Let’s face it: cable TV is expensive. With bills running upwards of $100, cutting the cord makes the most sense when you are looking to cut down on your monthly expenses. But those who are looking to get rid of cable are still going to want a viable alternative for their entertainment needs.
As a result, some people will turn to “legally grey” streaming sites that give them access to new shows and movies as they come out. The problem? Even though some people may feel like they are okay accessing these websites, the laws can be tricky, and engaging in activities like downloading files can easily land you in hot water. Beyond the legality of unlicensed streaming, you also have to worry about the potential malware that could pose a threat to your electronic devices.
So, if free streaming sites are out of the question, what could you do to replace the entertainment hole that your cable has left behind. Fortunately, there are plenty of free (and much more affordable suggestions) alternatives out there. If you want to cut the cord for good and gain access to affordable entertainment, dive into how you can get free cable TV below.
Getting Free Cable TV
1. Use an HDTV Antenna to Access Local Cable Channels
Antennas are still in? Yes! Although they are much different than they were in the past (no more bunny ears on the top of your television), they still work to bring you local cable channels for free.
That in mind, there are a few considerations you will need to make when you begin searching for an HDTV antenna for your home. This is due to the fact that there are multiple antenna types as well as antenna placements.
In regards to the types of HDTV antennas you will encounter, there are two products currently on the market. These include:
- Directional antennas: Directional antennas are products that are designed to point one way, generally toward the cell tower that will be broadcasting the signal (if you know exactly which direction that is in and have an obstructed view of these towers). This is also the best choice if the cell towers that are broadcasting these signals are all concentrated in one area.
- Multi-directional antennas or omni-directional antennas: While knowing exactly where the signal is coming from can be nice, sometimes we don’t always have knowledge of where the cell towers are located or have too many objects standing between us and them. In cases like these, it can be best to purchase a multi-directional antenna or omni-directional antenna, which serves to pick up signals from all around, even when objects are standing in their way.
Of course, understanding which type of antenna may be best for you is only half the battle. You also have to consider the placement of this antenna once you purchase it. As a general rule, if you live close to a cell tower (say, within 10 miles), you may wish to purchase an antenna for indoor use as you will experience very little disruption. All you have to do is plug it in and place it near a window or close to your TV.
If, on the other hand, you live farther away from broadcast towers, you may wish to purchase a TV antenna designed for outdoor use. These products are designed to pick up signals at much farther distances, also preventing signals from being obstructed by any objects that may be in their way.
If you have trouble at any point during this process, you can use this helpful FCC tool to learn more about the available channels in your area and what the signal strength looks like for those available options. This will help you better determine what type of antenna you need based on the nearby signal strengths and how easy it is to tap into them.
With one small investment, you can gain access to many of the channels you are currently paying for but for free!
2. Find Free Streaming Services That Can Replace Some of Your Favorite Channels
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a ton of free streaming websites online. However, many of these are not reputable, offering you free access to new shows and movies but with the uncertainty that comes with streaming them. So, what can you do to get free entertainment?
The good news is that there are a few great free streaming apps out there that offer guilt-free, legal access to entertainment. Some of these options that you may want to consider include:
Sony’s Crackle is a free streaming service offering users a host of free TV shows and movies without the subscription that most services require you to purchase. While Crackle’s lineup was relatively sparse in recent years, they have built up an impressive collection of movies (which will sometimes come in and out as they lose/repurchase the rights to show them) and television shows, many of which include Sony Crackle originals. As it goes with most free streaming services, many of these television shows and movies are not the newest, but they are still fun to dive into nonetheless!
PopcornFlix is another popular free streaming platform that emerged around the same time as Crackle. Offering a large choice of movies, TV shows, and viral vids, PopcornFlix provides users with easy access to popular entertainment, whether you are looking for something a bit older or something within the last few decades. Although it may not have the best user interface, it can be a great way to watch TV and movies for free.
Walmart’s Vudu quickly provided them with the success they wanted in the digital entertainment industry. However, Vudu is much different than the average streaming platform. Vudu is more like a digital content library, allowing you to purchase or rent movies and TV shows to watch later. However, they also added free TV shows and Movies to their platform, making it so that their users can enjoy free entertainment without having to pay to add those shows and movies to their collection. The best part? They frequently run promotions where you can get free credits from watching movies that are about to expire. What could be better than free movies and free money towards your next rental or purchase?
3. Stream Free Cable TV Online
Streaming apps that provide you with a broad selection of viewing choices aren’t the only types of free platforms out there. There are plenty of apps specifically tailored to providing you with access to cable channels. Let’s take a look at a few of these popular options that may give you the free entertainment you are looking for.
Although the layout of this website resembles something that was constructed when the internet was first introduced, it is a trustworthy website where you can watch free shows. Unlike other free websites, TV.com is heavily focused on bringing you the latest news and updates on popular television programming. Once you find your show of choice, you can peruse the released episodes and click on the play button found on each video, which offers you the option to watch it on TV.com or find it on other platforms. If you like not only watching TV but staying updated, TV.com is the right platform for you.
