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Watch TV Without Cable FI

5 Ways to Watch TV Without a Cable Subscription

May 9, 2018

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Both cable TV and satellite TV costs have risen drastically over the last several years. This can be a bummer if you’re living on a tight budget and you still want to watch your favorite TV shows.

In fact, if you’re busy and not always able to watch much TV anyway, you may decide that the high price of cable isn’t even worth it! That’s what happened to me a few years ago.

I found other hobbies to occupy my time instead of always turning on the TV. Then, since I wasn’t watching much TV anymore, I couldn’t justify paying such a high price for my cable subscription. So, I canceled it and I’ve never looked back!

I’ve saved over $2,000 just because I eliminated that one bill from my budget over two years ago.

The best part? I still get to watch all of my favorite TV shows, even though I don’t have a cable subscription. Here are a few ways you can watch TV without cable, too.

1. Hulu

Hulu is my personal favorite way to watch TV without cable. The basic plan starts at just $7.99 per month. Selecting this plan gives you unlimited access to stream on your choice of devices, with limited commercials.

You can pay extra to get Hulu without commercials, but I don’t mind the few commercials that come with this basic plan. There are way fewer commercials with Hulu than with cable, and it’s also way cheaper.

You could also choose Hulu with Live TV for $39.99 per month. With this plan you can stream 50+ live TV channels in addition to what you get with the basic plan.

Even if you sign up for the higher priced plan you could still save at least $30 per month (on average) over cable. You can also cancel or switch plans at any time without having to pay a disconnect fee.

It’s easy to use with many different devices to stream it to your TV. You can have your choice of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, and more.

One of the downsides of Hulu is that you may not be able to watch local sports or news in every city. In addition, if you like to watch movies that aren’t available on the basic plan, you can add HBO, Cinemax or Showtime. But it will cost an additional fee for each.

PSYou can save even more on Hulu if you use Ebates!

2. Sling TV

Sling TV promises à la carte TV viewing and starts their Orange plan at $20 per month. This gives you 30 programs to watch, for at least $30 to $40 less than cable.

If your channels aren’t available on the Orange plan, you could choose the Blue plan for $25 per month and get 45 channels. Picking both plans is also an option that gives you a $5 discount.

If you want to add premium packages, such as sports, kids, Hollywood, or any of the other ones available, there is an extra fee that varies depending on the package you choose.

One advantage to Sling TV is that you get several choices. However, you may have to pay for both to get all of the channels you want. If you add extras, the price will quickly become close to what you’ve been paying for cable.

You can watch what you like on any device from anywhere with Sling TV. Plus, you can try it free for 7 days when you use my link.

3. Amazon Prime Video

If you have signed up for an Amazon Prime membership, you already have access to Amazon Prime Video, which includes thousands of videos and TV channels you can choose from without paying any additional fees. Or, if you aren’t already an Amazon Prime member, the monthly charge for Amazon Prime is $12.99.

Paying for an Amazon Prime annual membership is a much better deal. You have to pay $119 up-front, but it saves you about $37. Or, if you don’t want to become a Prime member, you can choose to only subscribe to Amazon Prime Video for $8.99 per month.

Any of these pricing options will save you an average of between $50 and $60 per month over using cable.

A plus of using Amazon Prime Video is that you don’t have to have a streaming device to watch videos or TV. You just need to set up an Amazon account and have a device that is connected to the internet.

When watching on a device that requires streaming, such as an older TV that’s not “smart”, you can choose to use an Amazon Fire TV StickRoku, or several other devices. But you can’t use a Google Chromecast. I found that one out the hard way. 🙁

One other drawback to choosing Amazon Prime Video is that your credit card will automatically be charged for the next month if you do not cancel it. However, as long as you did not use the service, they should issue you a refund if you contact them.

4. Netflix

Another way to watch TV without cable is to sign up for Netflix. The lowest priced plan starts at only $7.99 per month. You can watch on just about any device from anywhere, but only on one at a time unless you upgrade to another plan.

The next level of Netflix is only $10.99 per month which is a much lower price jump than with Hulu. It allows you to watch on two devices simultaneously and in high definition. You can also add additional users so each person has their own queue of shows and watch history. This is helpful if you have a roommate or if other family members watch Netflix and enjoy different shows.

There is also a premium option for $13.99 per month that has ultra high definition available, and allows viewing on four devices.

Netflix takes away all of the commercials for you so you get to see what you want to see. You can also add a DVD or Blu-ray plan to your account. There are several levels ranging from $4.99 per month to $14.99 per month.

One of the drawbacks of using Netflix is that you won’t be able to get local news or sports programs. Nevertheless, when you compare the price of Netflix to cable, you come out ahead by around $50 to $60 per month.

Many devices have a connection for Netflix on them, which eliminates the need for a streaming device. If yours doesn’t, however, you can choose from Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV StickRoku, PlayStation 4, and more.

5. CBS All Access

CBS All Access is a streaming service for just $5.99 each month. You can watch your favorite shows with limited commercials. Or, you can get commercial-free streaming for $9.99 per month.

Choosing the higher priced commercial free-streaming will still easily save you $50 to $60 per month, if not more. You can watch over multiple electronic devices, such as your laptop, tablet or phone.

CBS All Access also supports a wide variety of streaming devices such as Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV StickRoku, and more.

But there are drawbacks. Not all live-access TV is available in every city or town. In addition, some programs are not available for viewing by cell phone.

What About the Cost of Internet?

Admittedly, the options above do require the use of high-speed internet or mobile data (if you choose to watch on your cell phone). So, the biggest assumption here is that you’ll be saving the most money if you already pay for internet.

If that’s the case, cutting cable and using the internet you’re already paying for to stream these services will save you money.

However, if you don’t already have internet and you want to cut the cord on cable, make sure you do your math first.

The average internet bill is about $50/month, but can range from $10 to $120 depending on the speed you choose, what company you use, and if you get an introductory offer that lowers the bill temporarily.

With this in mind, make sure you factor in the cost of internet plus any of the plans above. Depending on what you were paying for cable, it may or may not be worth it to switch.

Bonus: The No-Internet Needed Alternative to Cable

If you don’t already have internet and you’ve crunched the numbers only to find that you can’t save money with these TV streaming options, don’t worry! There’s still an alternative that may work for you: using a TV antenna.

Before you write this off, hear me out. These days antennas are much more powerful and TV signals much stronger than they used to be. Using the right antenna can help you get as many as 50 channels without paying for a monthly subscription to anything. The exact number of channels you can get with a TV antenna will depend on what antenna you get and where you live. But, if you don’t watch TV much anyway, this is a great no-internet-needed option.

Here are a couple of the highest rated antennas from Amazon.

1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna Price: $29.99 1byone 80 Miles Digital Amplified Outdoor / Roof HDTV Antenna

60 Mile HD TV Antenna, Bestrillion Indoor Digital TV Antenna Price: 60 Mile HD TV Antenna, Bestrillion Indoor Digital TV Antenna

ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount - 70 Mile Range Price: $139.50 ClearStream 4V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount - 70 Mile Range

Why Is Cable So Expensive?

Bundling is one of the big reasons cable TV prices have become so high in recent years. For instance, the average monthly cable bill for consumers ranges from $70 to $100 per month in most homes. Many people believe the cable providers are to blame for bundling and price hikes.

Sure, they do make some good money from the bundling of channels. However, it is the large networks that are actually behind higher prices. They force cable providers to bundle unwanted channels along with the popular ones.

Those big networks have all the power. If the providers refuse to bundle channels, the networks will respond by simply finding a different provider who will.

Therefore, the providers keep agreeing to the demands of the networks and customers keep paying high bills because many are locked into a long-term contract. Nevertheless, dissatisfied customers are looking for—and finding—alternatives.

What I Use to Watch TV Without Cable

I actually use three of the five options in this article. I personally use the $7.99 Hulu plan, the $10.99 Netflix plan, and I have access to Amazon Prime Video because of my annual Prime membership.

Between these options, I can watch nearly any show or movie that I desire. My monthly cost is $18.98 for Netflix and Hulu. I don’t count the Amazon Prime Video cost because I get that as a part of my $119 annual Prime membership fee.

To stream my favorite movies and shows, I use a Roku.

It is indisputable that cable prices have gotten high over the last several years. But as consumers, we don’t have to pay those prices. We can use other options to watch TV without cable and save money for other things.

How do you watch television? Are you still paying for cable?

You don't have to pay for expensive cable TV in order to watch your favorite shows. These alternatives will let you watch TV without cable and save big money!

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72 responses to “5 Ways to Watch TV Without a Cable Subscription

    1. Honestly, I didn’t either until I started doing a little research. I suspect there may be some politics at play behind the scenes of other price hikes and high prices the general public isn’t even aware of. It’s kind of eye-opening.

  1. I have Netflix and Amazon Video Prime (by shear accident of having Amazon Prime). I also have CBS All Access so I can watch the new Star Trek series, but I haven’t been impressed by the user interface. It can’t even remember what episode I’m on!

    Every time I visit someone’s house who happens to have cable, I’m reminded as to why I don’t have cable anymore. There’s never anything of value on!

    1. I agree. My parents used to have cable once upon a time. Every so often they would get a “free” weekend of Starz or HBO. The free weekends had decent movies but as soon as you signed up all you got was stuff you didn’t want to see – all for a premium price. My conclusion is that it isn’t worth it.

  2. I just watch tv with an antenna. I get every network channel except cbs,. There are some extras like METV, QVC, HSN, Buzzer, Laff,, Hero, etc. About 40 channels in all. Not bad for a $30 antenna. I get the season of Big Bang Theory on DVD at Christmas. And cruise the used DVD store for Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and whatever else I might want to watch. I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy on ABC online on my laptop if I missed it airing (no Tivo or anything) until I started to hate the show. I’d totally get one of those plans like Sling or Netflix , but I have satellite internet and only have so much data per month.

  3. We cut the cord nearly 10 years ago and have no regrets. My husband built an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire hangers (there are plans online for this) for the last house we lived in, and mounted it in the attic. We got approximately 50 over-the-air channels that way. When we moved, we did use Sling for a little while, and while that was great, we opted to install an antenna on the roof of the current house and cancel Sling. That said, I highly recommend Sling for popular channels. Currently my lineup is Amazon Prime TV (comes with my Prime membership), Netflix, and I pay the $5/month for AcornTV, because I love my British shows. Thanks for summing these up—I’ve been preaching cord-cutting for a long time, it’s great to see a blogger I respect touting the same thing! 🙂

    1. It just doesn’t make sense to me to pay such a high price for a bunch of channels I hardly ever watch. I think sometimes people don’t take advantage of the different choices that they have available.

  4. Watching your favorite TV shows nowadays have been made easy through the advancement of telecommunications technology. The entertainment industry has gradually expanded and with the advent of Netflix and other online video streaming services hitting the web, there are tons of options to explore to get exactly what you want. High-speed internet services have made it possible so far, with 5G talks around the corner, who knows what transitions we may experience when wireless speeds hit 6,400 Mbps!

    1. Yeah, it’s great that we have choices and don’t have to “settle” anymore. Technology just keeps getting better and better which just improves our options.

    1. If you mean an internet provider, yes you would. However, if you already have that anyway, it isn’t an extra cost technically. If not, then it would add to what you pay each month, of course. But if you mean a TV provider, no you wouldn’t have to have one of those.

  5. We are die hard LSU fans and for years we kept our Dish satellite because we wanted the games 3 months a year. I finally had enough of the kids watching mindless television and we called to shut it off. Dish let us keep the equipment and for $5 a month we keep our service contract and are allowed to fire it up for the college football season. We didn’t think we’d have ANY channels but there are a ton of shopping channels and a few feel gooders like OWN and UP. Nothing I have concern over for the kids. If I find something that allows me to stream the games we will cut it off entirely but it’s not a horrible solution. We also use Amazon Prime which we love.

    1. Another great way to save money for the other 9 months you don’t get the games! And all you had to do was place a call and find out about it. Good thinking!

  6. My basic problem is that we pay so much money with cable TV. As mentioned we get all these weird channels that we can’t understand the language, once you get a channel you really like the cable company takes it away and dosen’t replace it with anything but still charges you the same or more money, and there is more comercials than programming. I am really sick of this. I am really ready to cut the cord. Thanks for all of the information that this forum has provided. I will look into some of them.

  7. I currently pay 263.00 per month for cable,internet and home phone. I don’t even use the home phone because I have my cell phone for everything.I tried to get the Cable company to take the phone off my plan thinking it would be cheaper but to my surprise my monthly bill would have increased even more. With that said, tomorrow I’m canceling my C*X Cable Service and going with HULU. The only other thing I have to pay for is the High Speed Internet connection. I think paying that much for television is ridiculous and I have been paying this for the last 4 years and I’m done..It’s not worth it and it’s a rip off plain & simple. I researched many articles on cutting the cord but thanks to this site and it members, I have been convinced and sold. Thank You for the honest article and comments.

  8. Spectrum is now requiring a box for all TVs to receive their signal. I have a TV in the basement that I use while exercising and watch only news programs. Is their a way I can use one of your suggestions that will allow me to watch the news. Or are MSNBC, CNN, FOX etc by definition only cable channels. We have Amazon Prime and Netflix and would love to cut the cable if there were a way to also get these news channels. Thanks.

    1. Hulu might work for you, but it may depend on what news stations you want to see and where you live. It may take a little bit of research on your part to figure out which option is the best. That’s how I would start if I were in your shoes and wanted to make a change. No one option is going to be best for everyone.

  9. I am really wanting to go one of these routes and keep researching it off and on over the past two years and haven’t made the leap. I just need to make sure I can get Disney including Disney Jr and Nickelodeon including toons and teens because of my special needs daughter (her favorite and only channels she watches). Can anyone confirm which subscription I would be able to access these channels? Thank you so much. I have been trying to look without signing up, but its not doable so far.

  10. So glad I came across this article. After reading it I think we are ready to take cut the cord and save some money.

    Is there anyway to watch HGTV or the Cooking Channel without cable? We have Netflix and the only reason we have cable is to watch those channels occasionally, election coverage every few years, and local news. I have to say that CBC radio has been our main news source for the past several years, so I don’t think we would miss that either.

    1. You can get Sling TV for $20 per month and watch HGTV. If you want to watch the cooking channel you can get the lifestyle extra option for an additional $5 per month. To get local news you may have to get an antenna.

  11. We just cut the cord this weekend! We have Hulu free with our Sprint service and decided to go with Directv Now. It’s $35/ month for 60 channels, amazingly enough, it’s all the channels we watch on cable. They had a deal if you prepay for 3 months, they’ll send you an Apple TV free. So far, we’re happy, and will be saving $150/mo!

    1. That’s great! I think the key is to carefully look through the options and make sure you are getting the shows that you want most. Then you can cut the cords and save a bunch every month!

  12. I’d like to cut the cable cord but like getting local baseball and hockey games on at&t U-verse. Is there a way to get it free? It is not available on Hulu and Sling.
    Thanks.

  13. I need TV just to watch World Cup soccer this summer.
    So far I have internet connection unlimited, what kind of antennas/box I need to connect to get the TV cable??
    Thank you

    1. With internet you should be able to stream it using Roku, Chromecast, or another device along with Hulu, Sling TV, or another cable replacing option.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but you could check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any negative reports or if they are accredited. Also, see if you can find any reviews about them from outside sources. Don’t forget to review their return policies before purchasing one, just in case.

  14. I primarily watch TVLand, Sundance, USA and local stations. How do I find out the best plan for me? What equipment would I need? I do have WiFi but live in the country.

    1. Well, to figure out the best plan I would start with what shows I primarily watch. Make a list and add who carries them, such as CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, etc. That should help you sort out which plan has the majority of what you want to watch. Next if you have a smart TV with internet you may not need a streaming device. You can try connecting to the internet from your smart TV without one. Then, if you experience issues you may still need to invest in a streaming device.

