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Cut Costs on Your Cable Bill and Ways to Get Free TV

By: Susan Skolnick | April 19, 2020

Millions of people throughout the world rely on their cable TV to entertain their families or even business customers. But steadily rising prices reflected in the monthly cable bill can make that ongoing habit an expensive one. AT&T, Comcast, and Spectrum (three of the top cable TV providers) raised their prices again earlier this year. It’s enough to want to give up watching major networks such as ABC, CBC, NBC, PBS, and Fox, not to mention live TV and your favorite shows, especially with accessible alternatives like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming services. But are there ways to cut your cable costs or even get free TV?

Ways to Reduce Your Cable Bill 

Do you have to put up with the continually growing monthly bills your cable company sends? Not necessarily. Before opting to cut the family’s entertainment altogether, consider how often you watch TV and what TV channels your current cable subscription includes. How much cable TV does your family or household enjoy, and how many of your favorite TV shows are watched live versus recorded? That DVR comes with a monthly fee, so if you’re not using it, take it back to your provider and save a few bucks. If you can’t ditch the DVR, take stock of how many your household needs. Reducing the number of DVRs in the home can help you save money.

If your household is among the 94% that has Internet service inside the home, make sure you’ve opted for a package deal with your cable company to cut costs and extend your cable channel options. Bundling your cable service with the Internet or telephone service often provides a discount. Of course, if you focus mainly on a limited number of TV shows watched on local channels, consider downgrading your package to basic cable. Calling and threatening you’re going to cancel your service once a year can also get you a reduced rate since companies are often desperate to keep paying customers.  

Can I Get Cable TV for Free, and is it Legal? 

Once upon a time, getting free cable was as easy as switching a few wires on a pole outside of a residence or apartment complex. Of course, if you were caught, everyone lost. It’s easier and safer to get free TV nowadays if you’re willing to do it correctly and legally. One of the easiest ways is to purchase an HDTV antenna. These can be found at most big box stores, and they work well with today’s modern high-definition televisions. Simply hook up the antenna and let the stations come to you. An OTA or Over-the-Air cable can also be a quick fix. These are inexpensive and simple to install. The number of channels you’ll pick up, however, depends on multiple factors such as location and distance from broadcasting towers. In most cases, though, an OTA cable can provide a consumer with some free cable TV. This may include local networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC), or some popular national networks like ESPN or HGTV without having to pay for satellite TV or deal with a cable company’s cable bill.

The Best Alternatives to Cable TV

If you’re determined to reduce your cable TV costs or cut your cable bill altogether, there are plenty of alternatives or add-on solutions. If you own a Smart TV, you’ll find that many streaming services are already included and available directly from your television itself. Some work in addition to services such as Direct TV. A Google search can do wonders to help get you started if you’re confused, but that can also get a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, this list has you covered.  

Amazon Prime – Amazon Prime is an excellent service for those who order products from Amazon regularly. For a flat yearly fee, two-day shipping is free for thousands of listed items. Members of Amazon Prime also receive unlimited access to free movies, full episodes of many TV shows, Amazon Music, Kindle books, and more. You can even sign up for a free Amazon Prime trial to see if it’s the right fit for your family.

Hulu – Basic Hulu is one of the most inexpensive streaming services available at just $5.99 per month. Hulu Premium comes without ads and costs $11.99 per month. Hulu Live includes over 65 TV channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and HGTV, but is available at a monthly fee of $55. There are also bundle deals with Disney+.

Netflix – Over 158 million paid subscribers have chosen Netflix as their primary streaming service. And at $8.99 per month, it’s not hard to see why. Netflix allows you to stream movies and TV shows right to your favorite viewing device to watch shows at your convenience.

Sling TV – Sling TV is a paid service that provides cable TV packages for specific viewing interests. Depending on the paid package, you can watch up to three televisions at once. So, HBO can be on one while USA Network and the NFL Network are being watched elsewhere.

YouTube TV – YouTube TV provides 70+ of your favorite stations streamed live right to your favorite device. The service does cost $50 per month, however.

Watching TV for Free

Streaming devices and entertainment library platforms can also provide free TV online. But whether opting for an HDTV antenna, Amazon Fire TV, a Roku, or live TV options like YouTube, there are plenty of ways to cut the cable bill and watch TV online.

Streaming Devices – Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku cost a bit upfront for the purchase of the actual device. Once they’re connected to your television or tech device, however, you’ll find a certain amount of programming available to watch for free.

Crackle TV – This Sony-owned service is entirely free to use and can easily stream to your favorite tech device or Smart TV. Crackle does require you to have an account, but then you have access to movies and several free TV “channels,” including a homeschool channel.

Pluto TV – Pluto TV uses advertising for its revenue, so viewers will need to put up with repetitive ads. But unlike Netflix and Hulu, Pluto TV is free and doesn’t even require you to have an account. You’ll have access to more than 75 free cable TV channels to watch anytime.

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