Q. What is the most cost effective way to replace cable/satellite TV? I want local channels and many of the popular cable channels, but am tired of the HIGH COSTS. — Tammy, town withheld.

Tammy, believe it or not, you can watch your local channels and many of the most popular cable TV channels for just $20 a month. However, there is a catch. Well, two catches, actually, so allow me to explain.

First, get an indoor antenna for under $20. If you live in an area where an indoor antenna can pick up the local signals, you won’t have to pay another dime to watch your local channels. They are free over the air.

Now the catch here is that not everyone can get their local channel signals with an indoor or outdoor antenna. You might live too far away from the stations’ towers, or there could be some obstruction in the way, such as a tall building or mountain. The only way to tell for sure is to install the antenna and have your set scan for the local signals. It’s possible it won’t pick up any, and you might need to try an outdoor antenna. They are somewhat more costly (but still under $100), particularly if you need to hire someone to install it.

And even an outdoor antenna might not work.

But let’s assume for argument’s sake that some antenna will deliver your local channels. Now you have your local channels for free, minus the initial antenna expense.

Second, subscribe to Philo, which is just $20 a month.

Philo offers 61 ‘basic cable’ channels such as AMC, A&E, TV Land, OWN, Lifetime, Comedy Central, MTV, Game Show Network and BET. You can see the complete list here. 

This will give you many of the ‘popular cable channels’ that you referred to in your question.

However, here’s the second catch. Philo does not have any sports channels. So if ESPN, FS1 or a regional sports channel is on your list of ‘popular cable channels,’ you would be out of luck. In that case, you could spend a little more and get a $30-a-month subscription to Sling TV’s Orange plan which has ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. And for an extra $15 a month, Sling’s ‘Sports Extras’ add-on package offers 15 more sports channels, including FS2, the RedZone Channel and the MLB Network.

(Note: FS1 is in Sling’s Blue plan, which does not include ESPN. If you want both ESPN and FS1, you would need to buy both Blue and Orange for $45 a month.)

Tammy, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann