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15 Best Alternatives to Cable TV in 2021

Costly cable packages can hurt your budget and derail your financial goals. It’s nothing out of the ordinary to pay monthly fees between $100 and $200 for satellite or cable channel collection. While a basic package deal can be affordable, things start getting costly when you add on all the whistles and bells. Extras like sports and movie channels, among others, translate into higher costs. Therefore, finding the best alternative to cable tv can save you from paying expensive TV bills for hundreds of channels that you don’t watch.

While it’s possible to secure an excellent TV package deal for smaller monthly payments, it’s only for a while. Nonetheless, your premiums will double or triple at the end of the trial period. Moreover, customers are cutting the cord because of installation costs, rental charges, and other fees that come with each cable package. Getting a cable package minus movie channel options might be more budget-friendly.  But, that would leave you with a traditional TV-like deal. On the other hand, bigger cable packages come with more options for movies and shows. The downside is that they are expensive for the ordinary consumer to afford.

Fortunately, improvements in technology, for example, live TV streaming, are changing the situation. New technology offers more ways for customers to get cable alternatives. You can have access to wide-ranging movies and TV shows without paying costly satellite or cable premiums. Are you ready to cut the cord? If so, this post can help. In this article, we will highlight some of the best available options for cable TV in 2021. Many of these options come with an array of viewing selections. Also, they are a lot more affordable.

Best Affordable Alternatives To Cable TV

Alternatives to Cable TV

Are you paying over a thousand dollars annually for channels you don’t want? Well, you must be in luck because right now, you have choices and preferences with no contracts. Consumers are cutting their cable in masses to find an alternative to cable tv services.

For example, in 2017 alone, more than 3.5 million Americans canceled their pay-TV contracts, according to a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Cable providers are losing thousands of subscriptions every month because citizens have realized they don’t need hundreds of stations they never watch.

The cable tv industry has had a free monopoly for many years. Nevertheless, on-the-go high-speed-internet, smart TVs, and smartphones are changing things. These new technologies are offering almost five million Americans every year with the chance to save money through becoming cord-cutters. We have spread the best alternative to cable into four major categories, including;

  1. Local channels without cable TV
  2. Live TV Programming Services
  3. On-Demand TV Programming Services
  4. Channel Specific Programming Services

So, you can call your cable provider to cancel your subscription. You are now ready to move into the future of watching TV and entertainment without the costly cable bills.

Related Article: 

Local Channels Without Cable TV

If you are happy with the selection of local channels like CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC, and you aren’t ready to pay cable TV premiums, we can help.

1. High-Definition Over the Air Antenna Alternative to Cable TV

The HD antenna is the first option on our list if you want to avoid paying for cable. It means investing in a High-Definition over-the-air-antenna to enable you to receive local channels. You can get an HD antenna from around $10 to $50, depending on the quality of the device. Note that this is a one-time purchase, which eliminates all cable TV bills. The rest is as easy as plugging in the High-Definition device, auto-tuning the TV, and your alternative to cable tv will be all set up. You might be amazed at the number of available TV stations you can watch without a cable package. In less than five minutes, you can start viewing free local channels.

Although most of our live streaming options have local channels, some of them do not. Regardless, having an antenna is a beautiful thing. The device could act as your backup in the event the live TV streaming service is down as it sometimes happens.

Here are some of the top-rated HD antennas on Amazon. Even though we don’t have a preference, the Amazon community highly regards most of these products;

HD Antenna Mile-Range Extra Feature
Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna Up to 60 miles Supports 4K, 1080p, and older TVs
1byone Digital Amplified Indoor Flat Digital Antenna Up to 80 miles Compatible with 4K 1080p and older TV’s
2021 Amplified HD Digital TV Antenna Up to 120 miles Compatible with 4K 1080p, older TV’s, and Fire TV Stick
Vansky Outdoor Amplified HD TV 360 Rotate Antenna Up to 150 miles Supports 2 TVs, compatible with older TVs

There are plenty of High-Definition antennas in the marketplace. Therefore, we recommend that you evaluate online reviews and choose the perfect one for your situation. Besides, your reception will vary significantly based on your location. For that reason, you’ll want to consider the FCC reception map to figure out the available channels in your area.

Live TV Programming Services

Along with all of the free local TV options above, there are other ways to skip the cable packages. If you want to be a cord-cutter while still maintaining live TV, streaming is the way to go.

Live TV streaming providers like Philo and YouTube TV allow you to watch most of your favorite channels from Fox News and NBC to CNN, ABC, ESPN, and Nickelodeon. You can stream these channels live on the internet. The best part is that they fetch far less than what you will pay the cable provider for TV.

Streaming services can cost as low as $15 per month without other charges or contracts. Instead of the cable box and monthly rental fees, you will get a multi-device app, supporting your game console, Apple Television, smart Television, or Amazon Fire TV. In this way, you can watch TV from home or anywhere through a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or web browser.

Options for live TV streaming come with numerous benefits, including zero cable fees and doing away with contracts. However, you should watch out for some downsides that can outweigh the savings. For example;

  • You need to include internet charges
  • Some DVRs have restrictions
  • Buffering with no content to watch

Similar to cable TV, the cost of services can keep rising. For instance;

  • Hulu with Live TV recently had a $10 price hike
  • Sling TV raised all their package rates by $5
  • AT&T increased charges on its AT&T TV Now package

You need to be careful since the live TV streaming landscape isn’t stable, which can also mean high competition. For example, PlayStation Vue, one of our top premium options is no longer available after Sony ended the service in January.

Regardless, YouTube TV, Sling, and Hulu, among others, are a great alternative to cable tv. Here is how the services compare.

2.  Philo alternative for Cable TV

Philo is a recent service provider to the TV streaming scene. It gives users access to cable networks at a portion of the cost, which makes it one of the top alternatives to cable.

Key Features of Philo

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Roku, Computer, Amazon Fire, Phone, and AppleTV
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Not available
  • CHANNELS: 56+
  • FREE TRIAL: 7-day

You can choose from two live TV packages;

  • 43 TV channels at $16 per month
  • 56 TV channels at $20 per month

The following image highlights Philo’s channels for both packages

Philo's programs

A screenshot summarizing Philo’s programs from their website

Even though Philo’s two packages do not offer local programs, users can get those from the HD antenna option. Also, Philo has a few sports channels.

On the upside, this provider will let you record the number of shows you want and save them for up to thirty days. Besides, you can stream shows concurrently on up to three devices. The company’s free seven-day trial gives you time to see whether their services are worth your money.

3.  Sling TV: Alternative to Cable TV

The company works like the actual satellite or cable TV, which makes it an excellent choice for cord-cutters.

Key Features of Sling TV

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Web browsers, internet-enabled mobile devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Available in specific markets
  • CHANNELS: 48+
  • FREE TRIAL: Seven-day

Sling TV provides two main package options, with third being a combination of the two:

  • Sling Orange for a monthly fee of $25
  • Sling Blue for a monthly cost of $25
  • Both Sling Orange + Sling Blue at $40 per month

You can often get a free Roku from Sling if you are initially signing up with a commitment to one of their offerings.

The Sling Orange package comes with the following channels;

Sling Orange package

Screenshot of the Orange package from Sling’s official site

These are Sling’s offerings on the Blue package;

Blue package

Screenshot of the Blue package from Sling’s official site

You can customize your packages if you don’t find your favorite channel from their two offers. In this formula, Sling allows you to add specific channels to your setup for an additional monthly premium.

Sling’s add-ons include;

Premium Add-On What You Get Monthly Fee
Kids Disney XD, Nicktoons, Boomerang, + more $5
News Extra theBlaze, Fusion, Euronews, RT, Sci, CGTN + more $5
Hollywood Extra Reelz,  HDNet Movies, TCM, The Film Detective + more $5
Best of Spanish Azteca, Cine Latino, ESPN Deportes + more $5
Cinemax Movies, Series, Documentaries, + more $10
HBO Movies, TV shows, sports content, + more $15
Comedy Extra TruTV, MTV2, LOGO, TV Land, + more $5
Sports Extra PAC12 Network, ESPNU, Stadium, + more $5
Lifestyle BET, DIY, WE TV, Vibrant, ZLiving, + more $5
Heartland Extra Sportsman Channel, RideTV, Pixl, + more $5
Cloud DVR Fast-forward commercials $5
Showtime Movies and Series $10
Starz Library of different movies $9

Sling TV’s simple package costs $25 per month, although adding premium packages can increase your fee to over $75 per month.

Read Also: How to Watch Bravo without Cable 

4. Hulu with Live TV: Best alternatives to cable tv

Hulu’s $7.99 monthly on-demand was the most popular offering among TV enthusiasts. The platform had few commercials, making it an excellent choice for subscribers. However, they have lately launched Hulu with Live TV, giving access to monthly packages starting from $39.99.

Key Features of Hulu with Live TV

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Web browsers, internet-enabled mobile devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Available
  • CHANNELS:50+
  • FREE TRIAL:7-day

The Live TV package with over 50 channels starts at $39.99, and it will allow you to stream Hulu Originals, latest movies, and full series seasons, among others. The package does not come with equipment rentals, installation charges, or hidden fees.

