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20 Best Alternatives to Cable TV in 2020: Cut the Cord Today

What are the Best Alternatives to Cable TV: Cut the Cord Today

The Modest Wallet is a free digital publication delivering its readers simple personal finance solutions. We regularly partner with brands that have products and services that will help our readers. Some of the links in this post are from our partners. How we make money.

More and more people are opting to cut the cord and outright cancelling their cable TV service, and why not? It's a great way to save money, and there are a wide variety of quality streaming services available at a fraction of the cost—with new content being added every day.

Even better, unlike cable, you can access these on-demand and live streaming platforms at home or on the go through your computer, tv, tablet, and even your smartphone.

If you are considering making the switch, this guide is for you. Whether you are looking to cut costs and retain access to your favorite channels and shows, or you’re ready to completely transition to an on-demand streaming service—this list has something to suit every need and budget.

Keep reading to learn more about the best alternatives to cable TV and find out which one is right for you. 

Service

Starts From

Live TV

Free Trial

$20.00/mo

$30.00/mo

$49.99/mo

$54.99/mo

$54.99/mo

$55.00/mo

$4.99/mo

$4.99/mo

$5.99/mo

$5.99/mo

$6.99/mo

$8.99/mo

Free

N/A

Free

N/A

Free

N/A

Free

N/A

Online Cable

Free

N/A

Over the Air TV

Free

N/A

Local Library

Free

N/A

20 Best Alternatives to Cable TV

Good cable and satellite tv alternatives offer a reasonable amount of content at an affordable price. The good news is that there a few options available to you that meet these criteria.

Live TV Streaming Services

Live TV streaming services are the best alternative to cable TV for those who want to continue watching their favourite channels. Very few on-demand streaming services offer the shows featured on networks like HGTV and Food Network, and none give you access to live sports coverage. If those are important to you, a live TV option might be right for you.

Most live options will be more expensive than their on-demand counterparts, but they are still considerably cheaper than a cable contract and offer you an option with much less compromise to ease the transition.

Philo

Philo is similar to many of the live TV streaming options on this list, but its price point is considerably lower. That's because it doesn't offer any of the premium sports channels provided by other video streaming services. 

So if you’re not that into sports—it’s the best option—especially if you want access to channels like A&E, AMC, BET, CMT, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, among others at a reduced cost.

A basic subscription to Philo will cost you $20 a month for a total of 58 channels. At this price point, it's easily one of the cheapest Live TV packages you can get, making it a fantastic option for most people.

  • Service: Philo
  • Starting Price: $20/mo
  • Channels: 58 (Entry)
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial

Sling TV

Sling TV is as close as you can get to having cable while still cutting the cord. It provides its subscribers with access to a wide variety of live cable channels without the need for rented hardware or a contract. 

It's also one of the more expensive options on this list, with packages starting at $30 per month. But it makes up for the difference in cost by providing more than your basic on-demand streaming experience. Also, if you don't want to completely ditch the live experience, it's one of the best alternatives to cable TV.

Sling has three packages for you to choose from, Sling Orange, Sling Blue, and the combination package Sling Orange/Blue. They also offer add-on options priced between $5 to $15, allowing you to get access to channels from the other package without subscribing to both.

Sling Orange and Blue are both available for $30 per month. 

Sling Orange provides access to 32 channels including AMC, CNN, HGTV, TBS, and the Food Network. Sling Blue offers 47 channels including USA, Bravo, the Cartoon Network, the History Channel, Fox Sports, and the NBC sports network. 

Both packages are unique, with only a few channels that overlap between them.

If you don't want to have to choose between the plans, sign up for Sling Orange/Blue and you can get access to all 53 available channels for a reduced rate of $45 per month.

  • Service: Sling
  • Starting Price: $30/mo
  • Channels: 32/47 (Entry)
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: No, but $10 off the first month

YouTube TV

Yes, YouTube again. YouTube TV is a new service offered by YouTube providing streaming video services and live TV from 70+ channels, including ABC, FOX, NBC, ESPN, CNN and many more.

YouTube TV is $49.99 per month with a 14-day free trial. You will be able to record unlimited content and share your account with up to six family members (3 simultaneous streams).

