Getting Rid of Cable: Options Aplenty
It has become increasingly easy to get rid of cable these days through a combination of alternatives without losing much of the entertainment value. And when I say ‘cable’, you can lump in the satellite providers, DirectTV and DishNetwork, as well. High-priced paid subscription TV is the enemy here.
In fact, the lifetime cost of cable can be in the millions. Crazy? Yes.
Here are just a handful of crafty ways that I’ve heard others have used to replace the expensive monthly costs:
- Get network television through a digital antenna, including CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC, PBS, and other channels that broadcast in your area. No monthly fees.
- Pair the digital antenna with a Tablo OTA DVR to record OTA TV, with no subscription cost.
- Get any streaming service (and watch digital files) through a Roku Ultra: I personally use this as my streaming device as it has everything, including USB digital file compatibility, compatibility with just about every app, 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, & more. No monthly fees. And you can use a Roku as a replacement for Xfinity’s DVR or TV box.
- Subscribe to any of the free or paid streaming services you want.
- Get free DVD rentals from the library.
Is Streaming Just Cable 2.0? How to Keep your Streaming Costs in Check
Next, you’re probably going to have to keep your streaming bills in check. I’ve written about how to cut your video streaming costs to close to $0 per month. I’d suggest rotating (vs keeping them continuously). Content gets stale anyways – and signing up new often gets you discounts. These links include free/discounted service to various streaming services:
- Amazon Prime Video (comes free with Amazon Prime, $8.99/month if you don’t have a Prime subscription)
- Hulu (30-day free trial, then $6.99/month w/ads or $12.99/month ad-free)
- YouTube TV (usually runs 1 week free trial. Get $45 off YouTube TV with this referral link)
- Paramount+ (1 week free trial, then $4.99 for “Essential” or $9.99 for “Premium” per month)
- PBS Passport ($5/month donation)
I just buy the DVDs of the shows I like. The thing I hate the most about television (after the fact that I’d have to buy one and carry it around with me when I move 18 times a year), is all of those bloody commercials.
We canceled Cable almost a year ago now and have never looked back! Our Verizon FIOS bill was around $200 a month and we’ve replaced that with NetFlix, BluRay player that streams internet video and music and as a sidenote a subscription to Audible for some audiobooks. The reality is we don’t miss TV at all; we choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it, what we want to listen to, when we want to listen to… It has allowed us to have true Freedom and more control over our lives.
I’ve been curious about this too, but I’m a big sports fan. Are there any services that are cheap or free that will bring me the college football, pro football, baseball, college basketball and pro hockey that I love?
I got rid of cable about two years ago and don’t miss it at all. I use a combination of things to replace it.
I have an old desktop computer that I upgraded the video card, RAM, and bought a digital tv tuner for. I don’t actually own a tv, but have instead built a projection theater in my basement, so it’s easy to hook the computer up to the tv, but you can easily buy a video card with the right hook-ups to go to your tv. Through the computer, I use Hulu and Netflix to stream almost all of the content I would watch otherwise. I can also get a lot of sports through ESPN3.com. Additionally, I use the tv tuner with a rooftop antenna to pick up all the network stations (the new federally mandated digital broadcasts are all in high-def!) and run it with Windows Media Center in Windows 7, which allows me to DVR any shows on the networks.
With those things combined, I miss almost nothing. Between ESPN3 and the network stations over the air, I can pick up almost every live sporting event I would normally watch and for the few I can’t, I go to a friend’s or out to a bar.
@ Greg, I was hook, line, and sinker until your ‘out to a bar’ at the end. I find that with one or two trips to the bar, I’ve covered by cable bill costs. College basketball and football are the two that get me the most. I wish they all offered live streaming, and I’d subscribe for it, but I’m sure the stations have agreement with the cable companies that prevents them in doing this.
We’ve canceled cable tv and use bunny ears. But the best thing I’ve discovered is espn3.com, since I still have cable internet (and through comcast) I get espn3.com for free! I was able to watch the world cup, hockey and so far all my college football. They even display previous games so I don’t have to worry anymore about programming to record games I want to check out. They don’t air some games that are picked up by certain networks though, but so far I’ve been lucky enough to get those through my trustee digital antenna. I assume certain ISPs give you a hook up for free while you may have to subscribe if you have a different ISP. Between Hulu and espn3.com I’m all set. I’m glad to not have tv broadcast coming at me as much. I’ve noticed I’m able to accomplish much more with the tv off in general.
@Tim… from what I have read ESPN3 gets your live college baseketball and football, even though I have not tried it myself yet.
BTW, has anyone seen the new ESPN stuff on the XBOX? I am curious how well that works….
I am also getting ready to try a product called playon that gets you MLB, Nick, PBS, foodnetwork, and a few other channels….
It looks like ESPN3 can broadcast any of the ESPN network games, but does that include ESPNU or any games not broadcast by ESPN? For example, what about anything that airs in the Big Ten Network?
Sports seem to be the only hang up for most people.
Luckily. the local stations always pay to broadcast my Packers when they’re on ESPN or the NFL Network.
I actually went without cable for most of my life and then picked up a pretty basic package with all the major cable nets in HD – only to drop it after a couple months.
Yes – ESPN was great, Comedy Central is cool, There’s some good stuff on the Discovery Channel, 24 hr news channels can be both a blessing and a curse – but there is also a ton of CRAP on cable.
Most people don’t realize that most of what they watch is on Network TV anyway. And your local stations are probably playing the same syndicated reruns as stations like TBS, Cartoon Network. etc.
That includes reruns of shows like – South Park, Seinfeld, Sex in the City – I’ve even seen The Dave Chappelle Show on local TV (censored quite a bit).
The really good Cable TV is on Premium channels anyway – just be patient and wait for the DVDs of Weeds and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And dudes – going to the bar to watch the game doesn’t have to be expensive. Get drunk at home before you go.
So glad you made this post!
I pay for premium internet & watch Hulu, Netflix ($9.78/month & their streaming library is insane!) and Vuze to subscribe to video podcasts. The video podcast piece is crucial for me – many offer tons of older films, documentaries and indie web content you can’t get elsewhere.
Regarding sports, I only watch the World Cup, NBA/NFL playoffs & Grand Slam tennis, but learned a trick: when a ‘must-watch’ game is on go to the gym instead. It’s already a part of my budget & I lose the beer gut while enjoying live action. So many people are out drinking during that time I get nearly free reign of the TVs & machines, anyway.
When the gym is out of the question, tons of bars in my area have recession-friendly deals during big games. Hopefully the same in yours; check out yelp or a local happy hour resource online (JFGI).
My question is what will cable/satellite companies do when will this becomes the norm?
I have only been without cable for not even a full month now and it wasn’t as hard to adjust as I thought it would be. I discovered that my favorite shows are on hulu and I’ve been trying netflix this month as well.
There are only two things I dislike about not having cable anymore. The first is since I’m using my laptop to watch shows, I can no longer watch my shows and work at the same time. It’s also hard when I have company over and they ask about the TV…they want the noise of the TV but don’t watch the shows. I told them all that if they want to hear a TV then they can buy me one and pay for the cable. As of this point, I do not miss my cable – or DirecTV in my case.
My roommate and I got rid of cable our last year living together. We loved not having the hefty bill. We also used Netflix a ton. My boyfriend and I moved in together a few months ago and he has cable. I really want to get rid of it, but he writes a college basketball blog, so access to the DVR is a must for game analysis. I wish we could just pay for the sports channels and get rid of the rest!
Getting rid of cable is a great way to cut costs and save some extra money. Consider opening a savings account and putting the money you save in there instead of spending it. Without the extra cash in your checking account, you may be less tempted to spend more than your budget if you have to go out to a bar to watch a game.
This is the best, most comprehensive coverage of this topic I’ve found… http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_howto_watchtv/ I just moved to a new apartment, and going to give this no-TV thing a shot.
Sorry but I love my cable. This is how I saved though. I decided cable with DVR was most important. I told the cable company that I want to pay $75 for DVR and 120 channels, nothing premium + internet.
I dropped netflix 9.69
I dropped XBOX live 50 a year
I dropped XM radio 10 a month
But I keep my cable and DVR everything that I want to watch. I keep a lower internet speed at 1.5mbps with the cable company as well which is included in that $75. This is a good deal for me based on my tv/entertainment habits.
My one problem with dropping cable….what to do about my HBO shows? Can you ONLY subscribe to HBO? That’s basically all I watch besides Modern Family, the news and sports? I need my HBO!
Netflix runs nearly every HBO show, streaming instantly, and all the previous seasons for 9.99 a month. Meanwhile, many people pay an extra $20 for an HBO/Cinestar pkg. Ridiculous.
For $9.99, you get thousands of DVDs, with one allowed out at a time and nearly half of them instant play. AND, they get the next one on your queue to your door 24 hrs. after you place your last DVD in the mail.
If you simply cannot cut the cable cord 100%, you should also call and threaten to cancel. Usually, they will offer you the best rates possible to get you to stay. Do this multiple times, and you could be sitting pretty with your HBO!
I cancelled cable about two months ago now. Best thing Ive ever done. I was paying about 125 a month for HD/DVR + cable internet. I cancelled the cable, switch to AT&T DSL Xtreme for 20 bucks a month, and picked up Netflix with BluRay for 10.99 a month. I have a PS3 already so I just stream from that. I find that I actually watch WAY more TV now than I ever did when I had cable, and Im saving about $95 a month. It’s also been great to catch up on all the shows that I never watched because they were in the middle of season 4 or 6 or whatever the case may be.
Also, I bought an indoor HDTV antenna for $10 and I now get the over the air HDTV network channels free. Basically covers all of my football needs on Sundays and if not, there are various websites that stream various games on Mondays and Thursday nights.
I am starting to miss Dexter and Californication though…
I agree, use a HD antenna to get local channels. Use Hulu and ESPN3 for streaming but if you want real HD you have to go to torrent sites or usenet. If you don’t know about either google them. I’d be happy to pay $20 a month for what I watch. But I’m forced to pay $80-100 a month for the few programs(not even channels) that I watch.
If the same HD content, that anyone can find for free on the internet, was available on designated official sites(in HD), More people would be happy to pay. But sadly they don’t see the future of TV.
And even if some of these official sites offer “free” streaming its usually very low resolution, not acceptable on a 42″+ 1080p TV.
For HD content, sadly, the underground is the best place to get it… for now.
I’ve had an on again/ off again relationship with cable for years. I find that if I’m not watching cable I’m probably playing an MMO or vice versa. Since Netflix I’ve been much less interested in cable. I currently have the streaming only plan and no cable.
Earlier this year, Cox offered me $200 to sign up for cable. I did, then threatened to cancel and got HD for $30/ mo for 6 months. I kept it for three and then canceled again. I wish I could just purchase Discovery Science a la cart, I would pay for that channel. I don’t because I’m forced to pay for 700 other ones I don’t want. I find that any other hobby can substitute for cable. Mine happens to be video games, but at $15/mo for a subscription it’s a lot cheaper than cable.
I got rid of cable in June and I haven’t looked back. I got Netflix and use the Redbox. I have the one dvd at a time with Netflix and stream everything else though them. I do have to keep my internet with comcast but the cable tv is gone. I started to realize that cable plays the same things over and over. There are some shows that I miss, but I wait till they come on dvd and get them through Netflix. Plus I really like watching the season all at once.
My husband and I canceled our cable about six months ago and haven’t missed it yet. We have Netflix which we mostly use for streaming and we also watch Hulu. We have rabbit ears for our TV with which my husband has watched a couple football games. We probably watch more TV now with Netflix than we did before because we go through old seasons of shows we’ve just discovered.
Our big problem, like everyone else, is sports. I convinced my husband that he could live without (or mooch or go to the bar for) summer sports and football, but he drew the line at college basketball. We attend a school with a top-ranked men’s team and go to many of the home games, but definitely want to keep up with the away games and other home games.
We have access to the live games through our university’s internet, but we love hosting people in our home so we want to be able to watch the games in HD on our TV with our classmates. We haven’t found any viable alternatives to cable so far (ideas??) so our plan is to add cable back just for conference and tournament play, then immediately cancel again. We’re going to pull the trigger on that in the next week or two unless we find a better solution. Like everyone else, I wish it was possible just to purchase a sports package or select channels, and anticipate the downfall of traditional cable in the near future.
@Emily…. do you have an xbox 360? If so, check out the new ESPN3 access.
Quick blurb from their site:
“At no additional cost, Xbox LIVE Gold members* can now access the thousands of live games and events airing yearly on ESPN3, including College Football and Basketball, NBA, MLB, English Premier League and Spanish Primera Division Soccer, The Masters and US Open Golf, all 4 Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and more. In addition to the more than 3500 live events from ESPN3, fans will also have on-demand access to video clips and highlights from ESPN.com.”
