Cable television sucks. That’s about as succinctly as I can put it. What is sad is that cable has become such a normal staple in life that most people will go on paying the ever-rising, ridiculous rates that the cable companies charge. Modern convenience has turned too many people into mindless consumers who will pay whatever is asked just so their world isn’t changed too much. ┬áThankfully, for those of us who have the gumption and know how to use the internet, you can get rid of cable and never look back. Goodbye to endless bad commercials, goodbye to the 95% of the channels you don’t care about but pay for, and hello to a new and much more satisfying way to consume entertainment. Want to know how to dump your cable? Read on.

Short Version

Dump Cable:

  • Get mad enough
  • Make a list of what you actually watch
  • Check out available services
  • Compare prices
  • Acquire the right equipment
  • Mooch off family
  • Spend extra money on something else

A Penny Saved

From this point on I’m assuming that you aren’t thrilled at the money you spend on cable. If it doesn’t bother you, it probably will by the end of this article. You’ve probably lamented yourself about having 200+ channels available and absolutely nothing on worth watching, and you are definitely not alone.

The reason all those worthless channels are in your exorbitantly priced package is because they wouldn’t survive otherwise. You aren’t the only one not watching them – practically nobody is. So cable bundles all the crap in with the few good channels you want and charges you for them in order to keep them alive. Great for them, not so much for you.

So if you knew that you could get your favorite shows, movies, and sports for somewhere between $8 and $30 each month, would you still want to pay $100 or more to have the MidWestern Midget Rodeo channel included in your package? Me either.

List and compare

Take a piece of paper and write down every show or event that you watch regularly or would be upset about if you couldn’t see it. This is a good idea in two ways. First, it makes it much easier when you start looking at your options. Second, if you can’t think of it to write it down, it’s probably not something you are going to miss very much.

Got your list? Great, now see what options you have. There are many different products and services to get your content through, but we’ll focus on the most popular here. Just so there’s no confusion, we’re not talking about switching to satellite, since for now they operate pretty much like cable.

Hulu versus NetflixNetflix and Hulu Plus are the biggest and most obvious streaming content providers out there, and each is $7.99 per month for their streaming service. With Netflix you can pay additional fees to get physical DVDs in the mail as well, but we’ll leave that out of the equation here. Netflix is the most used and arguably the best streaming content provider around. They don’t have the best selection of new releases, but their library is expansive and has an excellent selection of movies, tv shows, documentaries, and even original content like the awesome show House of Cards.

Hulu Plus has a better selection of television shows than Netflix (although not that much better IMHO), but you have to deal with ads and you can’t skip them. The quality on the two is almost exactly the same.

Amazon Prime is a newer service that is gaining popularity. The streaming selection is much more limited than Netflix or Hulu Plus, but it has perks that those two don’t. The price is cheaper at $79 for the year, and it also includes free two-day shipping on tons of Amazon items as well as the ability to “borrow” books from the site without having to purchase them. If you are a regular Amazon customer, the Prime option is well worth the expense even if you primarily use another service for video.

For the Apple i-crowd there’s always iTunes, although the prices don’t really compare to the others in terms of savings.

Finally, you can get your broadcast TV fix by using an OTA HD antenna to pick up your local stations. The big four networks also offer many of their shows for streaming directly from their websites. To find out what’s available for streaming from many of these sources you can use http://www.canistream.it/ for movies and http://www.tv.com/shows/ for television shows.

Another interesting consideration is that many services and channels are now offering “family” options where you can stream the content to multiple devices for the same price. So if your brother subscribes to HBO with the HBO Go feature, you can simply use his code to watch at your own home. Even more extreme, Dish Network’s new Hopper feature would let you do the same for every channel.

So far we’ve seen that there are plenty of outlets to watch your content through and ways to find out what’s available. The next question is, what kind of equipment will you need?

The hardware factor

ChromecastThe good news is that these days most people already have the hardware necessary to watch many of these services. Your PC or Mac, iPhone or Android serve the purpose until you need to watch on your 60″ flatscreen, and these can be mirrored to the TV in most cases.

Beyond those options, there are plenty of others. Smart TVs have the ability to access the internet, and they and most blu-ray players both have apps for the likes of Netflix and more. Game consoles like Xbox, Wii, and Playstation can also handle these duties. If for some bizarre reason none of these fit the bill for you, there are standalone set-top boxes that will work as well. Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, and Google’s newest offering Chromecast all have the ability to provide for your streaming needs, among many others.

So don’t think that you’re going to have to spend a lot or learn how to operate some new fancy high-tech thingy when cutting the cord. From a hardware standpoint there’s a ton of possibilities, so it’s just a matter of using what’s easiest for you.

The only other piece of equipment you may want to buy that you may not have is the OTA antenna, but that’s nothing that will break your bank.

Other considerations

One thing you should know is that this is a trend that is moving forward fairly quickly. 3 to 5 million Americans have already cut the cord completely, and that number is growing. TBS and TNT are soon going to be broadcasting their content live across multiple platforms, which will allow them to charge the a la carte pricing that we all wish cable and satellite would go to. CNN is partnering with BuzzFeed to create a new YouTube channel for their news content as well.

The savings in terms of money and time can’t be overstated enough. Read through forums where people are talking about making this transfer and you’ll see many claiming $900 to $1200 savings each year. Using this system also turns you from a passive consumer to an active consumer. That means that instead of flipping the TV on and wasting several hours watching things just because they’re on, you actively choose what you want to watch and therefore put yourself on a more definite schedule.

One thing to note is that if you are a die hard sports fanatic this might not be the way to go.

You can still get sports, but ESPN won’t be available and you might be more limited in which games you can see. MLB, NBA, and NHL all have streaming available through certain outlets, and of course broadcast TV gives you NFL games on Sunday, Nascar is on Fox, CBS shows basketball and golf, and so forth. The option is still there, it just might be less of an option than you want. Again, write down what you really want and then see what’s available.

Finally, for most people this is a big change. Before you call up your cable company and cancel your service with a few choice words, try out your new setup for a week or two. This especially applies if you are under a contract which carries a disconnection fee. Many people will be able to carry through on this plan without a second thought, and they are the ones who will enjoy more money, more time, and more freedom with their choices. The rest will remain the willing slaves of the cable company.

Checklist for Cutting the Cord
  • Write down a list of the shows you can’t live without
  • Use the websites above and other sources to see if those shows are available for streaming and where
  • Compare the monthly price of the services you will use to your current cable bill
  • Buy or set up whatever hardware you will need
  • Run a one or two week trial just to make sure it works for youDecide what to spend that extra money on

 

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About The Author

Wally Peterson

Wally Peterson is a writer and aspiring beach bum living sixty seconds from the sand in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. He has a face made for blogging and his idea of fashion is wearing socks.

3 Responses

  1. Troy

    My family got rid of cable last year and we’ve never looked back. I’ve been recommending it to all my friends.

    Reply
  2. SweetPete70

    I’ve heard that if you call up your cable company and make a big fuss and threaten to leave, they will lower your bill, which just proves that they are jacking up the prices for everyone. Very unethical and I’m ready to put an end to it.

    Reply

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