  • Service: YouTube TV
  • Starting Price: $49.99/mo
  • Channels: 70+
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 14-day free trial
Alternatives to Cable TV

See Also: 21 Fast, Proven and Effective Ways to Save Money

Hulu + Live TV

The streaming giant Hulu has over 30 million U.S. subscribers, and recently, the platform added a new service called Hulu + Live TV for $54.99 per month. While the price is much closer to what you'd pay for your cable subscription, this could be a good option for those who don't want to miss out on the live TV experience or who just can't wait to watch the latest episodes of their favorite shows.

What makes Hulu's value proposition so unique is that there are no cable boxes required and no contracts so you can cancel at any time.

Some of the most notable channels you will find in Hulu+ Live TV include Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, HGTV, TNT and many more.

  • Service: Hulu + Live TV
  • Starting Price: $54.99/mo
  • Channels: 60+
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial

fuboTV

fuboTV launched as a niche streaming platform for sports but has since expanded to provide regular content with more than 100 channels available in entertainment, lifestyle, news, and sports.

The platform offers a choice of 13 different channel packages starting at $54.99 per month with add ons available to customize your package to ensure you get all the channels that matter most to you. 

Depending on the package you select, you will have access to all the standard local networks and favorites like The History Channel, The Food Network, HGTV, FX, and of course, a massive selection of sports channels.

  • Service: fuboTV
  • Starting Price: $54.99/mo
  • Channels: 70+
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial

AT&T Now

AT&T Now, formerly known as DirecTV Now, is the most expensive service on the list. Plans start at $55 per month and go all the way up to $80 per month, so if you are looking for an alternative to cable TV that will maximize your savings, you'll want to look elsewhere. 

But that's not to say it doesn’t have its benefits.

Depending on the package you subscribe to, you will get between 45 to 120 channels, and you have the option to add Cinemax or HBO to your plan for just $10 and $11 per mon respectively, and you can get the service as part of a bundle with any other services you get through AT&T.

  • Service: AT&T Now
  • Starting Price: $55/mo
  • Channels: 45 (Entry)
  • DVR Available: Yes
  • Content-Type: Live TV, On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial

On-Demand Streaming Services

On-demand streaming services are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about alternatives to cable TV—you might even already be subscribed to one (or more).

Generally, they consist of platforms that are accessible online or through apps on your devices— smart TV, gaming console, or set-top box—that provide you with a library of shows and movies you can watch and rewatch at anytime. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are all great examples.

Netflix

Netflix was one of the first online streaming services to come to market and it remains one of the most popular, boasting nearly 150 million subscribers and servicing 190 countries.

The service hosts a large variety of popular TV shows, movies and documentaries on rotation in addition to an ever-growing library of original content and exclusives, including customer favourites like Stranger Things, The Get Down, Grace and Frankie, and Orange Is The New Black

The platform has also purchased the rights to and rebooted a number of popular shows including Arrested Development, Black Mirror, and the Gilmore Girls.

A subscription to Netflix starts at $8.99 per month, with the option to pay an additional $4 a month to unlock 4K HD streaming on applicable content and enable streaming to multiple devices at once. The premium subscription is well worth the additional cost if you have a family or are going to be sharing your account with friends or roommates.

Netflix also allows you to make individual user accounts, so you never have to worry about losing your progress on a show. 

There's even a profile option for kids that filters out all of the age-inappropriate content, so you don't have to worry about your children accidentally seeing something they shouldn't.

  • Service: Netflix
  • Starting Price: $8.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 30-day free trial
Best Alternatives to Cable TV

See Also: How to Track Expenses: A Simple Step by Step Guide

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video doesn't quite have the content library of Netflix, but that's not to say it doesn't have plenty of quality content of its own to offer. 

The platform offers a variety of popular cable TV shows both new and old—including Downton Abbey, Law & Order, House, The Sopranos, Suits, and True Blood—along with a number of wildly popular original shows like Good Omens, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Bosch, and The Man in the High Castle.

One of the things that really sets Prime Video apart is that you can access it for free with an Amazon Prime or Amazon Prime Student subscription, making it accessible to more than 90 million households in the US alone. If you don't have any use for a Prime subscription, the service is also available for just $8.99 a month.

