Cord Cutting: The 10 Best Alternatives To Cable TV

One of the best parts about life today is the incredible amount of choice we have when it comes to how we spend our time and money. There is always something new for us to try, and only the very best products and services remain in the public's favor over the long term.

Over the past few decades, though, it seems one industry – the cable TV industry – has almost entirely forgotten this truth. The industry chooses to believe instead that its role in the lives of the American people is so firmly entrenched that nothing could supplant it, not even a steady and continuous rise in prices along with the absence of an improved product.

Despite their frustration, the average American consumer has been presented with no other option for acquiring video entertainment for most of history. This has meant their only choice has been to continue to pay cable companies for their video entertainment, albeit begrudgingly.

The Cord Cutting Revolution

However, in the late 2000s, everything changed.

Netflix, which for years had been operating as a DVD rental service, decided to go online and offer streaming video. Fast forward thirteen years to 2022, and there are numerous ways to get television content to your home, many of which are much cheaper and better than cable TV.

The high price of cable combined with the abundance of alternatives now available to customers has started a "cord cutting" revolution. We're seeing millions of people cancel their cable TV subscriptions each year. In total, in 2022, some 55.1million people have ditched cable. They're not giving up watching TV; they're just doing it elsewhere.

Where, you ask? Well, there are hundreds of different ways to get video content without cable TV, but here are ten of the best and most popular in today's world.

10 Cable TV Alternatives in 2022

If you're looking for cable TV alternatives, then you're almost certainly ready to say goodbye to cable companies. However, when you do this and decide to go with something else, you need to decide what type of content you want to view. We may not like cable companies, but they do give us access to a lot of the shows we want to watch. How important these are to you will play a role in your decision as to how to move forward.

In general, you have three options:

Depending on which option you choose, there are several different ways to get excellent content, which we will discuss in detail below.

Option 1: Drop Cable Companies But Keep Its Programming

If you want to get rid of paying your cable bill but still want to have access to some of the programming you got with your subscription, you're in luck because there are many great alternatives.

Here are the three biggest players in the market, along with a summary of each one's pros and cons.

YouTube TV

One of the better services you can get if you want to drop cable but keep some of the same programmings is YouTube TV. It only has one plan – whether this is good or bad is up to you – and it costs $64.99 per month.

With it, you get over 85 channels, including local stations and a good selection of major sports networks, and you can add to this and gain access to premium channels if you want to spend some extra money. Add-on plans range from just $6 per month to an Entertainment Plus package for $30 a month.

They even have a Sports Plus Package for $11, which while not perfect adds some variety for sports fans.

You can share your YouTube account with up to five other people and enjoy simultaneous streaming on three devices. You will also have access to an unlimited cloud DVR that allows you to keep a plentiful supply of your favorite shows and movies ready to be watched at any time.

Signing up for YouTube TV may temporarily give you access to YouTube Premium, although this is not always the case, so be sure to double-check the current promotion if and when you decide to sign on.

Hulu + Live TV

Another option for those who want to ditch the cable company but maintain access to cable channels and programming is Hulu + Live TV. At first glance, the Live TV component is a very similar product to YouTube TV. The channel lineup is almost identical – including local channels and sports packages – and it costs just a little more – $69.99 per month. You do, however, get Disney+ and ESPN+ added in, which makes it a better value to many.

However, when we dig a bit deeper, we see that the two services are quite different. For one, Hulu's basic plan only allows for simultaneous streaming on two devices, and its DVR cloud space is limited to 50 hours of recorded content. Still a hefty amount, but this is outweighed by the fact that Hulu's basic DVR plan doesn't allow you to fast forward on recorded programs, meaning you need to sit through the ads. You can avoid this by paying for the Enhanced Cloud DVR package.

Hulu's Live TV plan also allows for lots of add-ons so you can personalize your TV experience. Users can choose between sports and premium channels, including HBO. The sports options are considerably more numerous with Hulu than with other platforms, and there are even regional sports packages that will allow you to keep up with your favorite team.

However, while Hulu + Live TV might be lacking in some areas, it makes up for it by giving you much greater value than any other live TV streaming platform. This is because when you get Live TV from Hulu, you also get access to the entire Hulu library, which includes countless titles from both past and present.

As a result, Hulu + Live TV, while slightly more expensive than YouTube TV, is two things in one, which makes it a much better deal if accessing the Hulu and Disney+ library is important to you.

Sling TV

If you're not a big fan of either YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, but you still want to find a service that is similar to cable though different from it, then Sling TV might just be the thing for you.

Sling TV distinguishes itself from the rest of the competition by making its platform highly customizable based on your needs.

