As a busy mom working a ton of hours, I still manage to find time to sit back and catch up on my favorite TV shows. As a frugal mom, who never likes to pay full price for anything, It’s been a long time since I have paid for regular cable or satellite TV. There are so many cheap cable alternatives.
Not only are there a ton of cheap alternatives, but there are several really good free alternatives. Below you will see that I have broken these alternatives into three categories: Free Alternatives, Cheap Alternatives and Cheaper Alternatives.
All of these alternatives can offer you ways to save money from the typical monthly cable and satellite services. Although some of these services seem fairly reasonable at first, it seems like once you get the equipment lease fees added in and additional charges for DVR services and additional rooms added, your monthly bill almost doubles.
I also love the fact that the streaming services require no contract and no credit check.
If you have found additional, legit alternatives, that you really like, let me know in the comments below, I would love to check them out.
The cheapest and most basic thing everyone can do is to start with a good HDTV Antenna. I know this sounds like an obvious but there really are some that will give you way more free channels than others without spending much more, if any. You can check out my top choice below.
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Aside from the basic channels you can get for free with an over the air antenna, you will need to have a decent internet connection to stream the following options.
Free cable alternatives
Pluto TV – I just recently discovered this amazing alternative to high priced cable/satellite tv and I am so glad I did. Pluto TV is amazing. At first, I was happy to have free local channels plus a few other live TV channels and movies but I couldn’t really make sense of the random channels I would see.
Finally, I paid attention to the guide and saw that one of the Pluto home channels was displaying text saying to activate the full Pluto. I finally watched the two minute video and it gave me directions to go online on my phone to plutotv.com/activate and enter the code it was displaying.
Once I did that, it gave me options to customize my settings, it unlocked a TON of channels and hundreds of movies. I don’t even know how many channels I have but I can always find something to watch. FOR FREE.
If I had to complain about anything, it would be the inability to type in a search. I try to remind myself that it’s free and Im not going to sweat the small stuff when they are giving away so much for free.
Sony Crackle – Owned and operated by Sony, Sony Crackle gives you free access to a ton of Sony’s classic hit shows as well as original shows they have begun to invest in. Sony also has content partnerships with Universal Studios, Warner Bros, Disney, 20th Century Fox and more.
Tubi TV – This is another totally free TV and movie streaming service. Tubi TV offers content from over 200 partners with thousands of titles to choose from. You can easily create a free account in minutes and start watching for free
Cheapest cable alternatives
Philo – This is my favorite streaming service. I believe you get the most for your money with Philo. It is $20 a month. You get 58 popular channels, you can watch on 3 devices at once with unlimited recording.
Philo offers a 7 day free trial. All you have to give them for the trial is your phone number, no credit card info.
***Back to the basics but I combine a few of these services to get all of our TV needs covered at the lowest cost.***
Netflix – Netflix was founded in 1997. They are not new to the world of media services. They are still around for a reason. They offer a ton of movies and tv shows for an extremely low monthly price.
I could not find an actual number of available titles offered, and I am sure this varies since Netflix changes their titles out monthly. I would be comfortable saying that you have thousands of episodes and movies to choose from.
Currently Netflix offers three different monthly plans to choose from:
- Basic Plan – $8.99 Allows you to watch on 1 device at a time in SD.
- Standard Plan – $12.99 Allows you to watch on 2 devices at a time in HD.
- Premium Plan – $15.99 Allows you to watch on 4 devices at a time in HD and UHD (when available).
Hulu – Hulu’s basic plan is $5.99 a month. There are additional add-on options available like no adds, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and Starz.
The basic plan alone offers a ton of TV shows and movies, similar to Netflix. One thing to watch for, last year Hulu offered a full year of Hulu for $12 on Cyber Monday. I have no idea if they will do it again this year but I would be surprised if they didn’t at least do something similar.
Amazon Prime – Many of us already have an Amazon Prime account setup to use for free shipping when we shop online. If you already have an Amazon Prime account, take advantage of all the benefits and use the Amazon Prime Video.
