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Alternatives To Subscription TV, Guillotine The Cord

Updated on January 5, 2018

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Giving Your TV Subscription The Guillotine

The number of subscribers axing services (cable, satellite, or FIOS) continues to grow. Why? To be blunt, the service is so expensive. You are dishing out at least $400 to $500 a month with the basic service alone. While the services provided you with many channels to choose from, you most likely only watch a small number and ignore the rest. If you have certain preferences to content, these TV services are unable to deliver most of the time.

Rhetorical question, why pay all this money for channels you're not going to watch in the first place?

That's just the monthly subscription. You have taxes which increase the month cost. If you only watch a number of channels, the monthly fee is a waste of money. Factor in the premium channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and STARZ), where the good stuff is at, that's more added onto the monthly bill.

To get the premium channels added on, you have to select a package first. Of course you can say the rates are “low,” but the price increases after the first or second year depending on your plan. If you cancel before the contract is up, you are subject to pay an additional fee.

Getting a high-speed Internet connection is affordable these days. I still use a basic DSL connection from Verizon and I'm content with it. Instead of having a TV service, I opt to watch all my content online through a number of streaming services. It becomes cost efficient in the long run; especially if you have mobile devices and tablet PCs.

You can still get your entertainment without having to pay for a TV subscription service. The amount you would pay would be less than what you pay for DirecTV, DISH Network, Brighthouse, Comcast, FIOS TV, etc. Depending on what online services you choose to pay for, the monthly or yearly cost will be less than what you pay for typical TV service.

That's if you're careful with your subscriptions. Think carefully about what you want to watch and them prioritize the importance of the content to you.

Online Streaming Service As The Alternative

Thanks to YouTube, via Adobe Flash, you can stream online videos. With Internet access and computers being more affordable, online is the new frontier for TV and movies. In most cases you won't get your shows on live broadcast, but you will have access to a library of content to compensate.

Instead of keeping your current TV service, there are a number of streaming services you can choose from. They usually have free and paid services with the former having limited content with commercial breaks and the latter having more content and no commercial breaks. If you have a smart phone or tablet PC, these streaming services have apps you can download.

You can use those apps to access content if you're not in front of your computer or TV. Here are the streaming services to think about using instead of your notable TV services.

Netflix Originals

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Ultimately for all members, the monthly subscription is $9 a month. You get access to a library of TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, there are plenty of content not available for streaming forcing you to add a DVD plan to your subscription. For $9 a month, NETFLIX streaming isn't bad and it's better than paying much more a month for channels you're not even going to watch. It's cost-effective if you are watching on your TV and someone else is watching it on their computer or phone.

There is a $8 a month plan that lets you watch content in standard definition (SD) and viewing on any one screen at a time. If you live on your own or with other people that are not interested in what NETFLIX has to offer, then the $8 a month plan would suit you better. You could always add the extra dollar to watch the same content in high definition (HD).

The drawback of NETFLIX would be the content. There are plenty of shows and movies that most may not care to watch. If you're a binge watcher, NETFLIX more than caters.

Unfortunately, NETFLIX doesn't stream any shows that aired on HBO or Cinemax. In the past, it did offer content from the STARZ network, but all the content from that network got pulled off.

If you are a fan of Japanese anime, NETFLIX has a limited library of titles. The library of titles is very short. You can watch Knights of Sidonia as this is the first anime series to be a NETFLIX original outside Japan.

The main plus is the diverse library of content that NETFLIX offers to subscribers. You can watch content from India, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Australia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. If you love watching Chinese and Korean dramas, NETFLIX delivers. The library of such content doesn't compare to what other services offer.

If you like watching independent films, NETFLIX has a decent library of titles. Keep in mind that there is content out on DVD that may never be available through the video streaming service.

What makes NETFLIX more attractive is its original content. You have completely original content and content that aired in other countries before streaming exclusively on NETFLIX. Available original content are House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Lilyhammer, Hemlock Grove, Marco Polo, and more.

NETFLIX's main source of revenue is still through DVD rentals. That could always change in the future.

