“Over 500 channels and nothing’s on.” How many times have you echoed that sentiment in the past couple years?

Realistically, most cable network packages come with at least 200 channels nowadays. But who really watches all of them? I’m pretty sure if someone snuck into my apartment and blocked 95% of the channels I get, the only way I would notice is if I couldn’t watch reruns of Seinfeld while I eat dinner.

Regardless of the fact that most of us probably only really watch five to ten of the hundreds of channels at our disposal, we’re still charged the full amount for the package by the cable company. There has to be a better way, right? Well, there is. Maybe it’s time you cut the cord, and check out some of the following options.

1. YouTube

Okay, so you’re not going to get full-length movies or TV shows on YouTube. But the popular streaming site does have more than just ridiculous cat videos. There are documentaries, educational resources, and recreational activities for people of all interests. You might have to tweak your idea of what “watching TV” really means, but you can get just as much out of the free services YouTube provides as you would with cable.

2. Sling TV

Like I said before, you probably pay for hundreds of channels, but only watch a handful of them. For $20 a month, you can use Sling TV to stream some of the most-watched channels around, while leaving the ones you don’t care about behind. ESPN, AMC, Cartoon Network, and TNT are just some of the channels included in the main package. You can also purchase additional packages (including sports and kids-based shows) for $5 extra per month. No more paying for Lifetime just because you have to!

3. Netflix

You probably don’t need me to tell you that Netflix is a pretty sweet alternative to cable TV. While it’s movie selection is usually fairly lacking (oddly enough, considering it’s what the service was initially built around in the first place), the collection of quality TV shows makes Netflix completely worth the $8 a month subscription. How else can you watch 12 episodes of a single show in one sitting without having to go through one commercial break?

4. Hulu

Hulu is pretty similar to Netflix, but there are a few differences between the two. With Hulu, you’ll unfortunately be stuck watching the same commercials every ten to fifteen minutes – even if you pay for the premium service. However, unlike Netflix, Hulu offers much more recent episodes of popular shows almost immediately. Think of it like this: You can either wait months and months for a new season of a show to be released on Netflix, or you can sit through two minutes of commercials on Hulu. Pick your poison!

5. Libraries

I remember my old town library used to have a small section of outdated VHS tapes collecting dust in some backroom. But that was during the Blockbuster days of the 90s. Nowadays, many libraries have a pretty up-to-date selection of DVDs to choose from. And they’re usually pretty lax on due dates, so you won’t end up getting slammed by late fees if you can’t get around to watching a movie til the weekend.

6. Live Streaming Sites

The Internet offers plenty of sites to watch free live tv on that don’t require payment or a subscription of any sort. Many of these sites offer regionally-based programming, whether by city, state, or even country. If you’ve moved across the country but want to follow your hometown sports team, there are sites that can help you out without having to pay the extraordinary price your cable company will charge for a single extra channel. The same goes for locally-based news and other programming. If you’re feeling homesick and you know some hometown TV will help out, there are many places you can go on the Internet to find what you need.

Featured photo credit: Watching TV 2 / Jinho Jung / Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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