Living without cable: My experience with cutting the cord

By Shawn Knight ยท 37 replies
Mar 27, 2015
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  1. experience cutting cord

    It’s been a little over a month since I disconnected my AT&T U-verse TV service. It’s a process I’ve repeated half a dozen times or more over the last several years. What’s different about this time and why I’m compelled to write about it is the fact that I have no intentions of going back.

    I’ve never been a huge television or movie buff although I occasionally get sucked into a good series like Breaking Bad or Dexter (before the writers drove it into the ground, of course). Most TV shows can now be found online through services such as Netflix, but what has kept me coming back to cable each year is live sports.

    Then last February Sling TV launched what I consider a game-changing over-the-top service. It’s the first of its kind to deliver live sports from ESPN. I’d always told myself that if there was a way I could watch my team during football season that didn’t involve cable, I’d drop it in an instant. Well, I’m now an official cord cutter and this has been my experience...

    Read the complete article.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    Great Article, Shawn. This article not only describes what it's like to live without cable, but incredibly helpful to those looking to supplement the services they would miss from "cutting the cord"
    Jad Chaar, Phr3d and Julio Franco like this.
  3. Who needs cable when you've got the internet?
  4. Been wondering the same since the last 7-8 years when I last had cable TV. Who watches this except for the elderly :D
  5. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,555   +1,000

    After I moved I never made a cable contract. just internet. and I'm fine with it. my TV is just gathering dust :D
  6. You did not say how much your internet cost. I wonder if you would still be paying less or the same after you factor that in.
  7. I've found the Xbox 360 setup as WME to be the best set-top-box for the cord cutter. It gives you all the DVR & guide functions in addition to being able to stream netflix, hulu, etc.. By adding additional tuners to your PC (I have two) you get to simultaneously watch & record programs. The only caveat I've found is that WME really needs to be hardwired. Wireless works fine for streaming netflix, but I've found streaming HD media off your PC laggy. Also, this only works on the 360. Unfortunately they didn't include WME on xbox one.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  8. jwils5396

    jwils5396 TS Rookie

    I don't trust Dish and don't want to be told that my news world view has to come from a single 24 hour news source. I found the OTA antenna an excellent choice, I get 22 channels, including CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox plus each network owner have channels like Accu Weather, Create TV, ME TV and many others. There are free movie channels as well.

    As to sports, I found radio an excellent substitution for watching wanna be comedians showing sport highlights. I listened to my favorite college football games including the playoffs. I realized how much I missed the days of radio so am not willing to pay the enormous price for ESPN. In all, with $75 in a one time OTA rooftop antenna, $99 for a Roku 3, I only pay $7.99 per month for Hulu Plus. I have never been happier not dealing with a cable/satellite thief any longer. When and if stations want to cut out the middlemen like Dish, Comcast, Apple, etc, and come to me direct, I will add the stations I want and that meet my entertainment need. CNN and ESPN will not be two that I will add.
  9. I have not had any paid TV for 7 years. All 5 networks are available over the air and I have been using media center as a DVR. There is no device more versatile than a PC connected to your TV. With it I can watch Netflix, Amazon prime, record live TV, Surf the web, watch blurays and of course play games. With a PC you have 1 device to do everything so why waste time on devices that are limited to only a few functions. I use a RCA outdoor antenna that is about as large as a satellite dish and costs less than 50 bucks. I almost never have a lost signal. That's the way I have saved lots of money over the years by not having cable or satellite plus I don't watch any TV ads.
  10. You say u need to purchase an HD Antenna, thats not the case at all, u simply need an antenna that receives both UHF And VHF even if that antenna was invented before HD was ever a thought. And of course you have to be in an area that receives tv signals. Now some antennas do work better then others, but the concept that it has to be an antenna labeled HD is not true. I use a bowtie antenna thats very old and it works fine.
  11. wcbert

    wcbert TS Rookie Posts: 74

    Great article and I have cut the cord over two years ago. I use Roku 3, Roku XL, Chromecast and have HD antenna for over the air. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. I get Amazon Prime because I order a lot of things from Amazon for the free shipping.

    Are things perfect? No. For the masses yes but I like watching PBS and Create TV, too. I have to move my antenna every few months to get better signals to get those OTA stations. Also I doubt I would subscribe to Amazon as much of it, or the programs/movies I would watch are paid.

    For me the biggest impact on cutting the cord and is not mentioned in the article is discovering programs/movies/documentaries that were released years ago that I never saw. Programs like The IT Crowds, Doc Martin, The Vicar of Dibley, Black Books, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, Borgia (The Italian Version), An ***** Abroad, and so on.

    I will watch House of Cards and Orange is New Black only once. But these programs I can go back and watch again or find something released years ago and enjoy it like I was watching the latest show.
    luckydean71 and Julio Franco like this.
  12. The math is way off of on cutting the cord costs and it only works if you are single and living in a city

    The only way I get to watch my pro football team is through cable plus my wife watches the big four (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) Showtime and HBO. I also watch PBS. With an HD antenna I won't get the pro football local channel plus I would be lucky to get half the major channels.

    So I would end up spending
    $10 - basic channels
    $10 - cable box
    $10 - DVR
    $50 - internet since it won't be bundled
    It's the same price as the bundle package

    not to mention the the 2 games ESPN steals for MNF so I would have to get that

    plus we get netflix and amazon prime and they suck. Netflix has two great shows and that's it. Amazon Prime has even less unless you lived your life without HBO. The free movies they both offer are either old (ive seen too many times) or an occasional blockbuster everyone has seen. At least with amazon you can rent the latest movies but you don't need prime for that.
  13. trparky

    trparky TS Addict Posts: 233   +107

    "Such a move would also mean that most of those stations that nobody watches would likely go under."
    If they have nothing worth watching on them, they deserve to go under. Survival of the fittest.
  14. Cutting the cable is fine, but you still need wifi and/or an internet hookup. For many cable companies, the cost of having the cable company just supply wifi in some cases cost as much as having a tv package. There is no way a cable company is going to give anyone cheap wifi so that you can receive tv from someone else. Not sure if the aggravation is worth the savings.
  15. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,461   +364

    I'm curious what the difference of being bundled with cable and internet vs internet alone. Often times, Cable companies cut down the "advertised price" of the items bundled to make it a "deal" for the customer. On my plan with FiOS, my almost barebones cable costs just south of half my bill, but I also know that internet alone would be $20-30 more expensive if by itself. That being said it would still be saving me money to drop it, but does put a bit of a damper on how much you're saving. I have been seriously considering on killing my cable service though and taking the prorated ETF; even paying the ETF the savings would pay for itself in a few months.
  16. RF Carp

    RF Carp TS Rookie

    There is nothing on here about internet service. Internet alone is more expensive when it is unbundled with cable and the cable company will not give you a deal. Get cable or pay more for internet. Inflexible.

    I purchased a Mohu Leaf and it stunk. Move it an inch in one direction and I gain one channel but lose another. Heavy rain storm? Forget it. I lost all but one channel during a downpour. Mohu's customer service could not fathom the fact that I live 13 miles from an antenna farm where ALL the local TV stations have their antennas, so why could I pick up one station but not the other? If you could get the stations, the big plus with Mohu is that the picture is sharper and clearer than cable...if you can get the station. I went back to my cable company and ordered the local channels package. which gives me all I need + internet for $68/mo. I pay for Hulu, which, IMO is better than Netflix for original and foreign TV content. I pay $70 a year for a private channel called Hockey Streams so I can watch my local hockey team, which I cannot do with NHL's Center Ice (only out of market games).
  17. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,838   +896

    Well done (y)

    As a Time Warner Cable(TWC) user, I too wish to circumcise the bugger. Over the Air doesn't work here (too hilly) so it means swapping one service for another. My considerations are:
    • access to local programming and the classical network tv.
    • retain Internet and phone service (aka, we're on VoIP)
    • with Internet access, Roku et all would be fine.
    Not looking forward to the Comcast transition (n)
  18. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,734   +643

    Like you, I cut the cable, too. I am also not that much of a TV watcher, though I have been enjoying various older TV shows on Hulu such as MI-5. Sports was not a big consideration for me, however, I am a hockey fan, and the NHL's streaming service is a far better deal (if I were to subscribe) for me than Sling.