The image below shows primary channels from Hulu on the $39.99 package

primary channels from Hulu

Screenshot of Hulu’s $39.99 package from their official site

Similar to Sling TV, you can get the following add-on packages to customize your setup;

Premium Add-On What You Get Monthly Fee
Espanol Discovery, ESPN Deportes, CNN, + more $4.99
Cinemax Movies, Series, Documentaries, + more $9.99
STARZ Library of different movies $8.99
Entertainment CNBC World, Destination America, AHC, + more $7.99
HBO Videos, TV shows, sports content, + more $14.99
Showtime Movies and Series $10.99

The company has another package, Hulu with Live TV, starting at $7.99 per month, offering;

  • Hulu Originals
  • Current Episodes
  • Movies
  • Full seasons to special series
  • Kids shows and other options

While most of this content is available through Hulu on-demand, it is a great option for those who will not mind waiting a handful of days for their favorite TV shows without paying the live TV charges. While this package includes a few commercials, you could get a no-commercials deal for $11.99 per month.

5.  AT&T TV: Best Alternative to Cable tv

AT&T TV is more like the cable TV option but without the cable or its charges. The company was a fantastic option until they increased their channels in 2019, resulting in a slight price increase. However, this streaming-only provider comes with several packages, making it a great alternative to cable tv.

Key Features of AT&T TV

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Web browsers, internet-enabled mobile devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Not available
  • CHANNELS: 60+
  • FREE TRIAL: Seven-day

AT&T TV centers on two basic offers, including the Plus and Max packages. But, they have an array of other plans from which you can pick.

The Plus channel lineup goes for $50 per month, with over 40 programs, as you will see in the screenshot below.

channel lineup

Screenshot of AT&T TV’s Plus package from their official site

AT&T TV’s Max Plan starts at $70 per month with over fifty channels, which have better sports coverage, as seen in the image below.

Max package

Screenshot of AT&T TV’s Max package from their official site

Apart from the two primary packages above, you can subscribe to five other packages, all starting at $86 per month. For most consumers, this price does not provide an alternative to cable tv service. If anything, it might be more than subscribing to some traditional cable TV packages.

The following image highlights the extra packages with their prices;

additional packages

Screenshot of AT&T TV’s additional packages from their official site

As most of these cable alternatives, AT&T TV offers add-on programs for these fees:

  • Cinemax at $11 per month
  • STARZ at $11 per month
  • Add Third Stream at $5 per month
  • HBO at $11 per month
  • Showtime at $8.11 per month
  • Spanish Add-Ons at $15 per month

Irrespective of your choice of package, they all offer True Cloud DVR with more than 40k on-demand titles. Also, you don’t need to sign a contract.

6. YouTube TV: Best Alternative to Cable tv

YouTube TV allows a maximum of six accounts for each household,  unlimited storage cloud DVR, with over 60 channels, including local lineups, all at $40 per month. The company gives its customers excellent value for their money.

Key Features of YouTube TV

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Popular browsers, internet-enabled devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Available
  • CHANNELS:60+
  • FREE TRIAL:7-14 days

Although YouTube TV is another newcomer in the streaming business like Philo, they do offer an excellent variety of channel lineup, as you will see in the image below. Moreover, they have plenty of add-ons for interested customers. The company’s unrestricted DVR is a high selling point since most of its competitors come with restrictions.

Channel Offerings on YouTube TV

Youtube TV

Screenshot of YouTube TV’s packages from their official site

And if you need premium options, you can include these to your $40 monthly basic plan:

  • CuriosityStream at $3per month
  • NBA League Pass at $40 per month
  • Shudder at $5 per month
  • Sundance Now at $7 per month
  • AMC Premier at $5 per month
  • Fox Soccer Plus at $15 per month
  • Showtime at $7 per month
  • Starz at $9 per month

7.  Fubo TV Alternative to cable tv

Fubo TV comes with over 100 TV networks, including popular sports lineups. The company provides two well-known channel packages carrying several great channels, which are probably already in your favorite watching list.

Key Features of fuboTV

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Compatible browsers and devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Not available
  • CHANNELS: Over 100
  • FREE TRIAL: Available

fuboTV’s main packages include;

  • fubo from $44.99 per month with over eighty channels


Screenshot of fubo TV extra packages from their official site

  • fubo Extra from $49.99 per month with over 100 channels

fubo extra TV packages

Screenshot of fubo extra TV packages from their official site

Note that these rates can sometimes be much lower, especially when the company is offering promotions. Additionally, the provider often gives discounted prices and free trials. Therefore, the rates could be lower if it’s your first-time subscription.

If you want add-ons, the company gives you these premium features;

  • Family Share at $5.99 per month
  • International Sports Plus with four channels at $5.99per month
  • Adventure Plus with five channels at $4.99per month
  • SHOWTIME at $10.99per month
  • FX Plus at $5.99per month
  • Portuguese Plus with three channels at $14.99per month
  • Cloud DVR Plus at $9.99per month
  • fubo Cycling with five channels at $11.99per month
  • Sports Plus with seventeen channels at $8.99per month
  • NBA League Pass at $28.99per month
  • AMC Premier at $4.99per month
  • RAI Italia at $7.99per month
  • Latino Plus with ten channels at $7.99per month

On top of the two-channel lineups, you can also get the following additional deals;

  • fubo Latino for a monthly fee of $17.99
  • fubo Portugues for a monthly cost of $19.99

8.  AT&T Watch App Alternative to cable tv

The App is a straightforward alternative to cable tv than its AT&T TV counterpart. In this service, you can get over thirty live TV channels with 15,000 on-demand titles, as are shown below. All these come at a monthly price of $15.

Key Features of AT&T Watch App

  • STREAMING OPTIONS: Compatible browsers and devices
  • LOCAL CHANNELS: Not available
  • CHANNELS: 30+
  • FREE TRIAL: Seven-day

You can skip the $15 monthly fee if you are a subscriber to the AT&T Unlimited and More phone package. Simply activate and begin to watch as part of that phone plan deal.

The two images show the limited channels in this service. On the upside, it packs great inclusions such as TLC, CNN, as well as A&E. The channels are more than sufficient to entertain you for the low price.

AT&T Watch App channels

Screenshot of AT&T Watch App channels from their official site

Note that this package doesn’t include local networks or regional sports channels. Also, you can get premium add-ons for an extra fee.

On-Demand TV Programming

Besides live TV programming, on-demand streaming services can be a perfect alternative to cable tv. Even though these services don’t include live TV programs, they can still entertain you through instant access to countless movies and TV shows. The variety of titles will keep adding every month.

9.  Amazon Prime Video: Alternative to cable tv

Prime members can get countless shows on television shows, Amazon originals, movies, as well as documentaries, among others courtesy of Amazon Prime. The distinction between Amazon and the remaining on-demand content is getting access to more than just movies and shows on TV by subscribing to Prime.

It will cost you $12.99 monthly or $119 annually to become an Amazon Prime member. But, for that price, you will obtain;

  • 2-day free Amazon shipping
  • Unrestricted streaming of music
  • Limitless storage for your pictures
  • Unrestricted readership
  • Same-day deliveries for qualifying products

The goodies don’t end there. Amazon Prime has these two offers;

  • Students can get this plan at $6.49 per month
  • Cardholders for EBT or Medicaid can get the program at an even lower $5.99 monthly rate

You’ll want to confirm eligibility before taking advantage of the two offers. If you’re a first-time user, you will be getting a thirty-day free trial start.

10. Netflix Alternative to Cable tv

Netflix is probably the best and most popular on-demand TV streaming provider. The company gives its users access to thousands of documentaries, movies, television shows, and original series, including Orange and House of Card, among other on-demand content.

This on-demand video company offers three plans, including;

  • Basic package with a monthly fee of $7.99
  • Standard package with a monthly cost of $10.99
  • Premium package with a monthly fee of $13.99

Although all plans offer the same content, the sum of devices you can stream concurrently with HD access sets them apart. For instance, while the basic program only allows one device at a time, the Premium plan leaves you the luxury of four. The screenshot below provides more details concerning the inclusions on each package.

Netflix packages inclusions

Screenshot of Netflix packages inclusions from their official site

You would have to work hard to beat Netflix, particularly for the rates. While they’re not a live programming service, you will be amazed at the number of movies and shows on their platform to entertain you.

11. Amazon Instant Video: Best Alternative to Cable tv

The Amazon Instant Video is an on-demand streaming service that comes free after you buy Amazon Prime. Alternatively, you can get it separately, at $8.99 per month. However, it wouldn’t make a lot of economic sense buying it separately, when you can get Amazon Prime at just $9.92 every month with the Instant Video option.

Regardless, Amazon Instant Video packs various options for watching TV in different categories, including;

  • Sports shows
  • Popular television shows
  • Kids television + films
  • Exercise and fitness movies + shows
  • Hit movies
  • Amazon original shows
  • Documentaries
  • Classic films

Moreover, you can get other genres like Family and Faith films plus Award Winning Short recordings. Currently, the app boasts more than 2k TV shows with over 18k movies. It is a huge offering when stacked up against Netflix’s total 10k movies + TV shows.

