How I Cut the (Cable) Cord

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Having recently moved I used the opportunity to do something I had been thinking about doing for quite sometime, cancel my cable subscription.

This was not an easy decision to make, as I am a TV addict in every sense of the word. My previous cable package was the ultimate, super deluxe package. I had quite literally all the channels that my provider would give me. Did I need all these channels, of course not! I had them for fear that I would miss out on something.

Using the move I re-assessed my TV viewing needs to decide what it was I really needed.

My Previous Setup

My previous cable, plus internet bill was $225 a month. That means that over two years, the length of a «contract» with Verizon, I would spend $5,400. That’s a lot of cash! I had two DVRs, for a total of 4 tuners. I also had a «standard» box on a third TV that would let me watch recorded shows from the two DVRs.

In addition to standard cable I also had a Netflix account, $8/month, as well as a Hulu Plus account, another $8 a month. That means my true monthly spend was actually $241, and my two year spend was $5,784.

I think I just threw up a little bit in my throat typing those numbers. Wow. When I first saw those numbers I knew there was space to save.

My Cable-free Setup

When planning out my cable-free setup, I wanted to still be able to watch TV on all the TVs in my house. I knew that I wanted to watch most of my shows on the major networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, etc… Sports is not something I ever watch, so I was less concerned about that, however my wife does watch Premier League Soccer, so that was a requirement.

My stop was to purchase a digital antenna. I opted for the Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Amplified Antenna. It was $59.99 on Amazon, had great reviews, and was quite stylish. This would get me FREE access to those major networks, all for a small upfront hardware cost.

The next question became, how to record the shows I wanted to watch on those channels. For that I purchased a TiVo Roamio DVR. For $175.91 I was able to get a 4-tuner DVR that worked with my digital antenna. There is a service fee of $14.99 that comes along with it, however.

I also grabbed two TiVo Mini boxes, $79.99, which allow you to stream recorded shows from the main DVR to another TV. It also allows you to stream live TV, from the HD antenna, to other TVs. This meant I only needed one antenna in the house to get live TV to the other TVs in the house! Win! There is, however, a $5.99/month fee for each of the TiVo Minis.

What About Non-Antenna Shows? (HBO, AMC, etc…)

Of course, this solution only gets me about 90% of the way to fulfilling my TV watching needs. Even with the major networks, Hulu Plus, and Netflix, I’m still short shows that appear on channels such as HBO, AMC, etc… These shows can be purchased from iTunes, and in some cases, if you’re lucky, you can use a friend or relatives cable login. This works for HBO GO, or NBC Sports (in the case of my wife’s soccer requirements).

Final Tally

To make all of this work, I did need to retain an internet connection. I had a choice in connection speeds, 75/35 Mbps for $55/month or 150/75 Mbps for $100/month. I went with the faster connection. Why? For a lot of reasons, most which have to do with my job as a software developer.

With the final numbers in, let’s take a look at what my new monthly, and two year costs are. I am now paying $142.97 a month versus $241/month previous. That’s a $100 savings each month!! I could’ve cut that by another $45/month had I gone with the lower plan.

My new two year spend is $3,431.28 vs. $5,784 for a difference of $2,352.72!!

Now I did have to spend $315.89 in hardware to achieve these savings. When you look at the math, however, I will pay off that hardware in just a little over three months. After that it’s pure savings. That extra $100/month is also plenty of money to cover the couple of TV shows that I might want to buy season passes for on iTunes.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’m incredibly happy with my choice to cut the cable cord. I don’t feel as though I’m losing anything from my life, I still get to watch all of the programming I want, but I get to save $100/month (or more if I lower my internet plan) while doing it.

If you’re on the fence about cutting the cord yourself, I say go for it. It’s a cheap investment to get setup with, and you can always go back to Cable, if it doesn’t work out for you.