Here’s How to Cut the Cable Cord and Still Watch Live TV

A woman sits on a couch and watches TV in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere.
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This far into the new millennium, if you haven’t already cut the cord, you likely have a very specific reason.

Today, we’ll look at some of the top reasons people are still holding onto their cable packages. Live sports and other live programming are at the top of the list for people clinging to cable. We’ll show you Live TV streaming alternatives and evaluate if cutting the cord is really “worth it” under these circumstances.

You Can Stream Live TV

The biggest reason people stick with their cable companies is that they want to have access to live TV. Today, many streaming platforms offer access to live programming from an impressive number of cable channels, plus many local news and other broadcast stations.

Almost all of these services currently start at $64.99/month. This includes Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV and FuboTV.

If you do not need local programming, you could instead turn to SlingTV, which offers two different packages of national channels you’d commonly find offered by your cable company. These packages are only $35/month.

Streaming services also offer a wide range of Spanish-language programming, which is addressed further down in this post.

Many Streaming Services Now Offer DVR

The services that offer streams of live TV also offer DVR. So you won’t lose DVR capabilities just because you ditch the cable.

The number of hours of DVR you get varies depending on the streaming service:

  • Hulu Live TV: 50 hours
  • YouTube TV: Unlimited DVR capabilities
  • FuboTV: 250 hours
  • SlingTV: 50 hours

If you pay for an upgraded package, you can get additional DVR hours.

Losing Bundle Deals While Ditching Excessive Fees

Honestly, there are plenty of people who might end up paying more when they switch to streaming services, especially if they want to keep up their live TV habits. If you want a broad range of channels, these live streaming services can run you $64.99/month+.

But your cable bill is likely bundled with your internet bill. When you remove cable services, your internet will become more expensive. Let’s say you were being charged $70 for the cable portion of your package. But you got a $10 discount on your internet bill because you purchased the two products together.

When you cancel your cable, your bill will only go down $60 rather than the full $70 you might have anticipated. That’s because the $10 discount is gone.

At first glance, this might make you think keeping the cable is cheaper by $5. But unlike major cable companies, the vast majority of streaming services don’t tack mystery taxes and fees onto every bill. You know you’ll pay the same amount every month.

If the margin’s that close, you might want to bet on the streaming services to be less expensive more consistently.

Pro Tip

Kindly turn down the offer of streaming devices from your cable company. It’s way more affordable to get a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. 

Streaming Options for Sports Programming

Another big reason people don’t cut the cord is lack of access to live sports programming. In today’s market, there are ways around that pricey cable package, though the solutions can sometimes be just as expensive.

NFL Games

You can watch every NFL game for free using the Yahoo! Sports app. The only other streaming platform that gives you access to games on every day of the week throughout the entire season is AT&T TV, which costs $84.99/month.

To be able to watch every single out-of-market NFL game all season long, you’ll need to separately purchase the NFL Sunday Ticket. The NFL Sunday Ticket costs around $300-$400 per season on its own.

NBA Games

One of the most cost-effective ways to stream out-of-market NBA games is by getting the NBA’s League Pass, which costs $28.99/month. There are some caveats, though. You can only watch out-of-market games live, for one. Blackout games in your local market won’t be available until 3 days after they are played.

Like NFL games, local NBA games are only fully available on AT&T TV starting in 2021 — as long as you opt for the $84.99/month package.

There is also a lot of NBA coverage on fuboTV, which is less expensive than AT&T TV. Whether or not you’ll have local coverage, though, depends on the agreements FuboTV has in your regional market.

MLB Games

The best way to watch out-of-market MLB games is through ESPN+. This service is incredibly affordable at $5.99/month or $59.99/year. It will also give you access to all out-of-market NHL games.

To watch local games, you could once again lean on the AT&T TV option.

FuboTV also offers access to local and many out-of-market MLB games for $64.99/month. However, in some markets your regional sports broadcast station may not be available. It all depends on where you live.

NHL Games

NHL games are also subject to local blackouts. However, if you already have AT&T TV for another sport, you should be able to access your hometown team’s games via your local NBC , Bally or Fox regional sports broadcast stations in most markets.

fuboTV offers similar access, though there are more regional markets where local broadcast stations aren’t available. fuboTV is cheaper than AT&T TV at just $64.99/month.

Starting in the 2021-2022 season, you can stream all out-of-market NHL games via ESPN+ for either $5.99/month or $59.99/year. ESPN+ also gives you access to out-of-market MLB games along with other sports content.

Is Cutting the Cord Worth It For Sports Programming?

In most cases, it’s going to be a coin toss between cutting the cord and keeping your cable when it comes to sports programming. That’s because the most-expensive option, AT&T TV, is $84.99/month, which may be comparable to the cable portion of your bill currently. Unlike most streaming services, you will pay additional taxes on top of the $84.99/month with AT&T TV.

You’ll also want to be careful that you’re not signing a contract. Contract deals with AT&T TV tend to be cheaper the first year, but then jump up in price the second. It’s better over the long-haul to pay a slightly higher price month-to-month and be able to cancel the service at-will.

AT&T TV is expensive, but it also provides the most access to content both at the local and out-of-market levels. Those who are only concerned with basketball, baseball and/or hockey can save $20/month by going with fuboTV, assuming there’s good access to local sports stations in your region.

If you have good local coverage in your market via FuboTV, it might end up being less expensive than your cable package — especially since FuboTV doesn’t come with any hidden fees on top of the monthly subscription charge.

With either platform, you’re likely to find yourself with enough coverage that you don’t need to pay for additional streaming services for out-of-network games.

Even if ESPN+ is one heck of a deal.

Spanish-Language Programming

A lot of Spanish-language programming isn’t available on mainstream streaming apps. While these platforms may have a dedicated Spanish-language section, they don’t always have the exact show you’re hooked on via cable.

There are some platforms doing better than others, though, and some that may even allow you to cut the cord depending on your programming needs.

Spanish-Language Content on Hulu

Of the largest streaming services, Hulu has one of the widest libraries of Spanish language content. If you are a Live TV subscriber (currently $64.99-$70.99/month,) you can also purchase the Español add-on for an additional $4.99/month to access these channels:

  • CNN en Español
  • Discovery en Español
  • Discovery Familia
  • History Channel en Español
  • NBC Universo
  • ESPN Deportes
  • FOX Deportes

Univision NOW

If you are worried about Univsion and Univision only, Univision does offer its own streaming service called Univision NOW. Univsion NOW costs $10.99/month or $118.99/year, and allows you to watch live programming 24/7. You can also watch on-demand content from the past 3 days, on top of a massive library of past content. Local Univision content is also available for the following cities:

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • Atlanta
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles

FuboTV Latino Quarterly

If you need Univision and other popular Spanish-language channels, FuboTV Latino Quarterly might be a better fit for you. It is a little more expensive at $99/quarter, which is really just $33/month paid upfront.

But it comes with live access to Telemundo, Galavision, Unimás, beIN SPORTS, ESPNHD Deportes, Fox Deportes, Discovery en Español, Nat Geo mundo and more. This can be a package that is good for the whole family, but is especially great for those who don’t want to miss out on sports programming.

SlingTV Spanish-language Options

SlingTV is one of the cheapest live TV streaming options. It’s only $10/month per package. And if you get more than one package, you’ll save $5/month on your bundle.

Here’s the thing, though: SlingTV’s Spanish-language packages are hyper specific, and not all of them have the same amount of content. This can be a good thing, especially if you immigrated to the US and miss getting the news from your home region.

For example, there are separate packages featuring news, sports and other programming in the Sudamérica, Centroamérica, México, Caribe and España packages. These stations are not always accessible on most other streaming platforms.

But the size of these $10 packages vary. The Centroamérica package only has 3 channels, while the Sudamérica channel has 15. The largest package is a “Best of Spanish TV” package with 20 total channels. However, there are still a couple big channels missing like Telemundo and Univision.

Is Cutting the Cord Worth It for Spanish-Language Programming?

Ultimately, whether or not it’s worth it to cut the cord on your Spanish-lanugage programming depends on your “must-have” programs. If you mostly want programming for football season, FuboTV probably has you covered at a lower price than your cable package.

All the fees involved for live content from Hulu might make cutting the cord negligible, or even slightly more expensive than your cable package, depending on how large your bill is currently.

But it would be close.

In most cases, streaming will save you money. You’ll want to do the math for your specific circumstances. It comes down to the particular programs you want live access to and which streaming services you already pay for. Everybody’s numbers are going to look slightly different.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.