There are three basic packages to choose from Sling Orange ($35 per month for 30+ channels), Sling Blue ($35 per month for 40+ channels), and Sling Orange & Blue ($50 per month for 50 channels)

It might seem like a no-brainer to go with the combined package since it offers more channels, but each one is designed for different groups, and which one you choose will impact which extras you can add to your package later on, so be sure to check out the channel lineup before choosing.

Once you have your base plan, you can add as much or as little as you want. Extra packages include Sports ($11/month), Comedy ($6/month), Kids Extra ($6/month), News Extra ($6/month), and Lifestyle ($6/month), on top of others. Most come with an additional 5-10 channels, which channels depend on whether you're using Sling Orange or Blue.

You also have the option to add on premium channels such as HBO, Starz, Showtime, and more. If you want enhanced DVR options, you can add that on for $5, too.

The major upside to Sling TV – your ability to customize it fully – is also one of its main downsides – there is so much to decide!

However, if you're serious about your TV, and want to be sure you're only paying for exactly what you watch, then Sling TV might just be the cable alternative for you. Sling TV also has a lot more options for sports fans than either YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, so if you're a fanatic, this is another reason to want to navigate the many different options afforded to you with a Sling TV subscription.

Option 2: Eliminate All Ties to Cable

If none of these options are doing anything for you, either because they are too expensive or because you're not interested in the content they provide, the other option to consider is completely dropping all ties to cable and instead relying on a streaming service.

The main advantages of streaming services include:

· Watch your favorite shows whenever you want; no need to wait for it to "air."

· Get access to niche content; each platform is designed for a different audience, and so this gives you a better chance of finding a service that produces the kinds of things you want to watch.

· No advertisements; the cable alternatives listed above will give you the same experience as if you were watching cable, meaning your content will almost always be interrupted by commercials, which we all know can get annoying.

Of course, sticking with just streaming services does have its downsides, such as:

· Cost; subscribing to all of these services can cause your monthly television bill to balloon. Of course, you can work with friends and family and share account information so that you can access other content without spending more money.

· No live content; if you're into live sports and other real-time broadcasting, you're going to be disappointed with using just streaming services.

Knowing all of this, if you still want to pursue streaming platforms as an alternative to cable or as a supplement to your live TV streaming service, here are the major ones out there and a summary of each one.

Netflix

Originally a mail-order DVD service, Netflix now stands atop the video streaming world. However, over the years, Netflix has changed considerably. Specifically, it now focuses almost entirely on original programming, meaning shows and movies it creates itself. To back this up, Netflix has been investing heavily in original content.

All of this money has allowed Netflix to pursue the best actors and directors, leading to some pretty high-quality content. In recent years, feature films Roma and Don’t Look Up have been nominated for the Academy Award for best picture, with Roma taking home the prize in 2019.

As a result, if what you're after with your streaming platform is exciting, unique, and groundbreaking content, you may want to consider a Netflix subscription.

One downside of the service is that, while it offers 4K Ultra HD content, you do need to pay extra for it. The plan, which includes this video quality – which happens to be the company's most profitable – costs $20 per month, which isn't much, but it is higher than the others on this list. However, with this plan, you can watch on up to four screens at once, which makes it easy to share this plan and save money.

Also, because of Netflix's focus on original programming, it no longer carries the same amount of network programming as it once did. If this is the type of content you want, then you may want to consider other platforms.

Hulu

The only service to make it an option for both full cord cutters and those who also want to keep up with live TV, Hulu is an excellent choice for those who want to spend a bit less money but who also want to make sure they still have access to their favorite network shows.

It's considered more of a budget option because the basic plan costs just $6.99 per month, but the drawback is that this plan does make you watch advertisements. To get rid of the ads, you will need to pay $12.99 per month. 

But for those interested in keeping up with all the latest network shows and classics such as Friends, Hulu is definitely the plan for you. New episodes of these programs are released usually no later than the day after they air on television.

Hulu also has original programming, such as The Handmaid's Tale, a critically-acclaimed drama based on the dystopic, feminist novel by Margaret Atwood, but this is not the platform's strong suit.

Adding the live TV option makes Hulu an even better deal, but this will also cost you a good bit more money, as discussed above.

Amazon Prime

Next to Hulu and Amazon, Amazon Prime is usually listed as the third major streaming service. While it does have a large selection of both movies and television shows, as well as some original programming such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, it's probably not the best option for avid TV fans.

The programming available as part of the membership is not up to the standards set by Netflix and Hulu. Instead, Amazon Prime users will have the chance to buy or rent specific titles or even individual seasons of a full TV show. This is a solid option for those who want to have some titles all the time and then want to access others just some of the time.

Amazon Prime only makes sense, though, if you plan to make use of the other benefits that come with membership, such as free two-day shipping, one-day shipping, discounts, a cloud storage account, grocery delivery (in some cities), as well access to its digital music and video services.

Altogether, this is a pretty good deal for just $15 per month or $139 per year, but as a standalone streaming service, Amazon Prime may come up short for more dedicated TV watchers.

