money

10 Low-Cost Alternatives to Cable TV

Lance Cothern

WealthFit Contributor

Cable TV gets more expensive every year. It’s a major waste of money, even if you watch TV on a regular basis. Thanks to recent innovations in the entertainment space, you’re guaranteed to save money by cutting the cord and watching TV through free or much cheaper cable alternatives.

The True Cost of Cable TV

Cable TV gets expensive very quickly. Prices typically vary by region, cable company, and how many cable channels you want. Sadly, cable providers don’t let you pick and choose the channels you actually want to watch. Instead, you have to purchase channel packages that include channels you never wanted.

Cable providers are great at adding extra fees to your bill, too. If you want a high definition image and a DVR, expect to add at least $20 per month to your bill. If you want premium tv channels like HBO, Showtime or Cinemax, you’ll likely add around $10 to $16 per channel package per month.

When all is said and done, it’s not uncommon to be paying $100 or sometimes even $200 for your cable TV subscription. This is especially true if you add packages such as NFL Sunday Ticket and multiple movie channels to your subscription. These fees don’t even include the internet access you’re probably paying for, too.

So, let’s say your monthly cable bill is $150 per month. If you cut the cord and decide to pick up a few free cable alternatives and $25 in paid cable alternatives per month, you could be saving $125 per month.

If you invest that $125 per month for 30 years and earn an 8% annual return, you’ll end up with roughly $183,000.

Free Cable Alternatives to Replace Your Cable Subscription

Rather than continue paying over $100 for cable TV, you can take advantage of the internet subscription you already pay for to entertain yourself. If you’re looking for free cable alternatives, here are a few options you may want to consider.

Add a Digital Antenna

Digital antennas have an upfront cost, but you’ll gain free access to any digital local channels your antenna can pick up. Typically, you’ll be able to get at least a couple of the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) in more rural and suburban areas. If you live in an urban setting, you may be able to get all of the major networks. While extreme sports fans won’t get to watch all sporting events on the major networks, the biggest sporting events are normally broadcast on these channels.

Use TV Networks’ Websites

If you don’t pick up the major local channels with your digital antenna, you may be able to watch many of the primetime shows on the networks’ websites. Your luck will vary from network to network, but expect a new episode to show up the next day on the website. Be careful, though. New episodes can expire quickly. You’ll likely have to watch commercials, too.

Consider Your Local Library

If you’re not super picky about what you watch, you can find a large selection of TV show seasons and movies at your local library. Sometimes libraries even take requests for new titles you’d like to see them carry.

Make Your Dumb TV a Smart TV

If you don’t 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.

Paid Cable Alternatives to Replace Your Cable Subscription

While free cable alternatives often provide plenty of entertainment value, the best cable alternatives usually require a small subscription fee. Still, the subscription fees for the below streaming services are much less than you’d pay for your typical cable bill.

Many of these options even offer free trials so you can see if they have the types of content you like to watch. If they don’t, cancel before your free trial is over and you won’t have to pay a penny.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime ($119/yr) comes with free access to Amazon Prime Video. Amazon Prime Video claims to have thousands of popular movies and TV shows you can watch for free. In addition to the video subscription, you get free 2-day shipping on over 100 million items and free access to over 1,000 Kindle books, magazines and more.

Hulu with live TV

Hulu with live TV costs $39.99 per month. It gives you access to the entire Hulu streaming library as well as live sports, news, entertainment and more from 50+ top TV channels. You can add HBO for $14.99 per month, Cinemax for $9.99 per month and ShowTime for $8.99 per month.

If you’d rather stick with the Hulu streaming library only, you can pay $7.99 per month for a subscription with limited commercials or $11.99 per month for a subscription with no commercials.

CBS All Access

CBS All Access costs $5.99 per month with limited commercials or $9.99 per month for commercial free access (with the exception of live TV and select shows). It offers a large library of content you can watch which includes 10,000 episodes on demand. In addition, you can watch live streaming of your local CBS affiliate, where available. CBS All Access also has original content including Star Trek: Discovery and the Big Brother Live Feeds.

Netflix

Netflix is another streaming alternative that gives you access to plenty of TV shows and movies. Pricing ranges from $7.99 per month for the most basic account with no HD video to $13.99 for the premium subscription which offers Ultra HD video. Netflix is well known for their original content including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things.

Playstation Vue

Despite its name, Playstation Vue service can be accessed on Roku players, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV platforms in addition to the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. It offers live TV streaming with sports and news coverage. Depending on what channels you want access to, subscriptions vary from $44.99 per month to $79.99 per month.

Sling TV

Sling TV is yet another live streaming TV service that gives you access to the channels you want to watch most, including sports channels and HGTV. Prices range from $25 to $40 per month depending on which package you prefer.

Cut The Cord Already! Start Saving Today

With all of the free and paid entertainment options available today, there’s no point in keeping your cable subscription. Cut the cord today. Find cheaper options to get your TV fix.

The money you stand to save is enormous, especially if you actually invest your savings.

Share

Written By

Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern is a freelance writer and founder of the personal finance blog Money Manifesto.

Read more about Lance

RELATED TRAINING

 in 

MONEY

article
How Much You (Really) Should Save Each Month 

Learn how much you need to save each month—if you want to get ahead. If you can’t save 20% of your income . . . you need to make more money!

