We cut the cord on satellite TV over two years ago. It took a long time to get to a place where we were ready to let go, but it’s been nothing but positive. Not only do we save money every month, we choose when and what to watch, resulting in way less TV altogether. Who has time to watch TV when there are side businesses to hustle, rental properties to be found, and family trips to be planned?
In fact, TV is one of the biggest time sucks known to man. In years past, I can’t count how many times I’ve turned the TV on for background noise only to find myself four hours later caught up in a Law and Order marathon. I can’t think of one benefit to having cable or satellite TV, and I’m going to shoot down every excuse today and ask why haven’t you cut cable yet?
Cutting Cable Does Not Mean No TV
At the end of a long day, I like to sit down and watch a show as much as the next person, but you don’t need cable to do that. With all the streaming and on demand options available, just about any type of show can be found for way less money than having a cable subscription.
Some of the options we’ve tried are better than others depending on what you like to watch.
- Netflix is great for original shows like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, plus there is a huge library of network and vintage TV shows. It’s nice because you don’t have to worry about missing an episode and getting behind. There are tons of movies on Netflix as well, but it’s not the best service for new releases. Netflix costs about $8 a month.
- Hulu Plus is the service you want for following current TV series. For most shows, episodes appear on Hulu the day after they air. Hulu has grown to include some of their own original series, including highly anticipated The Way starring Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul. Hulu is also around $8 per month.
- Amazon Prime, while not originally marketed as a TV service, has really made great strides in their content over the past couple of years. Most people used to sign up for free two day shipping, but I would have to argue that TV services are a pretty good reason to pay the $99 yearly fee, which makes Amazon comparable to other options at $8.25 per month.
But I Like to Watch Sports and Game of Thrones!
Live sports was probably the one reason many die hards could not cancel cable in the past. Although installing an antenna allows access to local network stations for free, you still didn’t have ESPN or live sports channels for the most part. Sling TV is a new service that does offer live sports plus a variety of other channels like HGTV, TBS, and the Disney Channel. The cost of Sling TV is $20 per month, so no reason to keep cable for one or two channels!
For lovers of premium movie channels, it is now possible to buy those a la carte with prices ranging from $4 a month for Starz to $14.99 per month for HBO. For cheapskates, remember that almost all HBO shows will end up on Amazon Prime if you wait long enough.
Won’t I Have to Buy a Bunch of Equipment to use Streaming Services?
You do need to have some sort of device to watch streaming content on your TV. Luckily, there are several inexpensive options. We have a Roku Device that cost about $50. You can also use an Amazon Fire Stick, which is portable and can be used during travel. There are also Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and several other streaming options for under $100. CNET has a nice list of rankings and which device might be best for your particular type of TV viewing.
Be Careful Not to Overload
While cutting cable is a very budget minded thing to do, paying for too many streaming options can negate savings. Most services offer a trial period, usually 7 days or a month for Amazon Prime. This should allow enough time to see which service works best for your needs. Don’t forget to cancel the ones you don’t want to keep.
Unlike having a cable contract, a nice thing about streaming is that you can suspend service anytime. We don’t watch much on Hulu during the summer, so that one is currently on hiatus at our house. When Scandal starts up again, I will reactivate our subscription.
Honestly, even if you do feel the need to pay for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO, the cost is still probably half of what you’d pay for the same number of shows on cable.
Is There Anything I Can Watch for Free?
Yes! There are a ton of ways to watch TV for free. Many networks allow you to watch recent episodes online for a period of time after their air date, and movies or TV series from the public library are always free. For a one time cost, you can also buy an an antenna and watch network and local channels without ever having to pay a dime.
If you are still unsure, I challenge you to take a month and write down every show you are seriously interested in and see if there is a way to watch it through streaming. Then, add up the cost of streaming services vs what you’re paying now. There is almost no way not to come out ahead by cancelling your subscription for cable or satellite TV, even if you have to invest in some new hardware up front. With all the available options, why haven’t you cut cable yet?
Have you found any benefits to cutting cable besides money savings? What is your favorite TV or movie gem you’ve found from streaming that you would never have watched on cable?