The 8 Best Money-Saving Cable Alternatives

grandfather and grandson watching tv
Photo by Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Whatever your viewing habits, there’s no point in paying for things you don’t watch. It’s true for sports, dramas, documentaries, cartoons — you name it.

If you’re still paying for a big TV bundle, or juggling several a la carte streaming services, consider this your routine reminder that there are tons of affordable alternatives to cable TV.

And we see more by the day. The cable alternatives 2019 brought us included services just for comics fans and foodies, for on-demand theater flicks and Disney classics.

Here are the best alternative TV options — and, spoiler, there’s a list of free movie streaming services at the end.

1. Netflix

The best alternative to cable might be the one you’re most familiar with: Netflix. Although the service has had price hikes in recent years, it’s still relatively cheap for what you get:

  • Basic plan: Standard definition, one screen, $8.99 per month
  • Standard plan: High definition (HD) available, two screens, $12.99 per month
  • Premium plan: HD and Ultra HD available, four screens, $15.99 per month

Even as rivals attempt to snatch up content formerly on Netflix for their own streaming platforms, Netflix may be the best bang for your buck if you’re going for just one or two no-cable options.

For now, it still has an enormous library of on-demand classic and recent feature films, documentaries, TV shows, plus a growing collection of well-regarded original series.

Currently, you can get a month for free, and stop or resume service whenever you want.

2. Hulu

One of the other most popular cable alternatives is Hulu, which likewise houses thousands of shows and movies plus original content. It has a number of plans, too:

  • Hulu (with ads): On-demand access to the Hulu library for $5.99 a month
  • Hulu (no ads): Same as above without interruptions, $11.99 a month
  • Hulu (with ads) + Live TV: The Hulu library plus live sports, news and entertainment, $54.99 a month
  • Hulu (no ads) + Live TV: Same as above without interruptions, $60.99 a month
  • Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle: Three services from one company, $12.99 month

Particularly if you don’t want to give up all your cable TV options, Hulu’s live TV bundle gives you a happy medium between streaming and traditional cable. And if you don’t care about that, you can save a lot.

Currently, you can get a 30-day trial of Hulu or a seven-day trial of Hulu + Live TV.

3. Philo

If your non-cable TV needs are modest, consider Philo. It offers a 59-channel subscription for $20 per month, featuring live and on-demand content plus the ability to record live TV. The channels aren’t obscure: It includes everything from the Food Network, Discovery and HGTV to AMC and Comedy Central.

Philo offers a seven-day free trial.

4. Disney+

If you’re not interested in the bundle with Hulu and ESPN+, Disney is happy to offer you this service separately for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

The Disney+ brand includes classic Disney animations and live-action movies, many shows and movies from the Disney Channel, plus films and shows from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilms and National Geographic, plus original content.

Disney+ offers a seven-day free trial.

5. HBO Max

HBO Max is a brand-new streaming service but has already invested in a lot of original content to fill out its catalog of HBO movies and TV shows. The service also snapped up the Studio Ghibli anime films and popular sitcoms like “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

The launch price is $14.99 per month, although it plans to add a tier with ads and presumably a lower price in the future.

6. CBS All Access

If you’re a Star Trek or NCIS fan, CBS All Access is one of the top cable alternatives regardless of price. Fortunately, it’s not that expensive. There are two plans:

  • Limited commercials: $5.99 per month
  • Commercial-free: $9.99 per month

The subscription also includes live sports, shows and news through your local CBS station, plus many classic shows and cartoons.

CBS All Access offers a seven-day free trial.

7. Amazon Prime Video

If you already subscribe to Amazon Prime, this is one of the cable alternatives worth mentioning.

Like just about everybody else on the list, Amazon has carved out its own niche of classic TV and movies while pouring money into original shows.

If you’re already paying for Amazon Prime, you already have this service without paying anything extra, putting it on par with the free movie streaming services mentioned below. Definitely look at what’s available before turning elsewhere.

If you don’t already have Amazon Prime, it’ll cost $12.99 per month or $119 per year.

8. Several free streaming services

Did you know that there are more than a dozen free movie streaming services and that they’re all completely legal?

If money is tight or you aren’t picky, you’re not likely to run out of things to watch. Check out “15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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