If you want to reduce your monthly expenses, one of the easiest ways is to stream cable tv. If you have an internet connection at home, you can most likely watch your favorite channels for a fraction of the cost of your existing cable or satellite tv plan. Maybe you know a friend who’s “cut the cord” but you are still unsure about the entire process. Streaming options have vastly improved in recent years as more households are looking trim their cable budget and these platforms can help you stream cable tv for less too.
Why Stream Cable TV?
The average monthly cable tv bill is $103 a month! Each year, that rate only continues to climb. You might be able to access hundreds of channels, but how many of them do you really watch on a normal basis. Three, ten, fifteen?
What if you could get your favorite channels for only $20 a month? Even if you need to pay $50 a month, you still are paying half of what your current cable bill is. Let’s assume you save $50 a month by switching to a streaming platform. Think of what you can do with an extra $50 a month and $600 each year.
Whether you put the extra money in a high-yield savings account, repay existing debts and loans, or spend it on something else, the ability to stream cable TV is another positive benefit of the internet in the 21st century. Plus, you can also stream these channels on your smartphone, tablet, or computer in addition to your living room tv.
If you want to save money every month without having to give up your tv viewing habits, you need to try out one of these cable streaming platforms. While you will see many similarities between the plans, there are a few differences in some of the channels provided so you will need to look at the channel lineups. Also, while you should be able to stream on any of these plans, some platforms might not support your device. Before signing up, be sure to check the supported devices section as well.
Sling TV is one of the first and most popular streaming platforms. It also happens to be owned by Dish Network.
Sling has three different channel lineups to choose from:
- Sling Orange: 29 Channels for $20 per month including ESPN, ESPN 2, and Disney
- Sling Blue: 45 Channels for $25 per month (excludes ESPN and Disney channels)
- Sling Orange + Blue: All channels from the Sling Orange and Sling Blue lineups
If some of the only cable channels you watch are ESPN or Disney, Sling will be your cheapest option at $20 a month. If you don’t want ESPN or Disney, you can get the Blue package for $25 a month and includes the Fox Sports and NBC Sports channels and many of the mid-tier entertainment channels that you might get from the cable or satellite package that doesn’t include ESPN or the other premium sports and movie channels.
Another perk of Sling is that you can choose either the Blue or Orange package and buy a themed add-on package for only $5 or $10 per month. For example, the Kids Extra package will give you a TeenNick, NickToons, and Boomerang for $5 a month. Or, you can also purchase extra packages focused on entertainment, sports, movies, and news to name a few.
Sling TV also offers limited on-demand programming if you cannot live stream an event. And, they also introduced a Cloud DVR that costs $5 a month. To attract more users, most of the over-the-top (OTT) cable tv streaming platforms have begun offering on-demand programming and dvr-capability.
YouTube TV is another new entrant into the streaming arena. Currently its available in a select number of cities. They are offering it at a price of $35/month and its’ month to month. You can watch live TV from 40+ networks, access to cloud DVR with no storage limits, and have 6 users per household. Everyone gets their own login and have their own personal DVR. That’s a cool feature.
You get access to all the major networks – ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC as well as the sports packages like ESPN and Fox Sports. Showtime and a few others can be had for an additional fee.
Maybe you have seen the commercials while watching football live with your current cable subscription. In addition to having access to the full on-demand catalog, Hulu Live lets you stream over 50 channels for $39.99 per month on two screens at once.
For this price, sports fans get ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, and the Big 10 and SEC Networks. Your children may also enjoy Disney, Boomerang, and Sprout. If you like entertainment, you can enjoy HGTV, Food Network, and A&E to name a few of the possibilities.
Depending on your tv market, Hulu Live is also one of the few streaming services that let you stream your local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox affiliate. You will need to enter your zip code to find out which channels you will receive for sure.
For an additional monthly fee, you can also add Cloud DVR, unlimited device streaming, and a premium movie channel family (i.e. HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax).
Another popular service is PlayStation VUE. Prices can range from $39.99 per month to $74.99 per month. The more expensive packages include over 90 cable channels plus HBO and Showtime. The basic $39.99 package is comparable to the Sling Orange + Blue combo and Hulu Live as you get access to the Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, and a few of your local channels.
You might also like PlayStation VUE because DVR capability is included with the monthly subscription and you can stream on up to five devices at once!
Contrary to the name, you don’t need to own a PlayStation gaming console to subscribe to VUE. Although, it is one of the many compatible streaming platforms.
You might think that it’s ironic that the DirecTV satellite provider offers a streaming service, but they do. DirecTV Now offers several packages that have the highest quantity of channels for the price point. The basic $35 a month package includes 60 channels with ESPN, Disney, Disney Jr., and Disney XD. If you want their high-end package, you will get over 120 channels including the Starz channel family for only $70 each month.
There are two primary downsides of DirecTV Now. They have a limited amount of local channels available and they don’t offer Cloud DVR. They do offer on-demand programming for most channels. And, you can stream on two devices simultaneously.
If you love sports, fuboTV is an excellent option. Although, you won’t be able to stream CBS or ESPN. You will get 71 channels for $35 a month.
As fuboTV is a sports fan’s paradise, you will get the obvious options like Fox Sports, NFL Network, and the CBS Sports Network, but, you can also access international sports channels like Bein Sports, Univision Deportes, Fox Sports Soccer, and many other add-on networks.
When you aren’t watching sports, you can also stream FX, Hallmark Channel, CNBC, Fox News, and E! to name a few.
CBS All Access
If you enjoy CBS, then CBS All Access lets you stream your local CBS channel live and you can watch over 9,000 on-demand episodes of your favorite shows. These shows can include The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek.
While you only get access to one channel network (CBS), it only costs $5 a month for unlimited programming. This can even be a good compliment to your Netflix plan if you want to watch your favorite shows the next day instead of next year.
Advantages of Streaming Cable TV
With these six different options, you can save money on cable tv. If you like what you see so far, here’s a brief recap on the advantages of cutting the cord.
- Plans start at $20 a month
- Low-end plans include many quality channels
- Can stream on multiple devices simultaneously
- Access to on-demand programming
- Cloud DVR compatibility
- Local channels are accessible
Another excellent perk of stream cable tv is that you pay by the month, just like a prepaid cell phone plan. You pay by the month and can cancel at anytime fee-free! If you only watch tv during the fall and winter when it gets dark early, you only pay for those months and can cancel your subscription when your schedule gets busy again and no longer have time to watch live or on-demand programming. It’s just like flipping a light switch on or off as you enter or exit a room.
Disadvantages of Streaming Cable TV
Here’s why you might not decide to stream cable tv:
- Your cable/internet/phone bundle can be cheaper than streaming plan
- Need an internet connection of at least 25 Mbps to support simultaneous streams
- Cloud DVR is an additional fee
- Local channels might be inaccessible without an antenna
If you are still hesitant to cut the cord completely, you do get a 7-day free trial with the different services. This should be enough time to decide if you like streaming cable tv or if your internet connection is quick enough to support your normal viewing, gaming, and browsing habits. If you don’t decide to continue streaming, you still have your existing cable or satellite tv subscription in place, so you don’t have to pay any of those pesky cancellation or reconnection fees.
Since we already do so much on our computers and phones, why not watch tv on them too, right? The streaming platforms are bringing more to the table to make the switch even more enticing. If you switch, most likely the only thing that will change will be who you give your money to each month to stream cable channels. Oh yeah, your bill will also be a lot smaller.