A Year Without Cable TV

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Every year or so I take a look at my reoccurring monthly expenses and see what I don’t really use or need any longer. One of the biggest expenses I was tired of paying each month was the cable TV bill. I have thought about completely cutting cable before but always backed away for some reason, but it was time to finally make the cut. I was paying nearly $150 a month for cable and internet which was just ridiculous considering we just didn’t watch TV like we used to. About $10-15 of that was device charges for the cable boxes we had to have on each TV. My kids are in college and/or working so they are hardly home to watch TV. Even when they are they have their own subscriptions to things like Netflix or Hulu, so I found no real reason that cable was something needed in our household.

But before I actually made the call to the cable company and went internet-only, I had to look for some type of way for us to watch the few shows that we regularly watch. There are just a few series we watch, but it’s something we enjoy so I had to do a bit of research on streaming services. We have Netflix, but that is something I actually cancelled with the cable. Their selection of TV shows has become minimal, and although we enjoy some of their original programming, we can just get a month at a time and binge watch something like Stranger Things and then cancel. After reading and researching I decided to give DirectTV Now a try, which was a good choice because if I prepaid for a month they would also send me a free Amazon Fire Stick, so no reason not to give it try.

So with that decided I called Bright House and cancelled my cable service. They of course tried to offer me all types of deals to keep it, but I eventually talked them into giving me a deal on 300mbps internet while threatening to leave for a competitor. So I ended up getting internet-only service for nearly half of what I was paying with cable and internet.

After the first couple of days we realized we made a good decision. We didn’t miss cable at all, and all the shows we wanted to watch were available on streaming services. Even with the added cost of a streaming service, we were still saving quite a bit of money each month compared to cable, so we had no regrets about cutting the cord. Now DirectTV Now was another issue. I cancelled the renewal within the first week. The app was terrible to use, the audio on several shows we wanted to watch didn’t work, and it was supported on very few devices we wanted to use. I switched over to Sling TV and we have been using it ever since. It ended up being cheaper and we can choose the package which has the channels we want. We can use it on our TVs with an Xbox One, Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV, and we can use it on our iOS devices. I definitely recommend it!

I also started using Hulu as there’s some shows just on there that my wife likes to watch, and I also subscribed to CBS All Access so I can watch the new Star Trek: Discovery. They are both inexpensive options so they make great additions to something like Sling TV.

One of my favorite things about using these streaming services is I can also use them on my PCs. All the ones I use have apps in the Microsoft Store which I can download to my PCs. I even have a streaming fence setup on my desktop using Stardock Fences to keep them organized right on my desktop! 

So we got rid of cable for just about a year, and while finishing this article up I was really trying to find some downsides to cutting the cord. The thing is I really can’t think of any. We’re saving money, have just as much or more video content available, and it’s easier to watch on a variety of TVs and mobile devices. If you’ve been thinking about cutting the cord, then I would recommend it. Do a bit of research first, but I think you will be pleased with the options you have to watch your favorite content, and save a bit of money while you’re doing it.

Reply #1 Wednesday, January 17, 2018 11:06 AM

Have cut back to just basic service on cable. Will be cutting off completely shortly.

Island Dog
Reply #2 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 1:07 PM

Reply #3 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 1:44 PM

Been thinking about it but, like you, I'm a bit hesitant. I got rid of comcast and switched to verizon. That saved me nearly fifty bucks a month. I really don't watch much TV other than some sports channels and some car shows. Movies I can take 'em or leave 'em. If my channels are available I might consider it. 

Reply #4 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 3:34 PM

I cut the cable shortly after I moved into our current place in July. The price Spectrum was charging for TV service, and the fact I wasn't getting all of the channels I paid for, was the catalyst.

Luckily, I got DIRECTV NOW at a great deal. I pay $10/mo for their basic service, which includes channels I regularly watch. The downside is there's no DVR service (YET!), but I can watch shows on demand either through DTVNOW or through the channel's respective app.

Reply #5 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 3:47 PM

To be honest, I dumped Comcast here two years ago, because they were constantly sucking more money from me for crappy service.

Right now, I'm using Amazon Prime Video, since we already have a Prime membership for other reasons. That actually takes care of 75% of what I want to watch.  I have an older FireTV, and it was well worth picking that up, as it's just simple, easy-to-use, and has a reasonable interface.  I like it because it has a built-in ethernet port and optical audio out, both of which work really nicely with my Home Theater receiver.

I'm currently subscribed to Netflix, Showtime, and HBO, and watch some stuff through the various free-tv apps that ship with the FireTV.  Frankly, I'm probably ditching Netflix and either Showtime or HBO soon, as I'm not watching enough to justify the cost.  There's some stuff I used to watch that I can't anymore, but, honestly, I never miss it.