  15. We would like sports channels and local sports. We also want major channels like CBS, NBC, FOX AND ABC.
    What would cover those channels?

    1. Great! You’re already half way there! What I would do next is take a look at Hulu, Sling TV, CBS All Access, etc. to find out which option has the majority of what you want to see. If that company does not cover sports you may have to purchase an add on for it. As far as local sports, you might consider an antenna if you can’t get coverage otherwise.

  16. I cut the cord 3-4 years ago because I have a tower antenna that I’ve had for years. My only problem is I pay Comcast $79 per month just for internet service.

    That said, I could now get Comcast Double Play for $84 per month for a 2 year agreement. It would make sense to switch back, at least for the 2 years. However, I do enjoy some of the antenna channels and, therefore, would not get them if I switched.

    1. Brian, I think that is part of the problem. No matter what choice we make we get hooked on the shows we watch. Then the rates go up and we have to suck it up and pay the price or switch to another option and risk losing the shows we want. Of course, with several different choices, hopefully we can make a switch and still get most of them.

  17. This is a great read! I too am on the hunt for an alternative. It was a tough decision to cut directv last year. I did and i’m happy but now with the new house and all, i’m ready to try something new and cheaper! Glad i ran across this, Thank you : )

  18. There must be something I don’t get about Amazon Prime. I have had it for 2 years and hate it for streaming. I needed it for my Firestick but it never has a movie I am interested in I usually wind up using Netflix. I don’t see Amazon Prime offering anything to watch. It seems quite useless to me. What are other’s watching on it?

  19. Hey I noticed that you keep mentioning you need internet, but haven’t said whether you need and internet device like a wifi hotspot etc, or whether having a wifi service via your phone service would suffice?? Tv, have it, phone with wifi have it. Can the 2 be connected with a fire stick or do we need an actual playstation or wifi hotspot, or internet service through a seperate company?? Thanks.

    1. Hi Ali! I think that it may work, using something like a chromecast. I pay for internet because of my business, so I haven’t had to worry about that. Give it a try and report back if it works for you!

  20. Hello Kayla, we like to record almost all we watch. So my question is: With all the various methods of getting TV shows and movies, once one cuts the cord can I record them on a TiVO from all the different devises like Hulu, Amazon, Apple, Brit TV Netflix etc etc?.

    1. I’m not sure. I know with sites like Netflix and Hulu, most of those shows stay there. For example, Netflix will have all of the past seasons available to watch. So I’m not sure if recording them will necessarily work.

  21. I have direct TV. Am senior on disability and social security. My bundle has been raised to over two hundred. I only get between eight and nine hundred a month for everything including food. I like history channel, HGTV, and Westerns. I don’t watch news or sports. Can you explain as simply as possible what and how I can do this. I live in a small town in Florida gulf coast if that makes a difference. I cannot continue to do what I have been. what’s your best advice? Already have internet for grandson online college.

    1. Best advice I have is to cancel Direct TV and invest in Sling (one of the options I listed above). It has all of the shows you currently watch!

  22. We watch FOX NEWS every night (Hannity, etc.) how can we get that and the Golf Channel, Big 10, Discovery, History?

    1. Sling TV would be your best bet for all of the other channels except Fox News! For Fox News, I know they have an online platform, and they may partner with a streaming service, so you may want to look into who they work with.

  23. You are so right! Right now is a great time to find alternatives to cable or satellite! Many great offers out there! Thanks for sharing!

  24. i hate the cable i have. im reading all comments and the only thing i would like to know is, with sling, hulu or netflix do i need an internet connection ? i have 3 tvs at the bay and i would like soumething for kids, movies, and news, what should i get and do i need internet ?

  25. I live in a condo and cant connect an antenna to the roof. I saw someone in one of the other units here the other day with what looked like an antenna on his deck. Will it work that way?

    1. You can order an indoor antenna on Amazon. It is just a flat thing that you can attach to your tv . They send Velcro or pushpins to enable you to attach it to the wall. I paid only $35 for mine and I get about 25 channels with it. The channels you pick up will vary depending on where you live, terrain, etc.

