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8 Cable TV Alternatives to Help You Finally Cut the Cord

Tired of paying for a bazillion channels when you watch only a few? Here are cable TV alternatives that'll help you break up with your cable company without losing your favorite shows.

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Try negotiating

Before you close your account for good, it may be worthwhile to reach out to your cable provider, who doesn't want to lose your business. If you're comfortable negotiating, you can often get a hefty discount for a year or longer. You can usually get a better price if you sign up for a service bundle with internet and phone. Use these tricks to get deals on just about anything.

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Boost your bandwidth

If you're cutting cable, that means you're most likely going to use streaming services as cable TV alternatives to watch your shows, so you'll need a solid Internet connection. Most streaming services work fine with the lowest tier (10 Mb), preventing buffering while you stream content, but a higher-speed service (25 Mb) will perform even better. Check the offerings with your Internet provider.

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Add a high definition (HD) antenna

We're not talking about those adjustable rabbit ears of the 1950s, but a modern antenna that sits atop your roof or behind a picture in your living room—wherever you get the strongest signal—to deliver live TV (but not streaming videos) without cable. "One of the best cable TV alternatives is the tried-and-true antenna," says Chris Brantner, known as Mr. Cable Cutter from the website Cut Cable Today. "Most people don't realize just how many free TV stations they can get with a quality antenna." According to Brantner, chances are good that you're in range of dozens of great over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels, including NBC, ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, PBS, ION, and other regional stations. "Many of the most popular TV shows, local sports games, and local news come on OTA TV in crystal-clear high definition," he adds. "And get this: The broadcasts you can pick up with an HD antenna are higher quality than what cable provides, because their broadcasts are compressed!" Did we mention that these channels are totally free? Remember these money-saving tips that don't actually pay off in the long run.

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Choose a streaming service

Plan for how you'll watch TV without cable. "If you want to take advantage of streaming services—such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and so forth—you'll need a way to display them on your TV," according to Tom's Guide, a popular unbiased technology product review site. The top strategies are to buy a smart TV or a streaming device for cable TV alternatives. Netflix is what you want if you like to binge-watch entire seasons of previously aired shows. Hulu is best for the latest popular shows, and Amazon Prime has many of the same titles as Netflix and Hulu but, because it's newer, lacks the extensive library of shows. Sling TV is another option, and it streams live cable shows.

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Consider a smart TV

Originally called "connected TVs," these sets were later branded by companies such as Samsung and LG as "smart TVs." According to Tom's Guide, "the term has come to denote any television that can be connected to the Internet to access streaming media services and that can run entertainment apps, such as on-demand video-rental services, Internet music stations, and Web browsers." To deliver internet access, smart TVs use either a direct, wired Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a home network, according to Tom's Guide. Most models nowadays have Wi-Fi built in, but definitely check before you make the purchase. Some even come with the latest, fastest Wi-Fi for streaming movies, and if you're a film buff, that's a huge plus. Check out these secrets your TV salesman won't tell you.

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Get a streaming device for your TV

The market is full of streaming devices and sticks that offer viable cable TV alternatives. Some of the more popular devices are Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. Investigate each option to compare prices and offers and see what works best for the shows and needs you have. These are the splurges that may actually end up costing more than you thought.

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Use your gaming console

Talk about getting more bang for your buck! Gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony can actually stream shows, according to Tom's Guide. Just install the app for the streaming services you're interested in and bam—now you don't have to buy new equipment. There may be some limitations to the services you can watch through these devices, so be aware of those downsides to this cable TV alternative.

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Use the library

Right, the library! Those wonderful institutions still exist, and most of them stock entire series of popular contemporary shows, documentaries, movies, and more. Log on to your local library network to see their offerings. If you don't see what you want, you can usually request materials from other libraries within the network for free. Here are more tips on how to save money every day without even thinking about it.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest