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Why You Should Cancel Cable Right Now…Even If You Love Watching Sports

Cable TV is an outdated concept.  It’s slowly being chipped away by services like Netflix, Hulu…even TiVo from back in the day.  With the way that content is being delivered and created (House of Cards, anyone?) it’s making less and less sense to pay for a bundle of channels, most of which you’ll never watch in your lifetime, just to get the few channels that you actually care about.

If you cancel cable, you’ll save tons of money and lots of time – even if you watch the exact same TV shows after you cancel.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ve got the trump card right here:

vanilla-ice-goes-amish

You Save a Ton Of Cash

The average cable TV bill is around $80/month, which means you’re paying $960/year for all of the shows that you watch, and the ones that you don’t.  I’m hoping Vanilla Ice Goes Amish is firmly planted in the ‘shows you don’t watch’ list, by the way.

Cancelling cable can flat out save you around $1,000 a year just on the cable bill alone, not to mention any other costs associated with cable.

Here are some of your cable replacement options, and their respective costs:

Netflix: $8.99/month or $107.88/year

Hulu Plus: $7.99/month or $95.88/year

Buying individual episodes: ~$2.99 per episode or ~$59.80 per season (assuming 20 episodes)

Even if you picked up Netflix, Hulu, and 5 seasons of shows per year, you’re still paying half the amount of cable.  You could even invest the extra cash back into your entertainment system by upgrading your TV or surround sound if you want to, or just put it to use somewhere else in your life.

You Save a Ton Of Time

After you cut the cord, you’ll probably find that you spend less time in front of the screen.  After all, even if you have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video, you’ll still be skipping most commercials, which make up 1/3 of every television hour.

After You Cut The Cord

Here are some of your options, in order from cheapest -> most expensive.

No TV

I personally haven’t had cable for 3+ years now and couldn’t be happier about it.  It’s refreshing to not own a TV, especially when so much of my time is spent working at a computer anyways – the last thing I need to do to unwind is look at a bigger screen.

I’ve saved countless hours not watching commercials alone and saved quite a bit of brainpower by avoiding getting sucked into ridiculous shows that are designed to addict and numb your brain.  Not actually owning a TV forces me to come up with other ways of entertaining friends and dates when they come over, and gets me out of the house more often at nights instead of being able to plop down on the couch and turn on the screen.

But, I also don’t watch sports at all and only have a couple shows that

Antenna

Most of us have forgotten that there are TV channels available for free.  You can buy a cheap HDTV antenna that picks these channels up.  Use AntennaWeb to figure out what antenna is best for you and what channels you can expect to get with your antenna.

What To Do About Live Sports

American Football – This is the toughest sport to figure out – you can go with NFL Game Access where you can listen to live games or watch replays of the games, UNLESS you’re out of the country.  Then, you can watch live games.  Doesn’t make sense, but that’s just the way cable operates in America right now.  You can also pick up NFL Sunday Ticket.

Basketball – NBA League Pass is your best option.

BaseballMLB.TV lets you watch every MLB game from any device imaginable for $114.99 per year.

Hockey – It’s about $80 a year for a NHL Game Center LIVE subscription.

SoccerMLS Live is your best bet.

MMAUFC.tv is your best bet here, but it’s expensive as it’s PPV.

Plex (Free)

For those unfamiliar with Plex, I am about to blow your mind. What if I told you that you could take any digital movies you own, or any other type of digital media, and have a system that automatically goes out and grabs the relevant meta-information about it and then aggregates it all into a Netflix style user interface?

That’s right, you can put movies, videos, audio or pictures onto your home computer and use it as a streaming media server to send content to your TV. Here’s a look at my catalog I have of Disney movies for my 5 year old.

plex1

The best part is that it does all the work for you. Take the movie Bambi for example. I put the movie file on my computer as a file named bambi.mov, and it automatically went out to places like IMDB to grab reviews, information about the movie, pictures, cover art etc and then added it to it’s slick, Netflix-like interface so that it looks like this when I pull up the movie on my TV:

plex2

Forget taking up physical space with a giant DVD collection. Simply rip them all to your desktop and enjoy them on demand from ANY device with an internet connection, whether that’s your TV or your smartphone. I even use it to store videos of my kids so I can show friends at work.

