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The 7 Best TV Streaming Services to Cut Cable and Save Money

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The best TV streaming services can help you save money and avoid a cable bill. Here are the 7 best live TV streaming apps that help you cut cable.

Choosing one of the best TV streaming services can save a lot of money. Personally speaking, before we canceled DirecTV we were spending close to $110 per month to watch TV. Today, we spend $26.35 per month. If you currently spend close to the average monthly cable bill, like we were, you can live without cable regardless of what you may think. Not only can the savings be life-changing, but you can still catch your favorite shows with many of the best live TV streaming services.

I used to think that I couldn’t live without cable. Thanks to the best TV streaming sites on the market, that is a myth. Whether you’re a sports nut or like to watch HGTV or The Hallmark Channel, you can do that without an expensive cable contract.

If you want to save money and cut your cable bill, there are many options out there to help you do just that. With that in mind, here are the seven best TV streaming services that can help you kick cable to the curb and start putting that money towards other (and much more important) things in your life.

Best TV Streaming Services to Cut Cable

 

The TV streaming service market has exploded over the last several years. Gone are the days where your only choices are cable or nothing at all. In fact, you can use most of the services below to get content and save at least $50 per month versus the standard cable bill.

I’ve tried all of these platforms. Some are great; others have their issues. The key is to know what you want and find the one that’s the best fit. If you want to cut the cord on cable, these are the best TV streaming services you can use to save money each month.

1. Hulu with Live TV

 

For years, Hulu offered only one thing – the ability to get your favorite network shows. After waiting 24 hours after air date, you could watch the show with limited commercials.

Today, Hulu is now a major competitor to Netflix. You can read our side-by-side comparison of Netflix vs Hulu to see how they differ and which may be best for you.

Hulu has a lot of original content, both shows and movies. You can stick with the traditional Hulu plan to get this content and delayed network shows for just $5.99 per month, or $11.99 per month with limited commercials.

**Related: not certain which option you should choose? Read our Hulu vs. Hulu Plus guide to see which choice fits your needs.**

However, what makes Hulu stand out as one of the best TV streaming services is Hulu Live. Hulu Live is a cable replacement service that gives you live cable television without a nasty contract.

Hulu Live costs $44.99 per month, and provides the following:

  • 60+ live TV channels
  • Cloud DVR service (letting you record live shows when they air and watch when it’s  convenient for you)
  • Ability to stream to two devices at once
  • Hulu’s complete library of content

Like other TV streaming services, you can get a free 7-day trial when you sign up for Hulu Live.

We’ve tried Hulu a number of times and like the platform. It’s simple to use and navigate, and a perfect fit for a cable replacement.

Check out our Hulu with Live TV review to read more about the service.

2. Philo

 

Philo is a newer live TV streaming service that has a unique spin – they don’t include sports channels in their offering.

If you don’t mind the lack of sports channels, Philo does have many other popular channels that most people want after cutting the cord.

At only $16 per month, Philo is one of the best TV streaming services to get the shows you want for less.

In fact, Philo’s low monthly cost is its strongest selling point. Not having sports available to stream is a big part of how it is able to keep its monthly subscription fee so low. It also lets you watch HGTV without cable, among other popular channels.

You can enjoy 37 channels in its cheapest channel bundle, some of which include:

  • AMC, A&E, Animal Planet
  • Comedy Central, CMT
  • Discovery Channel, DIY
  • Hallmark Channel, History Channel
  • Food, FYI, Lifetime, MTV

That’s just a partial list. Philo does offer a 46 channel plan for an extra $4 per month. Like other TV streaming services, you can get a free 7-day trial when you sign up for Philo.

Check out our Philo TV review to read more about the service.

3. Sling TV

 

Sling TV is one of the older streaming options and is considered as one of the best live TV streaming services. It’s the no-contract offering by Dish TV, and we’ve tried it a number of times.

The platform offers three services plans, which you can see below:

  • Orange – $25 per month
  • Blue – $25 per month
  • Orange + Blue – $40 per month

Sling Orange gives you 30 channels, while Sling Blue is 45 and includes extra regional sports channels. You can also get the combined package that includes all the channels from the two individual packages.

Sling TV stands apart by offering many add-on packages you can use to customize your service. Each add-on costs an additional $5 per month. Check out our Sling TV packages guide to see how you can customize the platform.

Thankfully, Sling TV has added DVR capability. It’s a cloud-based DVR, allowing you to record up to 50 hours of content. The DVR does cost $5 per month if you want to add it to your service.

Like other TV streaming services, you can get a free 7-day trial when you sign up for Sling TV.

If you’d like to check out more features of Sling TV, read our Sling TV review.

4. Amazon Instant Video

 

I love Amazon and have been a user of its instant video feature for a number of years. Being Amazon Prime members, we get the service as a part of the $119 annual membership cost.

If you don’t want to buy an Amazon Prime membership, you can buy their streaming service for a cost of $12.99 per month. However, if you really want Amazon Instant Video it makes mathematical sense to buy the Prime membership to receive all of its additional benefits.

There are many things I like about Amazon Instant Video service. They have a lot of older shows and movies, not to mention original content.

Both of their devices, the Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire Stick, are crazy simple to use. Check out our Amazon Fire TV Stick channels list guide to see the apps and channels you get with the device.

I also like that you don’t have to be Prime members to get content. You get access to a lot more as a member, but it’s not essential to have a membership to get some of the content.

My one complaint about Amazon Instant Video is that their options don’t always seem to be the most up-to-date and the pricing to buy movies can sometimes be too expensive.

5. DirecTV Now

 

One of the more popular live TV streaming services is DirecTV Now. The platform is the no-contract offering by DirecTV. DirecTV Now offers four service plans ranging from $50 to $135 per month, for anywhere from 60 to 120 channels, respectively.

You can try out the platform with a free 7-day trial when you sign up for DirecTV Now. I found DirecTV Now to be one of the better TV streaming apps as you can seamlessly move between channels. The channels load relatively fast, and you can customize your own guide so you don’t have to scroll through a bunch of channels you don’t care about.

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Additionally, you can also stream on two devices at once, which is nice if you have multiple people in your home who want to watch different shows.

DirecTV Now did add a cloud-based DVR feature for users in late 2018. Unlike Sling TV, this service is free of charge. My one complaint with DirecTV Now is their cost. It’s very easy to move up their plans, wiping out any savings.

If you’d like to check out more features of DirecTV Now, check out our DirecTV Now Review.

6. PlayStation VUE

 

PlayStation VUE has become one of the top TV streaming services in a relatively short time. Similar to Sling TV and DirecTV Now, VUE is a no-contract option by Sony that allows you to watch network and cable channels.

PlayStation VUE is more like DirecTV Now in its pricing, offering four different plans. The plans range from $44.99 to $79.99 per month, offering 45 to 90 channels, respectively, with the higher end package giving access to HBO and Showtime. PlayStation VUE also offers a free five-day trial to see if you like the service.

I’ve not had much experience with PlayStation VUE, but there’s a lot to like. VUE offers DVR capability and allows you to stream up to five devices at once.

They also allow you to set up different profiles for each family member and allow for pausing, forwarding and rewinding – something not completely found on all other live TV streaming services.

PlayStation VUE does have some drawbacks to keep in mind. Like DirecTV Now, it’s easy to jack up the cost. You’re not able to get all the same sports networks on PlayStation VUE. Finally, PlayStation VUE is not available on all iOS and Android-based devices.

You might not expect this, but you don’t need a PlayStation console to use VUE, so keep that in mind.

7. YouTube TV

 

YouTube TV is the newest of the best live TV streaming services. Only rolled out to a few select cities, YouTube TV gives you access to roughly 40 channels for $40 per month.

I’ve only used YouTube TV once, but what I do like is that they offer access to local networks – that’s something that many of the best TV streaming services do not offer. Additionally, YouTube TV offers cloud DVR capability, and you can store unlimited content for up to nine months.

When the platform first launched it was available in only select cities. They’ve added more cities, allowing most anyone to use the service.

There are several things not to like about the YouTube TV platform. First, it’s available only on iPhones, Android-based phones, tablets and computers.

If you want to watch on an actual TV, you must use a Chromecast, any other cast-compatible device, or connect your PC to the TV.

I’ve got high hopes for YouTube TV and hope they add to its options in the future.

What Devices Let You Access Streaming Services?

 

A common question we receive is what’s needed to access the best TV streaming services. If you have a smart TV, you can access most platforms through their interface or using any of these devices:

As you can see, there are plenty of options to watch most of the best live TV streaming services.

How to Get Local Channels Without Cable

 

Not every platform in this list provides access to local channels. Some only offer local channels if it’s not run by an affiliate. Others only offer locals in certain markets, and not each local channel.

Hulu Live is the typically the lone platform that offers local channels in all markets.

Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to get local TV without cable. All you typically need is a digital antenna. They’re usually easy to install and have a minimal one-time cost. Here are the best digital antennas on Amazon you can buy to get local channels without cable.

Check out our guide on how to watch local TV without cable to learn what you need to do to get service.

The best TV streaming services can help you save money and avoid a cable bill. Here are the 7 best live TV streaming apps that help you cut cable.

Bottom Line

 

Cutting the cord is one of the best ways to save money every month. With the average cable bill at nearly $110 per month, that’s instant savings you can use to do things like:

  • Pay off debt
  • Save for a vacation
  • Save more for retirement
  • Build up your emergency fund
  • Pay other bills

The above options only scratch the surface. If you still have a high-priced cable plan, cutting the cord is a great way to help reach those goals you never seem to hit. And you need to ask yourself if you’d rather watch TV or accomplish a goal.

Maybe it’s just me, but the answer is a given.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at the best TV streaming services to cut the cord. The goal is to save money, obviously. However, with a few of the live TV streaming sites, it’s possible to give up a lot of the savings if you upgrade plans.

That’s the last thing you want to do. There are far too many options on the market today that get you the content you want without a pricey contract. None of the best TV streaming services are perfect, but when you pair many of them with a little creativity, you can save big money.

 

What live TV streaming services do you use to get your television content? Do you still have a cable bill and, if so, why? How much do you spend on TV each month?

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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.

25 Comments

  • I use Sling and Hulu Plus because I can stream my TV on my iPad and TV using a Roku. I also like how I can pause the subscriptions whenever I want. I tend to pause them in the Summer because there are fewer shows with new episodes to watch and I’m not home as often. So the cost doesn’t make sense.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s a good way to do it Leah. We’ve done that in the past as we really don’t watch much of anything in the summer. It may not seem like much savings, but why spend the $10-20/month if you don’t need to? 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    I just use the library for all my movies and TV shows! It’s free! I don’t have much choice as a I live on a sailboat, but I’ve realized that I can get really quality content from the local library. I don’t think I’ll pay for cable again 🙂

  • It’s nice to see that we are now up to 7 options for streaming! I know there are some smaller niche options as well that most people don’t think of. The silliest ones imo are the ones that you can only get if you already have a cable subscription. I believe AMC has a streaming option that costs $5(?) a month but it’s only available as an add-on to a regular cable subscription. Almost useless imo. I know you mentioned it a few times but I think it’s worth pointing out HBO Go can be bought independent of any of these options as long as you have a Roku or something similar.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I know, awesome to see the growth! I think you’re right on the AMC option and think there are a few others out there like it. Yea, just forgot to mention it here but we do have HBO Go ourselves, too much quality content in my opinion.

  • Wow, I use streaming but had no idea that there were so many options now! We dropped cable a long time ago, but share a Netflix account with a friend and pay for Hulu. I’ve never for a second missed cable!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, it’s an exciting time to see all these options pop up. The challenge now is to find one that works for your needs and still keep a majority of the savings. Same here, we don’t miss cable one bit.

  • Vicki Terrinoni says:

    When I try to watch CBS, they charge a fee, so that is frustrating. I use Netflix and want to try Hulu.

    • John Schmoll says:

      If you’re trying to stream online, yes CBS does charge – you can also try CBS All Access which is $5.99 per month to get access to all their shows. If you don’t want access to streaming and older shows, you can also simply use an antenna to get all your local channels.

  • Joy says:

    All of this nice in regards to TV, but what is the sensible way to have internet and possibly still have a land line at home? I currently use Verizon’s bundle for internet, limited cable and a land line.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good question Joy. Unfortunately I don’t have much experience when it comes to a land line as we’ve not had one for some time. That said, I’d check into something like Ooma or Google Voice as an alternative.

    • Terry says:

      We have Verizon FIOS internet only and use a magicjack for phone service. It’s like $30 a year, we kept our phone number, have 911. It’s good, works as long as internet is on. I know FIOS also offers internet and phone bundles.

  • Lynn says:

    Do you have to have a Smart TV to use steaming services?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good question Lynn. Yes, to a certain extent you do. If your TV has the ability to connect to WiFi, even if it’s through a dongle like the Amazon Fire Stick or Hulu you can use a streaming service.

  • Kris Fetter says:

    I have ATT Uverse for $40 a month and I supplement with a digital antenna and Roku, with the Philo App, it offers the most recent shows that I watch for $16 per month, and you can get a free week to see if it works for you. I’m saving a almost $80 per month.

  • Jenny says:

    Seldom watch TV BUT would really love to be able to watch Hallmark channel and Lifetime For Women. Any way I can watch only those two channels? I am 72 years young and don’t want to get caught up in cable/direct TV, etc.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s a great question Jenny. Unfortunately, you can’t just get specific channels as they’re not available a la carte. That said, I’d recommend a service like DirecTV Now or Hulu Live as good options – both are significantly cheaper than traditional cable and don’t require a contract.

  • Danielle McSherry says:

    I am really not technically savvy but could use advice on how to cut the cord and get what we need for a family of 4. Kids do not watch live TV at all. My husband and I do. We watch Bravo, Fox, Discovery, ESPN, MTV etc and local channels , abc, nbc, cbs, etc. We already pay a Netflix monthly and have mostly Smart TV’s. My monthly cable bill is $240 a month. I think I can do better. I can buy sticks for the kids TV’s,but how do I keep the ability to watch local news and Fox etc? We also DVR. Right now I am paying for 7 cable boxes at $10 per box.

  • Ron williams says:

    I guess my question is, how much internet speed do you need to stream without buffering. As for my household here in NV with just 2 adults I am told To have at least 30 Mbps minimum. I have Cox cable bundle ( Minimal) package with 100 Mbps. Cost in round #’s is $132.00 a month. If I go with internet only with 100Mbps it is still $88.00 a month. Maybe someone with knowledge in this area can pipe in. Thanks.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s a good question Ron. To my knowledge, it largely depends on the service you’re streaming from as each platform has their own suggestions/requirements. I don’t believe there is a clear cut answer, but believe you’re correct in having at least 30 Mbps – that should cover you from what I’ve seen with most platforms.

  • We use an antenna for local channels, Amazon Prime for additional channels. We use the library if we want to binge watch an old series. We have saved thousands already…not to mention what we will save going forward.

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