I’ve written before about finally cutting my cable television, and I still receive some questions about which services are good to use as a cable substitute. I thought it would be a great idea to put together some of the services I’ve tried and think are excellent replacements for high-priced cable packages. The key to this is always do the math. If you can get a bundle deal with your cable provider, it might cost you less than cutting the cord. The reason is the internet.
Most of the effective ways to cut cable is to replace it with a streaming service. You will still need to keep your internet service (most providers do both internet and cable) in order to effectively stream. If you have weak internet, streaming is not going to be possible. If you end up wanting more than one streaming service, you could pay more than just keeping cable and your internet packaged together. As noted, DO THE MATH!
Please be aware that if you love watching and recording a lot of different shows, or you really enjoy your sports package, then these services will not be for you. You have to justify which services you want and which ones you need. There are also many more than just five services, but these are what I have used or currently use.
Netflix is the largest video streaming service out there at this time. It provides a huge library of old movies, new movies, documentaries, current television shows, and children’s programming. Netflix offers two packages that allow you to stream only or stream and receive dvd’s. The cheapest option is to just stream content, which is $7.99. If you want to add DVD’s to your plan, you can get them for another $7.99 per month. You can have 1 DVD out at a time, but their is no limit to how many you can watch per month. Netflix can be streamed on a multitude of devices as it’s probably one of the most supported streaming services out there.
You can also download movies and TV shows for watching at a later time like when you’re offline. This is really an awesome feature that we’ve taken advantage of when traveling with our children.
Hulu started out free and provided a way to watch network TV shows a day after they aired. Then they added on the paid version that allowed more streaming with no commercials. They’ve since changed that model. The free version is no longer and they have just two paid plans now. The weird thing is there are still commercials, most that depends on the station you’re streaming. They provide on-demand and live streaming shows as well now. For $7.99 per month, you can get their streaming library and access to their own created content. They have shows just like Netflix has, which you’ll only find on Hulu. For $40 per month, you can get all of that, but also access to live streaming and on-demand shows, which is a pretty good deal.
The only issue is they don’t provide a good set of devices to stream from. Right now they are only on Apple TV and Chromecast, but they will need to add more in order to be competitive.
Amazon is the late player to the video streaming industry, but you can’t hold down the 800lb gorilla that Amazon is. They are quickly adding new content to their streaming service that is a part of their Amazon Prime membership. For $80 per year or about $6.66 per month, Amazon Prime provides members with free two-day shipping on Amazon.com orders and unlimited streaming of thousands of tv shows and movies. You can stream Amazon Prime content on the Kindle Fire, Playstation, Smart TVs, Computers, Tablets, Blu-ray players, and many other internet connected devices. They even have their own streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (I own a few). Currently, Amazon is the cheapest options when prices out over the year, but it still has a lot to do in order to add more content. If you are already an Amazon Prime member, then start streaming their content onto your television.
This is what I’m currently using to watch TV along with my over the air antenna from Mohu. With these two combined, I’m able to watch all the TV I need without paying a heavy price. I have the lowest plan with DirecTV NOW and it’s $35 per month. I get over 60 channels, which is more than enough. You can stream it on your computer, mobile phones, and on your TV with Amazon Fire, TV Stick, Apple TV, and the Roku will be coming soon.
I’ve really enjoyed the service with DirecTV now. The app on the Amazon Fire Stick is a little glitchy, but it’s new and they have improved it some. I’m waiting for the Roku as I have a streaming stick and want to see how well it works on there.
Sling TV (here’s a 7-day free trial) is owned by Dish Network. It’s an internet streaming service that allows you to watch live TV as it happens on a handful of channels, such as ESPN, TNT, HGTV, and others. The base package is $20 per month, but there are no contracts and you can cancel at any time. You can even start your service again at any time just online. It’s easy! Make sure to check out my Sling TV review from when I tested the service.
It has gotten better over time and now has more packages with different channel sets, more streaming devices, and better clarity. Is it perfect? No, but it’s one of the original live TV streaming services and it works for me.
Bonus 6th Way to Enjoy TV
Over the Air Antenna
The old tried and true method to get TV channels is to use an over the air antenna. Most flat screen televisions can be hooked up to an antenna with little to no work. All you have to do is plug it in and search for the channels on your television. I use a combo of Netflix and an over the air antenna. I recommend the Mohu Leaf as it is relatively small, sleek, and cheap. There are many great antenna’s that you can purchase for your television, but you need to make sure that you can receive over the air broadcasts at your location. Check out AntennaWeb.org to see which channels you will receive at your home with an antenna. The main reward for using an antenna is the cost. They are relatively cheap, depending on the model you choose, and there are no monthly fees. What can be better than no monthly fees? Check out Amazon for great reviews on antennas.
I just picked up a new antenna from Mohu called the Sky 60. I’ve actually hooked up all our TVs to the one antenna and it works great. It sits in my attic (inside not outside) and I have a connector that all the cables go to. All for less than $100.
There are countless ways to cut your cable and still be able to watch your favorite television shows. While it might not be as easy as picking up the remote and hitting the power button, it is still relatively easy. Just think how much you can save per month by dumping cable and choosing a cheaper service. I’ve been cable free for almost five years now and it was an excellent decision. While I do get hounded by Time Warner to add cable to my services, I just politely decline unless they can give me some package that equals my internet package price. That would be the only way.
I am currently saving about $60 per month by using my TV antenna along with Netflix and Amazon Prime. That is money back into my pocket. While I only covered five services today, there are others that might work better for you. Check out what is available and see how you can cut your cable bill. Remember, no one needs cable service, but we want it pretty badly. It is all about choosing (and paying for) your priorities.
I’ve Been Cable Free for 5 Years and Still Watch TV
While in debt, I cut cable and haven’t looked back. It’s easier than you think especially with new services out on the market. One of my favorites is Sling TV, which allows you to watch live TV on the internet. It’s awesome. Check out my Sling TV review.