For mobile users, NETFLIX has an app you can download. If you want to watch something on NETFLIX and don't feel like going to your computer, you can go onto your phone or tablet and activate the app.

UPDATE: 1/4/2018

The basic subscription remains $7.99 a month.

For new subscribers, Netflix now charges $10.99 for the simultaneous streaming plan (up to 2 devices at the same time) and $13.99 for the family plan (up to 4 devices at the same time).

NETFLIX has increased its original content library showcasing new titles such as Marvel's Daredevil, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Marvel's Luke Cage, Marvel's Iron Fist, Marvel's The Punisher, Marvel's The Defenders, Sense8, The Get Down, Bloodline, Narcos, The Crown, The OA, A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, GLOW, Santa Clarita Diet and Castlevania.

NETFLIX has also worked to increase its library of exclusive content as well regarding domestic and international shows.

Current exclusive content includes The 100, Chewing Gum, Peaky Blinders, Bordertown, Fate/Apocrypha, Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Southcliffe, Riverdale, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, iZombie, The Indian Detective, Nobel, Slasher, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl and more.


This is an alternative to NETFLIX from Amazon. You can start off with a 30-day free trial. After that, a subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video is $99 a year with free two-day shipping. The price is slightly lower than than NETFLIX, but it's a $99 lump sum. If you already have NETFLIX, then getting Amazon Prime Instant Video is redundant and an unnecessary cost. If you don't have NETFLIX, Amazon Prime Instant Video is pretty decent.

Keep in mind that much of the content on Amazon Prime Instant Video is also available on NETFLIX and vice versa. The two-day free shipping is a major bonus meaning you can save a lot of money when you order from Amazon.

Why would you want to get both a NETFLIX and Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription?

Amazon Prime Instant Video has a library of content not available on NETFLIX. NETFLIX doesn't have any content from HBO, for example, but Amazon Prime Instant Video does.

You can watch The Wire, True Blood, Rome, John Adams, Boardwalk Empire, The Pacific, Six Feet Under, Bored To Death, OZ, Treme, and The Sopranos.

Some exclusive movies are Spring Breakers, The Neverending Story, The Bling Ring, and Clerks II.

One major draw, for British drama fans, is the availability of Downtown Abbey.

Anime fans are out of luck as the number of titles available for Amazon Prime Instant Video is just as limited as what NETFLIX offers.

If you want to watch those moves and shows, but want to keep your NETFLIX subscription, by all means get the Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription. Combine that together that is relatively cheaper than a TV subscription service. If you want to get Amazon Prime Instant Video simply for the HBO content, hold off on that until 2015. HBO recently announced that is rolling out an online streaming video subscription service next year; it hasn't given out the specifics yet.

A drawback to consider is that not all the seasons are available for streaming. To watch the more current seasons, you have to pay for the episodes. There are shows available for NETFLIX streaming which have to be bought, individual episodes or whole seasons, through Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The access to certain content is a factor, but Amazon Prime Instant Video does have plenty of content neither available on NETFLIX nor Hulu.

Amazon Prime Instant Video is competing with NETFLIX on original content. It is rolling out original content such as Alpha House, Bosch, The After, Transparent, and Mozart In The Jungle.

Each year, Amazon has a “pilot season” where you can watch pilots for new shows and vote for which one for the service to pick up.

UPDATE: 1/4/2018

Amazon still has the $99 a year subscription but has added a $8.99 monthly subscription (video service only).

The service now carries additional content that can be accessed by subscribing to extra channels.

Original content library includes Mozart In The Jungle, Sneaky Pete, Good Girls Revolt, Red Oaks, The Man In The High Castle, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, Patriot, Bosch, Hand of God, The Last Tycoon, Jack Ryan and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

The standalone service currently offers live coverage of Thursday Night Football.

UPDATE - 1/5/2018

Amazon has axed Anime Strike, which has been negatively criticized for the "double pay wall," and its library of content is now available to all Prime members.

