Back in 2020, I wrote a piece about four alternatives for live TV. It was for cord-cutters. Seems like forever ago. Now, in 2021, it seems that cord cutting is more imperative. However, how can you get most of the stuff that you need, or want, without having to pay $35 for just cable and no local channels? The only option for local is $65 a month for YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV. After trying a bunch of different services, I found a way for you to stream cable for $25.
It is important to note that if you are into sports, you will not be happy with this set up. You will likely have to get, at least, Sling for $35 a month. That gives you mostly sports content and only one stream per account. So, for a family of four, if you’re watching a game, no one in the house will be able to stream on their sports package. However, for their other package, you can have three streams simultaneously.
If you never heard of it, you are not alone. However, during the beginning days of the pandemic, it began to increase in popularity. That is when I first discovered it as an alternative to Spectrum. For $20 a month, you receive 64 channels.
As you can see below, the collection of channels are diverse. No sports or news channels, which is what keeps the cost low. Sling is the only other viable option, if you want news, which begins at $35. Philo only carries one package, which keeps you from getting confused. Yet, they do offer two add-on packages.
Epix and Starz are movie packages that contain three additional channels each. For $6 and $9, respectively, you can get some premium cable content for less than Netflix, but about the same or more than Hulu or Disney Plus. Although, if you have additional streaming services, you really can skip them unless you really want them.
One of the best for DVR functionality for a low price. It’s unlimited storage but for only 30 days. The only better option is YouTube TV with unlimited storage for nine months. However, if you need longer than 30 days, you need to step up your skill level. There is a real-time functionality. You can determine when you want a movie or program to start at the beginning when you select it or in real-time.
Basically, if you catch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives but there is only 15 minutes left – you can select it and it will start at the beginning. Now, that option is selected by default. However, if you’re like me and select the program before to not miss the one coming up – that could be an annoyance. You just need to go into your profile and toggle it over to live TV.
Like many other services, you can create additional profiles. If you have a family that watches different content, you can create up to 10 profiles. The drawback is that you are allowed 3 simultaneous streams at the same time. Although, if you have more than 3 streams going, you need to have more family time. Each additional profile will save the last program you watched and sets it up to resume when you return. Even if you don’t want it.
Not to mention the app is available on nearly every streaming device known to man. Although, I believe it was available on the Xbox when I used it before. Now, it’s only Roku, Amazon Firestick, and Chromecast with Android TV. It isn’t available on the PlayStation because Sony likes to keep their ecosystem closed.
To sign up, all you need is either a cell phone number or email address. They, also, include a seven-day free trial. This will give you a week to see when you enjoy it or not before you actually get charged.
As I said earlier, the more inexpensive streaming services keep their costs down by not supplying sports, news, and local channels. Sling tells you to grab a digital antenna to get the local channels to make their service complete. I’ve used antennas before, and they are a huge pain in the ass. Good luck trying to get all your favorite local channels. Locast is the final piece of the puzzle to stream cable for $25.
Locast is a non-profit that allows you to stream local stations via the internet. There is only major catch all for this app. They claim free but it isn’t. You are allowed roughly 15 minutes of viewing time before you are bombarded with ads for a donation. Granted, being a non-profit, you can only funnel money donated into the service.
Pricing is amazingly cheap. Instead of a fee, it is considered a donation. For as low as $5 a month, you can gain access to all your local channels. Now, that is all your local channels, which may be channels you didn’t even know you have. Many of them aren’t available on your local cable provider.
Regarding the donations, they have a $5, $10, and $25 monthly option. I have been on the $5 option and it works great. They do offer a yearly plan of $60 or $100. The $60 plan is basically $5 a month for a year.
A major caveat is that it isn’t available in every market. Their site claims they are in 29 major markets, which covers nearly 50 percent of the viewing market. Recently, they opened in markets like Sacramento, Charlotte, and Orlando.
In Los Angeles, my market, Locast offers roughly 50 channels. For the most part, it covers all my basic viewing needs. My CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox affiliates, as well as all the PBS channels.
Obviously, there is no DVR functionality. I mean, it’s five bucks. If that is your complaint, you need to get out more. Also, you are allowed up to 4 streams at the same time. I have two in my house and they seem to be functioning well, like any other service.
Local channels are good for watching network television, as well as keeping up with local news. Particularly now, you need to stay informed with Covid information and whatever else is going around in your city.
Being able to stream cable for $25 is a steal. We used to receive Spectrum TV for the same price. Not only did I not receive all my local channels, but the price went up to nearly $40. Why? They charge you a $16 broadcast fee and taxes. Bundled with my internet, my bill went from $80 a month to $105 after the initial year. It’s important to note that the price of the internet didn’t go up. That was just the cost of the TV app.
You may not even need the cable option. Being able to stream cable for $25 is a deal, but I’m dumping Philo this month. Once I got on Locast, in combination with Netflix, Disney, and HBO Max, I don’t need the cable portion. It is an important option if you just want local television and don’t need all those channels you just skim by anyway.
A free add-on you can use is Pluto TV. Owned by CBS, they offer a lot of television content for free. No need to sign up. They offer full-length (ad-supported) movies with no edits for violence, nudity or language. It essentially broadcasts movies the way Tubi, Crackle, or Plex does. They offer a lot in news. Most of it is not live but maybe a few hours to a day old for CNN, OANN, and others. Bloomberg, NBC News Now, and CBS News broadcast live for most of the day.
If being able to stream cable for $25 or less helps you out, then we did our job. I do practice what I preach. I have been using Locast for the past month at the $5 mark. Philo has been used for quite a while because my brother was into the Hallmark Christmas movies. Pluto has been a staple in my house for over a year since I discovered it.
Provide us some feedback or questions in the comments.