem crazy to you, I know there are many people who spend that much on cable TV.
If you are paying for cable TV, just think of what else you could do with that money if you found one of the many best cable TV alternatives!
By learning how to cut the cord and get rid of cable, you can learn how to save money (a lot, in fact!) over your lifetime. That money could be better spent on retirement, traveling, family, and more. All you really need is an internet connection.
Even though getting rid of cable seems like an obvious way to save some money, it can still be hard for many people.
But today, I’m going to help you cut the cord and finally get rid of cable so you can start saving money immediately. If you’re wondering “What is the least expensive way to watch TV?” then today you will see many of the different options, such as streaming services, available to you!
Here are 16 alternatives to cable TV.
1. Cutting cable is easy with a digital antenna.
There are many TV options without cable, and one is by using a digital antenna.
When you think about antennas, you probably think about the classic rabbit ears that are big and ugly. You probably also think about how the picture is never perfect and how channels can get blurry and almost completely fade away.
These days, antennas are all digital, and that means they are sleek and allow you to watch your favorite TV shows, even local channels, with crystal clear reception.
This is one of the least expensive alternatives to cable TV because there is no monthly cost – just a small upfront cost to buy the antenna. You pay for the antenna once and then watch local channels as much as you want.
Before we sold our house and started traveling full-time, we bought a digital antenna, like this one. It’s an indoor one that sat behind our TV, it wasn’t ugly, and we sometimes forgot that it was there (and made it one of the great cord cutting options!). Now, that is an affiliate link, but I didn’t even find out that I could be an affiliate until after we had bought and started using the antenna.
For around $20 (just a one-time fee!), you can get all of the local channels plus some extras you didn’t know existed, and they all come in with great picture quality.
We no longer have the antenna, as we now have a smart TV that has an antenna built in and finds local channels for us – at picture perfect quality, for no additional cost. This is probably the cheapest tv service.
So, if you are wondering how to watch TV without cable or internet, it is definitely possible.
With a digital antenna, you may be able to get local channels and airings such as CBS, NBC, ABC, broadcast channels, MLB, and more.
Other options for devices include:
2. Netflix – The best cord cutting service.
Netflix is probably one of the most popular options to cable TV as you can watch both movies and TV shows. Netflix makes it easy to get rid of cable or satellite as it is also ad free.
Netflix is what we’ve been using to watch TV mostly, and it’s one of my favorite alternatives to cable TV on this list. It’s probably one of the most popular and best tv service. That’s because Netflix has some of our favorite TV shows that we could watch over and over again.
Netflix has been putting a lot of money into creating their own content, including popular favorites like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Arrested Development, and more.
They constantly adds more titles too, which keeps this alternative feeling fresh. It’s also very good at learning the types of shows you watch and making recommendations.
There are three different Netflix plans:
- Basic $9.99/month- You can watch unlimited movies and shows on one streaming device only.
- Standard $15.49/month- Same as Basic, with HD level picture quality, and you can watch on up to two screens at a time.
- Premium $19.99/month- This has HD and Ultra HD and you can watch unlimited Netflix on up to four devices at a time.
They also have a DVD plan which is separate.
Netflix also offers your first month free. The monthly price is quite affordable with Netflix. There is no contract or any other fees, so you can change your Netflix plan whenever you need to.
3. Hulu – The best streaming cable service.
If you want to watch the current season of your favorite network shows, Hulu is one of the best alternatives to cable TV for you. Plus, Hulu has been releasing their own content with Hulu Original series like The Path, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Casual. They also has a growing movie library that they change pretty regularly. Plus, they have HGTV, CNN, MTV, A&E, and other channel lineups.
And, while some of the best streaming services are starting to increase their monthly costs, Hulu has actually lowered the cost of their lowest level of service from $7.99/month to $5.99/month.
Here are Hulu’s plan options and pricing:
- Hulu $6.99/month- You can stream over 85,000 episode of your favorite shows, movies, and Hulu Originals.
- Hulu (No Ads) $12.99/month- Same as the above, but you get a completely ad-free experience.
- Hulu + Live TV $69.99/month- You get access to everything in Hulu’s library and streaming live TV.
- Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV now with Disney+ and ESPN+: $75.99 per month
- Hulu Premium Networks $8.99-$14.99/month- You can pay for premium cable channels when you want them, including HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.
- If you are a student, you may be able to sign up for Hulu (with ads) for just $1.99 per month.
You can also get premium add-ons, which you can add to any plan, such as HBO Max for $14.99, Cinemax for $9.99 per month, Showtime for $10.99 per month, and Starz for $8.99 per month.
Hulu also lets you customize your plan even more with add-ons like unlimited screens, enhanced cloud DVR, Espanol add-on, and more.
4. Sling TV for alternative cable TV options.
The way Sling TV works is by giving you access to shows on some of the most popular networks, including live TV. On Sling, you can watch Disney, AMC, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, and more.
And, I have been hearing more and more people talking about Sling TV as one of the best alternatives to cable TV for sports lovers because Sling TV has ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, NFL Network, and add-ons like SEC Network, NHL Network, and NBA TV. I know that it can be hard to get rid of satellite TV due to sports, but there are options these days!
Sling TV also regularly runs promotions for free streaming devices when you sign up and pay for a couple of months of service.
Sling TV has three plan levels:
- Sling Orange $35/month (first month of Sling Orange is $25) comes with channels like Disney, Food Network, Comedy Central, and more.
- Sling Blue $35/month (first month is $25) comes with channels like Bravo, E!, TLC, and more.
- Sling Blue and Orange $50/month (first month is $40) comes with all the channels in Blue and Orange.
If you have Sling TV and are looking for Sling TV alternatives, below is a good, low cost option.
Philo offers simple pricing and gives you access to over 50 channels for live and on-demand TV, unlimited recording, and there is a Philo app to watch it on any of your devices. And, it has some of the most popular channels, like AMC, TLC, Nickelodeon, Food Network, and more.
Philo is only $25 a month. There is a 7-day free trial, and you don’t have to enter any billing information for the first 48 hours of your free trial.
Also, if you’re a 90 Day Fiance fan, you can watch it on Philo! That’s what we have done in the past.
If you currently have an Amazon Prime subscription, then you already have access to Amazon Prime Video. This makes watching through Amazon Prime Video a good way to reduce your number of monthly subscriptions, and is one of the great cable tv alternatives as you can watch both movies and TV shows!
Amazon Prime Video has new releases and classics of your favorite movies and shows, and they continue building their own collection of Amazon Original Series.
Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime Subscription, which is $139 per year or $14.99 per month. There are also premium channel add-ons like HBO, Showtime, and more. Or, you can get Prime Video membership for $8.99 per month.
7. HBO Now
HBO Now is available through many other streaming services, like Hulu and Amazon Prime, but HBO Now is available on its own if you only want to pay for HBO shows and movies.
The cost is the same whether you purchase it as an add-on or on it’s own, and there is a student discount available:
- HBO Now is $14.99 per month.
- Comes with a 7-day free trial.
- You can cancel and restart whenever you want.
- HBO Now can be streamed on multiple devices.
One of the ways Wes and I watch TV is by going to YouTube and watching sailing or traveling videos. We always end up watching funny, random ones too. And even though you may have to watch ads now and then, those ads keep YouTube free and support the creators who are making entertaining videos.
Due to this, YouTube is one of the best cutting the cord options. It is a great way to cut the cable and watch tv for free!
YouTube has a wide variety of content, and you can find things from your favorite YouTubers, web only content from your favorite TV channels, and clips from comedy series (like SNL) and interviews.
9. YouTube TV for cable alternatives
YouTube now has their own live YouTube TV service, and you can watch shows from 70+ different networks – including ESPN, Bravo, Animal Planet, TLC, National Geographic, FX, and more.
YouTube TV costs $49.99 a month, and there are some add-ons available, like:
- Showtime $7 month
- Fox Soccer Plus $15 month
- AMC $5 a month
- Starz $9 a month
- NBA League Pass $40 a month
While YouTube TV alone is nearly half the cost of the average cable bill, adding too many extras on YouTube TV can easily make this alternative cost almost the same as cable.
10. The library for best cable TV alternatives
Your local library is my favorite on this list of alternatives to cable TV because it’s completely free! Libraries have a huge selection of movies (even new releases), complete series of TV shows, and more. Many libraries have partnerships with other libraries in the area, so if you can’t find what you want to watch at one library, it’s probably available at another.
Many libraries now give you digital access with your library card to TV and movies through free services like:
There may be some restrictions on how many shows and movies you can watch a month, but free is a great thing if you’re cutting the cord to save money.
Here is another alternative for sports lovers – ESPN+ is one of the lowest cost alternatives to cable TV. It’s $6.99 per month and you can watch live sporting events, sports networks, live streams, and ESPN+ Originals.
There is also a 7-day free trial so you can try it out.
fuboTV looks very similar to traditional cable with a heavy focus on sports. You get access to live sports and top TV channels, cloud DVR, and can share your account across multiple devices.
fuboTV has four different plans that allows you to watch sports:
- fubo Standard $54.99/month. 90+ channels, 30 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on two devices.
- fubo Family $59.99/month. 90+ channels, 500 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on three devices.
- fubo Family Deluxe $64.99/month. 132 channels, 35 more entertainment channels, 500 hours of cloud DVR, sharing on three devices.
- fubo Ultra $79.99/month. 165 channels, fubo Extra, Showtime, Sports Plus, 500 hours of cloud DVR, and sharing on three devices.
Disney+ is a new streaming service that is one of the favorite cable TV alternatives. It offers classic Disney movies, original series, short-form content, and documentaries. Because Disney owns a number of franchises and networks, you’ll be able to watch the following things on Disney Plus:
- Star Wars
- National Geographic
- Fox classics like the Sound of Music and 30 seasons of the Simpsons
This is a great option for families and the cost is relatively low – Disney+ is $7.99 a month (or $79.99 per year) and includes unlimited downloads, access across devices, and more.
Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN, and it was recently released that there will be a discounted bundle package including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ that runs $12.99 per month. You can expect that when Disney+ launches in November 2019.
14. Go straight to the source for tv options.
For some cable and network channels, you can go straight to their website online and watch their TV shows right there for free.
So, all you need is internet in order to do this! Depending on the channel, you might only be able to watch the most recent episodes or ones that are a little older.
15. Watch Vudu for movies.
Vudu is owned by Fandango, and is a great website to watch movies. This is what we use when we want to watch movies.
They have free movies that come with commercials, but for the most part, you would most likely be paying to watch a movie. Think of it like Blockbuster Video, but you are able to choose exactly what movie you want to watch right from your TV, and you will pay to rent each movie.
According to Vudu, they have over 24,000 titles in their catalog and over 8,000 TV shows that you can watch. That means that there are a ton of options, and probably anything you want to watch can be found on Vudu.
Movie rentals for one time are typically around $0.99 to $5.99. TV show episodes are around $1.99 to $2.99 (for each episode). A season of a TV show is usually around $16.99 to $43.99.
Peacock TV offers live sports, news, TV shows, movies, and more. If you want to save money and get by with no cable TV, this is a great option.
The price for a Peacock TV plan starts at free and comes with ads. Or, you can pay $4.99 for a limited ads package or $9.99 for the advertising free plan.
Some of the things you can watch include Yellowstone, Below Deck, Parks and Recreation. The Office, and Modern Family. They have 40,000 hours of movies, TV shows, and more on their platform. Plus, you can watch live sports and events, such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, WWE, and more.
17. Paramount+/ Showtime
The Paramount+/Showtime bundle starts at $11.99 per month and you can cancel at anytime.
18. Do anything else for cable TV alternatives!
This might be the best alternative to cable TV, but that’s just my opinion.
And here’s why, the average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week. If you used just half of those hours finding things to do instead of watching TV, you could probably accomplish something great!
Now, I’m not completely hating on TV.
I have my favorite TV shows and can sit in front of a TV for hours on end.
However, for the most part, the average person probably spends way too much time just flipping through channels or watching something that they probably don’t even like.
If you feel like you aren’t accomplishing your goals in life or that you are always pressed for time, then you should first analyze how much time you’re wasting each day, especially when it comes to how much TV you watch.
You may not even realize how much time you spend in front of the TV!
Once you realize how much time you are probably wasting in front of the TV, I want you to start taking back some of that time, stop watching as much TV, and put your time to better use by finding things to do instead of watching TV!
Other things you could do with your time that are alternatives to cable TV include:
- Read a book, blog, etc.
- Get a book from the library.
- Go to a museum.
- Do yoga.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Go for a walk.
- Play with your pet.
- Go for a swim.
- Look at the stars.
- Go fishing.
- Go camping.
- Find free attractions in your city.
- Train for a marathon.
- Start a garden. Fresh food is the best!
- Find a way to make extra money.
How much money are we saving by cutting cable TV?
Like many people, when we had cable, we weren’t watching enough TV enough to get our money’s worth. So, that money was just being wasted on cheap cable tv. It was actually rare for us to watch something that wasn’t on a local channel or Netflix. This was the main reason for why we decided to cut the cord and learn how to watch TV without cable or satellite, and I can’t imagine that we will ever pay for cable again.
The other thing about paying for cable and streaming cable is that our cable company seemed to have a $10 to $20 increase multiple times throughout the year – that’s just insane! I used to have to talk to our cable company once every six months so that I could negotiate our cable bill down. If we would have never negotiated, I’m sure our monthly cable bill would have been well over $100 and near the $200 range.
Now that we have cut the cord and only have Netflix, we are saving over $1,200 per year.
All we pay for now is $15.49 to Netflix each month, and we often turn that off when we feel like there’s nothing good to watch (which is often, haha!).
I can’t believe we ever paid that much for TV when there are so many good cable TV alternatives that exist. Plus, it just keeps getting better and better as more services are being created all the time.
What is the best alternative to cable? How do I get rid of cable and still watch TV? What is the best streaming service?
The best alternative to cable TV will depend on what you like to watch best. For us, we simply like having Netflix when there is something on there that we like to watch.
We’ll also occasionally pay for Philo and Starz as well when there is a TV show that we want to watch, such as 90 Day Fiance, Outlander, or want live TV streaming services.
There’s no right or wrong answer – simply choose what has the shows and movies that you want to watch. There are many, many different options for cable TV alternatives, as you probably have noticed in the list above. Not everything will fit everyone, so it is all about finding what suits you the best.
What are the worst cable TV alternatives?
The worst cable TV alternatives are simply what you will not use. No need to waste your money even further!
Signing up for each and every single streaming service and option above will end up costing you a lot of money, which will make you go backwards. I know some people who spend hundreds of dollars a month on monthly streaming services because they thought it would be better than cable.
However, that’s a lot of money to spend, and there’s probably some overlap on the various streaming options anyways. You may want to start with just one or two in order to find what is best for you and your family.
Do I need an internet connection for cable TV alternatives?
For many of the options above, you will need an internet connection in order to watch your favorite TV shows and movies.
With a digital antenna, you do not need an internet connection.
But, for streaming services, you will need to have internet.
What is the least expensive way to watch TV?
The least expensive way to watch TV is to probably by visiting your library and seeing what services that they offer. Other options may include:
- If you already pay for and use Amazon Prime for other reasons (such as quicker shipping), then watching TV through Amazon may be an affordable option for you because it is a service that you are already using.
- Netflix is a very popular option due to its low cost and wide selection of movies, documentaries, TV shows, and more. If you are going to go with just one option, then Netflix may be a low cost and easy choice for you.
- If you’re looking to spend nearly no money over the years, then finding a digital antenna may be a good option for you. This is because you can spend money by simply buying a digital antenna upfront, and then having to spend no additional money in future months to watch TV.
There are many other great options to save the most money and watch TV without cable or satellite as well.
What equipment do I need to get rid of cable TV?
The equipment that you need will vary depending on what TV service you want to use.
If you just want to use a digital antenna, then that is all that you will need. This is how you can cut the cable and watch TV for free.
For some subscription services, you may need some sort of device. For example, an Amazon FIRE stick, a Roku box, a Smart TV, or something else.
For us, we have a Smart TV, so we are able to watch Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and so on, right from our TV with no issues and no additional devices needed. If you do not have a Smart TV, then simply getting something such as a Roku box or Apple TV can help you get what you need at an affordable price without having to upgrade your TV (because that can be expensive, especially if you do not need one).
Why getting rid of cable and finding cord cutting options will change your life.
As you can see, there are tons of tv options other than cable so that you can find cheap tv service! There are options like going to the library and watching series straight from the source that are completely free. You can also find less expensive options like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+ and still have on-demand access to the shows you want.
Finding ways to replace cable is easy!
That means that if you want to get rid of cable to save money, it’s very easy to do. No more excuses! There are dozens of channels and hundreds of movies you can save money on.
Paying for one year of cable can easily cost $1,200 or more – this is so much money!
You can find an alternative and use your savings to put towards debt, invest it for retirement, or it can be used to pursue your passions. Putting your money towards these things can cause less stress, and that’s something we all need to reduce.
Or, if you really want to change your life, what if you got rid of TV and cable streaming services altogether?
You can spend more time outside, visit more with friends and family, get more sleep at night, and live healthier both mind and body.
Now, you can still rent a movie or pay for a month of Hulu here and there, but living without TV for longer periods is something you can try if you want to find a way to change your life.
What is best option to replace cable TV?
I hope you enjoyed today’s article on the best alternatives to cable TV and best cable replacement service. As you have learned, there are many, many different options depending on what you are looking for.
There are alternatives to cable TV for sports, ways to watch TV without cable or satellite, and more. Now, there are worst cable TV alternatives, but this just depends on who you are and what you like to typically watch.
Your different options may include things such as Netflix, YouTube TV, Philo, Roku, Sling TV, Hulu, fuboTV, HBO, DirecTV Stream, Paramount+, Disney+, HBO Max, Discovery, channels for sports fans, DVDs, and so much more.
Luckily, in today’s world, there are many, many different options for getting rid of cable or satellite and saving money.
Are you thinking about getting rid of cable? What alternatives to cable TV do you have?