A brief list of currently available channels on Amazon Prime Video

HBO & Cinemax
Premium Original Content and Latest Movies
Premium Original Content and Latest Movies
Premium Original Content and Latest Movies
PBS Masterpiece
Masterpiece Theater's Content Library
International TV Shows & Movies (Mostly from the UK)
Anime Strike
Family-Friendly Shows & Movies
Tribeca Short List
Handpicked Movies by Actors & Directors
Lifetime Movie Club
Lifetime Channel's Movie Library
H Vault
History Channel's Content Library
Urban Movie Channel
Urban-Themed Content
Magnolia Selects
Handpicked Content by Magnolia Films
Foreign & Independent Film Library
Martial Arts Film Library
Brown Sugar
Classic Afro-Centric Content Library
BBC & ITV Content
Spanish-Language Movies
Drama Fever
Original Content from Asia
Bollywood Film Library
MHz Choice
International Content
Anime & Japanese Live-Action
TV1000 Russian Kino
Russian-Language Films
Sundance Now
Films & Sundance Channel Original Shows
Horror Films
Horror TV
New & Uncut Horror Films
Horror, Suspense & Thriller Films

This is a video service that is supposed to work in-sync with Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. You can access Amazon Prime Instant Video by tapping on “video” on the menu. There, you can access the Amazon Prime Instant Video service.

Amazon Prime has yet to rival NETFLIX in original content.

UPDATE - 1/4/2018

Amazon Prime Video's original content is slowly rivaling Netflix's content with award-winning shows of its own.


Hulu has a free and paid service with the latter costing $8 a month; the drawback of Hulu is that you still have to suffer through the adds regardless of what services you choose. The ads are bothersome as they may not function properly. The paid service offers a bigger library of content that is not accessible with the free service. Combined with ads, which defeats the purpose of having a paid service, the price of a monthly subscription will most likely go up.

When you look at NETFLIX streaming, it used to be $8 a month. Amazon Prime Instant Video's annual membership fee used to be $79 a month.

The biggest pain about Hulu is the ads.

If you subscribe to Hulu Plus, you can watch new episodes of shows the day after they aired. Anime fans can look forward to the simulcasts from FUNimation as it is one of the distribution partners of Hulu. Anime fans can access content from VIZ Media and FUNimation. Having a Hulu Plus membership makes having a FUNimation membership redundant.

Korean drama loves can enjoy the extensive library of content that Hulu has. It's even partnered up with DramaFever as a content provider. Through Hulu or Hulu Plus, you can access content that's available on DramaFever. That makes having a DramaFever subscription redundant. Not all DramaFever content is available on Hulu. Most of the movies on DramaFever are not available on Hulu.

Hulu Plus members can also enjoy the mobile app for smart phones and tablet devices.

If you own a Kindle Fire, you can use Hulu Plus to watch DramaFever content due to the latter no longer being available as an app.

The major turn off is the ads. While having access to content is great, you don't want to pay money and still deal with the ads.

It is competing with NETFLIX and Amazon Prime Instant Video on original & exclusive content. Some original series are East Los High, Quick Draw, The Hotwives of Orlando, The Awesomes, and Up To Speed. Some exclusive series are Coronation Street, Pramface, Little Mosque On The Prairie, Spy, and The Promise.

Again, Hulu Plus' major drawback is the ads. Hulu's currently available to the United States. Keep in mind that the Hulu Plus app does have its share of problems.

UPDATE - 1/4/2018

Hulu has done away with its free service and only offers paid subscriptions.

The basic, virtually $8 a month, still has ads.

You can upgrade to the $12 a month plan without ads.

The Hulu app itself has improved after a series of updates, too.

The service now offers additional subscriptions for HBO, Cinemax and Showtime with the additional subscription fees being virtually the same as if you were choosing to stream the content on Amazon Prime.

The free content has been moved from Hulu to Yahoo! View.


This is one of the streaming services focused on delivering content from South Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan. Latino-based content is also available on DramaFever. You have the free membership with SD graphics & commercial breaks and you have the paid membership with all the “bells and whistles.

You can purchase a monthly or yearly membership, but the prices vary by region. If you live in the United States, it's $10 a month and $10 a year; if you live in Canada, it's $5 a month and $50 a year; for a limited time, other countries can pay $3 a month or $30 a year.

