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The 8 Best Cable TV Alternatives

The cable television industry is terrified.

The days of 500+ channel packages, of which you really only watch maybe 5 or 10, are no longer viable. People like you and me are looking at our cable bills, which can be north of a hundred bucks each month, and wondering why in the world we're paying so much.

People are cutting their cable in droves. (S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that over 800,000 U.S. customers canceled their pay TV subscriptions in the 2nd quarter of 2016 and it's accelerating, so who knows how many are cutting today!)

Cable TV packages are like buffets – there are a handful of things you like and the rest you never eat.

Instead of paying over a thousand dollars a year for a lot of channels you don't want, you can pick and choose. And there are no contracts!

If you want to know how to catch tv without cable, here are the best cable TV alternatives (not counting the free ones if you're a sports fanatic):

Network TV Sites Online – Varies

Many TV networks have free full episodes on their website for a limited time after broadcast.

For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.

Other networks aren't as generous so check with the network's website for more details.

DirecTV Now – $35

Direct TV Now is a streaming service from AT&T that offers live TV programming over the Internet. It gives you access to over 60 live channels for $35 per month. This includes popular stations, such as CNN, the Hallmark Channel, ESPN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, TBS, Discovery, Bravo, Animal Planet and Bloomberg, among many others. But you can also choose to add HBO, Starz or Showtime for an extra $5 to $8 per month.

Hulu – $7.99

Hulu allows you to watch full seasons of different TV programs, including Hulu Originals. They also offer hit movies and more, and all with minimal commercial interruption. They will allow you to watch current TV series, with a slight delay after the initial airing.

The base package, with limited commercial interruption, is $7.99 per month, with the first month free. But you can also get the commercial free version at $11.99 per month. The service claims there are no hidden fees, no equipment rentals, or no required installation appointments.

Sling TV – $20+

Sling TV comes with two service levels. With Sling Orange you get 30 channels, including ESPN, Disney Channel, AMC, CNN, and HGTV among them. The service is $20 per month. Or you could choose Sling Blue, and get more than 40 channels, including FOX, NBC, and national and regional sports networks.

With either package, you can add additional channels at $5 per month. You can also add HBO for $15 per month, or Starz for $9.

We have a full review of SlingTV here.

Amazon Prime Video – $8.99

Prime Video enables you to watch an extensive library of both movies and TV shows for just $8.99 per month, after a 30-day free trial. You can also subscribe to more than 100 premium channels, including HBO, Showtime and Starz, as well as dozens of regular TV channels. However, unlike regular cable TV, you only have to pay for the channels that you actually watch.

Amazon Prime Video is a service of Amazon Prime, which is what you're actually signing up for. That includes 2-day free shipping and a litany of other benefits.

With HBO, Showtime, and Starz you’re given a choice, where you can rent a single TV episode, typically for a $1.99, or an entire season at $29.99 (prices vary). You can also rent movies for typically $3.99 for 48 hours, or you can buy the video for $15 or less (with $13.99 being a common purchase price).

HBO Now – $14.99

HBO Now is available as a streaming service at $14.99 per month, with the first month free. HBO Now gives you access to all the programming of HBO, from original television shows to blockbuster movies for one low monthly fee

You can subscribe to it as a standalone service, or you can add it to any of the other services that are available on this list, at a slightly higher fee.

FuboTV – $34.99

FuboTV is a live online streaming service that specializes in providing sports programming. Though they also offer a selection of regular TV programming, they provide live streaming of games in the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA, as well as major college sports and international sporting events. For $34.99 per month the service offers access to 68 channels. FuboTV is also offering a one-week free trial so that you can check out the service.

HDTV Antenna Systems

This actually describes several different systems that you can install in your home on a one-time basis, that will give you access to various channels that are available in your local market. For example, you can hook up ClearStream Eclipse Indoor, which has a 35-mile range and then have free access to programming available in your area.

The one negative about an antenna is that if you live in a rural area, that has little programming available or a lot of line of sight blockage, it won’t be of much help.

Go Outside

You don't have to watch TV. 🙂

Give one of these services a try and see if you won’t be cutting your cable very soon.