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Not long ago, my mother was complaining to me about her cable bill and how it keeps getting higher. And that got me thinking. Who really needs cable anymore? It continues to add more channels and get more expensive but, when you think about it, you probably only watch a handful of those channels. I haven’t had cable in years. We got rid of it and made the switch to a handful of streaming options and have never missed it. Here are my top 5 cable alternatives to save you money and still get your entertainment fix.
Netflix was the first streaming platform we switched to. I don’t think there is a soul out there that doesn’t know Netflix. Not only can you watch past seasons of popular shows and see some of your favorite movies, but now they are becoming the ones to beat at original content. Seriously, their original content has been and continues to be incredible. Netflix has 3 different options to choose from. As of this writing, the following plans are available:
Basic – $8.99/month
Standard – $12.99/month
Premium – $15.99/month
All the plans allow you unlimited access to the movies and shows on the platform. The main difference is the quality and how many screens you can watch on at the same time. Basic only includes streaming on one screen at a time in standard definition. Standard includes two screens at a time in HD. Premium allows you to watch on up to four screens at time in Ultra HD.
We decided to get Hulu soon after Netflix in order to watch more current shows as they air. A lot of the shows you get on cable will put their new episodes on the day after they air. Further, there are some shows on Hulu that you can’t get on Netflix.
Hulu has a few plans to choose from. First is the regular plan. It is $5.99/month but also includes a few ads in each video you watch. You can upgrade to the No Ads plan for $11.99/month which I recommend. Finally, if you really miss cable and you just want to lower your bill a little bit, you can opt for the Hulu + Live TV plan. This plan allows you to watch the normal on-demand videos but also includes live TV for 60+ channels.
We have chosen to upgrade the Hulu + Live TV plan a few times during past college football seasons so we can watch the games and then downgraded back to our No Ads plan after the season was over.
Amazon Prime is another great cable alternative. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use Amazon for products and, if you don’t have Prime, you should seriously consider getting it. There are a lot of benefits to Amazon Prime including free shipping on most products your order. And we aren’t talking about standard shipping. Most free shipping is 1-2 days.
Along with your Prime membership, you get access to Prime Video. Like Netflix, you get access to an extensive video library of past and new shows. While it doesn’t feel like a primary replacement for cable, it is a good addition and comes with your Prime membership. Further, Amazon has also jumped into the original content game and has some amazing options. Currently, a Prime membership will run about $119/year. If you would rather pay monthly, you can at $12.99/month. There is also a Prime Video only option at $8.99/month.
As a side note, if you are into specialty channels like HBO and Starz, Prime gives you the option to add these at an additional cost so you can build your own library of channels.
Sling was our original go-to for college football season. Sling is basically streaming cable. It is a great alternative to normal cable in that you can get a low-cost lineup of different channel packages. You essentially get to build your own cable network by picking channels packages that you actually watch.
There are three packages you can choose from. The first two are $25/month each. The third package is a bundle. You can get both of the first two packages for $40/month.
We just tried YouTube TV for the first time this past college football season and had a great experience. It is live tv with some on-demand features. However, it is a little pricier at $50/month which, depending on your original cable bill, may or may not be worth it.
Included in that price is 70+ channels, unlimited DVR space to record your shows, 6 accounts per household so everyone has their own login, and you can stream on up to 3 devices at once.
They also have additional networks you can add for additional funds including Showtime and Starz.
Save Money. Stay Entertained.
You can choose one of the above options or you can choose multiple options. Just keep in mind that if your goal is to reduce your cable budget then you will want to pick just one or two options. Think about the programs you usually watch, do some research, and pick one that fits the most important to you. If you can stick with just a Netflix or Hulu account, you could potentially save $40+/month. And saving money is always a good thing.