3 steps to cut your cable bill by 90%
Technology has provided other cheap, easy options to get your favorite shows. Here's what to do.
This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.
Cable companies have a dirty little secret: They're not really needed for TV anymore.
Of course, that doesn't stop them from charging out the wazoo. The average American adult spends $954 a year on "audio/visual equipment and services," the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Money Talks News vice president Dan Schointuch was paying more than twice that for his cable TV, and decided to quit.
But you know a TV lover isn't going to miss his favorite shows. Instead of giving them up, Dan found a cheaper way to watch -- and you can do the same. In the video below, he explains how he cut cable. Then read on to learn more.
Technology has evolved to the point where you can go right around the cable company to get your favorite programs. Depending on where you live, you might have to stick with them for Internet access, but there's no need to pay for big packages that include channels you don’t watch. Here's how you can keep the good stuff:
- Broadcast. You can still snatch many stations out of the air with an antenna. But before you buy one, use AntennaWeb to get an idea of the channels available at your address and the best place to put an antenna. Thanks to the switch to all-digital in 2009, there won't be any fuzzy pictures or static -- you either get a channel or you don't. And if you do, it might even be in high definition. If that's the case, your TV needs an HDTV tuner to take advantage of the HD signal. Many but not all newer TVs have them built in. Check your manual.
- Program sites. Some shows host episodes on their own websites -- for example, "The Daily Show"with Jon Stewart. If the program doesn't have its own site, check the network's. ABC posts episodes of many of its popular programs, including "Desperate Housewives" and "Dancing With the Stars." You'll still face advertisements no matter what, but at least you aren't spending money to watch ads.
- Video services. Sites like Hulu and Netflix carry a wide variety of current and/or past programs. Some shows on Hulu are free to watch from your computer, while newer shows and streaming to your TV will require an $8-per-month Hulu Plus subscription. Netflix has a streaming subscription rate of $8 a month. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber for the shipping benefits, maybe you didn't realize you already have access to a large library of movies and TV shows too, at no extra cost.
- Sports. If you get Internet from one of these companies, you get ESPN3 for free. This broadband network doesn't stream everything, but does offer "thousands of live games and events" every year including college sports and major tournaments, with real-time stats and scoreboards. There's also subscriptions like MLB.tv, but you might be better off at the local sports bar. Mmembership for a season runs about $80.
If you have a gamer in the family, you may not need to buy anything else: A PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or Wii has streaming capabilities for services like Hulu and Netflix. An Xbox 360 requires a Live Gold subscription ($8 to $10 a month), while PlayStation and Wii charge no extra fees.
There are other ways to connect a computer or laptop to a TV, but they require a little more technical know-how and won't duplicate your experience with cable (no remote or channel listings, for instance). There's a wide variety of plug-ins on different models of TVs and computers, so you'll have to figure out which ones to use. If you want to try, here's a video explaining TV input connections.
You can usually get episodes of shows from premium movie channels like HBO a couple of days after they air for a buck or two each on Amazon and iTunes. But you can save a lot more by waiting for the season to come out on DVD or Blu-ray, when you can probably stream it on Netflix or buy or rent the discs. Everything else you can hopefully live without.
Look at the math: That nearly $1,000-a-year figure for cable we started with breaks down to about $80 per month. Invest in one of the consoles or devices mentioned above and you're out between $60 and $200, which pays for itself in less than three months, tops. Add on a streaming subscription fee for $8 a month and your new setup is costing 10% of what it did, and still getting you pretty much everything you care about.
Anyone out there using some of these techniques? Take a second to tell us how it's going.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
Dont worry Jamz87, Cable wont go away, This society is too hooked on quality cable programming like "The Real Housewives of LA, and MTV !
"That nearly $1,000-a-year figure for cable we started with breaks down to about $80 per month."
That's a direct quote from your article. Seems like I'll only be saving $40 over a year. And be out the money for the extra gadgets.
Wanna explain how I'll be saving 90% of my cable bill?
Due to my vast DVD collection. I do not need cable. All I have is internet. Any news story I just play the video. Plus I run my own network. its commercial free.
I custom built a home theater computer with a good processor, HD graphics card w/ sound output thru HDMI, BluRay reader, and wireless keyboard and mouse all hooked to my 55' tv thru 1 HDMI cable. I now have a 55" computer monitor, stream online content in lovely High definition, Hulu, Netflix, Full internet, Office, Bluray, digital photos and home video, all in one machine! I only use cable for internet service @10 mb/s $26.00 mo, Netflix $8.00 mo, Hulu Plus $8.00 mo, ESPN 360 free.
Also, If you add a TV tuner card to the computer and hook it to an over the air antenna, you will get local stations,ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and more in uncompressed digital H.D. for free. Windows Media Center will download a program guide based on your zip code and use the computers hard drive as a DVR. Just select from the guide what programs to record. It works great!
There are several websites to help select your antenna and orientation for your area such as tvantenna.com or antennaweb.org
We ditched cable about three months ago and haven't missed it. We initially thought we might because of certain shows on cable we enjoyed. Our resolve unchanged, we dropped off our cable box after purchasing an HD antenna and Roku 2 XS from our local electronics store and went home. First impressions are everything and I was amazed at the clarity of the antenna. We signed up for Netflix through the Roku and have enjoyed the two every since.
What are the savings you might ask. We have already saved about 250.00 since we dropped our cable subscription and left high speed interenet and phone on our monthly bill. The real savings is in time spent with the family together and educational shows that are broadcast for our children.
In my opinion, it is not worth paying the companies big bucks every year considering the amount of garbage programming on cable, to include the "kids" channels. You might say, "you could simply change the channel". My response to you is that I no longer need to. I hope this helps anyone on the fence about the topic.
The lowest priced way to get content from your computer to your TV is with an HDMI cable, but if you have a wireless network, the next lowest priced way is with a ROKU box.
I have a ROKU box, plus a program called Play On, which you can look up on your own to see what they cost and what they offer. For either a one time fee or a low monthly fee there is additional programming available on Play On. Most of the newer set top boxes set up for watching internet TV on a computer probably for most people will be most enjoyed with Netflix and Hulu Plus which together will still keep you under $20 a month for television....
Roku alone can connect with your TV while not requiring you to have your computer on while watching.
Using PlayOn requires that your computer is also on while watching. Play On does work with some gaming devices also.
All of the newest set top boxes, wifi enabled blue ray players and game consoles are made to require paid monthly subscriptions to either Netflix or Hulu Plus for any of their content.
Newer PC's with i-3, i-5, i-7 processors will work directly transferring even Free Hulu direct to your computer with one media adapting device, however even though these devices are being sold in stores now (October 2011) I find that the people working there are not yet aware of the limitations of those devices.
The more complicated methods of connecting your computer to your TV can get you free Hulu. Adding that to over the air broadcasts, and what is available for free on ROKU is enough for me, and my reward is a zero cable TV bill.
I do however, pay for internet and phone. It works for me!! I don't mind paying for internet, because I use it for work and it affects my income. This is why I have an issue with paying for TV...
This is a great article I use Antennae Tv , The biggest benefit has been my 7 year old has been weaned from
obnoxious "kid" channels & the commercials that come with them. I was paying over a hundred dollars for cable tried satellite can't wait to look into roku. really good article. I have 3 dishes on my roof yards of cable from these companies they don't retrieve this garbage ?
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