Raise your hand if you’re paying more than you should for cable.
Ok, you can all put your hands down.
I ditched cable in my last year in college and haven’t gone back. Both my roommate and I weren’t home enough to reap the benefits for the price, and found other ways to catch up on our favorite shows. I’ve brought together some alternatives so you can still get your TV fix without breaking the bank.
I don’t know that there’s anyone who reads this blog who isn’t well-versed in Netflix. It’s a household name at this point. But for the purpose of this article, I’ll provide a brief description. Netflix is a video streaming service that is constantly updated with new TV shows and movies. Some are pretty strange and not things you would necessarily have found on your own. Regardless, it’s a solid media consumption platform with a lot of great features, like multiple users and queues for saving things that look interesting to watch later.
Oh, also, apparently someone figured out how to get Netflix for free if you’re a Bank of America customer.
Hulu (and Hulu Plus).
Hulu Plus is a little less popular than Netflix, but is the perfect complement to a cable-less household. Hulu Plus differs from Netflix in it’s main focus on TV shows. Hulu Plus collaborates with a lot of the big networks to provide almost-instant gratification to catch up on your favorite cable TV shows. It stores limited past episodes, so don’t get behind! The one thing that really annoys me about Hulu Plus is that you pay for it and can’t skip ads.
Free with an Amazon Prime Subscription of $99/year, additional titles available to rent or buy.
I wouldn’t recommend becoming an Amazon Prime Member just to benefit from access to Amazon Instant Video. It has a lot of the same catalog as Netflix, but less total options overall. It’s definitely a perk if you’re already an Amazon Prime Member, but I honestly use Netflix more even though I have both.
TV Channel Websites.
Free, but requires good internet speed.
Many TV channels steam their shows online for free after their original air date. Here are some of my favorites:
And some that don’t stream online (or require a cable login to view):
This is clearly not a definitive list, but like I said… I’m not much of a cable person. What TV channels would you put in both of the aforementioned categories?
$20/month for base package.
Sling is one of the most interesting new possibilities for people who want a very basic cable package, but don’t want to work with notoriously difficult companies like Comcast. Sling TV allows you to stream live TV on various devices, without a contract! The base package includes the “best of” live TV and sports. You can add on additional packages based on extended sports, kids, and movie channels for additional $5-15/month charges. Sling offers some nice deals (how does free sound?) on streaming sticks and boxes when you prepay for at least 3 months of service.
Popcorn Time is not something I’ve personally tested out, but has gotten some rave reviews from friends of mine. Apparently it streams movies and TV shows from torrents – absolutely free. Doesn’t get better than that, although I’m not sure as to the legality of it’s existence…
If you bought all of these packages (although I wouldn’t recommend it), it would likely still be less than your cable bill right now. My suggestion? Pick a few that feature the channels or type of programming you most enjoy. Fill in the gaps with free options.
Any major players I missed in the quest to ditch your cable? Let me know in the comments!