This month I am cancelling my Direct TV and looking for alternatives to cable and satellite. Although I enjoy watching TV from time to time, I usually find that I am not watching more than 1 or 2 channels and am wondering why I am paying $90 a month for something I rarely take advantage of. (Yes, I’m a little slow sometimes)
Granted, I do still enjoy the nights when I can just relax, turn on the TV, and veg-out for a while – so I am not ready to go completely without TV and rely upon the internet and my favorite books. (although the thought of this does sound good!)
My goals are simple - save money every month and still be able to watch the occasional show that I enjoy from time to time. Sound familiar?
What this essentially means is that I will need to use the internet as well as some other conservative methods (bunny ears antenna) to watch the few shows I enjoy and still save myself money.
This post is the plan I have and a summary of the options I will try. They are a combination of the products I plan to use over the next few months to see if they satisfy my (and my wife’s) TV watching desires. I conducted a good amount of research on these items, so I anticipate they will save me money and still satisfy the occasional TV itch.
Even though this is an experiment, I sure hope this works… Like many of you, I’ve found numerous people on the internet who have successfully got rid of cable or satellite TV and still enjoy their favorite TV shows through these options. I just don’t know anyone personally who has actually done it – so this is my feeble attempt at it.
1. TV Antenna to pick up HDTV Local Channels
First thing I need is a TV antenna to pick up local channels. I live fairly close to the broadcast antennas, so I don’t need a mega receive antenna the size of a barn – a basic indoor antenna will do. After doing some research I’ve found that a very good indoor antenna option is the Terk FDTV1A. It’s small and unnoticeable, has good range, and appears to be liked by many consumers.
But, let’s first be honest – this isn’t the panacea. There is no perfect indoor antenna that will pick up everything, cost under a hundred dollars, and give me a perfect signal for every local channel within a 1000 mile radius.
So, I am going with the Terk and hoping for the best.
2. Internet TV with a Roku box
Unfortunately for me, there are many shows I desire to watch that I can’t pick up on basic local channels. Local channels will provide for me the local football and sports I want to watch, so I am halfway there already – but there are shows that I really enjoy, and cannot be found on ABC or CBS. (GoldRush on Discovery anyone?)
What’s my solution? … Roku.
Roku is a little box shaped like a cube that will allow me to access internet tv providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant. It appears to be the ‘mojo in internet TV’ and even though I love Apple products, I plan to use it first instead of its competitor AppleTV, because it allows for Amazon Instant. (Sadly, not an option for AppleTV)
Yes, this is a bit of a bummer for me, as I like the options that AppleTV provide with my other Apple products, but one option I absolutely need is to view TV shows that just came out and not wait a season to view (like on Netflix). Hulu and Amazon Instant give me this ability.
3. Sign up for Netflix
The next step I’m going to make is to try out Netflix. I’ve never used Netflix, so I have no idea what to expect. I do know it is fairly inexpensive at $8.99 a month and will provide the movies I want to see through streaming internet. It also is a great option to catch up on old TV shows that I’ve always wanted to watch again. (yes, I like the Dukes of Hazzard)
Only issue I can find with Netflix is that they don’t offer current TV shows. They do offer the previous season, but this doesn’t provide any value to me, as I prefer to watch the ‘hype’ in TV. (i.e. the newest shows available)
4. Try out Amazon Instant or Hulu
This brings me to instant TV. As I’ve mentioned above, what I really want is the ability to watch TV shows as they come out alacarte. I’m ok with paying for it, but not at a bloated price like cable and satellite TV that is charging me for stuff I don’t watch at all. This is where Amazon Instant and Hulu come in…
Both products are designed just for this purpose. They charge a fee to watch the show (around $2), so you can watch when desired. I estimate I’ll buy about 1 show every other day. This means I’ll only be paying about $15-$30 per month to watch everything I want – way cheaper than cable.
The cost savings?
As I calculate it, I’ll be paying $50 for the Ruku I need, and $30 for the Antenna – so my upfront costs are $80 which is basically my monthly costs for cable. My recurring costs are the price of Netflix at $9 per month and purchasing cable shows at $22 per month (average). This means my total monthly costs will average $31 per month. This gives me a savings of $60 per month or $720 a year. (not too shabby!)
Ask the experts – What do you recommend?
One thing I’ve learned is that there are some great options out there to replace cable TV, DirecTV, or Dish that I am probably not aware of… As my readers and experts in this area, what additional things have you learned, tried out, or attempted?
How have you saved money on ditching cable? Share your thoughts below…