OT: Cutting the cable

Submitted by GoWings2008 on March 23rd, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Wanted to ask around to see what other folks have learned with experience of going totally streaming or online content with regards to television.  The MGoWife wants to cancel our UVerse and go totally Roku and online format for our television utilizing Sling TV, other channels available through our Roku's. 

I've found that I can still get ESPN and maybe one or two other of the channels in that family plus most (not all) of my other favorites.  Not sure if BTN is available online or not, but I can maybe get the MLB channel and watch all the Tigers games (I live in the St Louis area and FSN only carries the local Cardinals games).

Has anyone had any "Ah Ha" moments with regards to television and going cableless?  I desparately need to feel better about this decision...

Thanks in advance.



March 23rd, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

I did this recently. I replaced my Comcast cable boxes with Rokus (which I LOVE) and HD antennas. It's saving me about $70 month. Plus, the overall searching/viewing/content experience on Roku blows away what cable can offer in my opinion. With that said, there sill isn't a great way to watch sports via streaming services. I think I may resubscribe to Comcast for a few months every year during football season until more steaming options become available for sports. I also don't think I could go without Comcast's 15-second rewind button when watching a football game (you can't rewind on the Watch ESPN app for Roku). 

The Mad Hatter

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:25 AM ^

to do this for a long time.  The wife and kids have been the obstacle.  I probably watch a grand total of 5 hours per week of television, most of it on just a few channels and Netflix.  It kills me to pay $150 for that.

Good luck.  I say go for it.  Besides, if you hate it, you can always switch back. 


March 23rd, 2015 at 12:20 PM ^

There's actually quite a bit of children's content available via Roku. PBS Kids and Disney junior both have their own channels, and Nickelodeon content is available through either Amazon Instant Video or Hulu (I don't remember which). Netflix also has lots of kids' movies and TV shows. 


March 23rd, 2015 at 10:25 AM ^

we have no TV  8-9 months of the year, then hook up satellite for college football season, turning it off in the weeks after the nat'l champioinship game.   saves a lot of $, and allows you to utiilze your time for other endeavors.  


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:29 AM ^

taken in a friendly manner as i'm sure you intend it so.  i'm not overly interesting, but i have been blessed in terms of wife and children, and that makes for grateful living.  that gratefulness is amplified by my past life experiences, as i'm sure many on this blog would comment about their own lives in similar fashion. 

The Mad Hatter

March 23rd, 2015 at 11:40 AM ^

As someone who has only ever lived in cities and suburbia, it's just interesting for me to hear the little snippets you post here.  If I ever finally decide to say fuck it, we're quitting our jobs and moving to the country (as part of me has always wanted to), expect me to be bothering you for advice.

late night BTB

March 23rd, 2015 at 12:03 PM ^

I too love this guy.  Unplugging from the matrix.  

I haven't had a TV in 5 years and don't miss it a bit.  I get all I need from streaming, 'creative' downloading, or watching at bars.  I don't eat meat I don't kill myself, grow my own vegetables and fruits, and live simply.  

Reduce your monthly costs, pocket more dough, and have more time to free yourself from The Matrix.


March 23rd, 2015 at 12:28 PM ^

in life, and you don't get to say later in life, 'wow, if i were X years old again, i'd have moved out of that sprawling rat trap, traded in our new cars for reliable junkers, and taught the kids how to do A, B, & C that they would've never had a chance to do'.   simple living is a very good thing. 

without going into too much melo-drama and personal history, i am glad every day to live in a place that people think a 'drive by shooting' is that someone was poaching deer from their pick-up truck in woods down the road.   my entire investigative staff made a collective 'what?  where?  why?' response when i told them years ago that i was pulling the plug.   many have visited since then. 


March 23rd, 2015 at 10:25 AM ^

BTN is available online ($$) and while I'm not impressed with their coverage/streams, it is a necessary evil in order to watch Mich. I split the MLB package every year with a friend of mine, and that seems to work out well, and allows simultaneous login, so we never lock each other out. 

As for feeling better about it:

I found that getting rid of UVerse made me way less likely to just sit in front of the TV and watch whatever was on for no reason. You actually have to choose to watch something, which, in turn, led to me watching less TV. The much smaller monthly bill was nice as well. 



