Weekend Open Forum: Time to cut the cable TV cord?

By on March 18, 2011, 9:00 PM
These days people are getting more and more options when it comes to downloading or streaming movies and TV shows -- especially those in the U.S. From Netflix to Amazon to Hulu Plus and several others, the growing availability of online content, coupled with an increasing number of set-top boxes and other connected devices, has pushed the idea of dropping traditional cable TV subscription packages in favor of online video sources.

Granted, there are going to be trade-offs as not everything is available online -- at least not legally. But with cable and satellite bills going up every year, and the fact that a lot of people probably watch less than a dozen channels from their 150+ channel packs, something's gotta give. Then there's the fact that with the digital TV switchover last year, those in the U.S. can enjoy some pretty good quality over-the-air broadcast channels for free using HD antennas.

We don't expect people to cut the cord in droves just yet, as for the most part, 'normal' people simply canít be bothered with setting things up or learning a new device. But being the tech-savvy folks you are, we want to ask you: are you ready to give up cable? Or if you've already done so, what is your current setup?

User Comments: 57

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Timonius Timonius said:

Gave up cable several years ago... 7 million channels and nothing is on!

Guest said:

I actually gave up cable this year. Only person watching cable was my sister. Now we just live off of websites that post TV shows legally and/or illegally.

Raswan Raswan said:

Just gave it up about two weeks ago. Still getting used to not just plopping down in front of the tv, but it's worth it to save a hundred a month.

Guest said:

Not quite ready to pull the plug completely until sporting events are available.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Epic pic.

yRaz yRaz said:

I was never really a TV watcher. Only things I use to watch were battlestar galactica, stargate, and star trek. I would say that I "gave up" TV about 5 years ago. If I want to watch something I go to netflix. If they don't have it then I go do something productive.

impcfast said:

You'll be going back to Cable or a dish network soon enough. Net neutrality was killed. Bandwidth throttling, caps, and overage charges are definitely coming.

SuddenLink recently sent out this email to its users:


"Much like electric usage is measured in kilowatts, and water usage is measured in gallons, Internet usage is measured in gigabytes (GB). If you used 25 GB in a given month, you would be able to send or receive more than 1.5 million emails, or download more than 6,500 songs, or watch more than 150 hours of YouTube videos.

Different customers use a different number of GB each month. For typical usage ranges, visit suddenlink.com/usage/faq.

If your account is using substantially more than the typical range, it could mean several things. For instance: a virus or "spyware" application might have infected your computer and started generating high levels of Internet traffic, or someone else might be using your Internet connection without your knowledge. We provide an online resource to help you guard against such things.

If you haven't already done so, register your account at suddenlink.net. When finished, click the link for "My Internet Usage Summary." If you're already registered at suddenlink.net, log on, go to "My Account," and then click the link for "My Internet Usage Summary."

At any given point in a monthly cycle, you will be able to see how many GB you have used, and compare that usage to the typical range for your package. You will not be able to see how many GB other customers are using, nor will they be able to see how many GB you are using. Each customer will only be able to see his/her usage versus the typical monthly range.

Toward the end of the monthly cycle, if you see that your usage is within or slightly above the typical range, you probably do not need to take any action. However, if you see that your usage is well above the typical range, you may want to check out the series of suggested steps we provide at suddenlink.com/usage/hints-tips, to help make sure your computer and Internet account are protected and secure.

More information is available at suddenlink.com/usage.

Thank you for choosing Suddenlink as your Internet service provider."


25Gb in a month. If you purchase games through Steam or another download service, you could hit that mark pretty quick. Updating your games, your operating system, and watching movies on Netflix will certainly bring you to that limit.

Comcast has a 250Gb limit on their premiere service. At least, that's more acceptable. It would be hard for any normal user to hit that. www.comcast.net/terms/network/amendment/

Anyway, just keep an eye on your Terms of Service for whichever cable company/telephone company you use for internet access.

howzz1854 said:

it doesn't mean you can't get the same content in other ways just because companies started capping bandwidth. i god fed up with increasing cable bills years ago and canceled it. ever since i've been watching live HD tv, blu-ray, netflix, hulu, all on my HTPC. everything in one box. over the air HD broadcast get me all the basic channels, while netflix and hulu cover the rest. blu-ray is just an enjoyment. all without paying a dime to cable TV. i can record, rewind, and schedule for recordings through my HTPC. all this innovation because consumers finally got fed up with increasing cable bills.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I haven't had cable in 5 years and the only thing I miss are some of the shows on the Food Network. I've been able to download and buy boxsets of most of the shows I want to watch.

I've been subscribed to netflix since they started offering it in Canada. It's a great service and I look forward to them continuing to expand their content.

I've already been informed by my isp that in an event that they have to institute a bandwidth cap, that they'll offer be 200GB a month for only $5 more. If the price of internet access truly gets out of hand, I'll go back to reading books and watching the 300+ Dvd's I own.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wish I could, but since I'm an avid sports fan that won't happen anytime soon =/. However I still watch quite a bit of online video regularly.

@impcfast Since Suddenlink considers their service comparable to a utility all of a sudden, you should inform them that you expect their services to be regulated as such then by your local public utility commission .

But I get your point, with so many television providers also servicing Internet which they fear, more and more will start limiting access to it. Like AT&T just did with articles coming out this week of them planning to impose caps and overages. It's such a farce and I hope the average consumer stands up against these companies like they did with Time Warner or we're in serious trouble going back in time with the way we use the internet.

treeski treeski said:

TV in general is mostly obsolete for me. I can get my news and weather online very easily. TV shows... well I'm not a huge TV show person, but for stuff I am interested in, I'm happy to wait until they're all online or on netflix (commercial free for the win). I just finished the last season of Lost at the end of last year... it was epic

My cables are cut!

Guest said:

cable TV companies will not give up easily, they don't care if they are selling Out Houses and you have in door plumbing. They have lawyers and plenty of money on there side. WE should be way more powerful then they are but they keep us divided by our own greed, ignorance and stupidity.

Guest said:

I gave up on TV long time ago. It is absolutely pointless and definitely in Europe.

Series I want to watch in original dub (as all movies) so I have the option to buy DVD or download.

On the other hand only thing I miss is sport... motogp I love, but I am buying full season video passes since 2006.

I watch Tennis and some other sports in illegal way indeed quality is quite low and bandwith is limited lots of time...

To be honest a good online sport channel for ~30?/mo would be a fantastic stuff.

treetops treetops said:

Cable companies already have lobbysists in washington working on letting ISP's limit our internet in what would be considered criminal ways atm. But in a few years you will have to choose between pricey unthrottled internet and ISP filtered limitnet.

People will likely either have cable+limitnet or pricey internet and get all the tv viewing via the net.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

My habits for consuming video content (TV shows, movies, etc.) have changed dramatically in the last few years. At least half of it is downloaded/streamed, so I can watch whenever I want.

I still pay for cable but again almost everything I watch on TV is recorded for later using a DVR. Most of the live TV I watch is either news or sports broadcasts and even on those I prefer to be a bit late, so I can fast forward commercials.

negroplasty negroplasty said:

I don't and will never subscribe to cable to be fed advertising every five minutes as well as pay a subscription. The only money my cable provider gets from me is for my internet connection.

nismo91 said:

gave up TV long time ago. almost all shows I watched are downloaded, so I can watch anytime, without ads, and with subtitle if i needed.

Ithryl said:

Gave the cable up long time ago. As one of the posters above already said - nothing's on and when there actually is, you spend twice as much time watching than you would without commercials. There's three LCD TV's in my apartment but I'm yet to try streaming any films or series off the Internet. Until then I'm going to use them just to play blu-ray discs, watch live news streams like I do now or - my favourite - use them as a virtual aquarium/fireplace background. =)

From the reactions I read in here it does look like I should give streaming shows and movies a gander at least.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As the article mentions, the US has several alternatives. Other places less so. I don't expect it will be practical to switch here in Israel for quite a few years.

vipor231 said:

lets not forget about dial up and how isp's used to charge by the hour on that,that will never happen with broadband because so many people will end up leaving and finding other ways to get content...these caps there putting on right now will eventually either go away or they will offer more bandwith for a price like other posters have said...im on comcast with 250gb a month,i use netflix as my main way of watching things,i diteched cable like 3 or 4 months ago

vipor231 said:

ditched cable

Mizzou Mizzou said:

There is less and less that cable has to offer that interests me. At this moment AMC HD is playing info-mercials, as are National Geographic and Discovery, etc. The entire Discovery network now shares content across most of their channels ... if you like American Chopper then they've got you covered. Sports are the main reason why I still have cable, even that is getting harder to justify.

Saintnsinner said:

I just fired Comcast in January. They were getting too expensive and I was watching less and less content. And what little I was interested in I prefer catching the DVD without commercials. I pretty much have all my needs met through Netflix and Redbox. The one show I do like on network TV is House and I just catch it on Hulu a week later. And for the record when I cancels cable comcast raised my internet bill to 72.00 a month. Well their fired for internet service also. I just switched to DSL for 39.95 a month and the speed is about the same. Stick it in your arse Comcast!

Scshadow said:

I recently learned cable costs over a hundred dollars a month. I can't believe anyone is THAT stupid. I think it seems pretty stupid to pay 50 bucks a month for TV. I was raised on OTA and I'm now an avid Hulu user. I worry the internet will become subject to overages and caps and that will be a sad day. I hate corporate greed.