What ever happen to the days when everyone rich or poor could watch television for free? Is it not suppose to be free? Yes, i know I am a relic from the past. Capitalism is wonderful, but it appears that the cable companies are extracting extravagant amounts of hard earned cash from our pockets without resistance or challenge. This form of compliant theft will change as WE THE PEOPLE begin to take our rightful place as citizens instead of being pimped as CONSUMERS!When listening to most network new channels the American public is referred to as CONSUMERS. We have all these new communication expenses that our parents never had. Are there jobs available that produce the type of incomes necessary to afford the prices these communication companies are asking for? Pull the plug on the cable companies and they will bow their knee and beg for business. Remember, they need us more than we need them.
About two years ago I discovered the website ChannelSurfing.net
It’s live video of almost any sports game, and popular TV shows. It also has several movie stations, etc. I am able to hook up my old laptop to my large TV screen, and watch anything from there.
In your defense, it was only about 2.5 weeks ago that it got shut down.
Tis a sad sad day…I just went today to see the bad news :( …moment of silence
Will be interesting to see how mobile impacts cable, from smart phones to the iPad. People are using desktops / lap tops less and their mobile devices more. Makes watching TV trickier, but still possible. Good stuff.
Thanks for the link, Kevin. I’m checking that out. Love my high speed cable internet (40mbps) but haven’t found a way to ditch cable tv due to the hubby’s and my love for EPL and La Liga soccer. Now, to find BBCAmerica programming over the ‘net and we’re all set…
Cable (HD and DVR) plus internet was $110/month, ditched Cable and now I’m paying 1/2 of that here is how it is done:
1.) Bought a new PC, Dell Zino HD full HDMI output, 7.1 Dolby Digital Audio, and enough memory and storage to do what it needs to and nothing more. You can simply upgrade your PC, but I suggest using Your TV PC for TV ONLY to end all confusion.
2.) Netflix $10/Month and a Streaming Queue with over 100 movies.
3.) USB TV Tuner for your PC, get all your Local Stations in Uncompressed HD, cable offers HD which is not the same quality.
4.) Hulu has everything your TV Tuner will have, except for CBS programming and your local News.
5.) Amazon TV shows except for CBS and Movies plus daily deals with movie rentals for $1.
6.) MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA all offer streaming All access channels where you could watch all of your Home Team’s games and still get Sporting News. A Yearly cost for all four Sports $300, or $25/month.
My Old Monthly Cost $110/Month for Cable and Internet
New Cost $45/Internet, $10/Netflix, $11/Amazon (For 5 Shows not on Hulu)
$66/Month vs $110/Month with the Cable Company a Savings of $44/month over $500 a year, I could get the sports packages, which offer way more than basic cable does and still save $200 a year.
Football is a tough one but fortunately my Steelers are nationally broadcast on most weekends which limits my trips to the pub to watch them. I am still coming out way ahead and look forward to a chicken basket and a couple of cold ones.
As for Baseball…go to MLB.com. They have an online package that is great called MLBtv. I think it is like $79.99/season. I like it much better then the MLB cable/satelite package that cost $299 per season. You get all of the games live via home, away and/or national feeds. They also archive the games so you can watch them later. I work second shift and can rarly see a live game. So as long as I dont hear the scores on the way home; I can watch a couple of games from the archive everynight and fast forward through the commercials too! It saves me time, money and I dont have to choose between two games.
My wife and i have been very more than happy when Emmanuel managed to finish off his inquiry through your precious recommendations he had from your own web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to simply continually be handing out methods which usually men and women might have been trying to sell. And we figure out we have got the website owner to be grateful to for this. The illustrations you’ve made, the easy site navigation, the relationships you can assist to engender – it’s many overwhelming, and it’s letting our son and us consider that this theme is entertaining, and that is truly pressing. Thank you for everything!
A service that’s been launched since you first wrote this is called “Aereo.” It’s all local channels broadcast over the internet, which will help if you’re outside strong antenna range like me.
Hi, thanks for the ideas! I think I’ll discontinue my comcast package, but what will I do about wifi? How will I connect? My package includes phone line (Which I use as fax line but dont really need), High speed internet, Equiment Rentals for $129.99/month plus tax/fees.
What to do about wifi?