Have you ever dreamed of cutting the cord and canceling cable TV? What would you do with the money you save? Recently our family did what once seemed impossible . . . cut the cord. We ended our cable TV subscription. What’s life like without cable? Here are the top 10 things we learned:
#10 Keeping cable is easy – by design: The cable company knows its customers and just how far it can push. Most people bundle TV and Internet service (plus perhaps phone and home security). The individual prices of these services are kept high, so that when you buy a bundle it looks like a deal. Then there are extra monthly charges for modems, WI-FI routers, HD signals DVRs and cable boxes. All of this technology added together is what causes your monthly bill to climb so high. However, when you try to save money by “un-bundling”, the high a la carte prices discourage you from doing so.
#9 Dropping cable will save money: Dropping cable TV with all of its bundled costs can save a meaningful amount of money. In our case it came to $100/month ($1,200/year or $6,000 over 5 years).
#8 Canceling cable TV is hard – because TV is technical: Cable TV originally started because local over-the-air broadcast stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, etc.) can be hard to receive clearly. That is still true today. You will need a good antenna inside or outside your house (depending on where you live). Getting it to work properly can be done, but it might get a bit technical (and not all of us want to mess around with that). Still, with a little effort and few internet searches, everyone can receive local broadcast stations.
#7 You can still have a DVR: What a lot of people like about cable is the DVR. Time-shifting shows and pausing live TV is great. There are DVRs that record over-the-air TV (such as the Tivo Roamio OTA model). This means you can record any show on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX or the CW and watch it later… just like with your cable DVR. Do a quick survey of your cable DVR… how many of the shows originated on one of the broadcast networks? If it’s a large number, you may be just has happy receiving the shows for free over-the-air.
#6 Cord cutting isn’t free: As mentioned above, you will need to buy an antenna ($50-$200) and perhaps a DVR ($100-$500 plus monthly service). You may also want a streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) at $8-$20 month. Then, of course, you will still need an internet connection ($25-$75/month).
#5 The decision to cut cable may be easy at first, but it gets harder as the big day draws near: Cable has been with us a long time. The closer the day gets to ending it, the more self doubt creeps in. Power through it. Cut the cord. You can always go back.
#4 Sports: Live sports is what keeps a lot of people tied to cable. Sling TV streams ESPN and a few other cable channels for $20/month.
#3 Dropping cable means you’re at the mercy of whatever is on over-the-air TV and the shows/movies on the streaming service you have.
#2 The choice: Cutting the cable cord comes down to a choice. . . “Do I want everything, exactly when I want it?” (cable) or “Do I simply want something decent to watch on TV?” (over-the-air TV with a streaming service). Cable with a DVR and on-demand is fantastic. There’s almost nothing in the TV universe that you can’t have immediately. However, it’s expensive. If you don’t need to ‘have it all’, an adequate TV experience can be had for a lot less money.
#1 Cable, satellite and broadcast TV are obsolete delivery systems: Once you cut cable, you see that the only TV delivery system you need is streaming internet video. Nobody needs the 1,000′ broadcast tower, ugly home TV antenna/satellite dishes, or a house full of coax and 5 cable boxes. This is all antiquated technology, like the old copper phone lines still found in many homes. Any TV programming can now simply be streamed via the internet to your TV or mobile device.
Here are some other things we learned from dropping cable:
> Modern TV antennas can be smaller and more aesthetically pleasing than your grandparents old beast.
> A home antenna can pick up literally dozens of channels, but only a few are worth watching.
> You either receive a perfect HD signal over an antenna or nothing. There are no “fuzzy” signals to receive from distant TV stations.
> Installing an outdoor antenna can be scary. Unless you live downtown, most suburban locations will need an outdoor antenna. Being up on a ladder or on a roof is dangerous.
> Roku makes a simple and intuitive streaming box. Besides the major streaming services, it also gives you access to a lot of free minor streaming channels not offered elsewhere. More information on Roku.
> Many phone and tablet apps restrict wireless streaming TV shows and movies to your TV. A laptop connected to your TV via an HDMI cable allows you to stream almost anything to your TV.
> People may not respect your choice to cancel cable. Since cable is so ubiquitous, some people might think you are weird or cheap for getting rid of it. Remember when some people thought dropping your home phone line (and only using your cell phone) was strange?
> It appears that not many people are actually dropping cable. As I talk with people, I hear of a few that change from cable to satellite (or maybe to an alternative cable provider). I hear of very few people are actually canceling cable. What’s more, when I went to buy an over-the-air TV antenna, there were limited choices available locally (and very few people who could credibly help). If there is a massive rush to dump cable, it’s not easy to see.
> Paying for cable feels like buying food at a discount warehouse . . . you may need just one can of tomatoes, but you can only buy a 5 gallon bucket. Time magazine reports that the average cable subscriber receives 189 channels, but watches only 17 of them. Paying for only the channels you watch is better stewardship.
> One month’s cable bill buys a lot of movies: If you’re worried about not having something to watch, head down to the used video store and buy $100 worth of movies. You’ll always have something on hand.
So should you cancel cable? With so many streaming options, there has never been a better time to give it a try.
HOW TO CUT THE CORD – VIDEOS
Tips before you cut the cord from CNET:
The hidden cost of cutting the cable:
How to install an over-the-air antenna: