Even if you watch a dozen or so shows a year, buying those seasons may be less expensive than paying for a cable subscription—and you’ll be able to watch on your TV, computer, phone, or tablet. We looked at 16 of the most popular TV shows across different networks back in 2016 (including Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot, The Blacklist, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and the average price for a full season of these shows from the Google Play store was just under $25. On iTunes they were just under $32 a season, while on Amazon they were just about $29. Given that the average monthly cable bill at the start of that year was $99 per household, you could afford to buy between 38 and 48 TV-show seasons a year, depending on where you buy them, for the same price as cable, and have more flexibility in watching them. (This calculation doesn’t include shows that are exclusive to Netflix or Amazon, as you would have to subscribe to those services even if you have cable.)
Digital antennas are awesome. You can get an inexpensive digital antenna at any electronics store for less than $40. Here is the cool thing about digital TV – you get a perfect signal, or you get nothing. You don’t have to deal with the fuzzy picture and static sounds of yesterday’s rabbit ears. The best part is that many TV stations now broadcast in HD. So you can get HD quality television over the air – which believe it or not, is often better quality than what you would get through a cable TV connection because of signal degradation and compression.
Similarly, if you have a monthly data cap on your Internet service, purchasing TV shows and downloading them can significantly eat into that cap—you may even need to pay for a higher level of Internet service to handle the downloads each month. A single hour of streaming video can eat up 5 gigabytes of data, making a 250 GB data cap seem fairly small.
Some services allow you to stream the newest movies. Vudu, for example, has a wide selection of high-definition movies available to stream the day they are released on Blu-ray. (You can also watch Vudu movies at Walmart.com.) Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, iTunes and Zune also stream new movies that you can watch on your computer or TV. Most of the services also offer a selection of movies (and TV shows) in HD, usually for an additional price. You may not be able to watch HD programming in all formats. Amazon Instant Video, for example, currently streams HD movies to your TV through compatible devices, but not to your computer.

Buy a basic digital flat digital antenna at your local electronics store. These are usually priced under $50. If you live more than 25 miles from the closest broadcast towers or if your TV is in the basement, you might need an outdoor antenna. These are more expensive but can be mounted on your roof, your balcony, or even in your attic for better reception.
That said, streams will be out there. Sites from other countries often aren’t subjected to rigorous copyright policing, and the sheer volume of live streaming can make it difficult for big providers like Facebook and Periscope to patrol. Chances are, if you dig around on the hashtags or sketchy subreddits, you’ll find someone pointing their camera phone at the game for your amusement.
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.

Approximately 10 percent of American TV patrons have canceled cable TV to reduce household costs, and statistics show the number of people cutting the cable cord doubles every year. If you are tired of surfing through hundreds of channels and paying high subscription fees, examine your current TV usage, buy a streaming device and opt for media streaming from your TV or computer.
Of course, as mentioned above, watching live sports through a streaming service means you’ll suffer a bit of a delay. If you’re watching the game on your own, you probably won’t notice, but you won’t want to follow along on Twitter or read text messages from your friends if you want to avoid spoilers. (Wirecutter staffers sometimes notice the neighbors yelling after an exciting play only to see it happen on our TVs 15 to 30 seconds later.) And if you’re using an older media streamer, we’ve found that Sling TV can start to stutter and lag after streaming a football game for two-plus hours; we “fix” the problem by restarting the app during a commercial break.
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.
I teach financial planning to Soldiers transitioning out of the Military. I always bring this up when discussing how to cut expenses. While there are always people who cannot fathom living without their cable, I am always surprised to see how many in class have already started to do this. In the past 10 years, I have only paid for cable for a year, although I have had it provided free for a few others. I love being cable-free and with HD antennas, Netflix, and Hulu, I am never without something to watch when I want. And I don’t find myself watching the “best of the worst” since I have no qualms with shutting off the tv and doing something else.
CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4
There is NO WAY to get FREE CABLE TV over the air, with an HDTV antenna. It is not possible to get HGTV, The History Channel, AMC, CMT, TVLand, and those other types of channels over an HDTV antenna! I wish these websites and these phony ads would stop fooling people into buying these “magic sticks” and “magic TV” antennas claiming that they will be able to watch CNN, TNT, TBS, The Science Channel, Biography, National Geographic, etc. without paying a cable company. It is NOT TRUE. They can stream whatever with a subscription, but guess what? THEY STILL NEED TO PAY THE CABLE COMPANY FOR INTERNET ACCESS AND THAT COSTS ABOUT $80 A MONTH WHEN YOU CANCEL THE BUNDLES!
Because the content you get with any of these cable-replacement services, especially local channels, can vary by region, you should go to each company’s website, plug in your ZIP code, and see which channels are available in your area. These video streaming services have been adding more local broadcast channels, such as ABC and CBS, but they’re not always available in smaller markets.
Netflix.com:  Slightly more, but the added convenience of keeping the movies and TV shows as long as you want, and being able to stream a selection of movies and TV shows over the computer, or networked media device.  Netflix is getting better all the time, now with great original series like House of Cards. Find all plans and how to maximize your return on this post:  How Much Netflix Costs.
Digital antennas are awesome. You can get an inexpensive digital antenna at any electronics store for less than $40. Here is the cool thing about digital TV – you get a perfect signal, or you get nothing. You don’t have to deal with the fuzzy picture and static sounds of yesterday’s rabbit ears. The best part is that many TV stations now broadcast in HD. So you can get HD quality television over the air – which believe it or not, is often better quality than what you would get through a cable TV connection because of signal degradation and compression.
Hulu is a great option if you want to watch Hulu original series or currently airing shows soon after they broadcast (along with many past seasons). The only catch? Unless you want to upgrade to the commercial-free version ($12), you’ll have to sit through some repetitive ads. So if you’d rather not wait to keep watching, maybe cough up the extra four bucks. Still, it's one of the best alternatives to cable tv on the market.

You might also be able to save by bundling your TV and Internet subscriptions: After a recent move, one of the authors of this guide, Chris Heinonen, discovered that with his new Internet provider, it was cheaper to get Internet service bundled with TV than without. However, once Chris added the cost of multiple cable boxes and DVR service, those savings disappeared. So Chris currently rents one non-HD cable box, which sits in a closet unused, and uses an Apple TV, Roku, or tablet to stream all his family’s favorite shows. This setup lets them start and finish shows on any TV, and it offers more flexibility than any cable box would. (The downsides to this strategy are that one can’t “record” shows for offline viewing, and each network you want to watch must provide an app with streaming support—but more and more networks are offering such apps.) In the end, Chris saves around $10 a month compared with paying for Internet alone while also being able to stream the Olympics, college and NFL football, Mr. Robot, The Americans, and more directly to his iPhone and various media streamers.


Depending on the range of viewing habits, some people will have to utilize more of the below options than others. If you decide to cancel your cable subscription, you’re more likely going to have to subscribe to several different services to access all of the shows that you want. For some, this might not actually save money, which is usually the purpose of cutting the cord. Before making any decisive actions, first see if you can utilize our tips for saving money on your existing subscription.

I’m hesitant to cut the cord with cable tv due to my husband’s sports. He watches ESPN (a couple of different ones), and the Big 10 Network. Other than these sports channels, we mostly only watch the regular network channels. If I had the food network and HGTV I would watch them, but I can do without them just fine too. Hubby does like the DVR feature that our ‘big name’ cable company provides. But the monthly prices keeps climbing! Any suggestions you have for us?


Adam… there are countless options and opinions out there on what’s “best” but it all boils down to what the readers want and need. The wife and I cut cable completely about 6-7 years ago. We have internet only for $50/mo. We now have a $4 a month (taxes only) VOIP phone (Ooma) for home phone, cut our cell phones down to bare minimum $5/mo. plans and rolled the savings to an amazing 55″ OLED SmarTV television on an open box deal. Between the apps on that, the computer attached by HDMI, the over the air antenna and free apps and web sites, we don’t need any of the devices or subscriptions to have it all… and then some. There’s no need for Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Sling, Philo, Fire Stick or anything. Our motto is keep it simple. We get library access online 24/7 and instead of asking “what’s on TV tonight?” the question is “what do you WANT on TV tonight?” … $54/month total… we’re good!
Did you know Hulu streams Live TV? Hulu’s Live service currently stream live ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and The CW in several markets. Use this handy zip code tool to see which local channels are available in your area. It will also tell you which cable channels are available! You can get live FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC in most areas in the U.S. These are the same local affiliate networks you see over the air and on cable.
The first thing you may want to consider is an HD antenna. This doesn't provide a way to watch streaming videos, but if you want to watch live TV, it's the cheapest and simplest solution. You may remember having rabbit ears on your hand-me-down TV as a kid — an HD antenna is basically the modern-day version of that. You hook the device into your TV, put it somewhere near a window and watch as the free channels roll in.
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.
What you get: With recently updated pricing, Sling’s Orange package is now $25 and includes about 30 cable channels but no broadcast TV. It supports one user at a time. Sling Blue, also $25 per month, supports three users and a different mix of about 40 channels, including local broadcasts and regional sports. (Among other differences, Sling Orange includes ESPN.) A combined plan costs $40. Themed add-on packs cost $5 per month, and you can add HBO, $15; Showtime, $10; and Starz, $9.

Because the content you get with any of these cable-replacement services, especially local channels, can vary by region, you should go to each company’s website, plug in your ZIP code, and see which channels are available in your area. These video streaming services have been adding more local broadcast channels, such as ABC and CBS, but they’re not always available in smaller markets.


Wow, you took it a step further. Even though cutting the cable is temporary, I don’t think my husband would allow it. I think TV is overrated and was paying the $90/month for Internet and cable. I didn’t completely cut cable, but lowered the package to $15/month and supplement with Netflix, which we LOVE! We are still saving about $30/month, so I’m happy.
Hulu is one of the most affordable alternatives to cable and satellite tv. Not only is there original content, but you can also view shows from local channels and some cable networks soon after they air. The baseline service comes in at a reasonable $8 per month, though you do have to tolerate some highly repetitive ads if you choose this option. If the ads get under your skin, for a $12 a month, you can upgrade to the commercial-free service.
I am 81 years old. Am tired of paying $66.98 per month for cable.. also pay $51.99 per mo. for internet… and the e-mail has been down for 3 days now. I am in the Atlanta metro area. there is no way I could understand or know how to do what you have. Is there any business in this area that you know of that could set me up. A one time fee would be worth it … my main recreation is the TV and computer. Hopefully Charter will have e-mail fixed so I can receive and send soon. I appreciate any help you can point me to. Thank you.
Hi, We have been considering giving up our Directv for sometime, Running across this forum has made the decision for us. I see that a Chromecast would be needed per TV that you want to use. My question is, Does a laptop or computer HAVE to be used to do any of this? We have a PS3, So would I be able to use the PS3 for Hulu, Netflix, Playon, and whatever other channels we find? And the other question is, On any of these options, can you watch the show/movie live or do you have to wait a week or so after it airs? We are more worried about our shows like Outlander, Game of Thrones, Big Bang theory, Homeland, etc??
The owners and marketers of sports content are not geniuses, they’re just hyper-competitive and smart enough to recognize that they’re selling a product that many people will pay almost anything for. If you are one of those people, do you ever ask yourself if there is any price you wouldn’t be willing to pay? What if they doubled the price of cable? Charged $500 a month? $1,000 a month? Surely at some point you walk away. For me, the list of things I would not immediately eject from my life in return for $1,000,000 is short and mostly consists of people.
Playon has to be purchased once, and then you would need to have a streaming device for each TV you want to watch on (Roku, Xbox, Chromecast, etc). For example, you could buy a $35 Chromecast for each TV you want to view shows/etc on. That’s how we currently do it at our house. I believe Playon may even have a special deal right now where you can buy Playon and get a Chromecast for free?
Pete, you can find some free sports on sites like NBC and ESPN3, but it’s not regular enough to catch all your favorites. I enjoy watching a good game now and then, but I’m not a die hard fan who has to catch every game his favorite team plays. So I’m pretty much content to watch whichever shows come on the regular network channels (even if I have to put up with commercials… sigh).
After the 1-week free trial, the service costs $44.99 per month. You can opt to just subscribe to the Hulu library instead of the Live TV service for just $7.99. Hulu also offers loads of original content and a decent back catalog of many past seasons of cable and network TV shows. You can test the live service or the on-demand service by using this 1-week free trial to Hulu Live TV. For more details check out my full review of Hulu.
PlayOn Media Streaming Software:  The PlayOn software allows you to stream online video from popular services like Hulu.com, Netflix, Amazon Video, the big networks and a myriad of others straight to your TV through a networked media device (see below).  They also have a feature if you pay for the “Plus” version of the software that allows recording of series of shows, and automatic skipping of commercials.  They even allow you to record your favorite Netflix or Amazon shows so you can take them with you on the go (with no need for internet). It's essentially a home DVR for online video. Cost: Limited functionality free version, or one time fee of $59.99 for lifetime license. Monthly or yearly subscriptions are also available.
