Want To Be A Cord Cutter? Consider These 17 Alternatives To Cable TV!
Many American consumers are joining the ranks of those that have already freed themselves of cable services in lieu of online streaming services. Online streaming is so prevalent that many consumers have come to the conclusion that they have so many options for video content that they’ve decided to leave their satellite and cable providers behind. Once many switch over to streaming services and on-demand content, they find the power to watch what they want, without commercials in most cases, when they want, to be quite alluring. It’s hard to sit down and watch cable TV after getting spoiled with this.
There are certainly both benefits and drawbacks to taking this approach. Keep reading to learn the advantages of doing this, 17 different other cable TV alternatives and satellite TV that you should consider, and the potential downsides of doing it. All of this should help you make an informed decision about
One of the first benefits is that many streaming services don’t lock you into contracts. You pay for a month of service, and that’s what you get. Monthly subscriptions charge every four weeks, roughly, continuing the service, You can cancel anytime without penalties or fees, and some services even refund you a pro-rated amount for the unused days or weeks you had left and gave up. Cable TV services typically require long-running commitments for months to years with penalties for early termination.
Given the potential penalties of ditching your cable contract, you need to be sure you are going to have what you need to replace it. Fortunately, nearly every streaming service offers free trials you can use to sample their content and quality. These range from 48 hours to 30 days, and are usually only for first-time users, but they are certainly available.
Cord cutting can make sense if you want to save money on content that you’re simply not using. There are so many channels and options these days, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all. Even with just Netflix access, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything there is to watch. Cord cutting, even to some partial degree, is an effective measure in reducing how many services are available to them. Simplicity helps with relaxation, because you’ll still have plenty to watch.
Interestingly, trying to become a cord cutter might just help you save money on cable itself. Like many other utility providers, cable and satellite TV services have what are known as ‘retention teams’ in their call centers. Anyone trying to cancel their service or let it lapse is often routed to this specialized team, where service professionals are allowed to offer deals typically far better than many consumers can access. You might just find that their desperation to keep you can save you some sweet money. Once most people cut the cord, they don’t ever come back.
The biggest advantage of cord cutting, other than simplicity, is typically the cost savings. The average cable TV subscriber shells out $120 every month, getting close to $1500 per year. That’s on top of nearly $1000 for a high-speed Internet connection, meaning $2500 for both every year. Cutting the cord can put the burden of your content primarily on just the online connection, saving serious money, even if you have to pay for a monthly subscription or two.
Cutting the cord also makes navigating all the content much easier. What used to be known as surfing the channels is now arduous, since there are hundreds of them. You also only see what’s playing now or coming up shortly. On the other hand, Netflix shows you everything they have, right now. You can search by genre, actors, titles, and other factors. Once you watch a few things, Netflix will even start making suggestions that are related content, including shows you might never have heard of.
Portability is another serious benefit. You don’t have to have a cable coming out of your TV or all, as you just need online access, which is increasingly wireless or Wi-Fi. You can watch streaming services on gaming consoles, tablets, laptops, and even smartphones. It’s possible to sneak in a few moments of your latest show on your desktop at work. Also, rough conditions interrupting the cable or satellite signals is a thing of the past.
Without further adieu, here are 17 cable TV alternatives that you should explore if you want to be a cord cutter:
1) Amazon Prime Video:
If you already have a subscription to Amazon Prime for shopping discounts, then you already also have access to this service. Use it to reduce how many monthly subscriptions you have. Amazon Prime Video features classic shows and movies, along with a rotating lineup of new releases. They also have a handful of Amazon Original Series that they are constantly growing. You can even add premium options like Showtime, HBO, and more.
2) CBS All Access:
Quite a few Star Trek fans groaned when they learned that a new franchise series would headline CBS’ foray into streaming services. However, Star Trek: Discovery has been well-received, with a spin-off coming up. Anticipation is also high for the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series. CBS All Access also of course has an extensive library of movies and television for a monthly subscription fee, with a limited free trial available.
3) CW Seed:
The CW is hardly the only network to put a lot of their older and even current series online, but CW Seed is notable for an easy interface and nearly all the network’s content. Two notable classics include Everyone Hates Chris and the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? CW posted nearly all the episodes from the original ABC eight seasons along with the revival version. USA Network is another channel known for posting a lot of original content on their website.
4) Digital Antenna:
Things have long since moved on from those unsightly rabbit ears of old, with their fuzzy pictures. Current antennae are digital, meaning you get to enjoy crisp reception. You just buy an antenna once and then enjoy all the local channels you want without a monthly fee. Many stations now run multiple streams of content on their digital stations, so you might just find a few dozen new local channels when you plug one of these in. Many new smart TV sets already have these built-in and can do an auto-channel scan for you.