March 23rd, 2015 at 10:43 PM ^

Maybe BTN International is run differently, but it's been absolutely awful. Games aren't available when they should be. Replays often restart at every commercial break so before a commercial break you have to skip ahead, usually missing a few plays in the process. Some games just stopped part of the way through and I couldn't finish them. Every e-mail I sent to them got no reply, even though I sent respectful e-mails.

Having said that, I'll probably try again this year because it'd be a real lifesaver if it actually worked well. The annoying thing is when people complain about people like me "stealing" TV by watching streams online. I'm dying to give someone like ESPN my money for good content that doesn't make me stay up or wake up in the middle of the night watching low-quality streams.

The Baughz

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:27 AM ^

This has been posted a few times, but I'll let you know what I currently have:

I have an Mohu Leaf 50 HD antenna...I get ABC, CBS, NBC, two FOX channels and some other ones I do not watch.

Roku 3...I mainly use it for Netflix/WatchESPN (i just use my parents cable account for log in)

SlingTV...$20/mo and you get ESPN/ESPN2, TBS, TNT, AMC, TRAVEL, and again some other channels I do not use. History/H2, A&E will be included in the package starting in April. You can also purchase additional channels for an extra $5/mo.

I am on going on about 5 months of my cutting the cable adventure, and I have no issues what so ever. I am saving money and still watching the same content I would with my old cable subscription. 


March 23rd, 2015 at 1:11 PM ^

And that's the rub.  Sling TV looks like a good deal, but I've seen so many people say they "cut the cord" and then admit to using their parents' HBOGo password and torrents to get all the media they can't get form Netflix, Hulu, etc.  A big part of me wants to cut the cord, but I'm just annoyed when people just shift the cost around.  It's like people in NYC who say they don't need a car and then ask to borrow yours 2-3 times a month to go shopping.  


March 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 AM ^

You might want to see if you have a friend or relative willing to let you Sling their Dish or Comcast service for sports. I switched from Comcast for TV to Dish and like the Sling capability with Dish. 

You can get BTN2GO for streaming if you have a Comcast or Dish service you can "borrow". I don't know about the quality of these alternatives as I am usaully watching on my phone with crappy internet access in an airport or hotel.

Yostbound and Down

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:34 AM ^

Feel like we could make one of these threads a sticky at some point...this question comes up every few months.

I used (or attempted to use) a OTA antenna, but the signal was poor from Ann Arbor to the Detroit-area TV towers out in Southfield. So I pay comcast 10 bucks a month more on top of my internet for the local channels (CBC included, hell yes to free playoff hockey) and HBO Go. Also have Amazon Prime. Between those two apps (and/or Netflix and Hulu) you can get most shows. Would think with SlingTV you could cover your bases...I am lucky to have an old Comcast login attached to my parents so I can stream most of their channels online, but Sling looks like pretty close to that especially if you buy the sports package. No BTN right now, but would think in StL you could just hit the bar for those games

For sports honestly I look for streams if it's Wings, Tigers or Pistons on Fox Sports Detroit, because I can't get that (local blackouts, stupid stupid rule). Otherwise I can get most everything legally. 

I get some of the sentiment behind cutting the cord but I am not sold it is a significant savings to having cable, it's just changing who gets your money (which fair enough, I'd rather pay Netflix and Amazon than Comcast). As far as hardware I use my laptop and a 360. Hope to replace the 360 by either building a media center PC in the future or just go with a Roku/Fire TV.


March 23rd, 2015 at 10:31 AM ^

When you cut the cord and go with Roku or Apple TV (or any other streaming interface), even though you get ESPN you most likely lose the ability to access regional sports networks (RSNs) such as BTN, FSD, etc. Also keep in mind that when the major networks start to begin their OTT offerings, they likely will not include live sports (I had heard CBS will begin streaming soon without the NFL).

Had also just seen Sony's streaming offering via Playstation which will include RSNs, but they don't have ESPN on board yet.  In other words, there still isn't a perfect cord-cutting solution for us die-hards who want it all.


March 23rd, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

I'm waiting for my only ISP option in Comcast to improve my internet enough so that I can start streaming and stop paying them for cable. I know I will have this option soon, because they recently upped the Internet portion of my bundle and lowered the cable portion, such that Internet is now 80% of my monthly bill. I love good old-fashioned cross-product subsidization schemes.

swan flu

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:37 AM ^

I did it with Google Chromecast. Chromecast is cheaper than roku and you can stream anything in your Google chrome browser, you aren't just limited to supported apps.

Don't miss cable one iota.

Advice: get someone to give you their cable login and password, then you can watch things like the walking dead on AMC.com!


March 23rd, 2015 at 10:39 AM ^

I found you have to coble together services.  The roku is great, but with the apple tv you can get Itunes and thereby HBO stuff.  HAving a PS3 is also great for streaming and watching blue rays.  I am worried as I am building a house between Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake and while I love my property, it has no access to broadband at the moment. 


March 23rd, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

I feel your pain. I have a cottage in the hinterlands and for 15+ years and only recently got access to broadband.  I have had Dish for TV (essentially added on to my main home account for free). However I can't use Dish for internet becasue the delay messes up with the VPN I need to get into my work network.

I'm currently using Verizon 4G for internet but since I'm not at the cottage very much the 4G is is affordable. If you need cellular booster antenna check out Wilson yagi antennas.  I have some other wireless alternatives now but the upfront cost is very high.

I messed aroung with a wifi antenna and was able to pick up intermittant signals several miles away but am in a poor location for line of sight. If you have good line of sight to a public wifi you might want to give that a try.

Here is what I used - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004K2I70E/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpag…


Vacuous Truth

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:41 AM ^

I went sans cable almost two years ago. First year my roomate had Roku, which was decent. Last fall i moved to a place by myself and went with chromecast. Chromecast is great for all ESPN channels, HBO go and netflix (and probably hulu plus which i dont have). You're supposed to be able to stream a google chrome tab from your laptop to the tv wirelessly, but it is choppy and doesnt work great, yet.

Consequently, i have to watch stuff like BTN and AMC on my laptop, which is fine for me but only by myself. You could also hook the computer to the TV and watch that stuff on the tube but that's a pain.

If you plan to be watching anything besides ESPN/HBO/Netflix w/ more than one it would get annoying i think. Personally i dont watch much TV besides sports and the occassional TV show via netflis, so it's not a big problem. Oh and i live in a city so i get all the networks (CBS/FOX/ABC/NBC) plus PBS and other random stuff via antenna, which is clear as day (and free!).

All told, to me it is worth saving the money for the occassional hassle but perhaps not for your situation. Good luck!


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:44 AM ^

How good is the HD quality of these streaming services, assuming it is HD at all.  I have a large TV (65") and a projection system, and quality of image is a big deal for me.  What may look good on a small screen, without adequate resolution, can really look like garbage on larger displays.

Blue Mike

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:49 AM ^

I too cut the cord last year.  I used football season as a trial period (didn't cancel DirecTV, but used streaming devices instead) and everything went well.

If you have a friend/relative with a tv (direcTV, dish, comcast) account that will share, you can do a LOT more.  I use that to watch ESPN and BTN.

BTN2Go is only available streaming on a computer; there isn't a Roku/AppleTV/FireTV app for it yet, so you'll need to watch either on a tablet/phone, or use a chromecast or other casting method to watch it on TV.

If you don't want to spend $20/month on SlingTV and have some technical ability, look at Plex.  I have Plex channels for NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Food Network, A&E, etc. that shows anything that is available on the channel's website (so last 5 or so episodes for most current shows).  It requires an application to be installed either on a computer or NAS, but once you have it up and running it is awesome.  It will also stream any pictures/videos you have downloaded.

We don't watch much TV, so cutting the cord has been great.  The biggest adjustment was that we were used to turning the TV on just to have it on and finding something interesting once it was on.  Now, I only watch TV when there is something I know I want to see.  Big philosophy change, and I find that the TV isn't on nearly as much.

