Canceling Cable: March 2010 update

It’s been over a year and a half since we originally canceled cable. Here’s a quick update on what’s new…

On July of 2008, we wrote a blog post comparing the costs of keeping cable with buying a 50″ TV each year and tossing it in a dumpster and created a simple calculator to see how much cable TV really costs.   We also launched a free showfinder tool which shows how to watch your favorite shows without cable TV.

A lot has changed since we started this blog.   The digital transition has taken place.   Hulu.com is on it’s way to becoming a household word.   And we’ve found even more ways to watch our favorite shows without cable.   We’re amazed at all of the attention our site has been receiving and appreciate all the recommendations!

Here’s what’s new since our last post…

Our current setup:

Main TV:

We took some of the money we saved by canceling cable and purchased a 50′ flatscreen TV for our family room.   It was a good feeling, since it cost less than what we would have paid for about 7 months of cable.   Best of all it has a built in over the air tuner, so we now receive free broadcast HD programming with a picture quality that is superior to our old cable signal.

For movies, We’re using a Roku player in combination with a basic Netflix account.  This lets us watch thousands of movies and shows for free using Netflix’s free streaming service – kind of like zero cost pay per view.  If a very recent movie isn’t available, we usually get it by DVD via Netflix.  Another nice thing about the Roku is that it lets us rent current movies from Amazon’s Video on Demand Service (typically $3.99) and watch them on our TV.

We ended up canceling our Tivo service and instead, we connected our laptop to the TV using a HDMI cable and watch our favorite shows on Hulu.com.   The only downside is that we can’t fast forward through commercials, but the nice thing about Hulu is most commercial breaks are 30 seconds vs. 2 minutes or more on broadcast TV.

Bedroom:

We pulled the TV out of our bedroom and use our widescreen laptop (an old 15″ HP) to watch TV in bed via Hulu.com

Portable:

In addition to the widescreen laptop, we have an inexpensive Netbook which weighs about 3 pounds and lets us watch Hulu.com, Netflix Instant, and Itunes anyplace in the house.   We also take this with us on vacations and use it instead of a portable DVD player.

What we are working on…

In the next few posts, we’ll try to answer some of the most common questions we’re asked…

  • How to watch Hulu programming on a TV
  • Watching sports coverage without cable TV
  • New devices which let you watch movies and TV over the Internet

We’re also in the process of updating our Showfinder tool to reflect the new programming which is now available.

If you have any questions or suggestions for future articles, please leave a comment for us.   Thanks!

19 thoughts on “Canceling Cable: March 2010 update

  1. Thank you so much for your website. I’m still trying to decide what to do. I have a MAC and I was interested in using Satellite direct for a one-time fee and watch anything in the world, but it doesn’t work on a MAC I guess. If I bought a less expensive PC or even a netbook, do you think I could use the system and hook it up to my flat panel TV?

    Anxious to cancel cable,

    Laurie

  2. Excellent post, there is way to much money spent and wasted on Cable television programming. We have saved nearly $4000 in Cable cost over the last 18 months from switching to Internet TV.

  3. Ha ha!! This is great!! We did the same thing in November of 2008. My wife said I could get a big flat screen TV if I canceled cable. I said “OK”. After she regained consciousness from the shock of me agreeing we thought it out, did it, and haven’t regretted it one bit. We watch almost as much TV as before. There are a few things we can’t get online, but between OTA, online, and Netflix we are happy campers. Even though the TV has been more than paid for we have no plans on going back to cable or any other paid service anytime soon, even though they keep trying to tease us back. I am going to check out the site to see if you have anything we don’t know about already. :-) Good job and keep spreading the word! Let’s hope the online content doesn’t become pay too quickly!

  4. I want to know the moment you guys have figured out how to watch sports coverage without cable! My husband is a sports fanatic, and he REFUSES to cancel our $115/month cable because then he couldn’t watch all of his shows on ESPN and all of the football and basketball games. PLEASE let me know when you have solved this one! It makes me sick how much money we spend on cable!

  5. You should be able to get Hulu on your TV either by paying $10/mo for Hulu Plus (http://www.hulu.com/plus) and using a supported device (which will include a Roku device soon), and for Sports Coverage you could use an Apple iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad) and an AppleTV to stream video from MLB’s or NFL’s apps to your TV (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/09/17/will-airplay-stream-hulu-or-other-video-apps-to-apple-tv/) (or you could just buy the $50 video cables and use them, but it tops out at 1024×768 for VGA and 480p for Component, so no HD here)

    The iPad can also feature into your “how to watch shows on new devices” goal. The iPad will, obviously, play iTunes video content (including HD purchases), but also has an app for playing Netflix Instant Streaming, and will also playback Hulu (with a Plus membership) content. Throw on top of that everything else that runs on iOS (NPR and ClearChannel’s radio apps, ABC’s app, CBS’s app, CBS Sports’ apps, Fox Sports’ app), including some exclusively Web TV services (like Revision3, CNet TV, and the TWiT Network) which also have apps.

    An Android table challenger could potentially provide the same services, but that Android device would need to have its own video-out (which it may not have), and I don’t know what the state of media apps are in Android.

    P.S. – Love the interest calculator. Simple to use, and it really demonstrates how compounded interest can add up, even on percentages as small as 3%.

