15 Cable TV Alternatives You Should Consider

15 Cable TV Alternatives You Should Consider

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  • Post last modified:July 5, 2020
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Note: PlayStation Vue has been discontinued as of January 30th, 2020. As such, it has been omitted from this list.

In the late 20th century, cable TV was all the range. But things have changed dramatically, and these days, people are looking for the best cable TV alternatives.

Why? Because cable TV can be expensive and can force you to pay for a huge amount of bloat in which you have no interest whatsoever. When was the last time you watched public access TV?

Times are also tough for many people these days. With so many people struggling just to make ends meet, they look to cut expenses to an absolute minimum.

Plus, with streaming services offer consumers more choice than ever.

Thus, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to pay for a package that has a whole channel dedicated to the weather, or home shopping, or whatever.

Maybe you watch those channels – if so, just swap in whichever channels you never watch. In any case, these days it makes little sense to keep paying for a service when you only use a fraction of it.

If your phone provider had packages for, say, 2 GB, 5 GB, and 10 GB of data, would you pay for 10 GB if you only use 1 GB per month? Of course not! You would call and have them downgrade you to 2 GB or maybe 5.

And that’s what this post is all about: finding a setup that works better for you rather than a one-size-fits-all solution that, frankly, doesn’t fit you well at all.

Streaming Services

This section of the list will cover services you can use to watch your favorite TV shows without a cable subscription. Most have a monthly fee (with one exception).

Here, we’ll break down all your different options and what each one has to offer.

1. Netflix

Yes, I know I’m not making any kind of revelation with this one. Still, Netflix is a streaming service that has taken the world by storm. It has been one of the main driving forces in the shift away from a cable-centric TV viewership.

Although Netflix has had a bit of a surge in recent years, it is by no means a new company. Certainly not in the world of the internet – the company was founded in 1997.

It’s difficult to know exactly how many titles Netflix has since its library is changing all the time, but it currently has about 167 million subscribers. One Quora estimated that Netflix has at least 36,000 unique titles. So they probably have many of your favorite TV shows.

Netflix has three plans that come in at $9/month, $13/month, and $16/month.

PlanPriceNumber of ScreensResolution
Basic$91SD
Standard$132HD
Premium$164HD + UHD

Data source: DigitalTrends.Com

Given how much Netflix has to offer, it’s a great cable TV alternative and one of the best streaming services out there.

2. Hulu

While all of these are cable TV alternatives, some consider Hulu to be a Netflix alternative. However, each platform has good things to offer, and they aren’t necessarily direct replacements for one another.

For one thing, there are several popular shows available on Hulu you can’t watch anywhere else. Some example include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Black-ish,” and “Seinfeld”.

These shows are either Hulu original series or are not currently available elsewhere.

Hulu costs $5.99/month for Basic, or $11.99/month for Premium. You’ll also get a 30-day free trial when you sign up.

3. Hulu+ Plus Live TV

Hulu+ Live TV is another live TV streaming option from – you guessed it – Hulu. The good thing about Hulu+ Live TV is that it comes with access to Hulu’s content library in addition to live TV service.
 
That said, there are two tiers: Hulu + Basic for $54.99 and Hulu + Premium for $60.99.
That price difference is the same as the difference between Basic and Premium without live TV. But if you consider that you’re paying $5.99 and $11.99 for Basic and Premium, respectively, the price for the whole package is quite reasonable.
 
Hulu Live TV will give you access to 65+ live and on-demand channels, premium networks like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz, 200 hours of cloud DVR storage, and more.
 
So if you’re a Hulu fan, this is a great option if you want to add live TV.

4. Sling TV

Sling is pretty cool. It goes a long way in addressing the problem mention in the intro to this post – the fact that cable has historically forced people to pay for a bunch of programming they never watch.

You may still have some unwanted channels with Sling, but, again – it’s a big step in the right direction. The way it works is there are a couple of base packages to which you add additional channels (if desired).

Think of these as your “core” channels. The two base packages are called Sling Blue and Sling Orange.

Sling Orange

Sling Orange costs $30/month, comes with 32 live channels, and focuses on live shows, sports, and news.

Sling Blue

Sling Blue also costs $30/month, comes with 47 live channels, and focuses on local programming, news, and regional sports.

There is some variety in the programming between the two packages, but there are probably still some channels you won’t watch.

You can also go with Orange + Blue if you want. Overall, Sling is an interesting idea that has its place in today’s entertainment world.

5. YouTube TV

YouTube isn’t just about pre-recorded content anymore. These days, it has a separate service dedicated to live programming: YouTube TV.

YouTube TV is an all-in-one solution with 70+ channels, DVR, and great performance. It costs $49.99 per month, which isn’t bad for a complete TV package.

And you can watch on a huge variety of platforms, including Xbox, Roku, Apple TV, and lots more.

YouTube TV is worth a look for cord-cutters everywhere.

6. AT&T TV

It was bound to happen: a company that has only offered traditional cable in the past now offers a streaming service as well. With the way things are going, it’s wise of telecom companies to embrace this new trend.
 
And thus, we have AT&T TV. But is it any good?
 
Well, there are certainly good things about it. For instance, you’ll get a healthy portion of 76 channels to keep you entertained. You’ll also get DVR and 4K streaming.
 
The service isn’t as affordable as other options, though. While it starts you at a reasonable $50/month, the rate goes up to $93/month after the first year, which is a bit steep.
 
Despite being a little lower on the value scale, though, AT&T TV does have a lot to offer.

7. Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video, AKA Amazon Instant Video, has also been gaining popularity these days, and for easy-to-understand reasons. The main reason is that it comes with Amazon Prime, which is extremely popular these days.

Cable TV Alternatives Prime Video

According to some sources, Prime has over 100 million subscribers. It costs $12.99 per month or $119 per year.

However, you can also pay for Prime Video separately for a monthly cost of $8.99. Given that Prime is only $4 more per month, again, you can see why it might make sense to get it with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Plus, you’ll get your first month free if you get Prime Video by signing up for Amazon Prime.

Prime Video doesn’t have quite as wide a selection as Netflix for example, but it does have some originals that are worth watching. For example, I really enjoy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

8. Apple TV

Apple TV is a bit of a different animal than the other things on this list. You have to buy the streaming device up-front, which will set you back $149 for the HD streamer or $199 for the 4K streamer.
 
However, after paying that somewhat high price up front, it will only cost you $4.99 per month – quite an affordable monthly rate. Not only that, but there is a 7-day free trial, and your first year is free with the purchase of Apple equipment.
 
Apple does have a generous list of original programming, so looking that over may help you decide whether you want Apple TV.
 

If you’re interested in trying it, go to the page for Apple TV+ or Apple TV 4K.

9. Disney+

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard about Disney Plus; it made a pretty big splash when it was first released. Still, it’s worth mentioning here for all the Disney fans.

Of course, there is a ton of Disney content available with Disney including most of your favorite Disney movies. But remember that Disney is also whole- or part-owner of several other networks.

As a result, you can also view content from 20th Century Fox and ESPN.

The service costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. You can also opt for Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN rolled into one package for $12.99/month.

To watch Disney+, you can download it on Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, PS4, or Xbox.

10. Android TV

Oh, you thought we were done? Nope, there’s one more cable TV alternative to mention: Android TV.

Cable TV Alternatives Android TV

Android TV is exactly what it sounds like: a version of Android made for smart TVs. You can also get Android TV on streaming devices such as the Xiaomi Mi Box S. That said, the easiest way to get it is probably with a smart TV like the Hisense 55H8F.

All of your favorite apps can be loaded onto Android TV like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and plenty more.

And, unlike Apple TV, there is no monthly fee for Android TV, which definitely makes it worth considering.

11. fuboTV

fuboTV is a live TV streaming service that focuses on sports. That is useful considering live sports broadcasts are often one of the things missing from cable alternatives.

But with fuboTV, you can watch games from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL,  and MLS. Not only that, but it also includes news, network television, and movies.

In all, you’ll be able to watch 100+ channels on this service. The base package starts at $54.99, which isn’t bad considering the amount of content. This plan comes with a 7-day free trial.

In addition, there is a “Fútbol Quarterly” which includes the best of Latin TV on 30 channels. This plan costs $19.99/month.

Streaming/Viewing Accessories

In general, you will need to use one of the following access in order to watch your content from the services above. Note that you can usually also view content using a computer in a web browser.

12. Local HD Broadcasts

Picking up an HD antenna can go along well in helping you cut the cord.

Mostly because these things work much better than the old-school antennas used to while giving you HD-quality TV. For my TV at home, I have the Mohu Leaf 50.

Mohu Leaf 50
Mohu Leaf 50

I’ve mentioned this one a couple of times on this site before, such as in my money-saving tips post or my money-saving challenge post. That’s because I think this is a great option that I wish I had in my life sooner!

How Do HD Antennas Work?

The way they work is actually quite simple. They pick up over-the-air HD programming, very much in the same way antennas did back in the 90s.

The biggest difference is that, indeed, you can get local broadcast channels in HD these days.

My antenna has includes a guide function, but there are also websites such as the FCC’s reception map that will tell you which channels you can expect to pick up in your location.

13. Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Fire Stick is a sub-heading of Prime Video because it’s more of an accessory than it is a standalone solution. Basically, the Fire Stick can be used on a “dumb TV” to turn it into a smart TV! Woot!

These things plug into the TV’s HDMI port and, of course, can add functionality to you TV such as Prime Video and dedicated apps for various networks. You can also use your TV as a stereo for streaming music.

Some people have also used Fire Sticks to run something called Kodi to get paid content for free. I don’t recommend that as it could lead to legal troubles. If you stick to Amazon’s native services though, you should be good.

14. Roku

The Roku name is nothing new to the world of streaming. Originally launched in 2008, Roku was one of the first streaming devices on the scene.

I personally use a Roku with my TV. It’s not a brand-new TV by any means, but when I got it (about four years ago), the typical recommendation was to buy a non-smart TV and just pair it with a Roku, because that would be better than a smart TV (at least at the time).
 
Cable TV Alternatives Roku
Roku home screen on my TV at home.

As you can see, Roku allows you to view a number of apps (including a few that are also on this list). Its simple, intuitive design makes streaming a breeze.

There are a few different device options, including  Roku Express HD, Roku Ultra, and Roku Premiere.

Of course, many of the apps you install on your Roku may have a monthly cost, but there is no monthly cost for the Roku itself.

15. Chromecast

Google Chromecast costs $35 and is a dongle-style device that connects via your TV’s HDMI port. It enables you to stream content on TVs that may not otherwise have that functionality.

Of course, you can watch any and all content from Google given that this is a Google product. That includes YouTube and YouTube TV. But Google services are far from the only thing available on this device.

You can also watch Netflix, Hulu, and more.

In addition to the base model, there is also Chromecast Ultra which costs $69 and allows you to stream in 4K.

Cable TV Alternatives: Conclusion

Clearly, there is no shortage of cable TV alternatives these days.

Whether you you download one of these apps or services directly to your smart TV or you use a separate streaming device, there are plenty of ways to get the exact TV experience you want.

And, in the process, cut back on your monthly cable bill.

That also means that, to a certain degree, consumers are no longer at the mercy of cable TV providers. More options means more power!

What is your favorite of these cable alternatives? Do you have another suggestion? Let us know in the comments.

Streaming TV by watching Hulu TV shows, Apple TV, and other services can be a great way to save money on TV.
These cable TV alternatives will help you save hundreds every year by using streaming services, an HD antenna, and other options.
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