OT-Getting rid of cable tv

Submitted by HELLE on June 27th, 2013 at 10:03 AM

After reading multiple articles the last few weeks and an mgo.licio.us post regarding cutting the cord on cable tv subscriptions, I think I am finally ready to pull the trigger. I would save $1200 per year and can easily stream these programs from the internet. I just would like to hear some success stories (or failures) from people have (or tried to) cut the cord.

Here's the link to the article that put me over the edge.



June 27th, 2013 at 6:08 PM ^

I actually live in a town that has two cable TV providers:  Comcast and Wide Open West.  If anyone remembers Ameritech and their desire to diversify their business with cable TV, Americast, then that's why we have 2.  When Ameritech got gobbled up by SBC, SBC dumped the CATV business to Wide Open West.

So, does competitive cable actually keep prices down?  Not really.  It's still only 2.  I had frequent service problems with WOW, so I dumped them for DirecTV.  Best decision I ever made.  Oh, and to be the first guy on the block to get HDTV, I put an antenna in my attic so I could see glorious HD on my 50" rear projection TV that converted the digital HDTV signal to analog to project the picture with 3 CRTs.  Now that's the price of being an early adopter.

Cable competition is just not going to happen.  Installing wire/fiber is very expensive and takes a lot of effort (zoning, digging, etc.)  For some communities devasted by Hurricane Sandy, Verizon is not going to put new cable plant in the ground for phone service.  Can't cost justify it.  So, they are going to get a wireless solution instead.


June 27th, 2013 at 10:38 AM ^

When I first got rid of cable sports were the BIG issue, but I have since found a great work around. A good over the air antenna can pick up all of your local channels (this little guy is an absolute champ), but it was a pain having to go to BW3s any time there was a game I wanted to watch on ESPN. Since I found out about the watch ESPN app on Xbox 360 (and I assume Xbox one), however, I have been able to watch all of those games in broadcast quality. They allow you to view out of market games for free, but with someones cable password you can set it up to view all ESPN assets live--from sportscenter to the MensBB national championship game.

Now the only thing I can't stream in HD is Big Ten Network, TNT, and TBS (for NBA). Don't miss cable a bit!

Mr. Yost

June 27th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

Cable from August to March Madness

No cable after the Final Four until August when I get the Michigan football fever and want to watch all the fluff shows on ESPN and BTN.

Nick Sparks

June 27th, 2013 at 10:44 AM ^

I did it awhile ago. Took some getting used to (and streaming live sports used to be a lot less enjoyable a few years ago) but now there's no doubt that I'll never go back to that.

It's really easy to watch whatever you want.  I'm not very good at computers but I figured it out. I stream so I don't worry about copyright lawyers (probably being paranoid) and only have a 5mbps down connection (looking forward to having an option for high-speed other than the current ass-raping duopoly someday) - and yeah, very happy with the setup.

Oh yeah, believe it or not, I don't miss commercials at all.

Edit: My computer is an Acer Aspire One - tis not a beast.


June 27th, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

I canceled my cable subscription this past winter and have just kept internet. Sports (specifically football/college basketball) is definitely the biggest thing you miss. Baseball is fine since I got a subscription to MLB.tv, which boils down to about $20/month for the season, and I don't care enough about NHL or NBA to miss any of that.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to last the whole season this fall without giving in and at least signing up for the package that includes ESPN. There is a bar not far from my apartment that I am planning to go to to watch the games, but I feel like that will start to get old. 

TV shows haven't been a problem at all, since we got a Netflix membership. That's one thing I like about having Netflix over cable: I don't watch shows that I really don't care about (like pretty much everything on Discovery or A&E), so I watch what I want to watch. And after having had Netflix for 6 months, I have not come close to running out of things I want to watch.


June 27th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

I cut the cord on cable TV a few months ago. I don't miss paying Comcast cable $600 per year and speaking with their "customer service" one bit.

We Are The Borg

June 27th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

I'm not a big TV watcher either, but the wife is, as she watches a TON of shows pretty much every night of the week. During the peak season of her shows, the DVR is usually her garbage shows, but right now it's mostly my stuff. I don't watch many shows, but could live without certain ones I do watch. The shows I NEED to have are Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.