One downside, however, is the Amazon Prime Video interface which is quite outdated and amateurish looking compared to Netflix.

  • Service: Amazon Prime Video
  • Starting Price: $8.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 30-day free trial

Hulu

Hulu is another one of the original on-demand streaming services, offering original content as well as a number of your network television favourites like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Community, and Family Guy, along with classics like Seinfeld, Will and Grace, and The Golden Girls

New episodes of your favourite shows are added shortly after they premiere on TV, so you won’t be missing out and you'll save a substantial amount each month.

A basic Hulu subscription is $5.99 per month and provides you with access to the platform’s full catalogue of shows, but like TV it comes with advertisement breaks. For an additional $6 per month, you can upgrade and get unrestricted access to Hulu without the ads.

Also, since Hulu is owned by Disney, you can get an ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu bundle for $12.99 per month.

  • Service: Hulu
  • Starting Price: $5.99/mo (ad-supported)
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 30-day free trial

Disney+

Disney+ is a subscription-based streaming video service owned and operated by Disney. It offers a variety of tv shows, movies and original content for the platform, like Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

Disney+ content library is not as large as that of Netflix or Hulu, but they keep adding new content and original shows every single day. Disney+ is currently $6.99 per month with a 7-day free trial.

Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN, so you can even get a bundle for the three services for $12.99 per month. Overall, Disney+ is a decent platform worth checking out.

  • Service: Disney+
  • Starting Price: $6.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is a unique entry on the list. For starters, the Apple TV is a device to be purchased as an alternative to cable TV, rather than simply a service alternative. Through the Apple TV you can access many of the services from this list including Netflix and Hulu, but you'll still need to subscribe to them.

It does come with the same basic free channels offered by other services, as well as subscription options for lots of your premium favourites like HBO and Showtime, and a huge library of content available for rent or purchase through the iTunes store.

Apple has expanded its catalogue with the addition of Apple TV+. The offers a combination of pre-existing titles and original content created by A-list writers, directors, and actors. The service starts at $4.99 per month with a 7-day free trial.

Some of the most promising offerings include a reboot of the 80’s cult classic anthology series Amazing Stories directed by Stephen Spielberg, post-apocalyptic drama series See written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games movies), and a new educational series for preschoolers called Helpsters.

  • Service: Apple TV+
  • Starting Price: $4.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial
Save Money by Streaming TV

See Also: How to Retire Early: A Simple and Detailed Step by Step Guide

ESPN+

If you are a sports junkie, ESPN+ is for you. The service offers tons of original on-demand content and live sports for only $4.99 per month. ESPN also offers occasional deals and bundles so you can watch Pay-Per-View events.

The good thing about ESPN+ is that it's owned by Disney, so if you get Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ you can get a buddle for $12.99 per month.

ESPN+ is definitely a great option for sports fanatics.

  • Service: ESPN+
  • Starting Price: $4.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: No

Acorn TV

If you're a fan of British shows or other European content, then Acorn TV might be for you. The platform is relatively cheap at $5.99 per month and shows don't have ads.

  • Service: Acorn TV
  • Starting Price: $5.99/mo
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: No

YouTube

Everybody knows about YouTube, it's the world's largest video platform for independent creators, but what you might not know is that the platform has a lot to offer aside from short videos and vlogs. 

YouTube has a wide variety of quality content including original shows, documentaries, and movies available in every genre.

The basic use of YouTube is free, but the platform has also introduced a premium subscription service in YouTube Premium, offering users access to the platform's content ads free for $12 per month.

Another great feature is its YouTube Kids platform and app which provides a filtered version of the platform filled with educational and family-friendly content for children ages 12 and under. It also offers three age-based categories to ensure the content is appropriate and engaging for each age group.

  • Service: YouTube
  • Starting Price: Free
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: N/A

Crackle

Crackle is an on-demand service offered by Sony to watch TV shows and movies for free. It also has some original content but not a lot.

There is no shortage of good TV shows and movies including Zero Dark Thirty, A Few Good Men, Zodiac, The Longest Yard, The Ellen Show, Charlie’s Angels and many more.

The platform is relatively easy to use, but the number of ads may kill the entire experience when watching a movie or shows. This definitely something to consider.

  • Service: Crackle
  • Starting Price: Free
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: N/A

Vimeo

Vimeo is similar to YouTube, providing free and paid access to a large library of on-demand content uploaded by creators. Unlike YouTube’s viral videos and vlogs, Vimeo is more focused on indie films, documentaries, and art pieces.

The platform is also host to a number of highly-rated TV and web shows such as Yappie, Mammon, and The Impossibilities, which are probably not available on cable TV.

If you are looking for something a little different than your standard cable offerings and other services on this list, Vimeo is a great option to check out.

  • Service: Vimeo
  • Starting Price: Free
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: N/A

Vudu

Vudu was created by Walmart in an effort to capture a section of the online rental and streaming market. It launched a bit behind many of the major streaming platforms, but it has a lot of unique features that make it stand out in a crowded category.

For example, the platform has a large selection of free content with ads that are shorter than your standard TV commercial. Although the free content is plentiful it does seem to be at least two years old, so you won’t be able to see the latest movies and shows for free.

In addition to the free content Vudu provides, you can rent movies from the platform without a subscription. High Definition movies are available for rent for $5.99, with ultra HD available on some titles for $6.99, and if you're not picky about picture quality you can save a dollar on every rental by choosing the Standard Definition version.

If you already own a physical copy of a movie that came with a digital download code—you can redeem the code directly through the Walmart website and have the title automatically added to your Vudu library—making it available on any device to stream. This is great for anyone who has been collecting movies and can really save you a lot of money.

  • Service: Vudu
  • Starting Price: Free
  • Channels: N/A
  • DVR Available: No
  • Content-Type: On-Demand
  • Free Trial: N/A
Cut the Cord

See Also: What is an Emergency Fund and Why You Need One?

Honourable Mentions

There are a lot of ways to watch free cable tv or at the very least at a significantly reduced price. Here are some of the basic options.

Online Cable Channels

Lots of regular cable channels offer live streams of specific events or post a selection of their most popular shows online shortly after they’ve aired for cable, at no cost to you. 

The availability and selection will vary based on your location, but you can easily find out what's available by looking up those channels you love online.

You can access the content on your computer or tablet, as well as certain set-top TV boxes or streaming devices like the Apple TV or Roku through a quick and easy setup process that will vary by device.

Pro Tip: Provided you have a good internet connection, you can get a streaming device like RokuApple TVGoogle Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV to get additional free or cheap TV and movie content.

Local Cable Channels (Over the Air TV)

No matter where you are, you should be able to access local cable networks for free by using an HDTV antenna such as the Mohu Leaf 50, or with your laptop by connecting it to your TV with an HDMI cable.

While this is an option everywhere, it works best if you are within a major population center due to the strength of the signal. You'll still be able to access the networks with a weak signal but you won't get as clear or consistent of a stream.

You can check out a website called Antenna Web. This website will help you find out how many free over the air (OTA) channels you can access from your local TV broadcasters. This is a great option to figure out if having an HDTV antenna will work for your geographical location.

The channels you can access will vary by what is broadcast in your area but will generally include channels like ABC, NBC, Fox, and PBS, as well as the local news and public broadcast channels unique to your city or town. 

You might be able to pick up channels that are further away but local to your province or state if the broadcast signal is boosted near you.

If you want to record your favorite shows to watch at a later date, you can do so with a DVR like the Tablo. The Tablo is a cool device where you can browse, record and stream live HDTV from your antenna on any device including smartphones, tablets, smart TV, and streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Libraries

Your local public library has a lot more than books on offer, and many cost nothing to use. You simply need to sign up for a free membership card to gain access to its catalogue of books, movies, music, and even video games. 

If your library has a limited selection or doesn't have the kind of content you are interested in, talk to the librarian. Not only do they make note of popular requests for future purchases, they may be able to bring in fresh content from another library on your behalf.

Final Thoughts

With so many great alternatives available, there's not really any reason to keep your cable subscription and the hefty monthly bill that comes with it. Take some time and check out each service through their free trials to figure out which ones you like best and say goodbye to your costly cable subscription! You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

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