7+ Online streaming options so you can cut your cable

If you’re like me, you watch a handful of shows on a handful of channels. Usually on DVR.

Getting hundreds of channels means nothing to you. It means nothing to me.

It’s like being at a buffet filled with food you wouldn’t eat.

Sure, it’s all you can eat, sure, but you don’t want to eat it!

I know many of you are like me because one of the most popular money-saving guides is our guide to cutting your cable. It gives you a step-by-step guide to replacing your cable television service with other services. I kept it purposely simple, not recommending a laundry list of services because you’re more likely to take action.

Today, I want to offer up options.

If you’re a convert to cutting your cable and going with just internet service (if you like sports, sometimes that’s all you need!), here is a curated list of options to still get the shows you want.

Table of Contents
  1. 1. SlingTV
  2. 2. Roku
  3. 3. Netflix
  4. 4. Amazon Video
  5. 5. Hulu
  6. NBCUniveral’s PeacockTV
  7. HBO, Showtime & Premium Channels

1. SlingTV


Besides illegal streaming, SlingTV is easily one of the best alternatives to cable television service.

For $20 a month, their basic package, Best of Live TV, gives you ESPN, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Cartoon Network, History Channel, Disney Channel, ESPN2, TNT, Food Network, TBS, Freeform, Adult Swim, IFC, A&E, El Rey, Viceland, Lifetime, Travel Channel, Newsy, Bloomberg Television, Local Now, Polaris+, Maker, Flama, and Galavision.

If you’re one of the few people who watches one of those random ESPN channels all the time (most likely for international soccer), for $5 more you get their Sports Extra package that gets you the SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, BeIn Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Outside TV, and Univision Deportes Network.

How much are you paying for cable today and do you really watch channels outside of those? If the answer is no, consider cutting the cable for this way cheaper alternative that you can watch anywhere you are able to stream. SlingTV supports computers, tablets, Chromecast/Roku/etc, and even the Xbox One.

For a limited time, Sling TV will give you a free Roku streaming stick (retails for $39.99) when you sign up for a month of Sling TV. This turns any TV with an HDMI port into a TV that can run Sling and other internet services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.)

The best part, you can give it a whirl for free for 7 days.

Try SlingTV

(curious how they do it? SlingTV is owned by Dish Network, it’s not some random startup that’ll disappear on you)

2. Roku


Roku is a streaming device you can connect to your television via an HDMI port. It’s a one time purchase and one of the cheapest options is a Streaming Stick at under $50. The most expensive is a Roku 4 at $129.99. We recently purchased the Roku 3 (it replaced a defective and underused cable box that cost us $13 a month!) and I list this as an option even though it doesn’t technically come with service because it offers a great streaming option and some free channels.

After you purchase a Roku device, you can link up all your paid services for us with your TV (great if it’s older and doesn’t have internet connectivity) plus some free channels including PBS, Crackle, Smithsonian Channel, PBS Kids, CBS News, and more.

You can also purchase HBO Now and Showtime at the regular direct rates. Showtime offers a 2-month trial on Roku.

Roku has no on-going subscription fee, the only cost is the device, which you can usually pick up on sale on Amazon.

3. Netflix


I like to watch television shows with a few seasons under their belt. I feel like with a few seasons, the actors can settle into their characters’ personalities, there will be a few dozen episodes to enjoy, and a true story can develop.

For that, I usually turn to Netflix, which has a huge library of television shows, movies, and their own original content. At less than ten bucks a month for their basic streaming package, it’s insanely cheap and you can stream to nearly any device out there. I have yet to find a device that won’t stream Netflix.

If you want to get the most out of your Netflix subscription, you won’t want to miss our Netflix hacks.

Try Netflix

4. Amazon Video


Amazon Prime is Amazon.com’s video streaming service that comes packaged with Amazon Prime, the free shipping membership. Amazon Prime costs $99 per year, or $10.99 per month, which is a fantastic deal if you do a lot of shopping on Amazon. You get free two-day shipping (sometimes free Same-day deliveries too), a slew of other benefits, plus access to their video streaming service which has thousands of free TV shows and movies.

Like Netflix, you can stream it to nearly any device currently available. Amazon also has their Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices.

If you’re a big fan of Amazon, you won’t want to miss our list of the best Amazon hacks.

Try Amazon Video (Prime)

Amazon also offers add-on packages that include Starz. You need an Amazon Prime account to get the add-on but they’re $8.99 a month after a 7 day free trial.

5. Hulu


Hulu is a great service that has a ton of current television shows but Plus is where you get access to an enormous library of content – older shows in syndication like Seinfeld, new original content like The Mindy Project, plus you get limited commercials at $7.99 a month or No Commercials for $11.99 a month.

Showtime is also available as an add-on for Hulu Plus for $8.99 a month.

Try Hulu Plus

NBCUniveral’s PeacockTV

NBCUniversal’s logo, if you look carefully, is a peacock and that’s the name of their streaming service, Peacock, which launched on July 15th.

It was available to Comcast subscribers since April 2020 and it has three tiers of service:

  • Free – 13,000 hours of content with ads
  • Paid – 20,000 hours of content with ads for $4.99 a month, but free to Comcast and Cox subscribers
  • Ad-Free – Paid version but without ads, for $10 a month

If you’re a fan of shows that appear on NBC as well as Universal movies, this streaming service is for you.

HBO, Showtime & Premium Channels

If you want to pick and choose premium channels, you can always buy a subscription directly from the providers.

For those that have partnerships with other services (like Amazon or Hulu), you’ll pay a few bucks more going direct.

You can still get your shows without having to pay ridiculous cable fees for the channels you never watch!

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Halton Lunsford says

    We have gone to circle; Direct and Comcast X1. We added an Apple TV box too! When the cable goes out, we switch on HDMI 2 and watch Netflix and others. So we are looking to go streaming with Apple. What services offers tv through the Apple TV box?

    • Jim Wang says

      How many TVs would you want to watch at once? The services will let you play it on an unlimited number of TVs, the costs go up if you want to watch multiple tvs at once. So if you just switch TVs, it’s still just 1 stream.

  2. Datdamwuf says

    Thanks for the round up, my biggest hold up is being able to record streaming content. I usually check listings and record everything to DVR for later viewing. Most of what I see is geared toward recording antenna based broadcast TV. Is there a solution that will let me record Netflix, Hulu, etc? Any help?

  3. RITA WELLER says

    I learned a lot. THANKS VERY MUCH!! One question I live in an apt. so which Indoor Antenna would you recommend, I’m on the 1st floor. I have the internet by Comcast but would like to set my TV for Free Reception. I’m not sure if I can get Free movies on it (Internet)?? Had Amazon but it didn’t work out. Any suggestions???

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