At the time of writing, this new player in the streaming sector is all the range. Documentaries, original series, short-form content, and classic Disney movies are available along with major franchises, such as Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic. You can even get three decades worth of Simpsons episodes. It’s almost a must-have for households with kids, but there is also a broader package available that comes with Hulu and ESPN+.
6) HBO Now:
You can enjoy this as a premium add-on through quite a few other streaming services, notably Amazon Prime and Hulu. However, HBO Now is something you can enjoy by itself if you want only HBO movies and shows. Stream this service on multiple devices, enjoy a free trial, and only pay for the months that you want since you can cancel it anytime and then restart it later. Get access to all the classic HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, True Blood, and Sex in the City.
This one is among the cheapest cable TV alternatives, and it’s certainly one of the most sports-focused. Try it out for a week free, before paying just a few dollars a month for live sporting events and content produced under the ESPN+ Originals umbrella. Enjoy it alone or as part of the Disney+ and Hulu bundle.
The name is a bit odd, and this service isn’t really as well known as many other members of this list yet, but if you want a heavy dose of sports content, then this is worth a look. Four different account plans range between 90 to 165 channels, multiple device sharing, and cloud DVR services.
Much like ESPN+, this can be part of the broader Disney+ bundle or a standalone service. It might just be one of the best possible alternatives to cable you can sign up for, with a rotating library of movie titles and over 85,000 episodes of television shows from multiple networks and sources. Hulu Original series are adding to the content with titles you can’t see anywhere else, and unlike many other streaming services, Hulu’s prices have gone down for the lowest tier of service, although streaming that one does involve ads. Try it free for a month, and look into premium add-ons, including Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO.
10) Your Public Library:
This is probably the lowest-tech option on the list, even beating out digital antennae. However, many community libraries have tremendous selections of TV shows and movies, including new titles and releases. Partnerships with other libraries in the area are common, letting you expand your search. Take advantage of services such as Hoopla and Kanopy that many libraries use for free content. Expect restrictions about how much you can watch each month, but enjoy free content with your library card!
Even though Netflix once dominated the DVD-by-mail rental market for a while, lightning struck twice for them as they were the first dominant streaming service and still a major player in the modern market. They don’t get as many A-list movie titles anymore, and royalty arrangements are starting to bleed series from their library over to other streaming services. Still, Netflix still has more content than nearly anyone, and they’ve made a name for themselves with original content. You’ve likely heard of titles like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Black Mirror, and Stranger Things. To be sure, Netlfix releases a new season of a series nearly every weekend, making it very easy to get your weekly binge on without cable television. Netflix offers a free trial to new users and three different pricing plans. This streaming service is also renown for learning what kind of content you watch so you get great recommendations.
Another relatively unknown name to many, this provider has simple pricing, unlimited recording, and more than 50 channels you can watch on any device. These include Food Network, Nickelodeon, TLC, and AMC, among others. Try it out free for a week, including 48 hours without having to register billing information of any kind.
13) Sling TV:
Sling TV is another way of getting access to live television, including popular networks like TNT, TBS, AMC, Disney, and Comedy Central. If you like sports, enjoy three ESPN channels and the NFL Network, or opt for add-ons covering the NHL, SEC, and NBA.
This website isn’t just music videos and funny cats. It’s actually the second-largest search engine online and home to endless content, including movies, clips, interviews, and even entire television shows.
15) YouTube TV:
YouTube offers their very own live TV service, and it features content from more than 70 networks. These include Bravo, FX, TLC, National Geographic, ESPN, and Animal Planet. You can also add options like AMC, Starz, Fox Soccer Plus, Showtime, and NBA League Pass. However, it’s one of the more expensive streaming plans, and enough add-ons can wind up costing more than cable.
16) Playstation VUE:
Playstation VUE is a lot like fuboTV. However, despite the name, you don’t have to have a Playstation to watch it. As a matter of fact, you can use any device with online access for the most part. Unfortunately this will be discontinued on 1/30/2020
At the time of writing, NBC had yet to actually roll out its foray into the streaming services, but the anticipated name is inspired by their logo. Rumor has it that the flagship of their original content will be a reimagined Battlestar Galactica remake.
The Downsides Of Cutting The Cord
While cutting the cord can theoretically help you save money, it’s not always sunshine and roses. Each case is different, so what proves to be advantageous to you might not be so great for another household. For starters, you need reliable Internet access. If your connection is flaky or too slow, then cord cutting might not prove to be as great as you hoped it would be.
Another problem is that you might not save as much money as you think. Some of the streaming services on this list charge $50 or more per month for their services, and in some markets, that’s close to the cost of basic cable packages. While many have options around $10, give or take, stacking a few up can add up fast. The library, a digital antenna, and YouTube don’t add up to much, but the content is going to be limited to all over the place at the same time. If you’re looking for specific movies and series, then you have to hunt for them and put together the right collection of subscriptions.
Only a handful of options on this list had any sports content, so if you follow a particular sport or team, then you might have difficulty keeping up with them. It’s easy to think that you can ditch cable and use NBA League Pass to still watch basketball, but at $40 – $50 a month, it might not leave a lot of room in your content budget for TV and movies, and you don’t even get any college basketball, even if you can sit and watch every NBA game of every team.
Recently released content can be another problem, since recent seasons are unlikely to show up online until well after their broadcast run is ended or their latest season is over. You can risk serious spoilers online.
How To Get Started
The first thing you need to do if you want to be a cord cutter is to start figuring out what you want to watch. Specifically, you need to be honest with yourself about what you must have in terms of content. Find services on this list that carry the titles, actors, shows, or content that you want to keep watching, even without cable.
If you don’t have any must haves, then you truly have freedom to explore all the possibilities and find out something that works out well for you. Definitely take advantage of the free trials available to you if you’re a new user to any or all of these services. Just be sure you keep up with when those trials end. Most streaming services won’t tell you when your trial is going to expire. They usually require you to enter billing details to start a trial, which means once the trial is over, they assume you are satisfied and want to keep streaming with them. That means that your card gets charged for that month and you have 30 days or so of content at your disposal.
Also consider if you’re going to be sharing a streaming service with anyone else. Basic plans rarely allow for streaming across multiple devices at once, but higher-level plans might. Netflix notoriously started cracking down on accounts where multiple users were sharing the same basic account, so while you and a friend might be able to do it to save money, it might not work out as long or as well as you want.
Are you new to streaming? Starting off with something Netflix or Hulu is a great way to go. Netflix is certainly the gold standard in this industry, as their original content sets a very high bar for others to follow. At the time of writing, it was very possible that Netflix had more original content coming out than every other streaming service combined. This included movies that had limited theatrical release before moving permanently to the streaming giant.
Still, Hulu has come a long way in catching up, based largely on the sheer quantity of content available from many networks, including Fox. When it was announced that season three of The Orville wouldn’t be filmed in time for broadcast on the actual Fox network, arrangements were made to release it on Hulu, where the first two seasons had found many fans after encouraging reviews and word-of-mouth buzz.
If you’re looking to delight a whole household on a budget, then the Disney+ bundle including Hulu and ESPN+ arguably offers the most bang for the buck in terms of content that is as wide as it is deep. The combination of cornerstone franchises, Hulu’s library, and sports usually has something to offer everyone in the same home.
On the other hand, if you’re just looking for content that saves you the most money, start off by checking to see if you already have access to it. As noted earlier, many television sets already have a digital antenna included, so you might have digital local channels right at your fingertips now. For that matter, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you don’t have to pay a cent for their video service. Also, many Verizon wireless phone contracts come with Disney+ as a perk, so that can be as free to you as the library options your community offers local residents.
Television entertainment is a crucial component to the social fabric and lives of most Americans. Whether it’s news, dramas, sports, comedy, cartoons, movies, or documentaries, nearly everyone has some category of content they prefer, if not multiple options.
Still, without a-la-carte options available, paying lots of money every month for a cable service that gives you over a hundred channels when you’re only interested in a dozen can seem like a waste of money. On top of that, you can’t usually watch your cable TV on your portable electronics, gaming console, or laptop. Consider each of the 17 cable TV alternatives listed here if you’re thinking about joining the growing ranks of cord cutters.
|Name||Description||Our Reviews||Price||Where To Get It|
|Streaming Media Device for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, and Weather||Roku Review||$49 - $99||Roku Official Site|
|HD Antenna by||Used to get HD local channels over the air for free.||HD Antennas Reviewed||$29 - $69||HD Antennas from Amazon|
|New and classic TV shows, movies, and music. Includes free Amazon shipping||Amazon Prime Review||FREE 30 Day Trial||Free 30 Day Trial of Amazon Prime|
|New and classic TV, Movies, and News||Hulu+ Review||$7.99 per month||Sign Up for Hulu+|
|New and classic TV, Movies, and award winning original programming||Netflix Review||1 YEAR FREE!!! >>>||Sign up for Netflix today|
|Every WWE Live PPV, Original programming, and every WWE/WCW/ECW PPV ever made along with thousands of hours of television and documentaries.||WWE Network||$9.99||WWE Network|
|Stream Now TV is a new content curation service that finds the best “best web based shows and films to watch on your time.”||Stream Now TV Review||FREE||Stream Now TV|
In this article we covered 17 of the best services for cord cutters but that is only one half of the cord cutter equation.
You will also want to learn as much as possible about streaming media devices as well and we of course have got you covered.
Thank you for reading, check back here often!