12 Cost-Saving Alternatives to Cable

Posted by on February 20, 2018 in Entertainment, Media & Arts with 0 Comments

By Rudy Obias | Mental Floss

By now, you’ve likely heard about how much less expensive it is to forgo your cable package and fulfill your television needs with streaming services—heck, your friend/neighbor/cousin/chatty coworker has been droning on about it for months. You’re finally ready to take the plunge; but where do you start?

First, make sure your router is up to the task: Don’t invest time and money in setting up new subscriptions and gadgets only to wind up with buffering video. Look for routers with dual-band connectivity; Netflix recommends a download speed of at least 5 Mbps (Megabits per second) for HD quality video, and over 25 Mpbs for Ultra HD. Then, substitute your cable or satellite provider for one or a combination of these 12 options.


1. THE BIG THREE

Often referred to as “The Big Three,” Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime are considered the cream of the crop in online streaming because they offer outstanding original programming in addition to large catalogs of existing shows and movies. Subscriptions to all three can be fairly reasonable, with Amazon Prime starting at $99 a year or $12.99 per month. Netflix’s standard plan goes for $10.99 a month now, while Hulu will set you back $7.99 a month with limited commercials, or an extra $4 per month with no ads.

2. FLAT ANTENNAS

Since 2009, television stations have been required to broadcast exclusively in digital, rendering old-fashioned “rabbit ears” obsolete. Now, you can watch live shows on networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, PBS, The CW, and others by installing a flat antenna in your home. Models by Mohu (starting at $17.99) and Channel Master ($19) are affordable and easy to install.

3. OVER-THE-AIR DVR

The one drawback to relying on a flat antenna is that you must watch your shows in real time, with no fast-forwarding, pausing, or rewinding. Solve this issue with an over-the-air (OTA) DVR. Services like Tablo or Plex DVR allow you to record live TV shows and then store them on an external hard drive for delayed streaming. (The catch is, some of these services require you to purchase a corresponding device—they won’t work with just any antenna.)

4. TV STREAMING SERVICES

Want more TV channels than are available through your antenna? For $20 a month, you can subscribe to Sling TV to get 28 live-streaming cable channels, such as AMC, CNN, TNT, Comedy Central, and the History Channel. A $40 monthly subscription will give you access to over 40 channels, including ESPN. There are other emerging services that might work for you, too.

PlayStation Vue has multiple plans depending on your interests, and you don’t even need a PlayStation 4 console to use it. YouTube TV has fewer channels and plans than the Vue, but at $35 a month, it has a solid selection of high-profile networks, including ESPN and FX. Hulu has also entered the game with a live TV service, touting 50+ channels at $39.99 a month (which also includes the limited commercials Hulu streaming subscription). DirectTV Now has a package that starts off at more than 60 channels for $35, and it tops off at $70 for 120-plus channels.


You’ll have to browse through each individual service to find out which one is compatible with the devices you own and if these plans are more cost-effective than your current cable package. But with no equipment costs or long-term contracts, these services are worth considering if you’re ditching cable.

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