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Best Alternatives to Cable

By: Angelina Bader
March 21, 2019

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You’re flipping through cable networks and realizing that there aren’t many channels you’re willing to settle on. You pull out your tablet and go searching for ways to rewatch your favorite movie, and all of a sudden you’re bombarded with options: streaming services, devices, cable alternatives! What’s the best option, and most importantly what’s the right fit for you? We’ve put together a guide on all the best cable alternatives to make it easier for you to decide what might fit your cinema preferences best. Keep on reading to learn more.

Gadgets

HD antenna

$20-$80

An HD antenna requires just a one-time investment for you to enjoy all your favorite shows in HD.

Smart TV

$600-$900

Smart TVs tend to include streaming service apps, so you wouldn’t need to buy any other gadgets. However, in order to use those apps, you will need to have accounts, which will most likely require monthly subscriptions. The beauty of a smart TV Is that you can always add new apps or install old ones, creating your own library of preferred content.

There are a variety of Smart TVs to choose from on the market, each one with their own perks. For example, Apple TV contains some of the brand’s fastest processors and the Apple TV app. This particular app catalogs your streaming channels and devices into a single library.

Streaming player

$29.99+

Streaming devices have become a popular alternative to cable television. Roku Streaming Stick+ is one of the leading models on the market in this category. Just download any media app, for example a TV channel app, and enjoy live broadcasts of late night shows or the new season of Game of Thrones. Roku is a neutral platform, so it functions with most streaming apps and services, and even most TVs. You can even get a super compact version of this device, in a flash drive-like form, and plug it directly into your TV.

Streaming services

You can install streaming service apps on most wifi-connected gadgets and devices, and then immediately proceed to watching your favorite episodes.

Netflix

Netflix focuses on previously-aired seasons, but not so much on currently airing shows. Instead, the platform boasts a film library, which also includes many foreign movies. Recently Netflix has been making major investments in its original content, so a lot of shows we’ve all been hearing about are available on this platform.

  • Basic, $7.99/mo.: No HD viewing and you can’t stream media on several devices at once.
  • Standard, $10.99/mo.: Includes HD quality and you can stream content on multiple screens simultaneously.
  • Premium, $13.99/mo.: View shows on four screens at once, in 4K quality.

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu could be the right choice of streaming service for you, if you want to stay up to date on almost all current shows. It focuses on currently airing content, so you will never miss an episode of Chopped.

  • Hulu, $7.99/mo.: Basic Hulu streaming.
  • Hulu no ADs, $11.99/mo.: No ads interrupting your experience.
  • Hulu + Live TV, $39.99/mo.: Provides access to live TV channels.
  • Hulu + Live TV no ADs, $43.99/mo.: Live TV channel and no ads.

Amazon Prime Video

With Amazon Prime Video you can purchase or rent video content. On this platform you’ll find Amazon originals, most of the traditional cinema favorites, recently released cinema, and shows from all around the world. An Amazon Prime account allows you to stream some videos for free, including Amazon originals. Keep in mind, Amazon Prime Video is only available to those who have Prime membership.

  • Amazon Prime $99/year. The subscription to Amazon Prime includes access to Prime delivery and all of Amazon’s video content.

HBO NOW

Love HBO the channel? Then you will definitely love HBO the app! With a monthly subscription you get access to all  of HBO’s shows and even some recent cinema releases.

  • HBO NOW, $14.99/mo.: As simple as that.

Crackle & Vudu

Both Crackle and Vudu are founded on the ad-support model. Movies and television on these platforms are free thanks to ads that run on these platforms.

Stream your way

Plex and other services like it allow you to stream things directly from your hand-held device or laptop.

Cable replacement service

PlayStation Vue

You don’t need to own a PlayStation to sign up for the service. PlayStation Vue has multiple plans and Cloud DVRs which can record your favorite shows and sporting events.

Levels of streaming access vary by the channels they include.

  • Access Level, $39.99/mo.: Package includes popular live TV, with channels such as: CBS, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNN, Fox News, Disney Channel, Food Network.
  • Core Level, $44.99/mo.: Access Level, plus sports channels.
  • Elite Level, $54.99/mo.: Core Level, plus movies.
  • Ultra $74.99/mo. Everything and more! Movies, sports, and premium channels.

YouTube TV

YouTube is probably the best known video content platform. Some of YouTube TV’s perks include being able to rent movies in HD quality, and create up to five accounts within the same household, under one plan.

  • YouTube TV, $40/mo.

Sling TV

Sling TV could be the right option for you, if you want to cut down on the channels you’re not interest and instead opt out for very small channel packages. Sling TV allows you to customize your packages and include or exclude channels you do or don’t want to be paying for.

It also has different levels of streaming access. The packages differ based on the channels they can include.

  • Sling Orange, $25/mo.: Includes channels such as ESPN, Disney and more.
  • Sling Blue, $25/mo.: FS1, FX, and Bravo are part of this package.
  • Sling Orange + Sling Blue, $40/mo.: Combines the values of the two packages mentioned above.

DirecTV Now

DirectTV delivers an experience similar to cable. The user interface may be a bit difficult to navigate, but to make up for that DirectTV has access to premium channels (think: HBO) for an affordable subscription fee. Keep in mind that by signing up with DirectTV you’ll have to talk to live agents if you happen to have a question.

Depending on the number of channels you want to have access to, the price will vary.

  • $40/mo.: 65+ channels.
  • $45/mo.: 90+ Spanish-speaking channels.
  • $55/mo.: 85+ channels.
  • $65/mo.: 105+ channels.
  • $75/mo.: 125+ channels.

Cable Network Channels Online

Many cable channels upload a lot of their content online for free, but for a limited time only. Others have paid subscriptions. For example, CBS’s subscription $6 per month. For $6 you get access to more than 8,500 episodes of different TV content.

  • Prices may vary depending on the TV station.
  • CBS, $6/mo.

Have a favorite streaming service or plan that you didn’t find on our list? Share your findings by tagging us @ApartmentList on Twitter or Instagram.

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AUTHOR
Angelina is a Marketing Specialist at Apartment List where she writes content on rental lifestyle. Angelina previously worked as a Russian and German language specialist at Facebook and Google, and has a BA in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. Read More
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