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Free and Low-Cost Cable TV Options

Jump to: Bundles & Basic Packages | Over-the-Air TV | Streaming Live TV

Looking to save some money? Here are solutions to cut back on your cable or satellite television subscription without giving up TV entertainment all together—perfect for low income families or those just looking for a cheaper cable option.

1. Bundles and Basic Cable Packages

Many affordable cable options start around $50 per month, but some companies have basic channel lineups that are even more affordable. These small plans are usually available only when you bundle with internet. Bundling is always a great way to save on both these services, and we highly recommend it.

Check out the packages below for a quick look at some affordable TV and internet bundles:

Mediacom Local Plus TV + Internet 60

  • $49.98 per month
  • 100+ channels
  • Up to 60 Mbps

Get This Package

RCN Digital Basic TV + 50 Mbps Internet

  • $49.99 per month
  • 70+ channels
  • Up to 50 Mbps

Get This Package

These packages aren’t obtainable in all areas, so use your zip code below to see which providers and plans are available to you. Providers will often have cheap TV packages not advertised online, so your best bet is to call in and ask about deals.

Please enter a valid zip code.

One caution against cheap cable packages: Some local packages have only fifteen channels or so. While these packages might seem budget friendly, they often come with equipment fees that add up quickly, so be careful! If you need only a few local channels, a smart alternative is over-the-air (OTA) TV.

2. Over-the-Air TV

OTA TV, or broadcast TV, is a type of HDTV broadcast from local stations in your area. The signals are sent over the air, and you need an HDTV antenna to pick them up. After you purchase an OTA antenna, you can watch TV for free without monthly fees.

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Before you buy an antenna, use this tool from the FCC to see where local stations are broadcasting from. This will help you know what kind of range you need to look for with your antenna. If you don’t purchase a strong enough antenna, you might not be able to watch certain channels. Also, these are only broadcast channels, so be warned that you won’t be able to watch your cable favorites with OTA TV.

If you’re new to OTA TV, be sure to read our OTA TV post to discover the pros and cons of this low-cost TV option.

3. Streaming Live TV

Most people are familiar with streaming TV these days. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime allow you to stream movies and TV shows online with a flat monthly subscription cost. Streaming live TV is similar in nature but allows you to stream directly from cable networks so you can watch shows at the same time they’re live on cable.

DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV are two of the strongest live TV streaming services out there. DIRECTV NOW offers pre-built plans with a lot of channels, while Sling TV goes the à la carte route with smaller channel lineups but plenty of cheap add-ons.


$35 per month

60+ channels


$50 per month

80+ channels


$60 per month

100+ channels


$70 per month

120+ channels


$20 per month

29 channels


$25 per month

45 channels

Both of these live TV streaming providers offer a seven-day free trial, so if you’re not sure which offering is better for you, try them both for free first.

Streaming live TV is an effective cable TV alternative, but it does have some drawbacks. While it doesn’t have contracts or equipment costs, it requires a strong internet connection. You’ll want to get an internet download speed of 50 Mbps or more to avoid buffering. But before you sign up, just make sure all this doesn’t end up costing more than a cable and internet bundle would.

The Takeaway

You don’t have to give up TV entirely to put some savings away. If you like traditional cable, satellite, or fiber TV, consider bundling or going with a smaller channel lineup. If you need only basic local channels, try out OTA TV. And if you’re looking for more flexibility than cable television can offer, see if you can affordably go the streaming live TV route.

Which cheap way to watch TV do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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