Watching TV is one of the most beloved pastimes in America. After working hard all day, unwinding in front of the television to watch your favorite shows is very relaxing. However, that relaxation soon ends when the cable bill comes in the mail. In fact, the average cable TV service costs anywhere from $25 to $85 per month depending on the number of channels you get and which company you buy from. With so many cable alternatives now available, it makes no sense to spend that kind of money.
Think about it: why pay for those premium TV channels when you really only watch a handful of them? Most people pick 3-5 channels and binge watch from there, paying those high monthly fees for no good reason. Luckily, the following cable alternatives are easy to use and allow you to enjoy your favorite shows at a fraction of the cost.
The Top 5 Cable Alternatives
Cutting the cable may seem scary at first, but with the right strategy you won’t even miss it. Whether you’re trying to save money or simply get with the times, these 5 cost-effective cable alternatives will keep the cash in your stash while also helping you unwind in front of the TV to your heart’s delight.
Known for its amalgamation of viral videos, movie clips, music, and educational programming, YouTube is a free streaming app that can provide you with plenty of potent screen time. On YouTube, anyone with an account can watch classic and contemporary TV shows, popular movies, documentaries, and indie films with the click of a button. While some movies and episodes cost money to stream, most people pay an average of $2.99 for unlimited access to the show or movie of their choice.
More than that though is the fact that YouTube users can look up just about anything they can think of and watch a video about it instantly – from instructional productions about how to reroof a house to “Get Ready with Me” programs that teach proper makeup application techniques. You can’t get that on cable TV, it doesn’t matter how much you pay. YouTube has millions of videos and each one of them is sharable on social media, not to mention they can be organized into playlists and commented on as well.
HULU isn’t free like YouTube, but it’s certainly a lot cheaper than a cable TV subscription. For only $8 per month, you get access to currently aired shows and a handfuls of HULU network original series. There’s even a section on the interface for accessing past seasons of popular programming. However, there is one (minor) catch. A commercial-free subscription costs $12 a month, but that’s still less than half the cost of the least impressive cable TV contract.
While some of the ads on the basic HULU subscription are repetitive and somewhat annoying, that’s not the end of the world. So, being able to watch your favorite shows whenever you’d like plus getting access to exclusive content is well worth $8-$12 per month. The best part is that you can cancel at any time without paying fees and there is no special equipment to buy either.
Netflix is a lot like HULU with a few glaring differences. As the most popular cable alternative for whole-season binge watching, Netflix also features thousands of movies that are organized based on category and/or actor. Like HULU, Netflix can be accessed on a TV or a smart device like a phone or tablet, so subscribers can view their favorite programming at home or on the go. A subscription ranges in price based on the type of membership you prefer, but Netflix offers at-home DVD and Blue Ray rental delivery too with no specified time limit.
Furthermore, a Netflix subscription has no commercials whatsoever, regardless of the level you purchase. Memberships are on a monthly basis, can be cancelled at any time, and range from $8-$12 just like HULU. The only catch with Netflix is that watching the shows on more than one device requires the “Premium” subscription, but even that is cheaper than cable TV by a longshot.
Starting at a decent $20 per month, Sling TV is one of the most expensive cable TV alternatives on this list. However, that cost is worth it when you consider that Sling offers several channel packages that feature live access to the most popular networks: ESPN, CNN, HGTV, AMC, Comedy Central, and Disney just to name a few. For just five bucks more per month, you get a few different channels, or you can combine the packages for $40 and call it a day.
Sling TV also offers sports fan, movie buff, and children’s add-on packages, and none of them have commercials. Moreover, Sling subscriptions can be cancelled whenever you choose and there is no special equipment to buy or return. Although Sling is twice as much as Netflix and HULU, it serves as a great place to get current and well-known network programming for a lot less than you’ll pay for cable.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon isn’t just for shopping anymore. Now, you can get popular movies and TV show episodes streamed directly to your computer, TV, or smart device for just $8.99 with a Prime membership. There are even a few original series to choose from too. And, if Prime doesn’t have what you’re looking for you can also rent individual content for a few extra bucks.
To make the most of Amazon’s new platform, sign up for the basic Prime membership for $99 per year, especially if you shop online a lot. With it, the monthly subscription cost is cut down to $8.25, plus you get access to free shipping on all your products. It’s like a delicious double whammy that gives you the best of both worlds.
With these free or nearly free cable TV alternatives, you not only save money, but you also get to watch your favorite shows and movies on a schedule that works best for your unique lifestyle. Feel like catching up on the latest episodes at 3 in the morning? That’s no longer an issue. No more waiting around for programming that’s controlled by the cable company and networks. No more monthly bills that take your breath away. No more costly add-ons, and no more feeling guilty about your love for TV.