How Much You (Really) Should Save Each Month 

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
How To Get Help With Medical Debt: 6 Organizations That Will Pay Your Medical Bills

Learn how to get help paying down your medical debt—and how to avoid racking up unnecessary debt in the first place.

How To Get Help With Medical Debt: 6 Organizations That Will Pay Your Medical Bills

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
Do You Have Too Much Student Debt? Use This Rule To Figure It Out

Learn how to calculate if you have too much student loan debt and how to permanently lower your student loan debt.

Do You Have Too Much Student Debt? Use This Rule To Figure It Out

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
How To Do A Balance Transfer: The RIGHT Way

Learn how to do a balance transfer that lowers your interest rate, saves you money, boosts your credit score, and gets you out of debt fast.

How To Do A Balance Transfer: The RIGHT Way

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
How to Write A Goodwill Letter That WORKS [Templates Included]

Is a late payment hurting your credit score? There's good news: you write a goodwill letter and ask the creditor to take it off your credit history.

How to Write A Goodwill Letter That WORKS [Templates Included]

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
How to Insure Against Disability and Job Loss

Learn how to prepare for a diagnosis or an accident that leaves you jobless. Here’s how you can protect your income from the worst.

How to Insure Against Disability and Job Loss

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
The BIG Difference Between a Roth IRA & a Traditional IRA

IRAs are great ways to save for retirement. But this one difference will determine whether or you want a Traditional or a Roth IRA.

The BIG Difference Between a Roth IRA & a Traditional IRA

Lance Cothern

Read Now
article
When "Penny Hoarding" Goes Wrong ...

Saving money is great—but not if it costs you something more valuable: your time.

When "Penny Hoarding" Goes Wrong ...

Lance Cothern

Read Now
podcast
Budgets Are Sexy, Accidental Entrepreneur & The ‘Drama List’

From an accidental entrepreneur to a millionaire blogger, J. Money shares how his decision to get his personal finances in order lead him to build and acquire many successful blogs and hustle money like a pro.

Budgets Are Sexy, Accidental Entrepreneur & The ‘Drama List’

podcast
Redefining Wealth, Emotional Spending & Seeking Wisdom

Tune in as America's Money Maven, Patrice Washington, takes us on a mission to redefine wealth. After the big crash and an even bigger hospital bill, Patrice shares the lessons she's learned on her journey and how she built a successful business by chasing purpose instead money.

Redefining Wealth, Emotional Spending & Seeking Wisdom

podcast
Quit Like a Millionaire

Imagine retiring in your 30's and traveling the world on permanent vacation. Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung live this lifestyle and sit down with Dustin to explain how you can do the same. By going against the norm, investing their money, and quitting their jobs, tune in as they share helpful tips from their new book, Quit Like a Millionaire.

Quit Like a Millionaire

More Cashflow, Less Stress

More Cashflow, Less Stress

How To Boost Your Monthly Income By "Going With the Flow" of Wealth

Dale Gibbons

Watch Now
Financial Adulting

Financial Adulting

The 20-Something's Guide to Debt, Investing, and a Wealthy Life

Ellen & Micah Long

Watch Now
Zero Student Debt

Zero Student Debt

How To Make a Smart College Investment and Graduate Debt-Free

Ellen Long

Watch Now
podcast
unHustling - Work Less, Earn More

Join Phil Newton as he and Dustin discuss how to de-stress your life and achieve work-life balance while increasing your income.

unHustling - Work Less, Earn More

Money 101 for Teens

Money 101 for Teens

The Ultimate Guide To Making, Spending, Saving, and Investing Money

JP Servideo

Watch Now
podcast
Wealth Acceleration

Learn how Stuart Arakelian recovered and prospered from the 2008 financial crash—and how it impacted his philosophy on wealth management.

Wealth Acceleration

Wealth That Lasts

Wealth That Lasts

Simple Secrets to Getting (and Staying) Wealthy

Tom McFie

Watch Now
Getting Out of Debt

Getting Out of Debt

How To Eliminate (Bad) Debt and Maximize Your Cash Flow

Michele & John McFie

Watch Now
Wealth-Building 101

Wealth-Building 101

How to Get Out of Debt, Boost Your Active Income, and Start Investing for Passive Income

Andy Proper

Watch Now
podcast
Timely Tax Benefits, Wealth Preservation & Leverage

Preserve your hard-earned wealth. Learn to use tax advantages to your benefit and leverage trusts with Supreme Court Counselor Lee Phillips.

Timely Tax Benefits, Wealth Preservation & Leverage

podcast
Cutting the Cable

What’s the cable cutting movement all about? Cable Cutting Academy's Jeremy Edmonds discusses tech and finance hacks to save you money.

Cutting the Cable

podcast
How To Negotiate a Higher Salary

Want to boost your salary? Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett help you determine your financial worth. Negotiate for the life you deserve.

How To Negotiate a Higher Salary

The Hidden Power of Life Insurance

The Hidden Power of Life Insurance

How to Protect Your Ass(ets), Save Smarter, and Start Putting Your Money to Work

Stuart Arakelian

Watch Now