  26. Hi Kayla! I think I’ve read EVERY word on this particular blog! It has been HIGHLY informative! I’m too wanting to cut cable. These prices . . . man! Who can afford this stuff? I know I can’t anymore. From what I’ve gathered, with a Smart Tv, looks like I can stream Netflix and Hulu. For other channels I and my son like to watch I’ll need Sling. And for local channels an antenna. My question is for internet or streaming, do I HAVE to have an ISP? Can I purchase a modem and/or router? I know internet only plans are much cheaper but if I can get outta paying for that as well I sure would like to!! MUCH thanks to you!! I am now your FAN 😁

    1. I’m not sure, but I would assume you’ll need an ISP. I do. I suggest doing the research in your area and seeing, nothing wrong with trying to save more money!

  27. I would love to save, although our cable bill for TV is not extraordinary. But I’m 75 and I don’t understand the details. We don’t want to watch TV on a computer. It sounds as if the cheaper options all require the internet. But the internet doesn’t connect to the TV set. I don’t think our TV can receive a wireless signal unless we add some kind of cable box to it (it has a separate cable going to it than the cable box for the computers). Also, my husband watches FOX news most of the day and also all the channels with food shows, Alaskan living, ancient aliens, Pitbulls and Paroles – so we don’t want to cut off his entertainment. We live in SE Iowa and our cable bill is $157 a month including: high speed internet, landline with free long distance, TV package, TIVO. The basic cost is $120 – the rest is fees and taxes, etc. The stuff tacked onto the bill is ridiculous! Also, we practically never watch a movie – never as far as newer movies go. And we aren’t interested in the shows produced by HBO or Netflix, etc. I’m thinking our current plan is our best option. Am I missing something?

    1. You can save money by just using the internet, and connect it to your TV via something like a Chromecast or Roku. That way, you don’t have to use a computer, but still get to enjoy your favorite shows online! That should drop your cost down quite a bit.

  28. We do not want to watch TV on a computer screen. We do not like any current movies or the HBO and Netflix series. We want Fox News, MSNBC, and our local news. We want to watch Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Josh Gates’ programs, Diners drive-ins and Dives, Pitbulls and Parolees, Roll Back the Oceans, Ancient Aliens (it’s hilarious). shows about people living in Alaska. And others of that ilk. Also must have PBS. And NHL and NFL and soccer games and volleyball.
    We don’t want to buy DVDs to watch that way.
    Our TV has no internet connection. I’m guessing there are no cheap options for us. But if I’m wrong, please let me know.

  29. I would love to cut the cord! I have direct tv and att bundled and pay almost $500/month! 6 cell phones and 6 dtv boxes with hd channels, but still only use a basic package i.e. no sports packages or movie channel packages, is almost stupid anymore and dtv keeps raising prices for what I already have (no upgrades). I only bundled the two to get unlimited data at a little better rate because with 4 kids we were burning through the limited data plan we had in about two weeks each month and I got tired of turning off the kids data plans each month until the next billing cycle. Anyway, my only hang up is that I love college sports (football, basketball, baseball, etc…) and I’m not sure if I can get sports channels on one of the options you listed. I live for bowl games and march madness!! Any idea if any internet streaming services offer an sports packages?

    1. Woah, $500 sounds insane!! But I also understand that you need more data. You can get sports through Sling, so hopefully, that can cut costs down quite a bit.

  30. I know about Netflix I don’t know much about Hulu or sling. I want to be able to watch the cw, AMC, ion, TLC, animal planet and a few more. Is that available with sling. And what is that antenna for me that’s rabbit ears lol. Whoever pays $100 for cable its not bad I hate to say I am paying $186 a month I am also on a fixed income. Obviously I need help. Any advice would be appreciated.

  31. Thank you so much for all your help! My question is, if I buy an antenna at Best Buy and my options are coverage of 50 miles, 60 miles, 70 miles, does that mean that local news and weather coverage would just be within that range? How would I get PBS and national sports games? I only want to watch tv on my big screen tv, but it’s not a smart tv.
    Also, I am a writer, so I need fast internet service, but Spectrum will raise the Internet fee crazy high when I drop cable. What can I use instead?

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