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9 cheaper alternatives to cable or satellite TV

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Theo Thimou |
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What are you paying to the cable or satellite company for television?

Data from Leichtman Research Group shows that the average U.S. household shells out $103.10/month for pay TV service.

That’s $1,237.20 each year — and that’s just the average; some people pay a lot more!

In fact, a report that came out earlier this year found that most pay TV companies are raising prices, on top of adding on extra fees. These price hikes and fees combined can add up to as much as an extra $15 per month — or about $180 a year (the exact amount varies by company).

But thankfully, there are a lot of opportunities in the marketplace to reduce that monthly bill and still get the great content you love!

Read more: Clark’s TV bundle will cut your cable or satellite bill in half!

Live streaming TV services

Hulu TV

It’s official! As of May 3, Hulu live TV is now available to the public for a beta test at a cost of $39.99 a month.

You get live streaming broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, plus 50 additional popular cable channels like ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, Disney Channel, History, Lifetime, National Geographic and more.

The $39.99 price includes two simultaneous streams per account along with 50 hours of cloud DVR. Sign up for your free trial right now at

YouTube TV

For $35 a month, YouTube TV undercuts the Hulu service by $5 with a very comparable package. You’ll get live streaming broadcasts from 40 broadcast and cable channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN, among others.

YouTube TV also offers cloud DVR capability — just like Hulu TV. And the $35 a month price point covers six accounts, but only three streams can be watched at once.

Sign up here to be alerted when YouTube TV is available in your city.

DirectTV Now

AT&T’s entry into the streaming market, DirecTV Now starts at $35 a month and goes up from there.

With DirecTV Now you don’t need a satellite dish. You just need an Internet connection. You can access the service from your phone, tablet or computer. Or you can project it onto your big TV.

But here’s one caveat: This is not for a family of three or more because you’re limited to two users at a time on this service.

(Editor’s note: Clark tried and soon after canceled DirecTV Now. â€œIt’s not quite there,” the consumer champ said on his radio show. “The picture is choppy, a lot of times it’s a fuzzy picture, and there’s no DVR with it.”)

Sling TV

Dish’s streaming product is called and it doesn’t require a satellite dish either. Just an Internet connection!

For $20 a month, you’ll get a limited number of channels, but here’s the thing…the Sling offering includes ESPN!

That channel alone has prevented a lot of people from cutting the cord in the past, so this one is worth a look!

Miscellaneous streaming services

Many networks have their own standalone streaming services.

On-demand streaming services

Neither of these service offer live TV broadcasts.


One of the most dominant names in streaming, Netflix charges $9.99 a month for the standard package that includes unlimited TV and movies.

But if money is tight, you could pay a $7.99 monthly rate if you’re willing to forgo high-definition (HD) programming. You’ll only be able to watch in standard definition and only on one screen at the same time in your home.

Netflix is distinguishing itself from the rest of the crowd by pumping a lot of money into creating original content to keep you coming back for more.

Amazon Prime

The biggest selling point of Amazon Prime might be the free two-day shipping at $99 a year. But don’t overlook the service’s robust streaming component.

If streaming is all you want, you’ll pay $8.99 a month. Like Netflix, Amazon is putting big bucks into its original programming too.

Traditional TV services

best cable satellite tv alternatives

Free over-the-air TV

With all the talk of where TV is going in the future, it’s easy to forget that it’s also extra cheap where it’s been in the past. Don’t overlook the original option—using an old-fashioned pair of ‘rabbit ear’ antennae to pick up local channels over the air for free.

The process is actually really simple. Go to and you’ll be able to enter your street address. Then the website will tell you which channels are available to you and what kind of antenna would be best for you.

You simply need to buy the antenna and maybe a converter box to get the digital signal. Both are routinely available at Best Buy, Amazon or any of your favorite electronics stores. (Newer TVs tend to have a digital tuner already built in, eliminating the need for an external converter box.)

Just follow AntennaWeb’s recommendations about the best equipment for your home and start enjoying free TV!


So you may still be wondering if you could benefit from any of these new over-the-top services.

The bottom line is if you are a multi-person household, the traditional package from cable or satellite is probably a better deal for you than one of these services you get digitally on your devices.

But that having been said, more than half of American households would benefit from dumping cable or satellite and doing one of these options listed above.

Remember, the average pay TV bill is more than $100 a month and rising. Now the power is in your hands If you want to put that money back in your pocket!

Read more: Big changes coming to AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service

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