    For the more technically inclined of the readers, I would recommend ditching anything like Roku or any such STB in favor of an HTPC - that way, you only need one "box" for all streaming services and OTA TV - plus, if one uses one of the widely available and free software packages like MediaPortal (Windows only) you get all the DVR functionality for OTA TV - all in one box. The HTPC will cost more, however, what is gained in flexibility is worth the extra expense - at least to me.

    I don't want to discourage anyone, but I have been an OTA nut for years. In some ways, DTV is worse than analog TV was. I live in an area that is low in elevation compared to the surrounding area, and this makes it difficult to receive DTV. The "why" of it is that what was implemented for DTV in the US is essentially DTV sent via an analog means. It is susceptible to multipath interference - which is what used to cause a phenomena called "ghosting" in the old analog TV days. I've researched my problem quite a bit, and I have found that there are people in other areas of the country where you would expect excellent DTV reception, but because of geographic considerations, the reception is less than great.

    On the upside of DTV, if you live in a area that is good for DTV reception, you might just get upwards of 70 or more stations with a high quality signal all the time.

    In problem areas for DTV reception, though it might seem "old hat", an antenna mounted on the roof with a rotor will go a long, long way to getting signal you might not otherwise get, and improving what you already get.

    Also, _most_ amplifiers out there a junk, IMHO, but might work for people IF the area they live in allows reasonable reception of signal. However, there is one factor that makes a big difference, from personal experience, and that is how much noise the amplifier itself injects into the OTA signal.

    When I cut the cord, I thought I had a very high quality amp with a very low noise figure. However, after researching amps, I found this -

    For some, it might be pricy, however, this amp significantly reduced dropout in bad weather to the point where both my wife and myself agree that it was a good buy. With the amp I had, bad weather would make some of the stations I get unwatchable, however, with this amp, all my stations are watchable even in bad weather. There are still some glitches, but they are insignificant compared to how bad the glitches used to be. There are other aspects of this amp that make it probably one of the two best on the market at this time, but I am not going to get into that.

    Also, Bing points will get you some things for free - like Hulu+

    I will never go back either. I'm paying $35/mo for 15 mbps internet, and that is great for my needs at this time. There is a fiber service slowly rolling out in our area that is offering 100 mbps service for $50/mo. When that is finally available to me, I'm dropping TW. Without the cost of the internet access, I pay $8/mo for Netflix, $4/mo for Amazon Prime (I qualify as a student), nothing except searching with Bing for Hulu+, and $4/mo for a show the wife watches from iTunes. So, that is $16/mo for what used to cost me $85/mo with Dish Network - and I still had to pay extra for internet service.

    Although your article seems to imply it, I highly doubt that OTA free TV will go away any time soon, and people will still watch live TV. The ATSC in the US is working on a next-gen broadcast scheme, and I really, really hope that they implement something that is not as problematic as the current OTA DTV broadcast scheme in the US.

    One thing that my wife and I particularly like about Netflix is that it has plenty of great "art house" movies - so many that we consider it better than going to the "art house" movie theater in our area.

    One last note: I would not be surprised to see ESPN start offering some sort of streaming package in the not too distant future.

    As I see it, there is life without a cable or satellite TV subscription, and it is great. :)
    Phr3d and Julio Franco like this.
  19. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,886   +1,034

    I haven't read the entirety of the article but this type of ' service swindling' has been more prevalent lately, and it makes me happy to see others dodging fatpig rates. I recently dropped my TV service from TwC, my bill dropped from $125 to $75 for a total of $600 savings per year and we still get channels 1-70, which is all we care for anyways.