  6. I have been talking about this for about a year but my wife is extremetly resistant. sHe can’t understand why. I am not unemployed or anything. My brother in law dropped cable in May 2009 but mainly because he got laid off.

    I am starting to inch towards it. The breakthough came when my father in law got netflix on demand. My wife finally ordered netflix and gave me permission to dump hbo, show and lower the internet speed. For some reason we were paying $10 a month for excess speed. It is of no consequence as I have successfully displayed netflix on demand on our big tv but using an S video output on the very old laptop we have. I tried d sub to dsub and it failed. I finally tried the s video and it worked. I am positioning an old laptop to be the internet entry point next to the tv. The DVR service is an issue. My wife can’t understand how we would do with out it. I try to tell her the DVR is a solution for a flawed product. YOu don’t need DVR for Hulu or netflix because you just double clickand watch when you want. Once I get set the laptop set up with wireless mouse and keyboard I will run my wife through it. once she realizes she can watch old General Hospital shows on ABC.com by just double clickinf on the show listing she will realize she does not need a dvr.

    Another hold up is the alarm company (we live next to the hood) goes through the land line. but i found another alarm company that costs the same that will go through the cell phone. My wife is addicted to the land line even though we have a cell plan with lots of left over minutes. She won’t let me drop te cell plan. what happens if I break down in the hood? Right now I have te cable bill to about 106 not including taxes. I want to get it down to just a moderately fast cable bill maybe 40. It could be verizon or cable. Netflx is 9 so about 50 plus tax. more than half off cable now.

  7. We did a similar thing in March 2009. The difference is that we ditched Dish Network and purchased a TiVo and OTA antenna to put in the attic. We had a DVR with Dish and really like that option. We also needed an HD Tuner for our HD Ready TV.
    I believe TiVo is really the thing that makes the transition painless for us. We are able to watch what we want, when we want, in HD with true 5.1 sound.
    I am glad it works for you without the TiVo. I think it is worth the extra $12.95 per month; at least for now.
    We also use Netflix. I initially budgeted for the two out at a time program and have found that the one at a time program is more than enough for us.
    Great blog. Thanks.

  8. This site is great, I’ve been trying to convince my husband we don’t need to keep paying the monopoly-direct tv! The only problem is sports, do you have any recommendations on how we can continue watching especially baseball, but also basketball, and football? We don’t really watch much else. Thanks!

  9. What about sports? My wife is into tennis and I can’t miss my favorite football or basketball teams.
    How can I get live broadcasts of sports if they’re on ESPN or Fox Sports and not on OTA HDTV?

  10. My wife and I recently made the switch to basic cable to save some money. We have Netflix and I can stream ESPN on my Xbox 360. We learned that we didn’t miss a thing and saved $100 a month without even thinking about it. Boy we wish we did this sooner!

  11. Thanks for the informative site, especially your useful Tools. Just beginning to look into this media via internet-only process. I realize that almost all my TV viewing is done not live, except for the 24 hour cable “news” shows. I am getting tired of all the “talking heads” and can hear what they say on a delayed basis anyway, if I find myself missing any of their discussions. I’m a little confused about the wireless connections and how I would go about doing this, but will be learning about this approach and plan to begin 2011 by cutting the cable cord. I am living in a newer section of Austin, TX that has only one ISP for $50/mo (its the cost of the internet if you don’t get it bundled with cable and/or digital Phone). I don’t like the idea of punching a hole in my new roof to have a satellite dish, so I may look into putting up a pole and comparing the cost of internet by satellite vs Time Warner. I’ve been putting off getting an HDTV, but looks like I’ll be able to afford it now that the prices are dropping and I’ll not have the monthly cable expense. I also hope, like Dan, that the price of online content doesn’t become pay-for-content too quickly.

  12. I did just what you described above. I was so offended by what was on Cable (even though I didn’t watch it, I was paying for it), that I cancelled and have been using alternatives. Thanks for spreading the news around.

  13. Our household too has been directly affected by the state of the economy and finally a few months ago I simply just had to cut cable completely. It also inspired me to start a blog- not about canceling cable as we were only spending $32 a month but about reducing expenses in general. Thru my research i have written a couple blogs about my findings which you can review at reduceyourexpenses.blogspot.com but basically i live off hulu and crackle, but have also found interesting sites like wwitv.com, boxlive.tv and hdsportsflash.com. Some of these latters may not be extremely reliable but they do offer live streaming tv options and some are international for those who grew up or spent time in another country. Hope you find this information useful. Great job on the site!

  14. yahoo….

    I just completed 1st year w/o cable…. I’m using over the air tv. Not using hulu or netflix… not much of a movie type..

    Really using justin.tv. I love it. TV from all over the world. I can usually find everyone of my satellite favorites on that. From msnbc to racing…

    I’m using many different sites over the net… and have hooked up my 62 inch Toshiba via HDMI… and a small “best buy” comp w/ video card…. works like a charm and don’t need vudu or any other box.

    I’m a very happy camper.

  15. I would love to dump my cable and just keep my Internet. I am a little confused about the digital converter though. I’ve read several sites regarding this and all of them say they purchased a digital converter and use Netflix or Hulu or Amazon for movies, etc.
    Is it possible to just buy the converter, plug it in and get free t.v.? I know there won’t be many channels to watch but I can watch movies on my computer or DVD player.
    I would appreciate more information about this because my cable bill is well over a hundred dollars and most of the channels suck.
    Thanks

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