3 Ways to Save Money on TV Viewing and Still Enjoy It

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It seems as if television viewing keeps getting more expensive with every passing year. Cable and satellite television providers continue to pass along escalating programming costs and even folks who "cut the cord" to rely on streaming platforms are realizing that they're not immune to price hikes.

Netflix (NFLX) has pushed through a pair of increases since the springtime of last year. Amazon.com (AMZN) bumped the annual rate for Amazon Prime -- its all-inclusive subscription service that offers a growing catalog of digital video -- 25 percent higher last year. Even Hulu recently rolled out a premium-priced platform of Hulu Plus that strips away commercial interruptions.

You want video entertainment, but you probably don't want to pay as much as you are paying right now. That's understandable. Let's go over a few ways that you can save money without sacrificing too much of what you're already enjoying.

1. Know When to Cancel Premium Movie Channels

If you only subscribe to Showtime for "Homeland," what are you doing paying for it all year long? Why not just subscribe to the premium channel when the show you actually watch is airing new episodes? Better yet, wait until the final month of the season to subscribe, catching the earlier episodes on-demand along the way. Then just cancel with your service provider until you're ready to hop on again.

This naturally won't work if you're watching several shows on the channel that are staggered across the calendar year, but if you're not making the most of your premium channel subscription all year long, there's no reason you can't just be a seasonal subscriber.

2. Install an HD Antenna

Buying an over-the-air antenna has been a popular investment for cord cutters. The most popular models cost as little as $30, and even hiring a tech-savvy handyman to set everything up shouldn't cost you more than $100 or so beyond that.

The allure of the over-the-air antenna is that you should be able to receive the local VHF and UHF channels in high-def for free -- just like the old days. It's a popular move for millennials cutting their cable providers loose. They can then pair up Netflix or any other streaming service with access to local news and shows from the major network affiliates.

However, even if you decide not to let your cable or satellite television lapse, an HD antenna could come in handy the next time you have a pay-TV or Internet outage.

3. Sports Don't Have to Cost You an Arm and a Leg

The most compelling reason to stay with a rising-cost cable or satellite TV plan is sports programming. Netflix has recently reminded the public that it has no intention to dive into the costly market of live sports that offers little in replay value.

There's a reason that Disney's (DIS) ESPN is the most expensive channel -- by far -- in basic cable packages. ESPN was the exclusive domain of pay TV, but earlier this year it rolled out as a channel in Sling TV, the Web-based television service that for $20 a month includes several channels. ESPN is one of them.

Local affiliates of major networks also offer plenty of sports programming, and that's another good reason to invest in an over-the-air high-def antenna.

There's also a growing number of leagues offering streaming access for a modest price. There have never been so many ways to get into the game. Play accordingly.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com, Netflix, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.​​
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