If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership there are a few ways to sign up that won’t break the bank up front. A regular yearly membership is currently $119. This can be billed monthly at $12.99.
If you are replacing your monthly cable bill with a couple low cost monthly streaming services, $12.99 a month for prime video with the additional benefit of free prime shipping is definitely worth it.
If you are a college student, or if you have someone in your house who is a college student, Amazon Prime offers a student membership for half the price.
It is $59 a year or $6.49 per month. The student membership still gives you the same free 2-day prime shipping and the prime video benefits. You will be required to provide a valid .edu email address during signup.
Right now Amazon is offering a discounted rate on their Amazon Prime memberships for anyone who as an active EBT (food stamps) or Medicaid card. By clicking on the Amazon image to the right, you can sign up for Amazon prime for only $5.99 per month.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Cheap cable alternatives
In my opinion, there are better options that will save you more money, but I want you to be well informed. Below this section I will go into my top picks and then I will leave it to you to decide if any of these options might fit your needs.
AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now) – AT&T TV Now offers two basic monthly streaming packages.
- Plus – $50 per month. This package includes 45+ channels HBO included.
- Max – $70 per month. This package includes 60+ channels with HBO and Cinemax included.
Both plans include 20 hours of recording time on the cloud DVR and you can stream on two devices at once. You can add the ability to stream a third device for an additional $5 a month.
Sling TV – Sling currently has three basic low cost monthly plans.
- Sling Orange – $25 It includes 33 channels and allows you to stream one device at a time.
- Sling Blue – $25 It includes 47 channels and allows you to stream on up to three devices at once.
- Sling Orange and Blue – $40 It includes 54 channels (which is a combination of all the channels in the Orange and Blue packages) and allows you to stream on up to four devices at once.
All three plans qualify for Sling’s current first month discounted promo. This promo makes the first month on the Orange Plan $15 the Blue Plan $15 and the combined Orange and Blue Plan $25.
Sling also offers a more comprehensive plan that gives you 55 channels plus DVR service for $60 per month.
FuboTV – FuboTV offers four different monthly plans to choose from.
- The Fubo Standard Plan – $54.99 This plan includes 98 channels, cloud DVR (30 hours of space) and the ability to watch on 2 screens at once.
- The Fubo Family Plan – $59.99 This plan includes 98 channels, cloud DVR Plus (500 hours of space) and the ability to watch on 3 screens at once.
- The Fubo Family Deluxe Plan – $64.99 This plan includes 133 channels, cloud DVR Plus (500 hours of space) and the ability to watch on 3 screens at once and 35 entertainment channels.
- The Fubo Premium Plan – $74.99 This plan includes 142 channels, cloud DVR Plus (500 hours of space) and the ability to watch on 3 screens at once, Showine with 9 on-demand channels and 35 entertainment channels.
Hulu + LiveTV – $44.99 per month. This isn’t the typical Hulu that you are used to. Hulu now offers a more comprehensive streaming plan that gives you everything in the original Hulu package and more.
This plan offers over 60 of the top live and on demand TV channels. These include sports, news and entertainment. With Hulu + Live TV you also get 50 hours of cloud TV storage and the ability to watch on two screens at once
YouTube TV – $49.99 per month. YouTube TV give you 70+ live TV channels to watch. Record with unlimited storage space. You can set up and personalize up to six different accounts and have up to three devices streaming at one time.
*** If you have a Smart TV many of these apps will be built-in and you can download most of the others. If you do not have a Smart TV, you can purchase a low cost streaming devices. My favorite is the FireTV Stick by Amazon. You can also use Google’s ChromeCast or a Roku. ***
Find What Works For You
My family has several of these services but we still save a ton of money compared to what we used to pay when we used to use Cable One or Dish.
We currently pay $20 a month for Philo and $12.99 a month for Netflix. Aside from those two services we get everything else we need for free from Pluto and a simple HDTV Antenna.
If you have found any other great, low cost alternatives that you would like to share with the rest of us, please share in the comments below.