Make Your TV Smart

Cutting the cord is basically built in on smart TV’s, the ones that have WiFi and are able to stream Hulu or Netflix natively, but what about those of us without a smart TV?

Well, make it smart! For comparatively little cost, you can buy hardware that turns your “dumb” TV into a smart one. Here’s a roundup of the most popular ones:

Roku ($50-$100)

rokuRoku is probably the most popular way currently to make your TV smart. For $50 – $100 depending on the model, you can be streaming from any TV with an HDMI connection in no time. Roku is a small black box that allows you to download a variety of different apps (called “channels) from the various content providers such as Hulu or Netflix, as well as smaller ones that are too many to name in one article. Here’s a good roundup of the most popular ones.

You can then access the content provided by these apps, be it TV, Youtube videos, movies, and much more. It costs nothing monthly and doesn’t need to be upgraded for a long time. Some of the higher end models even integrate gaming into the system.

Chromecast ($35)

chromecastThe newest contender in the wireless streaming market (and certainly the cheapest) is the Google Chromecast. Resembling a small USB device, it goes one step further than the Roku and cuts out the need for an HDMI cord all together by plugging directly into the HDMI outlet on your TV. The downside is that it still requires a wire to connect to a power outlet, but so does every other product (until they invent wireless energy). It also goes one step further by eliminating the remote all together to reduce cost, and can instead be controlled with an app on your Android or iOS device.

It also streams content to any other device that has an internet connection, meaning you can even watch your favorite shows or home movies on your smartphone or tablet.

Apple TV ($99)

appletvApple has it’s own smart TV hardware called the Apple TV, and is a great addition to anyone who is already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.

It allows you to stream to any apple device or your TV, and even allows you to (for example) play games on your TV by using your tablet as a controller.


These devices are all pretty similar, and with a lot of overlap it really comes down to brand preference more than anything. No matter which one you chose, having one of these smart devices will supercharge your TV experience, all while allowing you to cut that cable for good and never run out of things to watch.

More importantly, it’s 2014, and watching things on-demand is much more attractive option than having to wait until prime time hours and clearing your schedule just so you can watch your favorite show. Plus, on regular TV you can’t binge by watching an entire season of Game Of Thrones in one sitting!

About the author

Stewart Gregerson

Stewart Gregerson is a husband, father, veteran, and lover of the great outdoors.

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  • David Brantley

    What about college football?

    • Eric Prior

      There are different ways to get streaming HD football. The best way is to get a friend who loves you to give you their password for their streaming access (90% of cable users don’t use their access). I know you can get BTN2Go and maybe the SEC network.

    • This is actually a good point – I don’t think Stewart watches much college football so he glossed over it in this article. Looks like Eric has a solid answer though 🙂

  • PTee

    Did you factor in bandwidth limit imposed by Cable companies? Charter has a bandwidth cap of 100GB 250GB etc per month that includes both download and upload. Once you get marked and you exceed, they charge 1$ PER GB! What if you subscribe to many providers like Netflix, then Hulu then you also want to watch HBO? Showtime?

    • Are you in Canada? I haven’t heard of bandwidth limits personally but I know they do exist up in CAN. If you subscribe to that many and you’re running into cap issues, I might humbly suggest to watch a bit less TV? That’s one of the final options in the whole cutting the cord idea, but it’s understandable if it’s not an option for you.

      I roll with Netflix only, but I might be abnormal as I don’t watch much TV!

      • PTee

        LOL!? ARe you being serious?! I just said Charter. You’re not familiar with Charter? Come on bro, mate, dude. I thought you did your research. Charter has that policy. And it will only get worse as Net Neutrality is dead, unless Google Fiber populates the entire nation which is not too soon unfortunately.

        • Whoopsies – never heard of them! I did my research, but I also didn’t write this piece – one of our staff writers, Stewart took the lead!

          Net neutrality isn’t dead – yet, and hopefully never will be.

          Fiber’s coming, but slowly…and not to a lot of the cities that really need it (maybe not to some cities … ever … due to the geography and political climate 🙁

          • PTee

            So Stewart should get credited with the above By Line not “Kevin Espiritu”, I think that’s pretty easy with a WP framework.