At this point, given the selection of various free and fee-based streaming services, I think the large majority of people should be able to satisfy their TV wants for well under $50/month.  In my case, it works out to about $30/month. 


Oh, and I got Sonic Gigabit here in San Francisco. $50/month for 1Gb fibre + Telephone service, $58 after all taxes and fees. First 6 months free, no contract.  Can't beat that anywhere.

(and, yeah, it really is 1Gb - I can pump almost 100MB/sec reliably to AWS through this thing. And the ping times are glorious....)

Reply #6 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 4:57 PM

I'm a freak and don't watch much TV.  We live out in the middle of nowhere and only have a mobile hotspot for internet.  However, I get enough data (it's LTE speed) that I watch Netflix now and then.  What do we watch most?  Channels off an old fashioned antennae.  We get about 15 stations over digital antennae for free.  My only TV cost is the Netflix subscription, which I sometimes cancel for months at a time until something pops up that I want to watch.  Had Directv for years, but satellite TV is just as expensive as cable, and totally not worth it.


Reply #7 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 5:26 PM

We dropped subscription TV when Netflix came out. Will admit we watch quite a few strange TV series but for the most part we find them entertaining. We don't watch much TV, a few shows in the evening is all.

Can't make replies in the forum unless I'm using an incognito window, I wonder why? (but at least I don't have to uncheck those boxes below   ) ((darn, they came up after I posted this))

Reply #8 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 6:09 PM

Been a little over 2 years for me.  I, too, tried SlingTV (got a 'free' Roku stick with 90-day signup).  Unfortunately, the streaming quality, both video & audio, was really poor & I canceled it after the 90d trial.  I have PrimeVideo now on ATV, but it, too, is plagued by fluctuating video degradation.  ESPN Go likewise has frustrating intermittent video degradation (drops to 720 or 480 frequently, then reverts to 1080 for a while).

It's too bad the streaming services have such unreliable video quality, but I suspect that will improve with time.  I have an HD OTA antenna for the local broadcast channels which works great almost all the time.  Don't miss cable TV a bit.

Reply #9 Tuesday, January 30, 2018 8:24 PM

Well, I still have Comcast here, but I only pay $139.90 a month for cable TV, 100Mbps Internet (actually at 120 Mbps on Speedtest) and home phone, the triple play package. What I don't understand though is why Comcast's prices are different in some states. That is just not right!

Oh, and everyone might want to check out CuriosityStream too, I got it for $2.99 a month and there are some great intelligent shows!


Franco fx
Reply #10 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 7:02 AM

The most important thing that must be considered when deciding to cut the cord and use a streaming service is the internet download speed in your area.

In my location the best non-cable speed available is ATT Uverse at 24 mbps. In other areas Uverse can be as high as 50 mbps. Cable company premium internet service in my area is capped at 50 mbps, but it can vary wildly depending on internet traffic in your neighborhood. In high tech areas of the U.S. cable sometimes offers over 100 mbps downloading

I have the Uverse service and it delivers 21-24 mbps, which is the bare minimum to stream without buffering with the new live TV streaming services. I have found that they are not as reliable as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

If you are going to go to streaming I recommend the Fire Stick or Fire TV (which is an upgraded Stick). They are very versatile and a wide range of aftermarket programs can be added, in addition to the many pre-installed programs . The best and most essential program (imo) is Kodi. It is amazing for movies and also offers some live TV sports and programming from all over the world. Kodi requires more than average computer savvy to add the movie and TV add-ons you will need, but you can buy Fire Sticks, with Kodi + add-ons pre-loaded, on Ebay

Once again, if you don't have premium internet service, you should get it. The new streaming services that I have tried are not as smooth as Netflix and Hulu. You will have buffering problems if you don't have at least 20-25 mbps download speed.

Reply #11 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 10:21 AM

  We made the decision while my wife and I were both in college to not do cable. It saved us money and compelled us to focus on our studies.  A few years ago, AT&T sold all their residential services in CT to Frontier, which resulted in our internet service being truly horrible for about 6 months. Recently we tried going back to cable, due in large part to being unhappy with Frontier as our internet provider. After 2 weeks, we cancelled and went back to Frontier for internet only. Comcast (Xfinity) had terrible service in our area, and I couldn't justify paying $120 a month when my TV had to buffer to play a basic cable show and my internet was slower and less reliable. We currently have subscriptions to Netflix, Amazone Prime, and Sling, but I am looking to cancel sling soon as I've found we only watch shows through it occasionally and the channels we want are spread among 2 separate packages, so it ends up being nearly $50/month.

Reply #12 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 12:33 PM

I hear you on cutting the cord, I had done that some years ago, but unfortunately there is a very nasty catch to it... if you want to stay current on episodes some content providers are requiring you to have an active Tv service to access certain items online.


Take the Orville for example, yes you can watch current episode free on Fox but if you fall behind unfortunately episodes lock themselves over time requiring you to either have a Tv service with fox in the lineup or wait until a different streaming service like netflix picks it up to be able to watch it.

Other examples like either Mr Robot or Walking Dead "Not sure if this has changed" you can find on Hulu+ however it required you to have an active Tv service to access those episodes at all.

However on the bright side, things are starting to get a bit more friendly for mobile cord cutters, with a lot of room left to improve so hopefully within a few years we'll be sitting better without a Tv subscription.

Reply #13 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 12:36 PM

I get lazy sometimes at work and just go to the network TV sites and watch their programs right on my internet.

Watched NCIS that I missed Sunday --- There ya go.... an hour of time wasted and enjoyed.

Heck, you can watch last nights Jimmy Kimmel too if you wanted

Reply #14 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 9:58 PM


What do we watch most?  Channels off an old fashioned antennae.  We get about 15 stations over digital antennae for free.

Yep...never had any form of pay TV...cable or otherwise.

If it isn't on free-to-air ....and it's something I might 'want' to see I'll buy it on DVD.

Ultimately it's cheaper...

Reply #15 Wednesday, January 31, 2018 10:18 PM

We have Foxtel satellite TV here in Aus, and not only is it damned expensive, it is also unreliable during less than ideal weather conditions. If it's too hot we have picture/sound break-up; if it's stormy we have picture/sound breakup; if it's too cold..... same thing.

I basically only watch it for cricket and rugby league, plus a few TV series that I've followed since their inception. However, there are four of us and each has different tastes in TV viewing, so we keep it because fee-to-air TV is 99% crap 1% rubbish. It costs us each about AUD$73.00 per month.... with internet via a different company at AUD$20.00 per month, which isn't too bad per person, I guess, but it could be better.

What really annoys me about Foxtel and Internet providers is how they'll advertise the exact same plans we're on for less. Recently, Foxtel advertised the same plan that we are on for $30.00 per month less, but that's only for new customers, while current customers keep paying the same as before  For mine, that stinks. It's like current customers are subsidising new customers lower rates, and that's just not right. If Foxtel can afford to offer lower rates to new customers, then everybody should get the lower rates.

Another annoying thing about Foxtel is its so-called customer service.  Frankly, it is the worst I have ever had to deal with.  We have had no end of issues with overseas customer service representatives who barely speak English, are hard to comprehend and are constantly asking the same questions over and over because they don't understand your replies. 

We had an issue with being overcharged after moving to our present address and it took almost two months to get it resolved, but only when we demanded to speak with an Australian representative.  Hopefully everything works as it should so we don't have to call customer service again.  It's sheer agony, but we keep Foxtel because there'd be little to no TV entertainment here without it.



Reply #16 Thursday, February 1, 2018 3:41 PM

it's like that everywhere i think. definitely in uk at least. people are encouraged to switch utility providers for better deals, but if you use isp email, for example, then it's a pain to have to switch your email every few years just to save money. the competition authorities should force those companies to offer the same "intro" prices to old customers who renew their contract really, as switching for the sake of switching is pointless and doesn't encourage real competition.

Reply #17 Thursday, February 1, 2018 4:46 PM

I called to cancel dish network and am getting the no-frills intro package for next to nothing for 12 months. I'll have to decide if I continue that at an increased cost at the end of the 12 months or cancel for good. 

I decided to keep it mainly for their DVR and local channels at the reduced cost, though it does have a few decent cable channels. My wife isn't nearly as happy with some of the lost channels but we get Hulu for free from our Cellular company. I still have Netflix for the Marvel shows but that may go if they leave. 

Reply #18 Monday, June 18, 2018 11:50 AM

I did the same thing. We were paying around $360 a month to Suddenlink for cable, telephone and internet bundle. Of which about $50 a month was equipment rentals. I purchased 2 Roku devices and have slashed my bill by about $150. I have SlingTV, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and I have been perfectly happy with all of those services. Cable TV is going to be a thing of the past if they don't wake up and adopt a more competitive pricing model. 

Reply #19 Monday, June 18, 2018 9:55 PM

Well we cut most of our Foxtel Premium Package and now pay less than half for the got-to-have-it basic package [most of which is crap anyhow]; the sports package to get the rugby league and cricket; an entertainment package to get some TV series we like.

What pissed me off is that they've bundled Syfy in with documentary package, meaning that people now have to get a package they may not have otherwise wanted.  Oh well, bye, bye Syfy.... bye, bye a lot of other crap I can live without.

As soon as the contract is up, though, the lot goes bye, bye.

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