How To Really Cut Cable TV and Never Miss It

If you love watching TV, it can be tough to consider cutting cable. But the cost is staggering. Here is how to really cut cable TV and never truly miss it.So cutting cable is all the rage these days, and rightfully so. Cable companies often don’t have competition and are raising rates like crazy, all while providing less service.

The new wave of various online services that offer alternatives to traditional cable TV viewing is also very good. You can really get a lot of cable shows today without having traditional cable TV.

Last year, I decided to cut the cable and give these services a try. I have actually since turned cable TV back on (probably temporarily), which I will explain later. But overall, the experience was a positive one.

Here is what I ended up doing, and what it cost:

When I had cable TV before, I was on a 12-month discounted rate. It included internet and all channels except the premium movie channels like HBO and Showtime. I paid approximately $135 a month. Once the 12-month discount ended, my rate shot up to approximately $200 a month. That was the catalyst I needed to cut the cord.

For all of these services, unless stated otherwise, you need Internet access plus a device that is capable to accessing them. If you wish to watch them on a television, you either need a smart TV or a device such as a Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Tivo. You can also access some of these services on computers and mobile devices. Most of these services offer free trials before you have to start paying, so that may be a good way for you to give them a try before you are out any money. There are no long-term contracts for anything either, so you can cancel at any time.

Netflix

I was already a subscriber to Netflix, so this remained unchanged. At just under $9 a month, Netflix brings a ton of kids shows that my daughter likes, plus original series that I love like Orange is the New Black, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, plus many others. Netflix also has a ton of movies, although I’ll be honest when I say I don’t watch that many of them. Still, the kids’ shows and original programming make it more than worth the cost.

Hulu

Hulu is great for getting access to regular network television shows from ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW. Unfortunately, CBS shows are not available on Hulu. However, for approximately $8 a month, you can access the rest, usually just one day after they air on regular TV. They also have a good selection of children’s TV shows to choose from.

CBS All Access

Since CBS is not available on Hulu, the only way to get a subscription to it is to subscribe to CBS All  Access. All of the current CBS shows, plus tons of older network TV shows can be watched at any time.  CBS All Access is about $6 a month.

Amazon Prime

I already subscribed to Amazon Prime for the free 2-day shipping benefits. Being a subscriber also gives you access to a library of movies and TV shows that you can stream. Now, for me, I don’t find that many things in their library that I want to watch. But, there are some kids’ shows and some original programming that is good. The biggest annoyance with Amazon Prime is that not everything is free. A lot of the newer shows and movies cost extra to watch. Amazon Prime costs $99 a year.

Sling TV

This is kind of a game changer. Sling TV offers live access to multiple cable channels such as ESPN, HGTV, TBS, Cartoon Network, Food Network, Disney, and more, for about $20 a month. You can also add access to HBO, Disney Junior, and other premium services for additional fees. I occasionally had trouble with my connection to Sling though. I never could figure out why, but there were times some channels would just freeze up. I’d say I had a positive experience watching Sling about 90% of the time. The 10% of the time that it didn’t work right was annoying though. I never knew what the issue was. I didn’t have trouble with any other services, so I don’t think it was my internet connection.

HBO Now

You can now subscribe to HBO without having cable TV. HBO Now is their stand-alone streaming service and can be accessed in the same manner as the other services. This is not to be confused with HBO Go, which is their streaming service for cable TV subscribers. If you don’t have cable TV, you want HBO Now, not HBO Go. HBO Now is approximately $15 a month.

Showtime Now

Just like HBO Now, this is Showtime’s streaming service. It costs approximately $11 a month.

HD Antenna

Now, this is not a paid streaming service like the ones above. An HD Antenna like this one, an Amazon Basics UltraThin HD Antenna, can bring you high definition network TV channels, if you can get a signal. You can get ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and more. And speaking from experience, the picture is perfectly clear and amazing, if you live in the right location for it to work.

 

This the exact antenna I used at my last address. You have to hang the flat white square thing in a window for best results, so your TV needs to be near one. You also need to live in an area near the actual TV station towers. The antenna I linked to supposedly has a 50 mile range, so you would need to be within 50 miles of a station to get it. But, it’s more complicated than that. There are other factors that may affect your ability to receive the channels.

I loved this thing. I live within 25 miles of all the major network TV towers.  I got great reception and an amazing high definition picture and could watch and record all the network channels at no monthly cost.

But then I moved. Even though I moved less than half a mile away, the antenna no longer worked. I was still well within the 50 mile limit of the antenna. In fact, I was much closer than that. My new home is in a lower area than the other home. I am now sort of at the bottom of a hill, whereas before I was up higher. The only channel I can pick up in my new home is PBS, probably because it is the closest station to me.

That was a huge disappointment. There are simply times I want to watch live network TV, like the weather or the news, or even my favorite shows. Yes, I can access these things either online or later through a streaming service like the ones listed above, but it still annoyed me enough that I had to start looking for an alternative.

Back to the Cable Company

I looked at the cable company again to see what it would cost to add just basic cable, nothing but the local channels, to my internet package. Well, since I hadn’t been a cable TV customer in a while, I now qualified for their introductory rates again on their more expensive packages. In doing the math, I realized I could get the big cable package with internet and everything else for only a few dollars more than I was paying for internet plus all of the services listed above. Whereas adding just Basic Cable didn’t get any discounts, and the total cost of that added to what I currently had was actually a bit more expensive.

So that’s why I ended up going back to cable TV for now. My introductory rate is good through the end of 2016 and at that point it will go back up again. So unless I can get them to keep the prices down, I will likely cut the cord again and go back to the services listed above and will just do without local live TV.

What I learned from this experiment is that while you may lose access to some channels and shows when you cut cable, you can definitely still experience a wide variety of both network and cable programming without the high cost or long-term commitment required by some cable companies.

And while I did go back to cable again for now, it is only because they offered me a big discount. At their full price rates, there is no way I would keep cable TV. Once my rates go back up, it will make sense to cut that cord again, and that is what I intend to do if I cannot negotiate the prices down. If nothing else, cutting the cord temporarily is a good bargaining chip to use with the cable companies. They know you are not bluffing when you say “lower my rates or I walk”. With these services available, you really can cut the cord and hardly ever miss it.

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