    Many of the above mentioned 'alternative's' for seeing what you want is just the beginning of a new era. My lady and I just stream (Amazon +, Netflix, Hulu+, etc) and I've found several sites (1 real good one) that I can stream any sporting event at anytime, without any issues.
  20. Shawn Knight

    Shawn Knight TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 9,273   +100

    I didn't include Internet service as it's kind of implied but yeah, if you don't have an Internet connection then sure, all you can do is use an antenna, listen to the radio and read the newspaper.

    As for rates, my U-verse Max Plus plan was $56 minus a $6 credit with the cable bundle, so $50 flat. I just received my first bill since unbundling and Internet as a standalone service is $62 minus a $10 promo credit for the next year (remember, everything is negotiable - just ask!) which comes out to $52. All said and done, I'm paying an extra two bucks for the same Internet service without the bundle. Knock off the promo and that comes out to an extra $12 per month which is still far cheaper than cable.

    Plus, let's be real, who here is going to subscribe to the Internet just to watch TV over it? It's like Amazon Prime Instant Video... I already pay for Prime for the shipping so the streaming media is essentially a freebie.
  21. Chaython

    Chaython TS Rookie

    Very redundant article, I've had cable for only one year of my life. Due to it being so damn expensive. I've only had internet since 2009 and since 2010 we agreed we cannot afford cable, nor does it convenience us in anyway. Cable is only good for Seniors who'd rather watch the same old crap over and over for the nostalgia factor.
    Anything you've seen on cable you can find online [and legal]. You spend less time finding a great free service than the difference of commercials. If you're the kind of person that likes watching episodes on their premiere, you can wait an hour to find it, often from the channel's website.
    I've been watching Comedy Network, Global, CNN, TSN, CityTV, CTV, etc. Legally from their own websites for years. Shows such as Dragons Den, The Daily Show, South Park, Two and a Half men can be watched from their own site as well. Just sub. to their twitter feeds so you know when something new comes out and start streaming.
    Some of these sites have ads, but using an adblock isn't illegal, and even if it's against your morals they have less ads than regular cable. Also in many countries such as my own "pirating" isn't illegal only frowned upon. To view content over the internet is your right as a subscriber to an ISP, it's not illegal to view copy written materials, only to be a host of such materials.
  22. Depending on what you like to do to relax, cutting cable can be really easy. I'm more of a gamer than a passive watcher so I found it pretty damn easy to get rid of cable. Right now I have Netflix & Youtube for my watching and that's it. I don't really find myself caring too much. Most network TV right now is garbage anyway, I suppose I could just get an antenna, but I'm not sure I'd even bother using it. I could also probably watch TV on the various network's websites, but once again...

    I feel like I'm spoiled for choice. Why is anyone paying $100 a month just to watch 20 minutes of content interspersed with 8 minutes of commercials and 2 minutes of credits/intro. What a rip-off!
  23. Been cable and satellite free since January and loving it. I wish I had done this years ago. Raspberry Pi + Kodi = no more cable ever again.
  24. Welcome to the cord cutter life! I've been cable free for about 8 years now and haven't looked back. Netflix is a must for me. I've also used Hulu on and off, but I'm not the biggest fan of the service. I used to do a lot of OTA via antenna, but even that I never really do. I think the biggest reason I can go without cable is because I don't care if I don't watch a show in real time. I'm perfectly fine waiting a year and watching it on Netflix without commercials.
  25. luckydean71

    luckydean71 TS Rookie

    Ive cut the cord for the second time. First time there was just netflix and hulu and I was bored. This time around I have Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and Sling TV. With Sling I have all my favorite shows that I watched when I had cable. and I spemd way less on all these than I did with my cable. Its the greatest ever. I will never got back to cable. If you want to cut your cord I suggest you do it. I havent tried Playstation Vue yet. I always thought my Playstation was just for my gaming not tv. If your looking for the right Box you can always count on Roku 3. Its faster and more apps than the compitition. Cable no more

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