7 Alternatives to Cable TV

by Joe Plemon on April 27, 2011

Love to watch your favorite shows, but hate paying the ever escalating price of cable? There are other ways to get your can’t miss shows. Here are a few:

1. If your TV has a built in air tuner you can get free HD broadcast TV.  Simply Get an antenna and watch for free. If you don’t have a digital converter box in your TV, you will need to buy one.

2. For Netflix users and Amazon video on demand you can buy a player like Roku Digital Video Player and get to watch streaming TV and movies. They have different content channels like CNN and music video channels.

3. You can connect your TV to a computer (which is what we do). We use Microsoft’s Media Center, which allows us to record TV shows and fast forward through commercials. We can also pause and rewind live TV. There are also other media centers like SnapStream’s Beyond TV and Sage TV Media Center. You’ll need a PC with a TV tuner card and a nice big hard drive (preferably at least 20GB).

4. Through Media Center we can watch TV programs through Hulu and Boxee.  You can find many of the latest shows on Hulu along with older shows. If you want to make sure you can get every episode of your favorite show you can use the subscribe button at Hulu. You’ll then find the shows in your Hulu user queue. You can see HD shows in Hulu and go full screen so it’s like watching TV. It has 30 second commercials here and there, but less commercials than regular TV.  Boxee is a portal to finding TV shows, music, movies, photos and apps. Boxee pulls content from different sites like Comedy Central and CBS, allowing you to see just about every show that’s on the internet.  You can also add shows you like to and get automatic updates of new episodes. Boxee also allows you to access shows already on your computer.

5. Joost is still another portal  Especially if you like niche rather than mainstream content. It has a huge amount of content that can be a bit of a pain to find and access. But, definitely entertaining.

6. If you still can’t find your favorite shows,  go directly to the network site – ABC, Discover, MTV and most other networks have their shows online at their sites. You can use the site Clicker to find your favorite programs online.  It may take more time to get your favorite show online. Sometimes they wait a day or a week to put them up.

7.  Try PlayOn software if you have an Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3. You can subscribe to various channels like Hulu, Food network, and CBS right from your gaming system.

Other alternatives:

  • Getting episodes at iTunes (usually $1.99 per episodes)
  • Amazon Video on Demand. Watch through Roku, or your gaming system. You can also download them to your portable video device.
  • Renting through Blockbuster or Netflix at the end of the season for a marathon episode watch
  • YouTube
  • Justin.tv
  • Get DVD’s for free from your local library

With so many viable options, there’s no reason to stick with cable if you don’t want to.

Readers: What other tips do you have for avoiding cable?  Which of these ideas do you use?  Any pros or cons you can share with us?

This is a guest post from Andrew Wang who blogs about  Personal Finance.



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim @ Faith and Finance April 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

Thanks for these tips! Right now, cable is included in our rent, but when we move this summer, our new place won’t have it. We’re discussing whether we should use an online service like hulu or netflix plus free local channels (that should be enough tube time!!)


miss d. April 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

thanks a lot , i think i am going to try some options from here i dont use a t.v set(dont have one even cause i think that t.v watching is a bad habit ) watching things that interests my on the computer and didn’t have any clue that those media centers exists!


dido April 29, 2011 at 4:25 am

i tried some of the options and it works! Thanks a lot.


j schwartz April 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

hey turn off the TVs….talk!


Jack April 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

We use hulu and netflix and love it. We also will frequently hook the computer up to the tv and watch tv episode diretly off the network websites.


Peter April 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

We use kind of a hybrid approach at our house where we have a media streamer callled playon on our desktop that can stream netflix, hulu, amazon video, and others straight to our TV via our Xbox 360. It works great, just about the only thing you can’t do with that setup is watch live sports, or some of my wife’s favorite cable shows on TLC and the like. Since I’m a big sports fan, that stinks – so we’re paying for cable still.


joeplemon May 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm

We too use the hybrid approach, enjoying instant view via Netflix (from our Apple TV box), and also satellite TV. Like you, I am too much of a sports fan (Cardinal baseball) to give up satellite.


H.S May 13, 2011 at 1:33 am

Hello Joe!
Thank you for this article, even though I don’t have a T.V,
only computer at my house, I’m very happy to read this,
especially the alterntive ways like Amazon and itunes!!

Bless you 🙂


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