As much as you may love to throw on the TV, kick back and veg out on the couch after a long day, the cost of a traditional cable subscription may not fit into your budget if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. After all, you have rent, utility bills, groceries, and maybe even online loan payments to worry about. No one would blame you for not being able to find room in your budget for a pricey cable subscription. You may not even be working within the confines of thorough budget in the first place! If this is the case, check out our Ultimate Budgeting Guide to learn about some proven budgeting techniques to get you started. Either way, with the number of streaming platforms on the market, there are likely cheap cable alternatives out there for you. Let’s take a look at some of those options.
While you may want to cut the exorbitant cost of traditional cable providers out your budget, you may not be ready to completely give up on the cable experience just yet. Thankfully, with cable replacement services you can still fulfill your basic cable needs without paying typical cable prices!
While these online services won’t be as cheap as a subscription to a single streaming platform like Netflix or Crave, they’ll be able to provide on-demand cable experiences like live sports and news without the steep price of a cable subscription. This is likely one of the best cable deals you’re going to find.
If you’re looking to maintain the cable experience, Sling TV is one of the best cheap cable alternatives on the market. The initial cost is relatively inexpensive (compared to a pricey cable subscription), starting at $20 a month. While this cost can start to rise if you’re not careful, the initial set of available channels will likely be enough for people who are simply looking to have a basic cable package available to them.
The basic package has live channels like CNN, HGTV, the Disney Channel, AMC, and ESPN. If you want an alternate basic package you can get one for $25 a month, or you can combine both packages for $40. You can even start adding additional packages for $5 to $10 each if you’re looking for a specific viewing experience like movies, sports, or children’s programming. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Sling TV is a great cheap cable alternative that has something for everyone and gives you the opportunity to customize your viewing experience.
What initially began as a service only available to PlayStation users is now available for nearly everyone, as PlayStation Vue can be used from your Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV, and more. There are four packages available to users, starting at $45 a month and going as high as $80. While it’s not the cheapest option, you’ll have more channels available to you at its opening rate. You’ll have access to mainstays like Discovery, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, FX, and local broadcasts that vary by location. You’ll also have more DVR options, being able to record and hold onto a significant number of shows and keep them for up to 28 days. While it isn’t the least expensive option, PlayStation Vue is a robust cheap cable alternative that can cut your cable bill and even enhance your cable viewing experience.
If you’re thinking, “why would I need cheap cable when I can get everything I need from a streaming service?” you’re not alone. In 2018, the number of adults in the U.S. that had cancelled their traditional cable TV service without re-subscribing rose to around 33 million. This is up from the 24.9 million adults who had cut the cord by the end of 2017. If you’re looking to add to the swelling ranks of cable cutters in the U.S. you’ll want to have an idea of what cheap cable alternatives are out there, so let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options.
With over 145 million people in the U.S. watching Netflix at least once a month, there’s a good chance that you can count yourself as part of this group. It’s one of the most easily accessible cheap cable alternatives on the market at only $8.99 for its most basic plan, and most of the devices in your household likely come with Netflix already downloaded.
If you’re looking for variety, Netflix is likely your best bet. It has over 240 original TV shows available with over 250 more to be released in the upcoming years. The next closest is Amazon Prime Video with 80 shows currently available. They also have licenses with plenty of well-established shows and movies, and unlike the basic version of Hulu, your experience won’t be bogged down by commercials.
However, if you’re a fan of large tent-poles like Marvel and Star Wars, you’ll soon be looking elsewhere to get your super hero fix. With Disney+ set to launch in November of 2019, all major Disney productions will be taken down from Netflix and most other streaming services.
But if your looking for variety at a bargain, Netflix is still the premier cheap cable alternative on the market.
Amazon isn’t just a place for you to get your shopping done anymore. Since Prime Video was split from Amazon Prime in 2016, it’s been a major player in the online streaming sphere.
Prime Video has a large spread of movies, TV shows, and plenty of original content to go along with external titles. They currently have 80 original content titles (second most among streaming services) and 97 more in the pipeline.
One of the best features is that this service is more than just a cheap cable alternative. If you only want the standalone streaming service, you can pay $8.99 for Prime Video on its own. But if you’re already an Amazon Prime member or are looking to become one, you’ll have Prime Video included in your subscription. This doesn’t just stop with Prime Video, as you’ll also get Prime Music, Prime Reading, Twitch Prime, and more.
An Amazon Prime membership costs $12.99 a month if you’re looking to pay monthly, but if you sign up for the entire year it’ll cost you $119 with Prime Video and other services included. Things are even cheaper if you’re a student, as a Prime Student membership costs $59 if you pay for the whole year and includes all the same services.
So if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, one of the best cheap cable alternatives is right under your nose.
As relatively inexpensive as some cheap cable alternatives like Netflix can be, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you have minimal interest in TV or movies, paying any amount for this kind of entertainment may not be worth it.
It can be tricky to find room in your monthly budget for any little indulgences or savings contributions, let alone a cheap cable alternative. If you’re looking to cut down your spending, take a look at these money saving tips to help you save each month.
But being on a tight budget doesn’t mean the world of TV is closed off to you when the urge to watch something strikes. Let’s take a look at some free ways to get your viewing fix.
If you thought you wouldn’t be able to watch network TV without cable or a streaming service, think again. Many major networks will put up recent episodes of their shows to their website for a limited amount of time. While some networks like CBS will give you the option of unlocking more of their back catalog for a small monthly fee, if you’re just looking to get a quick fix of TV, take a look at a major network’s website to see what’s available. To make things even more convenient, if you have a smart TV or streaming device, you may be able to download the network’s app straight to your device for free!
This one will come as no surprise, but YouTube may be the single biggest source of video content out there, and it’s all available to you for free. Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill, watch a concert or comedy special, or even watch certain classic movies or TV shows, Youtube will likely have something for you.
You might be surprised to find that you can find much more than books at your local library. Many libraries will have contemporary shows and movies for free, with the only caveat being that you have to travel to a physical location.
We all need a way to relax and forget the stresses of our day, and drifting off into the world of your favorite TV show or movie is a great way to do it. But if you’re trying to make ends meet, you may not be able to fit the cost of a traditional cable subscription into your budget. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut the cable experience out of your life altogether! Whether you like watching the news, live sports, or love to binge your favorite shows, there are plenty of cheap cable alternatives out there to suit your needs.
Do you have any favorite cheap cable alternatives? Share below!