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.
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.
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.
PS—You 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 Stick, Roku, 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.
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 Stick, Roku, 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.
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.
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?