Disney Plus

A relatively new yet rapidly growing player in the streaming world, Disney Plus is the entertainment titan's response to proprietary streaming services.

In addition to all original Disney content, which includes all the classic movies and television shows we've grown to love over the years, Disney Plus also gives you access to Pixar, Lucas Film (Star Wars), Marvel Studios, and ESPN content, which makes for a pretty impressive lineup. Disney Plus is also going to be home to some pretty exciting original content on top of the many titles Disney has produced over the years.

However, as is usually the case with Disney programming, the stuff you're going to find on Disney Plus is tailored mainly towards kids and families, meaning it might not be ideal for everyone. But if you do fall into this category, Disney Plus is excellent since you won't need to worry about constantly monitoring what your kids are watching.

At the moment, Disney Plus costs just $7.99 per month or $79.99 for the year, making it quite affordable.

Free Streaming Services

For those who want to go with a streaming service but don't like the idea of paying for it, usually, we would say "tough luck." But, in this case, there are options. Here are a few free services you can sign up for that are pretty decent:

  • Hoopla and Kanopy run through your public library and so allow you to access some pretty great content for absolutely nothing. You'll find a lot of recent and past favorites, as well as some true gems you may have never thought about watching before. Most libraries participate, and if they don't, it's easy for them to sign up, so consider reaching out if you can't get access to these.
  • Tubi TV makes use of its partnerships with film studios such as Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM to provide you with free content. The catch is that you have to watch ads, but considering a tiny bit of patience gets you access to more than 5,000 titles, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. 
  • Crackle TV is another free program, Crackle TV is interesting because while it has more than 200 titles available on the platform, these change frequently, meaning there is always something new to watch. It regularly has select episodes of well-known shows and a substantial collection of obscure stuff that will allow you to branch out and watch some new stuff. There are also ads on this platform, but again, it's free!

Specialty Streaming Services

Another option for those who still haven't found their alternative to cable is to search for specialty streaming platforms. These are even more tailored than the big services, and you can mix and match which ones you sign up for based on your preferences.

In reality, there are a lot of these streaming services, many of which you likely haven't heard of. But to give you an idea of what's out there so that you can begin your search, here are some examples:

HBO Max unlocks the many famous original titles produced by the premium channels over the years.

The Criterion Channel and Warner Archive give you access to classic movies.

Crunchyroll is the spot for all things anime.

Shudder and Scream Box are for horror fans.

Urban Movie Channel is a streaming service designed specifically for black Americans.

Mubi gives you access to international films.

Pantaya for Spanish language content, Eros for Indian content, OnDemandKorea for Korean content, and Viki for Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese movies and TV.

Again, these are just a sampling of what's out there, so if you have a specific interest, spend some time looking up platforms that focus on this.

Option 3: Go Old School – Switch to an Antenna

Your last option if you're looking for an alternative to cable TV is to turn back the clock and return to the days of antenna TV.

Upon hearing this, you may be skeptical, but it's a viable option for those who want access to some TV but don't want to pay for a service.

Of course, how good of an option this depends pretty heavily on where you live. Those living in remote rural areas will likely not get very many channels, whereas those living in more densely populated areas will have more access.

One thing worth pointing out is that the signal quality these antennae provide is much better than in the past, primarily because they are now all digital. The weather and the direction your antenna is facing can still impact your picture quality, but in most situations, you will be able to get a reasonable connection. Considering quality antennas can be had for as little as $40 (or as much as $200 for stronger ones designed for more remote areas), and that they give you free TV for life, this is both a pretty good deal and an exciting cable alternative.

A Note About Internet and Cost

One thing that's important to remember is that if you want to ditch cable and make use of some sort of streaming service, you need to have a good internet connection. The FCC recommends at least 25 Mbps (but more than 50 Mbps is probably better) for those who want to stream in 4K Ultra HD, which Netflix users will want to do given the fact they're paying extra for it.

As a result, when you're considering your switch, make sure you check to see if your internet can handle the added stress you're going to put on it. If it can't, and you need to upgrade, make sure to factor this into your cost analysis so that you can be sure you're saving money when you make this change.

Another thing to think about, especially if you find that the cost of your streaming services plus internet exceeds what you used to pay for cable, is sharing these services with others. They all offer simultaneous streaming on at least two screens, which means you can split the cost with someone else. This will allow you to get access to more platforms while only having to pay for one or two.

There's a discussion that streaming companies may begin to limit this as we move forward, but as of now, this is a very viable option for saving money when ditching cable.

Make Your Choice

Now that we have gone over ten (or more) legitimate alternatives to cable, it should now be clear to you that you have a lot more options than to accept the high prices cable companies charge. Instead, you can find a service that meets your needs and budget and, potentially, say goodbye to the cable company forever.

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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