Various Network Websites
Most TV networks will actually give you the ability to watch your favorite shows (they may only show a select few episodes or grant you a specific amount of time to watch the show after it has aired). Some examples of these available networks include HGTV, Nickelodeon, and even CW, which has its own app dedicated to providing their fans with free access to shows that are airing now.
The biggest problem with finding and using these available websites is that there are a ton of them online. If you want to figure out which networks may provide these services, you can use a resource like this directory which will point you to some of the most popular networks and TV channels offering free shows.
When it comes to free options, it is important to make sure that you are using safe, legal platforms. Hopefully, these recommendations have pointed you towards multiple free alternatives that you can use when you wish to watch a TV show or a movie!
More Affordable Streaming Services and Cable TV Alternatives
Getting access to free entertainment is great. However, it may not always provide us with the quality that we are looking for when we want to watch a certain show or a movie. Many of the free alternatives listed above come with their limitations that can make it hard to catch up on our favorite shows and movies.
We recently covered the 18 best alternatives to cable TV, which offered more affordable solutions to cable TV. If you do wish to spend money on entertainment but want to make sure that you are still getting a better deal than paying for cable, some services you may wish to look into include:
- Netflix: Netflix needs no introduction. This popular streaming platform launched the streaming revolution that we see today. Even though there are far more options, there are still plenty of great TV shows and movies on Netflix, with many of them being Netflix originals that you can’t find anywhere else. Starting at just $8.99/month, Netflix can certainly help you satisfy your craving for quality entertainment. If you want to try before you subscribe, they also offer a 30-day free trial!
- Hulu: Hulu was one of the first streaming platforms to go head-to-head with Netflix. Over the years, it has managed to build a library of over 80,000 TV shows and movies, which is sure to be sufficient enough to replace your current cable subscription. Like Netflix, they offer a free 30-day trial for those who wish to see if Hulu is the right subscription service for them. But unlike Netflix, Hulu actually offers an extremely low monthly subscription rate of only $5.99. Do you still wish to have a traditional TV experience? If so, you can subscribe to Hulu + Live TV, which offers over 65 channels for only $55 a month (and a 7-day free trial).
- Philo: Philo is arguably one of the best and most affordable alternatives to cable television. Offering over 61 channels, popular add ons like Epix and Starz, and the ability to record your favorite shows, Philo is an excellent cable TV replacement at the low price of $20 a month (with a free 7-day trial to boot).
- ESPN+: Some people hold onto their cable package to continue having access to certain channels. This especially applies to those who are fans of sports. Worried about ditching your cable TV package because you may lose networks like ESPN? If this is the case for you, you can instead turn to ESPN+ for your sports needs. While ESPN+ does not air anything airing on their traditional network channels, they do give sports enthusiasts access to thousands of live sports events, ESPN+ exclusives, and on-demand content. For just $5.99 a month, this is a steal for sports fans everywhere.
- Amazon Prime Video: Plenty of people rely on Amazon for the quick delivery of their favorite products. But did you know that this same membership gives you access to a massive digital library of movies and TV shows? Amazon Prime Video is a streaming service that Prime members can use to watch their favorite TV shows and movies. If there is something on the platform that is not covered by Prime, you can easily purchase or rent these items or start a subscription for a different service directly through Prime, making it easier to access those items without having to switch between services every time you want to watch your favorite program. If you don’t have Prime, don’t fret. You can also access Amazon Prime Video by buying a direct subscription for $12.99 a month. If you’re a little hesitant to sign up, you can test their platform with their free 30-day subscription!
- Apple TV+: Given that most of Apple’s products and services are in a league of their own, it stood to reason that they were going to develop their own streaming service sooner or later. Apple TV+ is that streaming service. Whereas iTunes only gave you access to movies or TV shows that you could buy or rent (which is still something that is available to Apple users), Apple TV+ is a subscription service that houses only Apple TV+ original series. The good news is that many of these programs have been well-received, which means if you are in the mood to try something new, there is a good likelihood that you will find something worth watching on Apple TV+. This platform is also very affordable, coming in at only $4.99 a month. If you want to make sure that you are a fan of any of the shows before you make a full commitment, you can test out their programming through their 7-day free trial.
No matter what you are looking to watch, there are so many streaming services and cable TV alternatives available on the market that are sure to give you access to the type of entertainment you are looking for. If any of the above pique your interest (or if you looking to learn more about the many other options we offer on that list), you can use the link above to dive deeper into more affordable options to cable TV!
Get Rid of Cable TV Today
Cutting the cord on cable TV can be a great way to save money in today’s economy. However, for those who love TV and movies and want that same kind of access to entertainment, many worry about what will come after the cord has been cut. Luckily, there are a ton of resources online that can either mimic the traditional TV viewing experience or give you the ability to rent, buy, or stream your favorite TV shows and movies at a moment’s notice. If you want to make sure that you are covered once you finally make the move to get rid of cable TV once and for all, use the list of recommendations in the guide above to access entertainment for cheap or for free!