Cable TV is an outdated concept.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:
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.
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
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.
Baseball – MLB.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.
Soccer – MLS Live is your best bet.
MMA – UFC.tv is your best bet here, but it’s expensive as it’s PPV.
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.
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:
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 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.
The 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)
Apple 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!