The best way to watch local content is by subscribing to a live TV streaming solution. If you were burned by cable, the idea of signing another contract might seem daunting. Thankfully streaming TV is a different world than cable, free of long-term contracts that screw you on the details. Each of these services allows subscribers to cancel at any time, so if a service isn’t right for you, make sure you try another one. You’ve got options and time to shop.
If you want—or need—to see a significant number of your local teams’ games, I’m going to stop right here. This is one area where streaming services can’t yet fully deliver. Local games are generally exclusive to regional sports networks, and you’ll still need cable for that. There’s also the issue of some online services being a little more unstable than die-hard fans might like. Dish’s Sling TV failed for many customers during this weekend’s NCAA Final Four action, leading the company to issue an apology.
I found the article interesting. After I lost my job, I spent time looking for cable alternatives. I ended up buying a e-book entitled “Remote Control: Stop Losing Money And Easily Take Control Over What You Watch on lulu.com. I saw someone talking about it on the Breaking Bad facebook page (I am a Fan). It cost me $6.37 and basically taught me how to put a program on my laptop that allows me to access movies, TV shows, anytime I like. I now only pay for my Internet charge. No more cable for us. My kids love it when we have movie night and I love that I don’t spend $160/month any more. Oh, and it also had a money back guarantee, so I figured what the heck. Anyway, hope that helps someone too.
I’m hesitant to cut the cord with cable tv due to my husband’s sports. He watches ESPN (a couple of different ones), and the Big 10 Network. Other than these sports channels, we mostly only watch the regular network channels. If I had the food network and HGTV I would watch them, but I can do without them just fine too. Hubby does like the DVR feature that our ‘big name’ cable company provides. But the monthly prices keeps climbing! Any suggestions you have for us?
Sling TV is one of the better value options out there, because you can get a lot of the most popular channels for only $25 a month. However, if you’re a binge-watcher, you’ll love Hulu with Live TV’s huge on-demand library, which currently has 10 full seasons of Adventure Time (aww yeah homies!). YouTube TV is great, but it may not be available in your area just yet.
Sling TV is the perfect budget streaming TV option, starting at just $25 for 29 cable channels and a selection of local channels depending on your area. Thankfully Sling TV also has a local channel page that lets you see which channels are offered with your plan. Sling is a budget plan, so you should expect to be drowning in channels here, but the ability to follow local news and watch ESPN and Comedy Central is worth $25 per month. Be aware. However, not every area gets the same access. Sling TV users in Los Angeles CA only get two streaming local channels while Chattanooga, TV can’t stream any local channels. Sling TV is still building its arsenal of local channels, so if you don’t see your favorite right now check back in a few months. But 100% check before paying. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels.)
Although HULU+ is a paid site you can still watch many FREE movies and tv shows on the regular HULU. Also, another site my husband and I watch a lot is crackle.com which is a legit FREE site for movies and tv shows. The tv shows aren’t of much interest to us but crackle have many good movies and some of their own original shows. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can’t watch a lot of live sports, we would do away with our cable provider altogether. Maybe in time this will be an option?
What you get: PlayStation Vue can be configured to resemble an expansive, if somewhat pricey, cable-TV-style programming plan. After recent price hikes, packages range from a $45-per-month basic option to an $80 Ultra plan with about 90 channels, including premium channels such as HBO and Showtime. You get local channels in many major markets and a cloud DVR for recording shows. Vue supports up to five simultaneous users. There’s now also a mobile option, so new users can sign up and start watching the service directly from mobile phones, tablets, or PCs even when they’re outside the home.
If you’re old enough, the thought of using an antenna probably conjures memories of temperamental “rabbit ears” and staticky images. But today’s antennas come in a range of designs, from paper-thin indoor models like the Clearstream Flex, to Erector Set behemoths that you mount on a rooftop mast, and they provide reliable, crystal-clear HD resolution for absolutely free. All you need to do is plug one into the tuner that’s a fixture of most modern TVs.

