By 2022, the number of cord-cutting households is expected to make up nearly a quarter of the United States, according to an eMarketer forecast.
There's a good reason for that: cable is expensive and often tricky to navigate. A study by Consumer Reports found cable customers spend $217 a month on average. Of that, about $157 makes up the base price for a cable package. The rest comes from taxes, fees, and add-on services—a 33% markup over the advertised package price.
And most cable customers aren’t watching what they’re paying for. On average, they use only 12 of the roughly 200 channels they get.
But you don’t have to pay for what you won’t use. You’ve got more alternatives to cable TV than ever before.
Here’s 19 options to help you cut the cord:
With affordable prices and a wide range of content options, streaming services are cable alternatives that work for just about everyone.
1. Netflix: Starting at $8.99 a month, Netflix is the company that started it all, and with plans starting at $8.99 a month, it’s a great option for cord-cutters. It offers many movies and TV shows alongside original programming such as “The Crown” and “Stranger Things.” Netflix is an easy choice if you don’t want to spend hours researching options.
2. Prime Video from Amazon: $8.99 a month for a standalone service or you can bundle Prime Video into a Prime membership for $12.99 per month or $119 per year. Prime Video offers original programming, TV shows, and movies.
4. Disney+: If your kids love everything Mickey, Minnie, and Marvel, Disney+, at $6.99 per month, has almost everything you may want to watch. You’ll get classics like Snow White and modern megahits like Toy Story.
5. Apple TV+: At $5.00 per month, Apple TV+ offers a slew of original programing, documentaries, and movies for up to six family members. You don’t have to be an Apple device user to sign up. The app is currently offered through streaming devices like the Amazon Firestick.
Streaming cable packages
Looking for something closer to your current cable setup? Streaming cable services work much like what you’re used to.
You’ll get a bundle of channels to watch live, typically at a more affordable price point:
6. Philo: With channels like Discovery, the Food Channel, and HGTV to name just a few, Philo is an appealing cable alternative. And it’s just $20 per month. You won’t find much sports or news on Philo, but you will find an almost endless supply of comedy, travel, and other entertainment.
7. YouTubeTV: At $49.99 a month, YouTubeTV gives you access to as many as 70 channels, including ESPN, HGTV, the Disney Channel, and other major networks. YouTubeTV also offers a cloud-based digital video recorder, so you can record your favorite shows. A relatively new entrant, it may not have a full roster of content available in every market yet, so check what you can watch where you live before signing up.
8. FuboTV: With plans starting at $54.99 per month, FuboTV focuses mostly on live sports. For that price, you get national sporting events from NBC, CBS, FOX, NFL Network, and NBA.TV. Fubo also has additional programming for fans of specific sports, such as golf, for just a few more dollars per month.
9. SlingTV: SlingTV offers packages starting at $30 a month and delivering ESPN, the NFL, MLB, and other popular sports programming alongside major networks like Comedy Central, BBC America, and a long list of others.
10. Hulu + Live TV: Hulu has also broken into the live TV space with their Hulu + Live TV package. For $54.99 a month, subscribers have access to Hulu’s standard streaming service, plus a host of live TV networks and a cloud-based DVR.
One of the big problems with cable packages is the sheer size of it. Most cable customers end up stuck with channels they’ll never use and miss out on a few they really want to score the best deal. Contractual agreements kept individual networks from offering their services to customers directly—but that’s changing. Now, you can subscribe to some of your favorite networks and skip the rest.
11. HBO Now: For $14.99 a month, you can access all of HBO’s current and past original programing, documentaries, and a slew of regularly updated movies through HBO Now.
12. CBS All Access: CBS All Access offers CBS original programming, sports, and a few TV shows that are exclusive to the app starting at $5.99 per month.
13. Showtime: For $10.99 per month, you can now get Showtime without a cable package. Showtime comes with its full current and past lineups and can be used on streaming devices like the Roku and Amazon Firestick.
14. BritBox: BBC America is often lumped into an “extras” package on standard cable, pushing the cost up for fans of British TV. Enter BritBox. This standalone service — at $6.99 a month — offers both classic and new British TV series, meaning it might be the cable alternatives answer for anglophiles.
Build Your Own Bundle
Want to stream content from several channels or streaming services without the hassle of multiple bills or app switching? Many services are starting to bundle together, allowing you to get more of what you want under one roof.
15. Prime Video Add-ons: Amazon offers a huge array of add-on channels to its Prime Video service. Customers can add premium channels like Starz and HBO, niche channels like the Horror-only Shudder, and British TV options like BritBox and Acorn. Each add-on will bump up your monthly subscription fee, but most offer free trials.
16. Hulu +: Hulu customers can add on premium networks like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax for an additional monthly fee.
17: Disney +, Hulu, And ESPN+: For sports fans, this bundle offers a way to get live access to games without cable.
Watch for free
You don’t have to pay for a streaming service to watch your favorite shows. Here’s a few options to get free programing:
18. Watch local: You don’t need cable to access TV, but you do need an antenna. Before you buy an antenna, find out what channels are available over the air where you live with this tool from the antenna-industry trade group, AntennaWeb.
19. Your local library: Many local libraries have comprehensive collections of movies and TV shows, all free with your library card.
A little research into your viewing habits can really pay off. Cable TV alternatives can give you all of what you want, and none of what you don’t.