There's a mobile app you can download, but Kindle Fire owners are out of luck. If you have the Hulu Plus app for the Kindle Fire, you wouldn't need the DramaFever app.

DramaFever has plenty of unique content such as The Great Marriage, Modern Farmer, Healer, Birth of a Beauty, Detectives of Seonam Girls' School, Say I Do Again, Blade of Kings, Two Faces of My Girlfriend, After The Banquet, Barbie, Detective K, Nineteen, and Secretly Greatly.


This is another streaming service where you can watch foreign shows. Like DramaFever, Viki hosts a library of content from many Asian countries. You can look at a library of content from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan. A free and paid service is offered.

You can check out the seven-day trial. After that, it is $4 a month. That is a very good deal when you carefully think about it. There's even a mobile app for Viki. If you have a smart phone or tablet computer, you can download and install Viki. $48 a month, roughly, isn't a bad deal to get your fix of Asian drama. Combine that with NETFLIX or Amazon Prime Instant Video, what you pay out each year is less than what you'd pay with a standard cable or satellite subscription.

The paid service is in its early stages. Wait until Wiki offers more exclusive content before deciding to get a monthly subscription.

CBS All Access

This is a new video streaming service from CBS which costs $6 a month. With the subscription, you can live stream anything except for NFL events. Furthermore, the live stream is only available initially to certain areas of the United States.

The drawback is that the paid subscription will still have commercial ads for the newer content. Older content will have no commercial ads. CBS All Access will allow you to access a library of shows that aired on CBS.

Still, 6$ a month for virtually all the CBS content isn't such a bad deal. There's even a mobile app you can download for your smart phone and tablet devices that lets you access CBS content. The free version allows you to catch up on the latest episodes of currently airing shows such as NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI, Stalker, The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Madame Secretary, Big Brother, etc.

UPDATE - 1/4/2018

CBS All Access now includes a $10/month no ads plan.

With recent agreements made, you can catch Thursday Night Football.

VIZ Media

This is another online streaming site that offers select titles licensed by VIZ Media such as Death Note, Bleach, K Project, Inuyasha, Tiger and Bunny, Nana, Naruto Shippuden, Lagrange, Buso Renkin, Sailor Moon Crystal, Kekkaishi, Moribito, Zetman, Blood Lad, Vampire Night, Coppelion, Magi, Accel World, Honey and Clover, One Piece, Blue Exorcist, Berserk, etc. Due to being a partner through Hulu, all of VIZ Media's content is available as well.

You have a selection of subtitled and dubbed anime title. Keep in mind that the dubbed titles are more limited than the subbed titles. There is a VIZ Media app for mobile devices and tablet computers, but that's only for manga.

Having a VIZ Media app or a paid subscription would have been redundant. Due to the partnership with Hulu, you can simply get a Hulu Plus membership and download that app. That would give you access to the anime offered by VIZ Media.


This is an online content streaming platform from Sony. It's free to use and watch, but you do have to deal with the commercial breaks. By going onto Crackle, you get access to an extensive library of TV shows and movies. Crackle changes up its content each month by adding or subtracting certain titles from its library.

Like Hulu, Crackle has partnered up with different companies to provide content. If you are looking to watch Asian drama, Crackle doesn't have such content. Japanese anime is a different story though. You can look at a diverse library of titles on Crackle through its partnerships with TOEI Animation, FUNimation, and Aniplex.

Like NETFLIX, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Hulu, Crackle has a growing library of original content such as Cleaners and Sequestered. Since Crackle is free, you can use that streaming service without having to dish out extra cash. It even has a mobile app you can download onto your smart phone or tablet.


You have a free membership and a paid subscription. This is perhaps one of the best streaming platforms for both anime and drama. Paid membership is divided between anime and drama with both of them costing $7 a month individually. You can get both for $12 a month, which is not a bad deal at all.

Paid membership has a number of perks. First, you don't have to suffer through the commercial breaks. Second, is that you get to see shows the day after they broadcast in their respective countries. Third, you get access to simulcasts.

Crunchyroll actively works to secure a number of anime and drama shows to stream after they air. Paid subscribers get first priority. Through the Crunchyroll store, paid subscription members get access to special discounts.

There is even a mobile app you can download. Even if you're not behind a computer, you can enjoy what Crunchyroll offers on your smart phones and tablet computers.

UPDATE - 1/4/2018

The yearly plan is now $60/year with the recent partnership with Funimation.

Most of Funimation's subbed library has been sent to Crunchyroll, where at the same time Funimation is working on dubs to the latest streaming shows on Crunchyroll.

Aniplex Channel

This is no different from VIZ Media. Instead, you have access to a library of content licensed by Aniplex. You have access to titles such as Persona 4: The Golden Animation, Sword Art Online, Your Lie In April, Aldnoah.Zero, Samurai Flamenco, Blue Exorcist, Oreimo, Oreshura, Silver Spoon, Fate/Stay Night, Valvrave the Liberator, Blast of Tempest, Service X Service, Magi, Star Driver, Kill La Kill, Rurouni Kenshin, Durarara!!, Fate/Zero, Occult Academy, Nanana's Buried Treasure, etc.

It is partnered up with Hulu to be a content provider. When you watch videos on Aniplex Channel, you are automatically watching on Hulu through the video format. If you have a Hulu Plus membership with the app, you will access Aniplex Channel content anyway.

UPDATE - 1/4/2018

Aniplex Channel is now defunct.


You have free viewing and paid subscription viewing. Free viewers are limited to the subs and are prone to commercial breaks. Subscribers have more benefits. You can pay $8 a month or $55 a year; you're better off choosing the latter because you save a lot of money in the long run. However, there is the redundancy aspect because FUNimation is a content provider for Hulu.

Hulu Plus members get the same benefits as FUNimation subscribers.

Content includes A Certain Magical Index, A Certain Scientific Railgun, .hack//SIGN, .hack//Quantum, Afro Samurai, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, Psycho-Pass, Akira, Appleseed XIII, Armitage III, Attack on Titan, Blood-C, Buddy Complex, C – Control, Burst Angel, Chrome Shelled Regios, Chobits, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, etc.

It also as select live-action titles from Japan and South Korea. FUNimation needs to update its mobile app and fix the bugs though.

CW Network

If you're a fan of what CW has to offer, you can download the mobile app. You can catch up with the latest aired episodes to shows such as Supernatural, Arrow, Flash, Reign, The Originals, Vampire Diaries, etc.

You will have to deal with the ads though. At least the CW app is free to use.

Playstation Vue

Sony is rolling out an experimented streaming cloud TV service for Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 consoles, with plans to expand service to the Apple iPad. This service is “Playstation Vue,” which serves as an alternative to cable and satellite. The company has made agreements with CBS, Fox, NBCUniversal, Discovery Communications, Viacom, and Scripps Networks Interactive.

You can watch programs up to three days after their air dates without you having to pre-record.

That means you can watch Teen Wolf, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Blacklist, Madame Secretary, State of Affairs, Sleepy Hollow, Gotham, Law and Order: SVU, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, NCIS (including Los Angeles & New Orleans), Mom, The Ultimate Fighter, UFC on FOX, WWE, Defiance, and more.

You will not be able to watch anything from ABC, ESPN, and a number of other networks, yet. That means no Agents of SHIELD, Castle, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Turn: Washington's Spies, or Duck Dynasty.

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Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck

Think about what you want to watch. For most sports, you can stick with just your local channels. If you are a major sports lover and/or a news junkie, you won't be able to cut the cord to your service. There are many things to factor before cutting your cable or satellite service. For example, think about how many people in your home watch TV shows and movies on a frequent basis.

Factor in how many computers and mobile devices you have hooked up. You will most likely have a home Wi-Fi connect set up.

Cutting the cord will never be “easy,” but these choices make things “easier.” If you still want your premium channels, HBO is experimenting with its standalone service. Showtime, not wanting to be upstaged by HBO, will also do the same thing.

That means you may not need a TV-service subscription to get HBO and Showtime.

You can watch Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, True Detective, The Comeback, Veep, Silicon Valley, Shameless, Homeland, Ray Donovan, Masters of Sex, Penny Dreadful, Web Therapy, House of Lies, and more.


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