The sports thing would be a problem for me, too. I know I could stream (legally or illegaly, well for me right now it's illegally because I don't have access to Watch ESPN) games, but during football season, I am the guy who watches twelve hours (sometimes more depending on the west coast schedule) of football every Saturday. I love having access to all the games on TV and I just won't get the same experience on my Macbook Pro. I know I can get them on my TV and also connect my computer to the TV, but it just would not be the same, especially for football. I need that high definition, super surround sound. I have an 80" television in the basement and during football season, that thing is extra special.

So, I would love to save that much money, but I just can't do it. My TV watching is very seasonal. Most of it is simply to watch sports and what I care most about is college football.

Drunk Uncle

June 27th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

I haven't had cable in over 10 years. I miss some sports events, but I'm able to watch most of what I like over the internet, Hulu Plus, Roku, etc. If it's a huge game and I can't watch it online or on network TV I go to the local bar.


June 27th, 2013 at 2:07 PM ^

Signed back up for NBA playoffs a few times but stopped doing that even. Otherwise it's been sportsbars for big games and streams otherwise.  Take your $1200 and budget some of it for going out and getting dinner at your local bar or restaurant and watch the game.

Other than sports, cable is inferior to streaming.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

I mean isn't your internet cheaper when you bundle it with your cable? My Comcast bill is about 105/month with internet, cable (DVR, HD, HBO/Showtime) and a phone line. When I wanted to get rid of my phone line and cable and just have internet, it was going to be like 60 bucks a month. Sometimes I like coming home and mindlessly flipping through channels and finding something to watch so I figured hell with it. If I stay in and watch TV or a movie a couple of nights a month instead of going out, it's already paid for itself.

We Are The Borg

June 27th, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

Most, if not all, companies have that bundle, which makes it a better deal. I have DIRECTV and they don't have Internet, rather they have a partnership with AT&T for their Internet service. I really wanted to get AT&T U-Verse, but for some stupid reason, I can only get their Internet on my street. They keep saying they don't have the necessary cable connections on the telephone poles on my street. I keep thinking, "then put them on!" How fucking hard is it? There are people who want their TV service along with Internet, but they won't answer the wishes of said people. I don't understand it. I am sure I could get a better deal with their TV and Internet rather than going through DIRECTV. I am paying about $140-$150 a month (I don't recall the exact amount) for TV and Internet. It was higher, but I recently dropped HBO (for now, until Boardwalk Empire starts again, then I will drop it again and get it again when Game of Thrones starts) and downgraded my Internet speed.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:30 AM ^

It's 15 minutes out of my time once a year and I save a lot of money.  I just call before my rate is up or sometimes they call me. I tell them I'm cancelling and going with a cheaper option like WOW and they up for the same rate. It's been working for my mom for years and I've done it with success for the 6 years I've been paying my own cable bill.

Come On Down

June 27th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Where in the world do you live? My cable bill is $130 per month with just basic cable and the lowest level internet that they offer. If I added everything you've got it would easily top $200.

I agree with many on the board. The only reason I keep it is to watch sports. The day I can sign up for high quality football over the internet is the day I ditch cable.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

I have directv (55 bucks a month for just tv).  I don't mind it because I mainly watch ESPN, BTN, HGTV and Food Network. 

What I do mind is my cell phone bill (3 iphones for the family on Verizon).  Verizon recently changed the plans, which forced me onto unlimited talk and text and then I get 8 gb data shared for us.  I think I pay around $200 a month.  Painful.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

For those of you who just kept internet I'm curious who your provider is and about how much the bill runs per month/year. 

Also, for Michigan football games (really the only the live TV I absolutely care about) are there reputable places on the web to stream every game?

Thanks guys!


June 27th, 2013 at 11:11 AM ^

I have never had cable in my house. I subsist on streaming sports and... uh... other data methods for non-live content. It's not great, but I am a cheapskate. I also go to bars to watch other games, which isn't so bad but sort of negates the savings!


June 27th, 2013 at 11:12 AM ^

I tried to cut the cord, but failed. After 6 months January - June, I realized that I spent way more money going out to bars to watch Red Wing playoff games and big Michigan basketball games than I would have spent paying $70/month on cable TV. I just reconnected a couple of weeks ago.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

I cut the cord, and have been strategizing on how to get sports.  Here you go:

1.  You can get some sports on major networks.  They don't stream, but you may be able to get streaming network TV from syncbak (there are a couple competitors popping up too) for a minimal fee per month.  New metro areas are being added to their list in the near future, hopefully before football season.

Also, if you have an old-school TV antenna and get a digital tuner, or you are willing to invest in a new digital antenna, you might be able to get good quality network TV.  I bought a digital HDTV antenna for the house, but it didn't work.  So beware.

2.  BTN.  If you have a friend with BTN via a cable subscription, you can use his or her password to get BTN streaming to your tablet or PC.

3.  ESPN.  This is a problem.  I can't find any way to get ESPN streaming without a cable subscription.  Perhaps you can get a password from a friend.

MLB and possibly now NBA offer streaming subscriptions.  NFL does not.  Keep an eye out.... I have a feeling more content will be available for streaming soon.  



June 27th, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

The NFL does have a legal streaming option. In the past couple years you could pay 350 for rights to stream NFL games on your PS3. I do not know whether you can get it for the upcoming season for PS3 or PS4, but it would surprise me if they stopped supporting it. Some customers have reported it is extremely buggy though and can't always access the games, so it may not be the most reliable way to get the NFL. 


June 28th, 2013 at 7:50 AM ^

FRS has a ESPN link which is up most of the time. Block those ads and you're fine. 

However, I've noticed that their ESPN feed is buffering, or locks up sometimes...but it's a free stream, so you get what you "pay" for. 


June 27th, 2013 at 11:23 AM ^

I tried this ten years ago prior to streaming being readily available. I ended up spending way more on booze from going to the bar to watch sports games (not to mention 10 pounds). I think sports would still be the thing that keeps me from pulling this off.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

The reality is that, if you look at all the companies getting into streaming these days, they are same media giants you've grown to hate.  Time Warner, Comcast, etc...  If you look at who owns the exciting new ventures like syncbak (streaming network TV from your area) and Hulu, you will see that the transmission method is changing from cable to streaming, but that will not affect your TV options from being controlled by a small number of behemoths intent on squeezing every penny from you.  

Streaming TV is cool, but don't be fooled into thinking that you will be free from content hegemony.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

I really see no reason to subscribe to cable or satelitte tv anymore. I've been using a combination of Netflix, HBOGo and BTN2Go (relatives), iptorrents downloads, illegal and legal streams to watch everything I want/need to for the past 4 years. You don't miss anything but advertisments. BTN2Go is the only paid service I could not do without comfortably but my sister has kids so I'll never have to worry about losing access.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

When I'm not around my tv I watch most sports events on my laptop on firstrowsports. The popups are terrible if you don't have adblock but the quality of the streams are pretty damn good. 


June 27th, 2013 at 11:47 AM ^

I cut the cord and haven't looked back.  I used my PS3 to stream MLB.tv, Netflix and Amazon Prime tv.  My PS3 handled it fine, but I recently got Roku3.  It makes it so much faster and easier.  I also got Mohu Leaf ($40 on Amazon) which is a great HD antenna so I get the network stations crystal clear and the antena is the size of a sheet of paper.  So, a couple one-time expenses, and keeping a couple subscriptions I already had anyway (Netflix, Amazon, MLB) and I can basically watch whatever I want whenever I want.

As for ESPN and BTN, I cheated a bit.  Downloaded the apps to my iPad and use my dad's cable password to access those.  But I'd say I do that just a handful of times each year.  I don't miss ESPN at all.


June 27th, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

Like others, sports is probably the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger and becoming an ex-Comcast cable TV customer. In doing some research a few weeks ago, I found that literally everything that my kids watch on that On Demand menu are streamed from the network websites. Our Netflix subscription would take care of the shows my wife and I watch as well as the shows the kids routinely watch as well.

