One Year Without Cable TV

By January 15, 2014Uncategorized

One year ago today we cut ties with cable TV. Did you know the marketing world calls people like us cord cutters? Cord cutters sounds a little too “A Baby Story” to me, but I guess we’ll take it.

Now, before I go even further, this is not a post to get you to see all of the great benefits of cutting the cord. The change made a lot of sense for us but for others, it doesn’t. And because I know that, I’ve checked the selling tone at the door. I just want to share my experience with you now that we’re a year in.

Our Life with Cable TV

At the time, I would consider Aaron and I pretty heavy cable TV watchers. He was definitely invested in certain shows he would watch each week… Mad Men, Suits.  And for me, I really liked to have plot-less reality TV on in the background while I’m busy-body-ing around the house. Teen Mom, KUWTK, that type of stuff. So all in all, yea, we’re TV people.

Why We Made the Decision to Turn It Off

The reason for the decision was a 100% functional one. We needed to save money for the wedding. Our cable TV plus internet was at $132 a month. Removing the cable TV service from our plan left us with an internet bill of $56 a month, so we were looking at a $76 savings a month. Not a huge amount of money but certainly not pennies either. My turning point was when I realized that I was paying $76 extra a month to sort-of watch Teen Mom and KUWKTK and hey, what did they ever do for me? (Ok honesty here. What I really said was, “I’ll be damned if the reason I can’t upgrade our honeymoon drink package is because I wanted to watch Kim Kardashian every week! Bible?)

How We Coped / How We Watch TV Now / Our Gear

Let’s just say we aren’t exactly suffering now. We have NetFlix, Hulu Plus and Apple TV. Aaron is also allegedly known to flex his internet pirating muscles from time to time. If he’s downloaded anything to his laptop that’s not Apple TV-compatible, we use AirPlay to get it up on the TV. With the older Mac OSX, we used Air Parrot for this same function.

NetFlix and Hulu Plus do cost money, which eats into our $76 a month savings. Hulu Plus is $7.99 and NetFlix is $8.99, which whittles the savings per month down to just $59. To us, losing cable is still worth it at that number but it may not be for you.

What We Love

  • We’ve found new-to-us shows that we have fallen in love with: Friday Night Lights, Sons of Anarchy, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, Misfits, Skins, Weeds, Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, The Killing, Scandal, Parenthood, Super Fun Night, The Carrie Diaries, The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Breaking Bad
  • More educational / real-world stuff seems more easily accessible to us. We are big fans of documentaries that give us a peek into a pocket of culture we may otherwise overlook: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Man on Wire, The Bridge, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, GLOW, Superman, Business of Being Born, Craigslist Joe, Helvetica, The Lottery, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Bully, Bronies, Meet the Fokkens… and those are just the ones we really liked!
  • We can control how we watch the shows. We can binge on a series in one sitting, we can watch one episode a week, whatever…
  • Less commercials. Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely still commercials. But they last about 30 seconds and then it’s back to regular programming
  • No scheduling or worrying about recording. We don’t have to remember to do anything. When we want it, it’s there for us to watch.

What We Dislike

  • The new stuff is on a one-day delay. For example, we can’t watch Saturday Night Live until Sunday afternoon. We can’t watch our precious New Girl until the next day. This means we do a lot of “Ahh! Don’t tell us! We haven’t watched it yet!” when our cable TV friends talk about something that happened on TV.
  • This one is related to the above, but news is also hard to get. Our work around is video podcasts. Video podcasts of the evening news is available to us the next morning.
  • We (I) miss out on award shows. This is especially painful as we approach awards season.
  • Sporting events are non-existent with the set-up we have. We can sign up for certain subscriptions but that would negate the whole purpose of the saving money thing. And we aren’t really into sports anyways…
  • Questions like, “Did you see so and so!?” almost are always answered with, “No.. we don’t have cable. :(“
  • Good reality TV is really non-existent without Cable TV. And if you do find it, it’s over a year old.
  • Our internet connection gets stretched to the max. It requires outtages / reboot sessions once a week and it’s due to the strain we’re putting on the bandwidth (plus laptops, phones, iPad). I should probably update the internet speed to something speedier but meh, it doesn’t bother us too much at the moment.

Do We Feel Out Of The Loop?

Sometimes! We’re a day behind on the stuff that most people talk about back at the office. Award shows, sporting events, news conferences. If we’re really dying to know what happened, it’s easy enough to just google it, but it’s just not the same!

And then other times, we have early access to shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black that are exclusive to Hulu or NetFlix. And then we feel more in the know!

So all in all, that’s been our experience this past year. What about you? Do you hold on tight to your cable package or are you a cord cutter too?

xo,

emily

Join the discussion 32 Comments

  • I’m addicted to HBO and Showtime but have been thinking about dropping them to save money too. I’m a Netflix addict now. BUt I certainly would miss my HBO shows A LOT.

  • Sarah says:

    We got rid of cable about 6 months ago in the middle of a move. We have Netflix and Hulu plus but we also have a flat tv antenna (it was about $30) so we get about 15 or so local channels on that. The antenna is thinner than a typical book and can be mounted on the wall, laid flat on the tv console or just stuck behind the tv. I’ve gotten great reception with it and there are no bunny ears to mess with so most people wouldn’t even know it’s an antenna.

    That way we can still catch some sports and live shows on the network stations. The area you live in will determine what channels you get, we get the local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS and a couple others. The biggest issue with cutting the cord is that we miss out on a lot of football games. I wish there was a way around that!

  • Megan says:

    My fiancé and I cut the cable chord about 4 months ago when we bought our first house. We also have Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Apple TV. We are getting ready to buy an antenna so we can watch some local channels. I agree with everything you said about your experience getting rid of cable. The only other situation that my fiancé and I run into is having too many options to pick from now! Instead of just turning on the TV and flipping to a channel we find ourselves browsing Netflix for a half hour sometimes, trying to decide what we want to watch!

  • Yeah, good for you! Glad to hear you survived an entire year.

    We recently cut cable too, this was our second time doing so – this time it will stick though. We got so fed up with the customer service at comcast that we cut our cable and internet and moved to a local internet provider for $35 a month! We just got an antenna on one of our tv’s so we can catch the news from time to time – you should do it too so you don’t have to miss out on those very important award shows!

    The biggest down side for us is no HBO, but we are surviving just fine without it. We’ll see how we feel once GIRLS and Game of Throwns starts up again.

    Thanks for your list of docs, we’ll have to check out some of those we haven’t seen yet – that is def our favorite genre on netflix. We recently just finished “Long Way Down/Around” with Ewan McGregor, I wasn’t expecting to be awesome, but it was really good.

  • Mary says:

    I was going to suggest the antenna as well. My husband and I went without cable for a good 4 years before we got it back and we had an antenna during that time so we could get the basic network channels. When we had cable initially, our bill for it and Internet was about $140 which is insane to think of now. We dropped it and started paying only $60 for Internet and picked up subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime. (Amazon Prime is $80 a year but I don’t even count it into our TV budget because you get free two-day shipping on most Amazon items through the program and we use that feature constantly.)

    About a year and a half ago a sales rep from Insight stopped by our house and asked if we were interested in cable. He offered it to us for $10 more a month. He said the rate would be in place for 12 months and then we could drop it if we wanted to. Since we were paying $2 an episode to stream the newest episode of The Walking Dead every week, I jumped on the offer. I think our rate expiration got lost in the shuffle during the transition to TWC because that’s what we’re still paying ($70 a month for Internet and cable!). Moral of my rambling: if you’re really Jonesing for some cable, you could always call your provider to let them know to see what type of rate they’ll offer.

  • Christina says:

    We cancelled a couple years ago and I’ve loved every minute! We live exactly between two major cities, and therefore, instead of getting lots of local TV, we get none. We purchased the super antennas, but they just weren’t strong enough.

    We used to watch TV, just because it was there. Once we shut it off though, we realized there was only one show we missed, so we buy the whole season for $10 from Google and watch it on the computer.

    The only thing we miss is football.

  • Melanie says:

    We did this same thing when we bought our house and will probably never go back to cable. We have local channels, thanks to a $10 antenna, so we still can watch football. We also have PLEX, Netflix, Hulu Plus, & Amazon Prime. We still watch the same shows, and for $50 less!

  • Two thumbs up for cutting the cord (sooo weird to say). I wish I could do it, but I’m just not sure I could live without it. Yes, I realize how pathetic that makes me sound. 😉

  • Haley says:

    I got rid of cable about two years ago because I was always just settling for the least terrible marathon to watch since what I was interested in wasn’t always on. I’m an avid Netflix binger and mooch off of a friend for the occasional Hulu Plus (Must. Watch. New. Girl.!). Most of my peers are in the same boat where we’re all a day behind, so we just discuss shows whenever we all get around to watching it.

  • Amelia says:

    My boyfriend doesn’t have cable, he just doesn’t see the benefit of the cost. When we do our date nights at his place we watch TV shows on Netflix. I think it’s great I never would have gotten into Doctor Who if it wasn’t for his set up. Things he wants to watch that aren’t streamable he finds ways to get.

    He’s considering getting a Roku just to expand on what he can stream.

  • kim says:

    I don’t mean to come of as sanctimonious but “Aaron is also allegedly known to flex his internet pirating muscles from time to time.”, I don’t know if that’s something I’d boast about. Would you walk into a store and steal a bottle of wine and brag about it on the net? Cuz it’s the same thing.

    I know *everybody does it* (well, no everybody doesn’t), but that doesn’t make it right.

    • emily @ go haus go says:

      That’s totally fair! It wasn’t meant to be boastful. I know it’s illegal but downloading is a large part of the cord cutter culture, which is why I mentioned it. It would have been deceptive to my readers to not include it as I’m trying to be as truthful as possible. Thx for your comment!

  • Christina says:

    It sounds like most of your gripes have to do with not having an antenna. Why don’t you just build yourself one so you can watch all the things you’re missing out on, like news, award shows, and SNL? We also have a computer hooked up to the antenna and TV so we can record over-the-air shows and watch them straight from the computer, which makes it even easier for me to watch The Biggest Loser and Parks & Recreation on my own schedule!

    I use this one that my husband built for us and all of our friends, and it gets amazing reception:
    http://lifehacker.com/5138746/build-your-own-dtv-antenna

    • emily @ go haus go says:

      Reading these comments elicits a complete *smacks forehead* response from me. It sounds like an antennae is just what we need. I had a bad antennae experience a few years back which is probably why we skipped it in this new set-up. It’s obviously much improved! I will check out your link!

      • jaclyn says:

        Definitely get an antenna! We only get about a dozen local channels but we get to watch the news, we get cooking shows, craft shows, all the major network shows like New Girl, Nashville, Mindy, Scandal, Downton Abbey, etc.
        We do have a Netflix subscription and we rent a RedBox movie once or twice a month. We had Hulu but cancelled because so many shows can be watched right on the network’s websites now.
        All in all, most of our friends and family pay upwards of $130-$150 a month for their cable/internet and our total TV/internet costs are about $60 a month. I look at it like this, my friends can watch all the reality TV they want, but I get to take a vacation every year with the money we save AND I’m a much more productive person since I don’t get sucked into a TV coma every day.

      • When you go antenna shopping, buy a nice middle-of-the-road one. We got the cheapest one and it didn’t pick up anything, then bumped up the price bracket a little bit and get most network channels. Since we live by a bay (surrounded by tall hills on the north and east) we miss out on a few channels, but still get ABC, CBS, and FOX. (I dream of someday getting NBC! Oh, someday…)

        • emily @ go haus go says:

          Good to know! Yea, after reading all of these comments it’s quite obvious an antenna is the way to go! It’s a little laughable at how easy the fix sounds. Who knew!? I’ve been living under a rock! Thanks for your advice. Middle-of-the-road sounds nice to me.

  • We’ve talked about doing this several times, but Nick can’t miss sports. Well that’s his excuse anyway. We have cable, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime. It’s overkill, but it’s so much nicer to watch things on Hulu than DVR which is why getting rid of cable makes so much more sense to me! I would miss Teen Mom though. 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Sigh. Husband lost his job, so we are thinking about cutting cable out. But I have to check and see how that would affect our quad play.

    That’s right, quad, because we have our internet, phone, cable, and alarm through the same company. It might be worth it though, if we could save some $ right now.

    ~Jen

  • yay!! we went for three years in our home before getting cable. seriously its just been the past 6 months or so that we’ve had it. the reason i never had it is because i like it too much. I get stuck watching stuff and then I don’t get things done. LUckily we aren’t too into shows- it helps I’m out of town for half the week so I miss that time period. I avoid getting sucked into shows. I mostly watch hgtv or food network all the time though and tend to have it on while I do other things. Such an addicting thing and its nice to at least be aware of how time sucking it can be. Glad you joined the club although I’m not in the club anymore lol 😉

  • We’ve never had cable and we love it! It saves us money and keeps us from always mindlessly having the tv on. An antennae is definitely the way to go! We can still watch Wheel of Fortune during dinner and Jesse doesn’t have to miss football games on Sundays.

  • Stef says:

    We didn’t really plan to go without cable, we just never hooked it up when we moved to Wyoming ~18 months ago. We use Netflix, Hulu Plus, and, occasionally, Amazon Prime Watch Now (or whatever it’s called). I desperately miss University of Michigan football, but we’re subject to regional blackouts since we aren’t in the midwest, so its not reason enough for us to purchase cable again.

    If you’re missing reality TV, check out The Only Way is Essex and Big Tips Texas. Let me be clear, they’re both RIDICULOUS and TERRIBLE and maaaaybe still kind of entertaining? Since you mentioned Teen Mom, I figured they were fair suggestions.

  • Becky says:

    Thanks for this post Emily! I have flirted with getting rid of cable for a long time but wasn’t quite sure how my husband and I would deal. Most “cord cutters” aren’t tv people so it’s good to know that you can definitely still get your fix without cable! We are tv people as well and the majority of shows I watch are on either the major networks or available on Netflix (and that’s how I currently watch them) so I think I could get used to life without cable (or just have basic cable). My husband watches live soccor though, so I’m not sure he could, haha!

  • Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell says:

    I 100% agree with this. We dropped our cable and upped our internet bandwidth just over a year ago too. For the most part I don’t miss it at all, but the one thing I miss is the news. Sometimes when the weather is crappy I just want to turn it on and see what’s happening on the roads. But, i do love not being tied to the TV. And if you ever have kids…the Netflix kids section is worth its weight in gold. It’s so easy to control what they watch and end it after one show.

  • We’ve been without cable for about a year now, and I absolutely love it. My fiance…probably not as much. He really misses ESPN. But I keep reminding him that it would cost us $75/month just for one channel that he watches occasionally. We bought the Mohu Leaf antenna (pretty sure it’s this one: http://www.amazon.com/Mohu-Leaf-Paper-Thin-Indoor-Antenna/dp/B004QK7HI8) and love it. We also do Hulu Plus, Netflix, and use XMBC (I actually don’t think that’s an illegal service, but we watch HBO/Showtime shows through that or shows we can’t get on Hulu Plus/Netflix). It’s a program you download to the computer.

    I do miss me some HGTV too though. I used to put that on all the time but never really watch it. Plus, they took Emily Henderson’s show off the air. Boo!

    I’ve found that most people that have gotten rid of cable have really enjoyed it. I definitely feel like I get more accomplished! 🙂

  • Tasneem says:

    We haven’t had cable in our home since we were married (3 1/2 years ago) and we love it. Yes, I miss the awards shows and my hubby misses the soccer but we like not automatically turning to the TV for entertainment. We do have netflix and we go redbox when we are in the mood but this means we are only watching what we really want instead of just watching TV because it is there.

    ps isn’t Sherlock marvelous? I can’t wait til the new season airs on pbs

  • Alexandra Marie says:

    Since you guys live in Cinci, you can always go to the Neon’s Oscar party in Dayton. They project the awards, everyone gets dressy, and you fill out sheets with your guesses on the winners. Each commercial break they randomly select a sheet and if they have the right answer, they win a prize. Oh, and they have a liquor license :).

  • Rachel says:

    We cut the cord when we got married and got our own place (6 years ago, yikes!). We love it. It prevents me from mindlessly watching stupid tv and promotes more thoughtful watching as well as conversation. We are more likely to talk to each other than turn on the tv – if only to discuss what we’d watch if we did.

    When we want to watch a sports game we go to a local pub, meet friends or go to a friends house. I love the more social aspect of this since I don’t care to watch sports.

  • Ginger says:

    I’ve never had cable TV. I found that if I was at someone’s house who had cable, I ended up watching stuff just to watch it. I have a TV antenna, access some shows on Hulu and individual network websites and share an Amazon Prime account and a NetFlix account. I even share my internet service with my neighbor, so I only pay $20 a month for 20Mbps.

    If you have friends who have DirecTV NFL package, you can offer them some $$ each season if they’ll give you their login/password to view the football games on your computer or smartphone. Same with watching ESPN through a cable account. HBO Go can be watched on a Roku box through certain cable providers.

  • I would skip our cable in a minute. It’s just so expensive. I loved reading about your journey without cable and it sounds totally doable I think.

    Love that living room photo up top 🙂

  • I’ve been cable free for about 5 years now… and honestly I don’t miss it at all. We have Netflix, and my husband has some handy internetting skillz when needed, and that just about does it. I may not know what happened recently on KUWTK, but I do know what happened in the first few seasons! lol

  • kleb says:

    Get rid of Hulu plus and just use sidereel.com…reality tv, etc for free!

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