Cable and satellite television costs are higher than ever, making people everywhere look for cheaper ways to watch their favorite shows. We have tried many of them – and in this post, we share the best alternatives to cable and satellite television.
Last year, we became a Cable and Satellite free family. Has it been hard? Well, read on to find out for yourself and how you can find a good alternative to cable.
Cable and Satellite television services can be very expensive. We had DirectTV for about two years and canceled as soon as the fee to cancel was less than what our monthly cost was. It seems like these companies offer you semi-reasonable prices upfront. However, they usually raise their rates later, such as doubling the price the second year.
Pricing was so complicated, and it sometimes seemed like they were simply arbitrarily making up a price for us. Every few months we would have to call customer service and ask for retention’s department to try to get our problems fixed. Half the time they wouldn’t record things right and everything would be wrong again the next month.
We even had to bring the BBB into it once or twice. Basically, I, and a lot of other people, have had terrible experiences with cable and satellite companies that charge way more than they are worth. Additionally, we have decided for a number of reasons to stop going to movie theaters.
However, we still love watching movies and television, and wanted to find a way to get the most bang for our buck. So we cut the cord (though, not literally) and we have dived into some of the major alternatives. (And, just as a tip, you can sell old satellite dishes on eBay and make a pretty penny for them.)
Alternatives to Cable TV
Here is a brief overview of what we’ve used, and then you can read on for more details:
- Amazon Prime
- PlayStation Vue
- Sling TV
- CBS All Access
Alternatives to Cable TV
- $7.99 a month for one screen, $9.99 for two screens, and $11.99 for four screens simultaneously streaming movies and television shows.
- Two devices can stream simultaneously
- You can have DVDs sent to your home, one at a time, for 7.99 more a month. You can pay more for more discs.
- They avoid charging per movie or having more expensive tiers of shows available to those who are willing to pay more.
- Month-to-month contract
Sling TV is basically internet television. You can buy television packages of different numbers of channels. You stream the channels live. They have some On Demand type content as well.
- They have two “standard” packages:
- Sling Orange: This is $25 and includes the most popular channels, including HGTV, CNN, Disney, and ESPN2.
- Sling Blue: This is $25 and includes local and national favorites, as well as sports channels
- From there, you can add on different packages, which cost anywhere from $3-10 a month. There are TONS of options, including:
- Sports Extra
- Kids Extra
- News Extra
- Lifestyle Extra
- Spanish Extra
- For $5 a month extra, you can also get Cloud DVR.
The ability to watch recent episodes of television shows whenever and wherever is the main advantage of having Hulu+. Hulu+ does not have CBS shows like NCIS and Big Bang Theory. If you’re looking for a specific show, double check that they have it before investing, and if it doesn’t, check the network’s website.
There are commercials and advertising. You can interact with the commercials so they focus more on your interests, so at the very least they are semi-interesting. And, if you are lucky, you can watch one long commercial at the beginning to have an interruption-free viewing. However, they recently starting offering a commercial-free package, which is awesome.
- $7.99 a month (96 dollars a year)
- $11.99 a month for commercial free
- Month-to-month contract
- Free for basic Hulu
If you want to sign up for Hulu, you can get a free two-week trial to see how you like it right here.
Pricing and Product:
- $99.99 for one year (unless you have a .edu email address, then you can get it half-price) Must be paid up front.
- Amazon Prime shipping
- Access to Kindle Library with one free book a month
- Here are TONS of other benefits of an Amazon Prime account
We got PlayOn with our Roku for 30 days for free. It allows you to record shows from other online streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.). PlayOn makes it so everything is in one place and you just need the main program on your computer and not your other devices. They advertise a PlayLater feature that works as DVR for online videos that might expire.
- $29.99 a year
- $69.99 a lifetime
They have a 30 day money back guarantee
If you are worried about missing sports – fuboTV is a great option! It has tons of sports channels, and it’s only $10 a month. Right now, most of the sports available are soccer (which is perfect for me – so thrilled to see they have MLS), but they are working to add even more soon. Your first 24 hours are free when you signup here!
UPDATE: Due to their legal battle, VidAngel has a NEW streaming service. You can read all the details in my post about VidAngel being back, but basically, you can connect your Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO accounts and for $7.99 a month, you can filter content. It’s VERY awesome and exciting that they are offering this. You can get a 30 Day Free Trial here.
VidAngel is VERY cool, and it has completely replaced RedBox for us. It has just about every movie you can think of, and a select number of TV shows – available for just $1 to watch. You can filter out content that you don’t want to see, or you can opt to watch without filters. Basically, the first time you signup on VidAngel’s website, you pay $20. This goes toward buying the first movie you watch. Then, after you watch the movie, you can opt to sell the movie back and get $19 in credit back. From that point on, you only have to pay $1 per movie (unless you decide to keep one, then you’ll pay $20!) We use this ALL the time. I highly recommend the service.
This is something similar to Netflix, but it only has clean movies on it. You pay a monthly subscription ($7.99) and you get unlimited access to family-friendly movies and TV shows. You can get a free trial by signing up here.
- Watching commercials throughout
- MLB Extra Innings is $200, in four payments if you want. Which compared to what you might end up paying for cable and satellite might not be that bad if you are a baseball love.
- MLSLive, my favorite, is $60 a season and $15 dollars a month, which might be handy for the playoffs. They are having a free preview of the service today, 5/11/2013, and tomorrow.
- Have an Internet provider that is affiliated with ESPN3 — Comcast is one that I’m aware of.
If you watch a lot of shows on CBS, this is a great deal. They have a one month trial period. After that, you have two options:
- Limited Commercials for $5.99 a month
- Commercial Free for $9.99
You can access over 8,500 of your favorite shows On Demand, exclusive access to original shows, and much more.
Google’s new video and music streaming device. It is the size of a USB flash drive, and it costs only $35. It runs the apps most people use: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Google’s Google Play movies and music. It is powered by the Chrome OS, and it supports HDMI streaming. Your phone, tablet, or computer can work as a remote. It is powered by most HDMI ports that it can be plugged into. There is an optional USB cable to power the device. You might already have this in your house, but if you’removing out on your own or have a vacation house and you want to be able to watch some tv without a huge investment this device would be great. #1 in electronics sales on Amazon. (I added this to update the post, so it makes 13 alternatives, fyi)
- $35 – Get it here Google Chromecast
Believe it or not, free channels are broadcast on radiowaves that anyone can watch with an Antenna. Yes, this is probably how your parents watched TV (or maybe even you did at one point!) My brother-in-law, Daniel, told us we should get one, and we were glad he suggested it.
We bought a basic RCA Antenna, which gives us a few of the top channels. However, we also bought a more robust amplified antenna that works a little better. If the antenna will be your primary source for TV, get a good one. We can watch Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, and a few others. The quality is surprisingly good. The quality is better than when we stream their shows through Hulu+.
We recently bought a more robust amplified antenna that works a little better. If the antenna will be your primary source for TV, get a good one. We can watch Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, and a few others. The quality is surprisingly good. The quality is better than when we stream their shows through Hulu+.
Tvfool.com will give you a report according to address, antenna size and a number of other variables it can access how many chanels you should get, at what quality, and from what direction. My report said that we should only get one channel very well. Sometimes when the weather is bad it seems that way.
However, I think we can get up to 25-30 channels sometimes. One funny thing that happens is that it seems that it is either HD or nothing sometimes. One second it will say that there is no signal and the next we will have a super crisp image. I don’t really know how it all works. There are indoor antennas, attic antennas, roof antennas, and then those extra heavy duty ones that shouldn’t be put on a roof.
- Anywhere from $5-100+, Indoor and Outdoor
- We got two RCA Basic Indoor Antennas.
- We recently purchased a Mohu amplified indoor antenna, and we’ve been amazed at how well it works(and in our basement!)
I saw in Windows Media Center that if you have a TV tuner you could connect an antenna to it and use Windows Media Center as a DVR for your Antenna. I got a decent one for Christmas, but for some reason the TV tuner and Windows Media Center was not picking up the signal as well as it showed up on my television so I was never able to use it as a DVR. The idea sounds very intriguing to me, and hopefully, we can get a better antenna one of these days.
Take advantage of free trials. Many of these companies have one. You will likely lose a lot of sports programming without WatchESPN and an antenna.
Your internet has to be fast enough. I watched almost an entire season of Jericho five minutes at time, because my laptop had to buffer a lot on my parent’s internet.