After 2009, over the air TV signals became digital and old analog tuner TVs stopped working. Did you know that you could still get over the air signals? In fact, you can watch local channels without cable, and they are available free and in a clear beautiful high definition picture. Those signals are bouncing off your house as you read this. If you own a TV sold in the U.S. made after March 1st, 2007, it has a digital tuner as mandated by law.
If you’re old enough, the thought of using an antenna probably conjures memories of temperamental “rabbit ears” and staticky images. But today’s antennas come in a range of designs, from paper-thin indoor models like the Clearstream Flex, to Erector Set behemoths that you mount on a rooftop mast, and they provide reliable, crystal-clear HD resolution for absolutely free. All you need to do is plug one into the tuner that’s a fixture of most modern TVs.

Most television nerds will tell you that Netflix is the best thing since sliced bread. And they’ll go on defending that stance — that is if you can pry them from their screens. To date, the billion-dollar streaming service now has over 75 million subscribers. And while Netflix isn’t a free streaming service, it more than makes up for it with high-quality programming.
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.
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Hulu+ is for those who want to watch episodes of their favorite shows as early as the day after. Hulu+ expands what is available for free on Hulu. There are movies and television shows available including children’s programming. Current seasons of shows often only have partial seasons, and their movie selection is much more limited than that of Netflix. Hulu+ has created original shows like Netflix.
If you’ve already signed up with a cable replacement service and you’re unhappy with its local TV coverage, you may want to consider adding OTA capture functionality to fill in the gaps. With a TV tuner and an antenna, you can watch local TV channels on just about every major entertainment platform. Once your system is able to access local TV, you can use the free or inexpensive software mentioned above to add DVR capabilities.
While we haven't paid for cable TV, we haven't exactly been deprived, or had to watch only the shows offered by the over the air networks.  There are tons of free video options out there! In fact, we actually still watch a lot of the same shows that our friends do. How do we do it you ask? Through a combination of free over-the-air digital TV,  free online video services (the legal kind), a video streaming software, super low-cost internet service from FreedomPop, and a Xbox. FreedomPop is a low cost alternative to larger Internet service providers. Right now their plans might be too small for heavy video streaming users, but they're definitely on their way to bigger and better offerings – and they're definitely good enough if you only stream shows a few times a month. You can read more about them on their site.

I’m always open to ‘The New’… of times… I’ve also been checking out ‘building our own antenna’. I’m on SSD, older and no help at all. Here we have 9 major (incorporated, non-county) cities. In 2016 they completely cut off the ‘required (by law) access’, to “local feeds and channels”. One of those nine “incorporated” cities, mine being “that (incorporated) city”, cut off completely. The required law (in part) was, and is, based on the right to the service(s) for ’emergency’ purposes and NEWS information… I still don’t know how (for sure) they get away with it. I’m gonna keep on checking in.


Another often-ignored cord cutting technology is the indoor TV antenna, the modern equivalent of the old-school “rabbit ears,” which can cost under $10 and gives free access to network content. It’s not on-demand (unless you shell out extra for a recording device), but for live events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, having an antenna could be a lifesaver.
YouTube is the most popular streaming-video platform online; it was only a matter of time until YouTube tried its hand at providing live TV, too. For $35 per month with this service, you'll get almost 40 channels — which is, admittedly, not that many. Still, there are some good networks, especially for sports fans: multiple stations from ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. YouTube TV's biggest draw is the service's unlimited DVR feature, which lets you record as much as you want and keep it for up to nine months. The integration with the rest of YouTube feels half-baked, though.
Yes, I dropped my cable many years ago. The cost was outrageous and also wanted to hurt the biased Leftist media. I still have a flat panel and I can hook up to local channels which includes the three major channels and all their tv shows. I just don’t though. I turn it on and think I’ll just have it as background noise like I used to. I can’t stand it. And I’ve watched some of the tv shows and they’re truly just horrible. I watch some things on YouTube, like the old Unsolved Mysteries, but generally I just don’t need tv.
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. 
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