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Cutting the cord means dumping legacy TV like cable or satellite. But while many of cable's dissatisfied customers would love to get rid of their steep monthly bills, not everyone is ready to say goodbye to live TV. Luckily, you don't have to – today's high-tech world offers you several cable TV alternatives.

Everybody knows about Netflix, of course, and the on-demand service is certainly one of the culprits behind the steep decline of cable. But Netflix isn't a real cable alternative – the true cable TV alternatives are services that can replicate cable's live TV broadcasts. And, luckily for us, there are services like that out there.

There are two main ways to replace your cable TV: OTA and OTT. “OTA” means over the air, and it refers to antennas and free over-the-air broadcasts. “OTT” means over the top – that is, over the internet. Netflix is an OTT service, but so are several other services that more closely replicate cable's live TV offerings. OTT “skinny bundles” offer slimmed-down channel packages that stream live over the internet, meaning that you can watch channels like ESPN and AMC on your laptop, TV, or mobile device without having to pay for cable. Here are all of the services you need to know about.

Your Essential Cable TV Alternatives

Over-the-Air Broadcasts

Live TV doesn't just come in over your cable wires – it's also available for free over the air. Not every channel broadcasts over the air, but some of the most popular channels in the country often do. Your local major network affiliates, which likely include ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, will be available over the air to anyone who can pick them up with an antenna. Univision is available over the air in many areas, too, as is PBS. To learn more about over-the-air broadcasts, check out our complete explainer. Cordcutting.com is also your source for a complete guide to choosing and purchasing the right antenna for your space. These over-the-air broadcasts are without a doubt the best cable TV alternatives that people forget about.

DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW is AT&T's entry into the increasingly competitive skinny bundle market. Like most skinny bundles, this service offers you your choice of several tiers of service. You can pay as little as $35 for a smaller selection of channels, or you can ramp up to cable-like prices for huge channel selections. The advantages over cable don't stop with price options, though. DIRECTV NOW can go with you anywhere – it lives on your mobile device, your computer, and your smart TV or streaming box. Read our review of DIRECTV NOW here and click here to take advantage of the service's week-long free trial.

fuboTV

fuboTV

fuboTV began life as a soccer-only streaming service, and its sports-centric lineup still holds a special appeal to soccer fans. But non-sports channels are now available on the platform as well, and this skinny bundle has a lot in common with its more established peers. Check out our review of fuboTV's new version here. You can sign up for a free trial and enjoy the service for a week before you commit.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV is relatively new as of this writing – in fact, it's still in beta. But the service is already pretty good, and it fits in well with its fellow skinny bundles. Hulu with Live TV can be bundled with Hulu's traditional streaming video on demand service (SVOD). You can read our review of Hulu with Live TV here and try the service for yourself here by taking advantage of the week-long free trial.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue

Another skinny bundle, PlayStation Vue works in very much the same way as DIRECTV NOW. PlayStation Vue subscribers can pick from a variety of packages at different price points, with premium channels available as add-ons. PlayStation Vue has a cloud DVR feature that helps set it apart from the crowd. Read our review of the service here and sign up for a week-long free trial here.

Sling TV

Sling TV

The longest-tenured skinny bundle on the market, Sling TV is also the most unique. Instead of using a tiered system, Sling TV allows you to build a custom channel package on top of one of three base plans. Sling TV's “add-on” packages group similar channels into miniature bundles, allowing you to customize your viewing experience. That makes Sling TV a great way to get more specific channels without paying for a massive bundle. Read our review of Sling TV here and check out the service's free trial here.

3 thoughts on “6 Essential Cable TV Alternatives

  1. Avatar Curtis Chadwick says:

    I am cutting the cord next month. I plan for OTA with Tablo. I want a OTT and favor DirectTV Now. I want a DVR. Does DirectTV Now have a DVR? I saw a listed Sling has a beta DVR but could find no information. I know Vue has a DVR. Do you have one article that discusses just OTT DVRs?

    1. Avatar Ville Salminen says:

      DirecTV Now doesn’t have a DVR, yet, but they’re going to add that feature.

      We don’t have an OTT DVR piece. However, we should probably write one. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Avatar Robert says:

    The best is BCE Premium TV. We are using it for a long time. Over 100 Premium Sports Channels ( Sky Sports, BT Sport, Bein Sports, Fox Sports, NBCSN, TSN, ESPN, … ) only $15/month or $70/year. just search “BCE Premium TV” on Google you will find it easily.

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