Cutting the Cord: Alternatives to Cable TV




The intellectual and entertainment value of satellite or cable TV is debatable.

There is, no doubt, loads of crap television out there. And if you sit there, channel flipping, and let yourself get sucked in, your time, mind, and soul can atrophy.

There is also some smart, informative, and really entertaining purpose-driven television out there. And if you’re selective and smart about how you watch it – DVR & skip commercials – it can be a good time investment, similar to reading a good book or learning something new and constructive online.

But if you’re trying to debate the value of cable TV against the cost (even with the smartest programming schedule), you’re fighting a losing battle.

The lifetime cost of cable TV, with its 6.1% inflation rate, can easily exceed $1 million had it been invested instead (sadly, more than most Americans will ever save for retirement).

For those looking to achieve spectacular financial results or simply keep your head above water, cable TV is simply not in the cords, er.. cards.

Cutting the Cord: You’re Not Alone

cutting the cordMore than 83% of American households still pay for cable and satellite TV.

But that is changing fast. By the end of the year, an estimated 2% of paid TV customers cut the cord each year.




Additionally, 20-25% of millennials don’t pay for cable TV.

So if you’ve thought about cutting the cord, you’re definitely not alone.

Alternatives to Cable TV

It should first be said, that in today’s fast paced world, consuming even the best television entertainment should be low on your priority list. Your time would be much better spent doing any combination of the following cable TV alternatives:

  • going for a bike ride
  • walking your dog or just yourself
  • getting some other form of exercise
  • cooking (remember?)
  • reading a book
  • learning a new hobby
  • starting a business for side income
  • hanging out with family, friends, and neighbors
  • meditating
  • writing
  • traveling
  • etc., etc., etc…..

For some perspective, the entire history of the human race never witnessed television until about 75 years ago (cable, really only for the last half of that), and they somehow survived the lack of reality shows and commercials.

But you don’t want to miss out on television that is better than all of life’s true pleasures, you say?

If you are patient, just about every television show worth watching these days, comes out in streaming format or on DVD. You could simply get a library card (for free), and wait. Or you could stream your favorites online, on-demand. Most of my favorite shows stream full episodes online for free:

If your favorite shows aren’t streamed online for free, technology has also presented some very legit alternatives to cable TV, at much lower prices.

  • alternatives to cable tvRoku: a nifty little streaming device optimized to stream Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and 750+ channels in 1080p HD with 4K upscaling on your television. It costs just over $100 (one-time purchase fee equivalent to about a month of cable), and there are no monthly subscription fees. Also supports Netflix, Huluplus, and Amazon Instant Video.
  • Netflix: there’s still no better/cheaper way to stream movies and binge watch your favorite TV shows. $7.99 per month (either streaming or DVD), and first month is free.
  • Hulu: still offers many free TV episodes.
  • HuluPlus: premium version of Hulu – costs $8 per month.
  • Digital antenna: Pick up 1080p HD digital TV with a good ole fashion antenna to get CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC, PBS, and other channels that broadcast in your area at no charge.
  • Amazon Prime Instant Video: many free options (and more if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, which costs $99/yr.), as well as on-demand downloads/streaming.

There are other options out there. If you want over-the-air and DVR capabilities, you can use all kinds of wacky TV tuner cards on your computer and Windows media center setups, etc. And there are constantly new competitors hitting the market, as the content wars wage on.

What Alternatives to Cable TV do you Use?

The most informative part of this post is going to come from all of you, in your infinite cleverness:

  • Do you still pay for cable TV? Why? and how much?
  • If you’ve cut the cord, when did you do it? And what’s life been like since?
  • What cable TV alternatives do you use?
  • How have you been able to replace sports content?

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