I do have a database of links to streams for sports, but the quality keeps driving me back to the TV. I also get some savings, however meager, from being a Triple Play customer. The one adjustment we do make is that from April through August, only one TV is tuned into cable. We have a second adapter which carries a $10 or so charge with it that only sees use during football and basketball season in the event there is dsagreement on what should be on. 

Even though we've pared down our subscription to channels that are routinely watched, we've found that cable makes certain aspects of life with two kids in elementary school easier. We try not to let them spend tons of time in front of the TV, but when you need them to just sit in one place while you do the dishes or remove stickers from the wall or something, "Doc McStuffins" from the On Demand menu helps. 




June 27th, 2013 at 11:50 AM ^

Ive been cable-less and TV-less since I moved to a new place about 2 years ago.  Do not miss cable, or the high bills at all.  I also completely agree with what that article says about the annoying, obnoxious, fear mongering and spin doctoring that goes on with cable news.  It always shocks me when I travel, which is more and more frequently lately...and watch that garbage on the hotel tv... never would pay for it at home.

At home, I stream all of my sports on overseas sites, get to watch the top TV shows (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk, Walking Dead etc) and just about any movie that Id like to see online at no charge, from overseas sites at my convenience on my large computer monitor. 

Cable's greed and inflexibility has painted it in to a corner.  In the future, I would not necessarily have an objection to paying for channels, just the ones that I want and at the times that I want it.  I had Netflix streaming for awhile, but their policies were maddening and selection was always changing, and not all that great so after a year or so I canned Netflix and now get everything "free".


June 27th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

VPN + UM IPTV solves the ESPN and BTN problems. The crap you can find on Netflix for $8/month is just as entertaining as another 30 episodes of Criminal Minds or whatever you'd watch on cable instead.


June 27th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

Seriously, cable companies have been operating for years based on the assumption that regardless of how terrible they are people will still pay them because they have no real alternative.

Cut your TV package, get rid of your landline, and if you live in an apartment or an area where the houses are close together, share a WiFi network with a neighbor. Get one or two subscriptions to online entertainment (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, etc) and stream sports from wherever you can find them.

The more that people like you do this, the faster the model of government-sanctioned telecom monopolies will come crashing down, which is the single best thing that can happen in entertainment consumption.


June 27th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

We blame cable companies for everything, and I'm not a huge fan of them, but Charter (my local in MN) at least has improved considerably in recent years. In truth, there is now good competition between cable and satellite for most viewers, and the marketplace we now see is controlled more by the content providers than anyone else.

That's because the current cord situation will remain static until one event occurs: ESPN choosing to stream its content online for a fee without requiring a cable subscription.

If that ever were to happen, the cable/satellite house would collapse. Millions like us would cut the cord, buy high-speed Internet, and stream; other channels would be forced to follow or simply lose customers. Directv would almost certainly go bankrupt.

And I'm not so sure we would be happier.


June 27th, 2013 at 3:37 PM ^

ESPN Insider (subscribe to the magazine on a deal) streaming works well unless Charter blocks it for me.  Roku (with Playon scripts/plugins on your pc) works pretty well for live tv.  PC  connected to your tv also works pretty well on the direct streams.

Playon has announced 3 new options - one is sending any online streams from your pc to your tv.  It needs a top box like Roku, xbox....



Antenna: Mohu amplified HD antenna $79 is best.  Mine brings in channels 60 miles away, but then I'm a flat-lander!


June 27th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

I subscribe to Comcast for internet only because I hear it is the best.  Is there something cheaper or better out there in the Chelsea, MI area?  Comcast just keeps climbing in cost.


June 27th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

solarmovie.so for all your movie and tv streaming needs. Seriously, I hardly use my cable anymore. It's especially handy on the West Coast because I don't have to wait until 10pm local to watch. I can watch within an hour of the show ending on the East Coast.

Va Azul

June 27th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

Sports are indeed the rake.   Also, services like mlb.tv have regional blackouts, don't they?

