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15 Best Alternatives to Cable TV [Updated for 2020]

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The best alternatives to cable TV help you save money and still watch what you want. Here are the 15 best cable TV alternatives to save you big bucks.

It can be hard to save money when you are paying for cable. Most people who have a cable bill hate it because of the cost. Fortunately, this hatred created a wallet-friendly sector of alternatives to cable and satellite TV.

Over the past few years, millions of people cut the cord and made the switch to cable alternatives. These cord-cutters realized they can still watch their favorite shows without paying $200 per month or dealing with a contract.

However, it can be hard to choose a service because there are a growing number of choices.

An excellent alternative to cable and satellite TV must be affordable, have a decent amount of programming, no contracts, and plenty of features. Fortunately, numerous options meet these requirements.

This list includes both live TV streaming services and on-demand options.

Best Alternatives to Cable TV

 

Here are the 15 best alternatives to cable TV you can sign up for and start watching today.

1. Philo

 

Philo is one of the top streaming TV services for one reason – cost. With Philo, you pay $20 per month for 60+ channels.

The streaming service can offer such a low price because it does not provide sports or local programming. Not offering these channels is one of the main ways providers keep costs down.

If you prefer entertainment and lifestyle channels, Philo is a perfect fit.

Philo is one of the newer players in the cable alternative space. It lets you create personalized profiles for multiple people and works across a wide array of devices. The platform offers a DVR with unlimited storage and allows you to save shows for up to 30 days.

Read our Philo channel list guide to learn more about what the service offers.

PRICE: $20

CHANNELS: 61

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try Philo

 

2. Hulu

 

Hulu is one of the best choices to replace cable. The streaming service has two signup options – legacy Hulu (also known as Hulu) and Hulu with Live TV.

Both packages give you access to all of Hulu’s original content, like The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Hulu only provides access to on-demand content plus the original shows. Most shows are available 24 hours after they air on live TV. This service costs $5.99 per month.

Hulu with Live TV is a streaming platform that offers nearly 70 channels for $54.99 per month. These include ESPN, local networks, and a full suite of other channels. Hulu Live includes a 50 hour DVR. You can upgrade to 200 hours for $9.99 per month.

Read our Hulu channels list guide to learn more.

PRICE: $5.99 – $54.99

CHANNELS: 65+

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try Hulu

 

3. Sling TV

 

Sling TV is one of the forerunners in the cable alternative space. With rates starting at $30 per month, it is one of the most affordable options in the market.

Two base packages are available – “orange” and “blue.” The orange package has over 30 channels, including HGTV and ESPN. Blue has over 50 channels, focusing on news and entertainment networks. Fox Sports is in the lineup, but ESPN is not.

Both packages cost $30 per month individually or $45 per month combined. Sling TV also offers a wide range of add-on packages to help you customize your experience.

While Sling does offer a DVR, it is limited to ten hours per month. It has minimal local networks.

Sling TV will lock in your rate for a full year when you sign up.

Read our review of Sling TV packages to learn more.

PRICE: $30

CHANNELS: 30+ or 50+

FREE TRIAL:  3-days

Try Sling

 

4. Vidgo

 

Vidgo is one of the newer cable alternatives. The platform gives friends and family a shared experience through social sharing features and chat rooms you can join while watching a show or game.

Despite its youth, Vidgo offers respectable plans. The “Core” package costs $39.99 per month for 60 channels. If you want more channels, the “Plus” package gives you access to 80 and costs $49.99 per month.

Both packages offer ESPN and Fox Sports in addition to a full suite of lifestyle and entertainment networks. Vidgo has two key drawbacks though – it’s light on news networks and does not currently offer a cloud DVR.

Read our Vidgo review to learn more about the service.

PRICE: $39.99 – $49.99

CHANNELS: 60 – 80

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try Vidgo

5. fuboTV

 

fuboTV offers the largest channel selection on our list. It has up to 200 channels depending on your location. If you want a live streaming service that comes close to cable, this one is worth considering.

The one drawback to fuboTV is cost. The “Standard” plan costs $64.99 for 107 channels. If you want to go big, the “Ultra” plan costs $84.99 per month and includes a subscription to Showtime.

Regardless of the package you choose, you receive 500 hours of DVR space and at least three simultaneous screens to view content. fuboTV offers local networks, minus ABC.

Similar to Sling TV, fuboTV provides several add-on packages to customize your viewing experience.

Read our review of fuboTV channels to learn more.

PRICE: $64.99 – $84.99

CHANNELS: 107 – 200

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try fubo

 

6. AT&T TV Now

 

AT&T TV Now is the rebranded name of DirecTV Now. The streaming service has gone through several changes in recent years, most of which are not good.

The base package, “PLUS,” is $55 per month for 45 channels. There are five other packages, costing up to $135 per month. At that price, the only way it differs from cable is that there is no contract.

Still, AT&T TV Now is one of the legitimate alternatives to cable TV since you can select the package you want, receive most sports and entertainment channels, and have a DVR with a capacity of 500 hours.

Read our review of AT&T TV Now to learn more.

PRICE: $55 – $135

CHANNELS: 45 – 125

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try AT&T TV Now

 

7. YouTube TV

 

YouTube TV is one of the alternatives that offers as close to a cable experience as possible. When YouTube launched several years ago, it was only available in a few markets.

It has grown to be one of the top cable replacements, offering 85+ channels. If you want sports, lifestyle, entertainment, news, and local networks, YouTube TV is tough to beat.

The service offers six user profiles and an unlimited storage DVR. Unfortunately, YouTube TV recently increased its price to $64.99 per month. This price hike makes it difficult to recommend since cheaper options are available.

If you don’t mind the cost, YouTube TV offers quality service.

Read our review of YouTube TV to learn more.

PRICE: $64.99

CHANNELS: 85+

FREE TRIAL:  7-days

Try YouTube TV

 

8. ESPN+

 

What holds many people back from cutting the cord is losing sports. If you want a standalone service, ESPN+ is a terrific option to get access to live sports, commentary, and ESPN+ originals for only $5.99 per month.

Even though the service is not a replacement to ESPN, it provides access to exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re a niche sports fan, the app is worth a look.

The app is the exclusive provider of UFC pay-per-view fights, which you receive at a reduced price.

You can increase your savings by signing up for a year for only $49.99. You can even bundle ESPN+ with Hulu and Disney+ for $12.99 per month.

Read our review of ESPN+ to learn more about the service.

PRICE: $5.99

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

Try ESPN+

 

9. Disney+

 

Disney+ is a standalone service for Disney fans. It’s not a replacement to the Disney channel, nor does it provide live content. However, it’s a must-have for the Disney enthusiast in your life.

The platform has tons of content, including:

  • Star Wars
  • Marvel
  • Pixar
  • All the Disney Princess movies
  • All the Disney animated movies
  • The Mandalorian
  • National Geographic content
  • The Simpsons

Disney+ costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 if you sign up for a year.

Read our Disney+ review to learn more about the service.

PRICE: $6.99

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

Try Disney+

 

10. Amazon Prime Video

 

Amazon Prime Video is a service offered to Prime members. While it does not offer live content, it has a huge library of original content in addition to on-demand shows and movies.

You don’t need to be a Prime member to get access to Prime Video. You can purchase it as a standalone service for $8.99 per month. It’s important to note that a Prime membership costs $119 per year, so you don’t save much by purchasing Prime Video on its own.

PRICE: $8.99

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

Try Amazon Prime

 

11. Netflix

 

Netflix is the granddaddy of cord cutting options. The service works on nearly any device that can connect to the internet, so there are plenty of ways to view content.

While Netflix has an unmatched library of original shows and movies as well as countless on-demand options, it does not offer live TV.

The streaming service starts at an affordable $8.99 per month and tops out at $15.99. The price depends on Ultra HD availability and the number of simultaneous screens you want.

*Not sure whether to get Disney+ vs. Netflix? Read our review to find which is a better fit for you!*

PRICE: $8.99 – $15.99

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  30-days

Try Netflix

 

12. CBS All Access

 

CBS All Access is worth a look if you love shows on the CBS Network. Why would someone subscribe to CBS All Access? If you have Hulu, for example, it does not offer current CBS shows on-demand.

CBS All Access is a perfect solution to that problem. The streaming provider has two subscription choices, with and without commercials. The former is $5.99 per month, and the latter is $9.99 per month. Signing up for a year costs $59.99 or $99.99, respectively.

The service also offers live local CBS in over 150 markets.

PRICE: $5.99 – $9.99

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  30-days

Try CBS All Access

 

13. Pluto TV

 

Pluto TV is the perfect solution for folks wanting free cable TV since the platform is completely free.

That’s right, this free streaming service lets you watch shows and movies for absolutely nothing. I’ve tried it and can verify this is a legit service. It’s suitable for those who don’t need live content and have a broad interest in multiple niches.

Pluto TV is compatible with numerous devices and carries over 200 channels.

Read our Pluto TV review to learn more.

PRICE: Free

CHANNELS: 200+

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

Try Pluto

14. Digital Antenna

 

Not all live TV streaming services offer local networks. In most markets, Hulu Live and YouTube TV are the only two providers that offer them.

Most people who want to cut the cord don’t want to miss out on watching local TV. Buying a digital antenna is the best solution to this problem.

This allows you to get access to your local networks and not have to choose a more expensive platform just for local coverage.

Digital antennas are often affordable and simple to install.


The best place to find digital antennas is on Amazon.

You can watch your favorite local channels for an inexpensive, one-time cost.

Read our guide on how to watch local networks without cable to learn more.

PRICE: Free (after antenna purchase)

CHANNELS: Varies

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

15. The Library

 

Your local library is one of the best ways to replace cable. Most branches have movies and television shows on DVD or Blu-ray.

All you need is a library card and you can get a movie or TV show for free. Usually, you’ll have plenty of time to return it.

The only drawback is your library may have limited options. You may also need to wait for someone to return a DVD you want to watch.

PRICE: Free

CHANNELS: N/A

FREE TRIAL:  N/A

Summary

 

Many people think they need to stick with cable to watch their favorite shows or movies. That is no longer the case. If you have an internet connection, you can use any of these alternatives to cable to watch content for a fraction of the cost.

It can be overwhelming to look at all of the options and pick one that fits your needs. Most of the streaming services on our list offer free trials. Find a few that look like they might work and take advantage of the trials.

Once you find one you like, cancel your cable contract and start enjoying the savings!

 

How much money are you saving each month since cutting the cord? If you still have cable, what’s holding you back?

The following two tabs change content below.

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

26 Comments

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Good roundup, John. I’m very happy with the trend of more and more skinny bundles coming out. It’s difficult to keep track of all the new ones, which is a good thing!

  • Sandra says:

    I have become addicted to the ability to pause and rewind shows with Direct TV – even network offerings. Do any of the cord cutting options allow this?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great question Sandra. My main experience is with DirecTV Now & Sling TV. DirecTV Now offers some ability to pause/rewind. Sling TV, on the other hand, has started to roll out a DVR but I’ve not had the chance to test it out yet.

      • Gail Cline Schulman says:

        Thank you very much John ! I’m currently looking to cut the cord to cable ! I can’t afford it !
        I just got rid of my showtime & HBO & my bill is still close to $200.00
        Trying to save money but it’s getting harder & more difficult
        Thank you again

  • Adam from Fit Frugal Dude says:

    Great article, I use Netflix, Amazon and PBS for my viewing purposes. The good thing about PBS is its free!

    I have used Sling with the Orange package and enjoyed it. But, I soon realized I don’t watch enough TV to justify shelling out $20 a month. It was cut out and I am much happier now.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Adam! We use Netflix, Amazon and HBO Now for what we watch – plus what we can get on locals.

      We felt the same way. It just wasn’t worth the expense for us in the long run.

  • Rachel @ The Latte Budget says:

    All great ideas! We have never had cable, and I haven’t missed it for a second. We have an antennae and subscribe to Hulu and share a Netflix account with a friend. We go over to friends’ houses or to a sports bar to watch any major games that we don’t get. And we have Amazon Prime, so that gives us access to a lot of additional shows as well 🙂

    • John Schmoll says:

      We’re very similar in our set up. Yea, we’re at two years without cable and should’ve done it long before that. 🙂

      • Linda says:

        Hi John, I am in the process of cutting cable, still a little unsure. Tried an antenna, but it only found 4 channels. I have a TiVo, would I still be able to use the TiVo? Any help I would greatly appreciate. Thank you.

        • John Schmoll says:

          Yes, an antenna typically only allows you to receive locals and some lower tier cable channels. It depends on where you live. You’ll want to look at a streaming provider like Hulu Live to get cable channels.

  • Betty hansen says:

    I am reliant on my cable company for a bundle with WiFi. How does this work if you go off of cable companies

  • Ralph Walke says:

    Do any of these alternatives to cable offer the Hallmark channel?

  • Elva Denny says:

    How do you get just local channels & WiFi without cable?

  • Karen says:

    Don’t have cable. Use antenna and some free website s to stream movies. Cost per year $0

  • Pat says:

    I would cut the cord except I still need cable for for local Philadelphia Flyers /NHL games..pretty much the only reason I still have cable. What can you suggest? Thanks

    • John Schmoll says:

      Hulu Live would be a great option for NHL without cable. You won’t get NHL Network, but you will get most games and is a good replacement for cable.

  • Monica says:

    One great free option is the Pluto TV app. I use it on my laptop and Smart TV. It has really improved lately with news, sports, and movies.

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