Channel-Specific Programming Services

12. CBS All Access: Alternative to Cable tv

With the CBS All Access application, you will stream over 10k+ CBS, the CBS All Access Originals, as well as live programming, from a streaming-capable device.

Everything on CBS All Access is available on-demand, with two price points for the App, including;

  • The $5.99 monthly offer with a few commercials
  • The $9.99 monthly, non-commercials offer

While you can watch plenty of free shows on the CBS official site, you’ll also have to deal with a lot of commercials. Therefore, if you love their programs and commercials don’t work for you, then consider paying the price.

We recommend this App only for the big CBS programming fans, who need to access the whole library. However, if you are getting it solely for live programming, you should probably consider paying the $5.99 to Hulu with Live TV, for example.

13. HBO Now Best Alternative to Cable tv

Unlike HBO GO, which comes with your cable company’s package, HBO Now is a standalone video streaming service, making a great alternative to cable tv. However, you should keep in mind that both are similar apps with similar programming.

HBO Now allows its users access to all the live episodes on the platform plus  HBO series from a streaming-enabled device. So, HBO programming fans who want nothing else can consider this streaming service. The price starts at $14.99 per month, without the need for a cable subscription.

But if you’ll need different networks as well, then you should think of signing up for a live TV program on this list. Most of those live TV providers will let you add HBO for as low as $5 per month.

14. Starz Alternative to Cable tv

Similar to HBO, Starz has an independent streaming service through its Starz Direct app. With this App, you’ll have access to all TV shows and movies, including the latest and past titles, all on-demand.

When signing up using the Direct App, it eliminates the need to get a cable service provider’s confirmation for your subscription, just like HBO.

While the App comes at $10.99 per month, the channel frequency gives special offers and free trials to first-time users.

15. Showtime Alternative to Cable tv

Showtime joins the list of famous movie channels with standalone apps, allowing anyone to sign up.

You will get full access to all the content on Showtime without commercials if you subscribe through the App. Moreover, it lets subscribers download full movies and episodes to watch offline at their pleasure.

The App costs $10.99 per month after a 7-day trial, although you can withdraw any time. Once more, like HBO and Starz, users don’t require a cable subscription when signing up for the application.

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Frequently Asked Questions for alternatives to cable tv

Q. What is the best alternative to cable?

Ans: The best alternative to cable will depend on your preferences. There are plenty of streaming choices available, each with different offerings. Some of these options provide live TV streaming, while others are simply channel-specific programs. You would have to review your needs, including how much you are willing to pay every month to determine the best alternative to cable tv.

Q. Which TV streaming service is best?

Ans: Individual TV streaming services have unique packages catering to different consumers. However, we would recommend YouTube TV. The service comes with six accounts for every household, a cloud DVR with unrestricted storage, over 60 TV channels, including local programs, all at the rate of $40 per month. It’s effortless to see the value for your money in their offerings.

Q. How do I get rid of cable and still watch TV?

Ans: You can get rid of cable and still watch TV. There are plenty of online streaming services offering more affordable live TV packages and other entertainment plans. Moreover, you can access the majority of these services on multiple devices, including your smartphone, with a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Q. Is Hulu Live TV worth it?

Ans: If you need an alternative to cable tv, Hulu live TV would be a great choice. First, their $39.99 monthly basic package gives you access to over 50 channels. Also, you can watch hit movies, full series seasons, as well as Hulu Originals, all for the same monthly price. The best part is that you won’t be dealing with hidden fees, installation charges, or equipment rentals as you do with your cable provider.

The Bottom Line

Some consumers are traditionalists, preferring the security blanket from live TV. But, most customers are willing to jump the cable ship into a more affordable alternative. The efficiency, price, and convenience of internet applications and streaming devices let you enlarge your viewing horizons over the restrictions of your family room.

The convenience of smartphones, for example, means watching anywhere and anytime, provided you have a secure Wi-Fi connection. To that end, the benefits of purchased apps and streaming devices far outweigh the heavy commitments. Therefore, choose t0cbecome a cord-cutter to start enjoying the cable-free experience. Each of these options allows us to stream whatever we need, whenever we feel like it.

With plenty of options available, it is challenging to determine which alternative to cable tv is the most excellent. Many of us result in using numerous of the available choices to get access to all we want. But, ultimately, this is not often the most cost-effective way to handle your streaming options.

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