TV programming has been a staple of the American household for decades, and with so many great, and addicting, shows, it’s difficult to give it up.
According to Fortune.com’s Aaron Pressman, the average cable bill costs consumers $103.10 per month–a record all-time high. If you pay for extra packages for movies or sports, you could be paying even more.
I’ll admit, I love watching T.V. from time to time. My husband and I get into so many good shows. Many of those great shows can be found watched on prime time networks, like CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox–all of which can be accessed without paying for cable.
However, there are quite a few on cable channels but for us, it was never enough to justify paying $100+/month. If you’ve ever caught yourself flipping through the T.V. guide because you couldn’t find anything interesting to watch despite having tons of channels, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
A few years ago we cut the cord, started using online streaming services, and never looked back. It’s much cheaper and we can do other things with our money now as a result.
If you’ve been hesitant to cut the cord, realize that getting rid of cable doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop watching T.V. In this post, I’ve included some much cheaper alternatives that will allow you to get your television fix in without spending a ton of money each month.
Netflix is one of the most popular online television streaming websites and for good reason. You can watch a ton of movies and current television shows in different genres while only paying a minimum of $7.99 per month.
Netflix also offers a Standard service for $9.99 and a Premium service for $11.99. We have the basic service and while I love it, only one person can watch Netflix at a time so I can’t watch one thing in the living room while my son watches a show in his room.
However, that’s not a big deal since we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to sharing it and watching shows together as a family.
Netflix offers a vast selection of movies and full seasons of many currently-airing shows from prime time and cable networks, like ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Showtime’s Shameless. However, the seasons are not available to stream until after the season is done airing on their respective network.
Netflix is perhaps best known for their exclusive programming like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. The service is constantly adding new exclusive content, so your next TV addiction is probably currently being filmed.
Netflix will also give you a 30-day free trial when you sign up so you can see how you like the service.
Hulu is another popular television online streaming service that I really like and use. Hulu is great for current T.V. shows and they also have a few movies to choose from as well. Their service starts at $7.99 per month and it this price, there are limited commercials that appear during the program just like if you were watching regular T.V.
If you upgrade to a premium plan which would add $4 to your monthly subscription, you could skip the commercials entirely, but we don’t really mind them.
What I love about Hulu is that sometimes they are really quick with putting up current shows. My husband and I watch Empire and for many of the seasons, the newest episode shows up on Hulu to watch a day after it airs on cable.
This doesn’t happen with all shows on Hulu, but it’s pretty nice when it does.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is included in its Prime Membership price, which is $99 per year ($8.25/month). So if you’re a frequent Amazon shopper taking advantage of free 2-day shipping, then you can already enjoy the video streaming service.
Prime Video is commercial-free, but does not provide viewing profiles. Amazon does offer a monthly Prime rate of $10.99, which grants you access to the entire Prime service (2-day shipping included), but you can save $32.88 by purchasing the yearly membership.
Amazon’s Prime Video their own selection of current programming, movies, and exclusive content, however, it is much smaller when compared to Netflix and Hulu.
Prime Video does offer the latest movies, but unless they are listed under “Prime,” they will list a price where you can buy or rent them via Prime Video. Prime Video offers the most add-on subscription options from cable networks, like HBO and Starz.
Sling TV is an online service that is very similar to cable T.V. Sling T.V. plays regular cable channels in real time and also offers an on demand option so you can view shows you didn’t catch air.
For sports fans, Sling TV offers packages that include ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 which is something Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video don’t provide.
You can get 30 channels for $20/month, 40 channels for $25/month, and all the channels they provide for $40/month. Sling TV doesn’t offer free movies so that is something to keep in mind. Also, you can add channels to your package for around $5.
I tried a 7-day free trial for Sling TV but ultimately decided not to go with it since we currently have Netflix and Hulu already. However, I may be interested in their HBO package because I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and the new season will be airing this summer.
As always, good old YouTube can be used to watch television at home for free. There are no special packages to consider because you can basically search for videos and shows that you’d like to watch and browse through whatever is available.
In my household, we do this sometimes and I actually found an entire series of one show that I watched as a kid and it was fun to introduce my son to it.
Devices You Might Need
If you’re going to ditch cable and try one of these services, you’ll probably need a casting device IF you don’t have a smart TV.
Without a casting device or a smart TV that allows you to cast shows and movies to your television, you’ll be stuck watching TV on your laptop, phone, or another device.
They all basically do the same thing although Chromecast will cast any screen from your device to your television while Roku and Amazon Fire will cast certain apps like Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV etc.
If you have a game system like an Xbox of PlayStation, you may be able to cast video from T.V. streaming websites by downloading their apps and playing them from your game system.
The bottom line is to think outside of the box when it comes to cutting the cord. If don’t feel that you’re truly getting value out of your cable package, you need to try something cheaper.
All the sites I mentioned have free trials and no contracts (except YouTube which is free) so you can check them out before you spend any money on them and cancel the service whenever you want. Although, I have a feeling you won’t miss your pricey cable package at all.
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