I've been incrementally cutting the cord.  Comcast charges $18 bucks a month as an HD technology fee on top of having to subscribe to an upper-tier to even have the HD channels in the first place.  

Mohu leaf is a nice antenna.  My wife depends on time-shifting now after having a DVR, so there are a lot of low cost options for tv tuner cards that allow the recording of over-the-air broadcasts.  An old Apple TV has a nice form factor for use as  a streamer (installing XBMC) That is a little more technical though. 

Like others have mentioned, between Netflix and Hulu Plus, you can have as much streaming  content as you want.  My wife actually prefers to tele-binge on shows rather than watch weekly, so she doesn't mind getting into a show a few years after it airs.

If you don't live in flat-land (for an OTA signal), there's a company called Aereo that recently won a court challenge that it could stream OTA content.  I think it's available for $10/month in New York.  It may have moved into other markets, I know it was planning a move to Chicago.  


June 27th, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

Comcast forever and im seriously thinking about switching to Direct Tv. Comcast is just becoming a pain in the ass. Plus Direct Tv is offering a good sports package for new customers

All Day

June 27th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Those of you who cut the cord, what made you go with one over the other. I have an iphone and ipad, but is the airplay really that cool?


June 27th, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

Yes it is. You can airplay any Apple device. iPhone, iPad, Macbook, etc. Oh you want to watch that YouTube video but you want all your friends to see it too? Airplay... Oh you want to listen to that playlist over your sweet surround sound TV setup? Aiplay... You want to full screen your Macbook or iMac to your 60"? Airplay...Not to mention all the other things an Apple TV can do. Worth the $100.


June 27th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

I have had DirecTV for about 10 years and don't think I could ever cut the cord. I know you can stream just about anything in today's world but I've never liked the poor quality across the interent. Even if it's an HD stream the quality isn't quite on par with digital programming on an HDTV. I know it would save lots of $ but I just can't do it.


June 27th, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

If it werent for sports i would have cancelled my Satellite along time ago. Im my area the lowest package you can have for cable doesnt even have ESPN ( which is BULLSHIT). I pay $80 dollars a month and watch maybe a hour a night..


June 27th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

Dropping cable was one the best decisions I've made. I took up a couple hobbies that really improved my quality of life. I think everyone should drop it.


June 27th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

We've never gotten cable TV in 23 years of marriage, and so we never missed it. I've investigated it, and it isn't worth it, because there is no a la carte model.

Here are issues I would think about.

  1. What is antenna reception and channel selection in your area? Living in the Chicago Burbs, we get the major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS,) along with WGN and another half dozen channels. Because Michigan is on ABC & ESPN so often, we really have it easier (than being a fan of a team at the bottom of the conference.)
  2. Do you have sports bars nearby? There are 4 sports bars within a mile of here, so I can usually catch a lot of games. For me, I've also caught a bunch of games at Lifetime Fitness . . . there's a couple couches and HD TV right inside the men's locker room.
  3. What do you watch? Since I mostly watch Michigan Football & Basketball, along with the Bears, Blackhawks, and some Bulls & White Sox, I can usually see the games I want. If you want to watch a lot more teams, especially not connected to where you live, it can get much harder.
  4. What kind of friends do you have? One of my best friends is a Michigan alum living maybe 2 miles away, with satellite, and with an HD large screen TV and an open invitation to watch most games.
  5. Is there anything besides sports that you really need to see? I personally don't care for most network TV, and we can get DVD's of movies from the library or Red Box, so other than sports, we have virtually no need for Cable.

Perkis-Size Me

June 27th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

If I didn't care about sports, namely football and college basketball, I probably would drop cable. I usually just stream everything else that I'd want to watch anyway. The only problem is that I hate the idea of trying to watch a Michigan football game knowing that the Internet could lag or just shut down at any minute for no apparent reason. Especially if it was in the middle of the OSU game. I would absolutely lose my damn mind. That and the video quality on a computer is just never as good, no matter how you slice it.

It sucks because outside of football, college basketball, Boardwalk and GoT, I really don't care for much else on TV.