Blue Mike

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:53 AM ^

Oh, and as far as hardware, I went with Amazon's FireTV because the hardware was superior to Roku/AppleTV, but I hate the interface.  If I had to choose again, I'd go with Roku, or if you're heavily invested in the Apple universe, go with Apple TV.  Apple TV mirrors seamlessly with the latest MacOS versions, and as long as you don't want to customize anything, it's rock solid.

CRISPed in the DIAG

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:49 AM ^

Use appletv, Netflix, chrome cast and Amazon prime streaming video. I supplement this with NFL Game Rewind (all NFL games going back to 2009 plus archived super bowls. Also share subscriptions of MLB and have access to passwords for the other usual networks. I'm paying for TV, but I'm positive it's considerably less than what I used to pay for Direct TV without the commercials.


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:07 AM ^

I am another recent cord cutter and have the same problem as everyone...sports.

I have found it to be a bit of a benefit in a different way.  Since cutting the cord I have found myself to be...

a) More social.  I have found myself watching more games with friends and family either at their houses or out at bars.  It has given me back a bit of what made me really enjoy watching sports in the days before HD and DVR.

b) Watching only the sports I care about.  Now that anything live is appointment viewing for me I have had to make choices about what I actually care about watching and what I can miss.  I used to watch anything Michigan related that I could record on the DVR along with any DC professional sports.  Now I can only catch games live so I am not wasting away hours in the night watching a game that happened hours ago and means nothing to a long season.

While I miss the DVR and being able to watch everything I have felt some relief from not being so connected to my TV and having less option.


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:16 AM ^

I have been without cable for 6 years now.  Michigan football is the only sport I follow for every game so my wife agrees to let me go the bar* for any game not on brodcast tv or that I am giong to.  For the occasional Tigers or Redwings game, I listen on the radio.  

For the few tv shows we watch, we have an antenna, Hulu and Netflix.  Still need to find a cheaper option for internet in my area (very rural), but still saving $30-40 over having cable.  

*In the interest of full disclosure, I have used my brothers login for watch ESPN a couple times.  No local friends (that michigan fans) means going to the bar alone if the wife is at work.


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:11 AM ^

We did it last year. I figured I'd find ways to watch certain stuff, but truth be told, I never even bothered. It's amazing how "much watch" turns into "meh" once you don't have it for a while. We have Netflix for the few times a week we just want to put something on the TV while we eat or something.

I'm sure as football season rolls around, I'll want to look for options again, but right now, I have really zero regrets about not having any cable service whatsoever.


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:21 AM ^

We use a digital antenna & a Roku. Netflix, Amazon Prime, & Sling TV have basically everything I want to watch. And Lady OysterMonkey still gets her HGTV & food channels. Then when UM games are on BTN i just find an online stream of ill repute & watch that way. It's working out well.


March 23rd, 2015 at 11:26 AM ^

I just never got around to cable. Not quite true:  had it "free" for the month or two trial period. Anyway, Here's the math:  I've been in this house 17 years. If cable was $100 a month, I've saved $20k over that period. That means I've about paid for a new car by not having cable. If I lived in Ann Arbor, I think that would have paid for a season ticket to football and basketball over the same period of time.

Obviously, some cable is more, some less, but that seemed a reasonable round number. There are different questions only you can answer. How much sports do you watch? Do you have friends you can watch a game with? What kind of antenna reception do you get? What are the stations available via antenna? Are there sports bars nearby?

Via antenna, I get CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, Fox, PBS, and a few others (I'm in suburban Chicago.) I'm able to see several games on ABC. I go to a couple games live. I go to a friend's house for a couple more. There are conflicts for several others. And the rest I can go to the local sports bar and watch. The amount of money I pay to bring beer and snacks to a friend's house, or to pay for the bar tab, is almost nothing compared to what I've saved by not having cable. Now, if I was a 20 year old sports addict, it would be harder. But I'm not. The truth is, other than sports, I watch almost no TV. And I can get a DVD from redbox or the library when I want to watch a movie.

For me, I can't think why anyone who watches their money would even consider having cable. I know there are reasons, but you're just paying for a service that is way overpriced. The other thing is, if you have cable, I think you're tempted to watch more TV, because you feel you have to get your money's worth by watching something you paid for. That just encourages wasted time.