Cheap Cable Alternatives

In the past I have talked about ways to really save when it comes to your internet and cable bills and following those easy steps are a great way to reduce your utility bills during the school year. But my blog is here to take saving another step further and so I’ve decided to throw a list together of all of the cheap cable alternatives out there that can save you even more money and really reduce your utility bills.

cheap cable alternatives


Out of all of my suggestions this is the one I use the most (the Netflix Canad version anyways). Netflix has lead to some serious time loss for me because of it’s ability to so quickly change from one episode to the next. They have a variety of TV shows and some exclusive content as well including the newest season of Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove, House of Cards and a new original series called Orange is the New Black. I have to say I personally don’t love the movie selection on Netflix and tend to just watch tv shows instead.

Verdict: Netflix Canada isn’t too bad, but of course it just isn’t as good as it’s American version. I’m considering using one of the various ways to get US Netflix while in Canada, but haven’t really done my research yet. Youtube and various websites have tutorials on how you do it so you can give it a try and get access to even better content than what we have here. Overall I really enjoy Netflix and it’s relatively inexpensive. One thing to keep in mind is that you’re very likely to begin using more bandwidth when you get Netflix so you may have to adjust your internet package when getting rid of cable entirely.

Cost of Netflix: $8.99/month

Torrent Downloading

Now let’s make this clear right off the bat, torrent downloading isn’t legal but it is an entirely  free option where you can download complete seasons/series of TV shows or movies. There are a variety of websites that you can find torrents to be downloaded including Isohunt, and The Pirate Bay. In order to download these you need a torrent downloader like  Bit Torrent, or uTorrent and then you’re all set.

Verdict: Obviously cheap (it’s free) torrent downloading does use up quite a bit of your bandwidth all at once versus streaming an episode each week online so that’s something definitely to watch out for. If you and your friends like to swap shows and movies you will definitely get much more use out of downloading the file itself than streaming. Always remember torrent downloading isn’t legal so you run that risk.

Cost of Torrent Downloading: $0

Buy Episodes/Movies Off of iTunes

As another alternative (which I haven’t personally done) you can purchase single episodes/seasons/movies off of iTunes instead of buying the DVD box sets that used to be so popular.

You can try out the following where you can download TV shows off of iTunes

Top TV episodes on iTunes

Free TV episodes on iTunes

Verdict: Although I’m not a huge fan of buying things if I don’t have to, the quality that you tend to get on iTunes and other paid-download sites is that the quality will be HD/Blue Ray which will be a more enjoyable viewing experience especially if you want to put it on a larger screen TV at some point.

Cost: Varies depending on purchases

Overall I think students should avoid paying for cable altogether. We don’t have time to sit and watch cable tv, and watch commercials let alone pay for the service. I’ve spent way too many hours wasted on watching cable TV and for the most part it really wasn’t what I even wanted to watch. Check out some of the cheap cable alternatives above and at the beginning of the semester this year make sure to ditch the cable, up your internet plan with more bandwidth and save some money while watching the content you really want to watch.

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  • squirrelers

    Netflix can be a really good way to save overall, and actually curb excessive TV watching. Only so many movies one can watch, right? Another option, which may sound odd at first, is getting movies from the local library. I’ve gotten some very recent releases this way, with renewals kept them for 2 weeks and paid nothing!

    • I actually do remember going to the library when I was younger and borrowing VHS movies. Definitely something I missed here but a great way to get free movies!

  • Amazon Prime also has videos as well as free 2 day shipping and Kindle Library. There’s also Hulu and watching stuff online…I’m satisfied with the programs on over the air tv…plus having cable gives me too many choices. I’m more productive when there’s nothing good to watch on TV and I do something else instead.

    • Thanks for all of the options Andrew! I initially decided to write this post for Canadian students and a lot of what you have mentioned unfortunately isn’t available here. I know if you get “US Netflix” there are ways to also get HULU but I believe Amazon Prime is something we don’t get full features of here. And it’s sad to say the only show I watch on TV is the Bachelorette

      • If you watch the Bachelorette…you need to google and watch Jimmy Kimmel and the Baby Bachelor. It is a spoof of the Bachelor/Bachelorette with Jimmy Kimmel’s 4 year old nephew. It is hilarious!!! I would put a link but I’m at work and they block youtube and other video sites. Check it out…very funny!

        • I’m going to have to watch that tonight, I watched the actual Bachelorette last night. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Sorry to see that you have to do some hacks in order to get the US versions, but that is still much cheaper than paying for cable.

    • It’s unfortunate, mostly related to licensing issues I believe but what can you do it definitely is cheaper than cable.