Omnislip said:

Lucky you, you Yanks. No way UK residents could switch away from satellite/cable 'cos there's no real alternative. Well, you could use Sky's online thing, but it costs just as much as the real deal.

But how can ou all cope without all the sports?

Guest said:

I recently purchased a Roku streaming video box, and it is pretty nice to be able to stream shows off the internet. The quality is not as good as regular tv(might be my internet speed), but this service has a lot of potential. Early this week though, after I disconnected DirecTV, I heard that AT&T is going to cap their high speed internet service to 150G a month starting May 2. That will stop a lot of people from cutting their services.

So as you can see, the major players are going to put up a fight to keep people from going to streaming video as long as they can. That way they can squeeze every last penny out of our wallets.


TJGeezer said:

What @Timonius said. Gave it up some years ago when legislated legal monopolies kept the prices unrealistically high. I didn't mind, back when my cable company reinvested and bandwidth kept rising, but when they stopped increasing bandwidth in favor of just increasing the price I quit in disgust. Worst example of "free enterprise" as dogma, not practice, I'd seen to that point. I guess with profits soaring they could buy more members of congress and senators.

edison5do said:

In my country Broadband its tooo slow..... so my cable will still there for a long time!

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@impcfast: So.... they are comparing water and electricity to a non-existant never-ending cost-free (We are not taking into account the WAN used to give the internet because you are paying a monthly fee for "maintainance", we are measuring the GBs, how much is 1gb worth to one of this retarded companies?) resource?

My only hope is that they get sued so bad they have to give free services to low income families.

Prosercunus said:

I have ditched cable myself. I was astonished to find out that my 20mbps down/2mbps up cable internet was 10 dollars CHEAPER than the BASIC cable my local company was offering. Absolutely ridiculous.

Even my parents ditched it and they were born in the fifties, at the absolute zenith (pun intended) of television and cable soon to follow. 48 dollars for basic cable when I could get my aforementioned cable internet for 37, which is a much much greater value? They are out of their minds.

Prosercunus said:

Prosercunus said:

I have ditched cable myself. I was astonished to find out that my 20mbps down/2mbps up cable internet was 10 dollars CHEAPER than the BASIC cable my local company was offering. Absolutely ridiculous.

Even my parents ditched it and they were born in the fifties, at the absolute zenith (pun intended) of television and cable soon to follow. 48 dollars for basic cable when I could get my aforementioned cable internet for 37, which is a much much greater value? They are out of their minds.

Edit: My parents basically had enough when they seen their bill sitting at 200 dollars (cable internet, cable tv, phone) and once they added on a few DVR boxes and the such. Thanks to the companies greed now they are getting at best 40/month from them for the internet.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

Omnislip said:

Lucky you, you Yanks. No way UK residents could switch away from satellite/cable 'cos there's no real alternative. Well, you could use Sky's online thing, but it costs just as much as the real deal.

But how can ou all cope without all the sports?

If you get an HD antennae you can get some local channels that are basically local news, sports, and a few sitcoms.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Eh, I watch Hockey and American Football now and then as well as collegiate sports, no real alternatives for that atm. I also like to use the TV as background noise, nor are any of the channels I actually watch available over the air or online (except Comedy Central, a TON of that is available online). So I am basically stuck. Either way... I should give the cable company a call.

impcfast said:

Well, I too watch most of my shows on hulu or some other site where the eps have been upped to fileshare services. But, I need my cable tv specifically for the sports: NASCAR and NFL. If it weren't for those sports, I wouldn't have need of cable either except for internet.

Last week on the dailytech news website, they had a story about ATT dsl/Uverse subscribers being capped. So, even if you leave Cable for a different ISP source, you're still looking at usage limitations. ATT looks as if they're about the same as Comcast in the amount of bandwidth though.

And I agree with those of you who said these type of limitations takes us back to the stone age of the internet. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we'll see limitations go away any time soon.

Guest said:

Just ditched Comcast last month and I'm not missing it very much. I realized I was watching Netflix all the time. Netflix is $8/month and Comcast was $80/month for "basic" cable with a crappy DVR and crappier HD. I do miss late night TV but some of that seems to be on Hulu Plus. I'll be looking into that option soon.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

I gave up cable a while ago - Internet-based television is simply sooo much cheaper. Cheaper = free if it's on YouTube . So instead of cable, I use a 3G-uplink.

Jurassic4096 said:

I got rid of cable 3 years ago, and only use the TV for movies. HTPC in my future.

Guest said:

one word:


Rasta211 said:

Ditched TV in 2005, lol.

For sports I got to bars or a friends house.

The main problem I saw with regular TV is that I couldn't watch shows I wanted to watch at a time convenient for me without commercials.

tonylukac said:

Gave up cable 2 years ago. I liked the digital tv conversion because we live near Chicago and get free over the air broadcasts in sharp hd. Sports are plentiful on the weekends, so I see no need for cable. We have att dsl and that's getting capped, but I guess being a volunteer librarian I just don't watch that much tv, including streaming tv. The next improvement in this house (condo) was to get Ooma phone service which costs $12 a year for a landline. Frys has that. Instead of watching tv, I keep up on the latest tech reading Techspot.


They should call it "Comcast Cable Commercial" it is no way Comcast Cable tv, Cause the commercials amount to the same running time as the tv shows or movies...

I am about to cut the Cable tv, and just keep the Internet from comcast.

But when I do cut the cable tv, they said they have to charge me an additional $10.00 a month, because I wont have cable tv ???? what is up with that ...

Talk about getting ripped off ... that should be illegal ... IMHO...

lipe123 said:

Would work well enough in the US but Canada is pretty stuffed as far as this goes.

Not to mention like another poster said before me, instead of upgrading the internet infrastructure thats mostly based on tech thats 10+ years old they simply want to restrict its use to lower the stress on band with etc.

Here's a crazy idea, how about instead of crippling the internet they spend some money on beefing up the backbone connections and possibly investing in some faster/better ways to transfer data.

Makes complete sense to just integrate tv/movies/phones all into the existing internet framework and be done with all the extra costs of running seperate networks. In almost EVERY future movie thats already the reality and makes perfect sense.

Guest said:

Only problem with this is because i digitally download all my games though steam or Xbox live or even the Playstation store bandwidth caps are not enought here in canada. I have one of the bigger packages now and without streaming I use or exceed my caps now.

I use to have unlimited but apparently Bell or Cogeco (my choices here) do not offer them anymore.

Guest said:

My family gave up cable in 2007; Between Netflix, Hulu and UTorrent we haven't missed anything. We love being able to sit down and watch 8 seasons in a row of any show in without a single advert or menu (the exception being Hulu of course). We own some Disney DVDs for the kids which serve to remind us of how imposing standard media distribution is. I.E. getting 20 minutes of studio promos, previews and adverts forced on you before even getting to the annoying 3d interactive menu. I don't like to feel like I'm being punished for buying a movie, I just want to watch the damn movie I purchased. That's why I pirate! ( a simple titled file that I just click and it plays the said named movie in whichever default media player I like. WOW! what a concept, if only the networks and movie industry could invent something like this in the next 10 years they would be rich!) My children get to watch an interesting time in history for technology : multi-billion dollar industries fail or thrive based on how they fight or embrace the change in end-users needs/wants with non-archaic digital distribution systems for media and entertainment. Meanwhile, greedy ISPs conspire and plot how to exploit and capitalize on the situation so they can bleed every last stone and our government building organizations that get to determine whether you are a jail-worthy criminal because you may have watched or read or posted the wrong image on the interweb that was trademarked, copyrighted or Eula Intellectual Property. I think it should at least be legal to pirate what you have already purchased like I have always done with games, movies and music to avoid constantly switching discs or having an obnoxious disc library in my living room. Just a thought, sorry about the non-thread related tangent.

Guest said:

This is a follow-up of my family giving up cable in 2007. We switched over from residential Comcast service to business class Comcast because business class is 16Mb(or maybe 12Mb) for $65 a month. It has no bandwidth cap so I can frag, download an stream movies 24/7 while my wife remotes into work. They also roll a truck within 4 hours when internet is down, they came out at 1:00 am once on my permission of course. The only downside is I can't download torrents and receive low ping for gaming simultaneously. I can only stream movies to one PC at a time while gaming if I want a low ping, and MagickJack voip device doesn't work proper during heavy torrents but still works fine while streaming gaming and remoting in.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

We use around 250gb a month in downloads and streaming, back at home at least. Not so hard to see with 4 laptops, 5 desktops and a htpc running netflix. I've even gotten a call from comcast after a deactivation to ask what was I doing. After further investigation I was found not guilty of running any illegal websites, ie child pornography, torrent sites(and yes that was said to me.) I dont watch so much tv anymore. With school and working with my dad I barely have time to get on TS.

Guest said:

Never had cable!!! Laugh Out Loud!!!

Guest said:

I have not had cable, dish, etc for many years now. I simply use broadcast TV (I live in a Metro area so I have a good selection of programs). My spouse watches a lot of TV over the internet which adds to what we get over the air.

Guest said:

Dropped dish about 3 months ago (best thing I have ever done), only watch OTA channels and Netflix. Built HTPC that is DVR, and media server, and also have PlayOn installed, using HD Homerun tuners to stream tv channels to others rooms.

Guest said:

ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX is all I watch..oh ESPN and NFL...

Dammit ..Need to Figure a way around the last 2 and I'm good.

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