            Yes Google et al are trying to stop the FCC with their ready to launch new net-neutrality killing policy, but with the revolving doors of FCC + lobbyist employees hiring each other, it’s dead for now. Soon with new administration hopefully it gets overturned and/or protected

          • You’re totally right – he’s credited. Slip of the mind on a Friday evening 🙂

            What can we do to help the net neutrality issue – you seem like you know quite a bit about it?

          • PTee

            Google, Microsoft, Amazon et al have all teamed up to delay the FCC’s policy amendment so I think the least we could do is call your district congressman, (know your district first and who the rep is for the Millennial kids out there) which I did once and somebody actually replied, and say your stance and that you expect the congressman/woman to do the same and support Net Neutrality, etc.

            As for now enjoy the Reddit visitors 😀

      • PTee

        #2 And lastly, your whole premise is to cancel the cable TV subscription so I asked the most obvious question – HBO, Showtime, Discovery, TLC, MTV, Local cable – equivalent replacement.

        • I think the best play would be to figure out which shows you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT and then optimize around that – unless you unluckily love 1 show from each individual provider, you should be OK. Thoughts?

  • Jason

    One more year/season until the NFL’s contract is up with DirecTV – I sure hope after that the NFL puts out something similar to MLB.tv and just lets people watch games from their computer/device.

    • *fingers crossed* MLB.tv is the best one out there for sports, I know a bunch of buddies who love it. NFL would be smart to do the same thing, and then it might start a cascade effect that flows to other major league sports.

  • Steve

    2 problems:
    1. Game of Thrones
    2. College Football

    • Hacky option for GoT – buy ep in HD for $3.99 from Amazon / iTunes

      • fluffman86

        1. Yep, that’s a good option, and way cheaper than paying for HBO all year just for 10 episodes of a show. For the first season of GoT we paid $15 for the DVDs used. 2nd Season we found them at Walmart for less than $30. Now we use the HBO Go login from a family member that has access.

        2. I’ve always watched College Football (the little bit that I actually watch) on Broadcast TV, but I’m sure that there’s a streaming site out there where you can watch it. :-

        Just be sure to use AdBlock Plus and Incognito mode if you do that, preferably on Linux.

        • Yea, I stay away from those ‘free stream’ sites…too sketch (plus I don’t watch anything that has a need for them thankfully)

  • tiredoftea

    Everytime I read one of these chuck your cable articles, they never mention the internet part of the equation. Anyone have a better solution?

    • fluffman86

      I think most of these assume that most people are going to have an at-home internet connection either way. The few exceptions would be people living too far from civilization, so they have Satellite TV and Internet, or they live simply without TV. Even the cheapest cable Internet options or DSL are usually fast enough to stream Netflix at SD quality. And 200 GB / month Internet will let you watch a good bit of TV before you hit the cap, especially if you can force it to stream in SD (haven’t looked into that).

      • tiredoftea

        Yes, and that’s the assumption that I am trying to pick apart. Most smart phones have a tethering/hotspot option and I wonder whether moving to that ends up being a less expensive option for those who want to leave the cable monopolies behind.

  • Tyler Tucker

    I feel like modern gaming systems should be added to the list of “smart devices”. You can get a PS3 for $100-200 new, and it’ll give you all those services plus a blu-ray player, and more.

    • Good call – PS3 also gives you Final Fantasy, makes it totally #worth 😉

  • bidaho

    Yes, you can get NHL Center Ice to watch most regular season games. But when it comes time for the playoffs (which last almost 3 months), you’ll need a cable/satellite subscription to authenticate to NBC Sports Live Extra if you want to stream. NHL Center Ice does not include the playoffs and there is no playoffs package available.

    I’m not sure what the baseball playoffs situation is.

    And if you want live ESPN, there are no streaming options.

    • Steve

      It will with the use of a VPN. I set mine to a Swiss server and watched all the bruins games.

      I use a friends cable login info to use the espn app for sports too

      Check out private internet access VPN and also unblock us for DNS spoofing for MLB.TV. I use them both