Although I hate paying bills in general, there is one bill in particular that I dread every month—the cable bill! I’m always shocked by how expensive cable is, even without purchasing the pricey premium movie channels or added sports bundles. For a while I considered ditching the cable altogether and moving to the world of streaming TV but, being a bit of a TV addict, I was quite resistant to it. However, after finally giving it a go, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how much money I’ve saved, and I still get to watch my favorite shows! If you’re considering cutting the cord with your cable company, here’s what you need to know:

Step 1: Purchase your equipment

Before you cancel your cable you will need a device that will allow you to stream TV shows and movies to your television. There are numerous options out there, but the following are the highest rated by both consumers and experts:

  • Apple TV. Apple TV, which came out in 2006, is one of the best digital media receivers out there. It supports content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, NHL GameCenter, NBA, Flickr, YouTube and more. You can also access the iTunes store directly through the device to purchase content. Apple TV also allows you to play your mp3 files and view slideshows of your photos directly on your TV, which can be particularly fun during get-togethers and parties. However, the main perk to Apple TV is that it was created to work seamlessly with other Apple products, so if you’re a Mac person, this may be the best option for you. Apple TV is priced at $99.
  • Roku. The Roku 3 offers more options than the Apple TV, as far as content goes. In fact, Roku boasts over 700 channels of content (although some of them require paid subscriptions). With this device you can view programs from all of the major providers including Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, NBA, NHL Game Center, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Major League Soccer, Pandora and much more. However, Roku does not support YouTube, and does not offer access to iTunes, which Apple TV does. The Roku 3 is priced at $99 and can be purchased at any major electronics retailer and Amazon.
  • Gaming console. If you already have a gaming console such as a Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360, you already have the ability to stream content from select carriers and may find that a box isn’t necessary for you. Although these devices typically don’t offer as many options or as much content as the other devices, if you’re just looking for a way to watch shows from Netflix or Amazon and you already own one of these systems, this may be a good choice for you. However, be aware: if you’re planning on streaming through an Xbox 360, you will need to purchase an Xbox Live Gold Membership, which is priced at $59.99 a year.
  • Western Digital TV Live Hub. With 1TB of storage built in, the Western Digital may be a great choice if you have a lot of home videos that you plan on watching. On the downside, the WD Hub lacks wireless and, at $149, is pricier than the Roku or Apple TV. One of the cool features that this device offers is that it allows you to take photos or videos with your smartphone and upload them directly to the built-in hard drive on the device. When you get home from a fun afternoon out with the family, you can immediately sit down on the couch and pull up your photos!

Step 2: Stream your content

Once you’ve chosen your equipment, you’re ready to stream! However, you must first choose where you want to stream from. There are plenty of options out there, including the following popular choices.

  • Hulu. One of the most popular providers of streaming TV shows and movies, Hulu provides access to full seasons of TV, including current seasons. In fact, many TV shows appear on Hulu the day after they air on TV. However, if you’re a big movie buff, you may be a little disappointed in their selection, which typically consists of older releases. Hulu is free for basic service and $8 a month for premium.
  • Netflix. My provider of choice, Netflix, offers a pretty remarkable selection of shows and movies for $8.99 a month. The downside? You won’t find current seasons of TV shows on Netflix so if you’re hoping to be surprised by what happens next in the show you’re currently watching, you may find yourself constantly trying to dodge Internet spoilers!
  • iTunes. Unlike Hulu and Netflix, which charge a flat monthly fee, iTunes charges per episode or movie, which can add up fast if you watch as much TV as I do! TV shows are typically $1 to rent and $2 to buy, and new movies are usually priced at $4 to rent and around $15 to buy. However, one of the nice features of iTunes is that you can pre-order movies and have them automatically downloaded to your account so they’ll be ready and waiting for you when you get home from a long day at work!
  • Amazon Instant Video. Amazon Instant Video, like iTunes, charges per episode or movie with comparable prices. However, with a membership to Amazon Prime you’ll have access to thousands of shows and films for free. Not to mention you’ll get that free 2-day shipping on thousands of products, which might just make it worth that $79 a year.
  • Vudu. Vudu, which claims to offer the largest selection of HD movies, typically offers movies the same day they’re released on DVD. There is no monthly fee, and movies are priced at $2 for 2 nights. However, Vudu does run promotions, including a 99-cent movie of the day, as well as sale prices on select movies or shows.
  • Sports Options. The biggest challenge with ditching cable tends to be for sports fans, who may have a harder time following their favorite team’s games. Although there aren’t as many options as there are when it comes to movies, sports fans aren’t completely left out of the world of streaming. There are, in fact, several choices out there including MLB.TV, NHL Game Center, Major League Soccer and CBS Sports. If you still can’t manage to find that one game you’re dying to watch, you can always offer to bring a pizza to the neighbor’s house on game day!

If you’re considering dumping cable and moving to one of these options, you may be wondering exactly how much it will really save you. Although cable rates vary depending on location and services, most cable plans range from $59 to $89, not including taxes or equipment rental such as DVRs. If your cable bill is right in the middle at $75 a month and you choose to go with a monthly streaming service such as Netflix, you’ll pay $8.99 a month. That’s a savings of $66 a month or almost $800 a year! Even if you decide to rent a $4 movie every single Saturday night, your monthly bill will still only come up to be about $25, saving you about $600 a year! Personally, for $600 a year, I can deal with being a day—or even a season—behind on my favorite shows!

Leave a Reply

36 thoughts on “How to Ditch Cable and Save Big”

  1. snowbunny says:

    What can I use with a Play Station 3 ??

  2. liz says:

    i think you should add “smart devices” to your list of “equipment” needed. they are becoming more and more popular. we have a “smart” blu ray player that my daughter uses, who also watches Netflix, and we plan on investing in a “smart” TV soon to access our Netflix and other apps. it’s so easy to set up and we love having these new smart devices.

  3. mthb says:

    for those like me that don’t care to upgrade their TVs, I have an old TV that’s about 20 maybe more years old and it works just fine with the roku, your TV just has to have the red, yellow, and white plugs in the back, or you can get a converter if your TV has only a single cable plug in the back

  4. Anonymous says:

    Most news channels allow live streaming of all newscasts on your PC

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ditched Cable 6 weeks ago and no regrets. If you go for streaming on the internet and using Hulu, Netflix, Redbox etc., make sure your internet plan allows enough gig. Mine is 150 gig a month and I hit 145 last month. A wifi capable Blu Ray Player ($88 at Walmart), allows you to watch Netflix, Hulu and some others directly on your TV. However you will have the ability to watch more on your PC. I watch everything I used to watch on my PC for $25 with Hulu and Netflix subscriptions and don’t miss the $100 cable bill at all.

  6. wong mang chung alex says:

    thank you writer. useful……,wong mang chung alex

  7. liz says:

    haven’t had cable in 3+ years! we use Netflix on the xbox and amazon instant video. we don’t even have to pay for Netflix because we use my parents. you can use the same Netflix account on up to 3 devices. it works out really well.

  8. snowbunny says:

    What can I use with a Play Station 3 ?

  9. lauren torres says:

    we just have internet, and we stream Netflix from our xbox we haven’t had cable or satellite for about 2 years now and we don’t mind one bit!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t even bother with any of these. I just hook my laptop up to my TV with an HDMI cable and viola! My TV displays my computer screen and I just use a wireless mouse and keyboard to navigate through Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. And I agree with Carol below, just buying a cheap digital antenna gets you network channels for free if you don’t want to wait for episodes to come online. :)

  11. Anonymous says:

    We use Hulu frequently, regular not plus, and have been disappointed in the selection of TV shows. Most of the shows we watch are not available on Hulu regardless of if you have subscription. They will have a link to the TV channels website which then requires us to enter our username and password for our cable provider. This is on three of the channels we watch most frequently. Has anyone else experienced this and have a solution. Also I am curious about the antennae, I thought this only worked on older TV’s. Will this work on a newer LED tv that has HDMI hookups and web capabilities (to watch basic channels)?

    • Anonymous says:

      I haven’t had to enter any username or password to stream shows after I’m logged into Netflix or Hulu.

    • Paula says:

      An antenna should work with any TV. I don’t think they are allowed to sell TVs that don’t have tuners (though many DVD/VCRs do NOT have tuners anymore.) Your manual should say whether your TV has a digital tuner. If it does, you can use an antenna to get free digital channels like NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. Keep in mind that what you receive will partly depend on where you live/your surroundings (like mountains between you and the broadcast tower), the strength of the signal, how good the antenna is, and where you put it.

      There are websites which will help you by showing you which direction channels are being broadcast from, but in my experience, with an antenna and antenna booster, I receive far more channels than they say I will.

  12. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I just cut the cord, ordered a Roku – and are using free trials to all the services til we decide which one we like. Do you have to get a Roku and antenna for every TV though?

  13. Sarah Thomas says:

    My husband and I haven’t had cable in 10 years. We found that most of the time we were just flipping through the channels anyway, so we got rid of it. Now we rely on watching the shows we like either on DVD or the internet.

  14. Chris says:

    I just ditched Dish after trying ROKU for the past couple weeks. So nice to be able to watch your favorite shows when YOU want to! My Dish bill averaged $115/mo now I will be down to $20.00…Nearly $1100 per year! Remember you will need a device for each tv in the house!

  15. Carol says:

    Don’t forget that you can always get an antenna too. As long as you have a digital TV, all you have to do is get the antenna and you get all the basic channels for free in high quality HD. I think we get over 40 channels with this. I believe we paid $30 for the antenna at Target. The only downfall of this is having to watch shows “live.” :)

  16. Anonymous says:

    For Roku, watch for the special deals that they run at various times during the year. I bought mine for $79 directly from Roku, and it came with an HDMI cable and a 6 month Hulu Plus subscription card. Shipping was also free. Considering that the Hulu Plus for 6 months would have been basically $48 by itself, it was like paying $31 for the Roku itself. My family loves ours, and got rid of our second satellite receiver (which was costing us $17 a month to just have the receiver), and we lowered our satellite plan to the lowest one Dish offers. We don’t miss the channels we used to get on Dish, and we actually watch Roku more often than satellite anymore. I tell everyone I know about how awesome the Roku is.

  17. Carina Beck says:

    we have At&T Uverse with Netflix, and Hulu Plus. I was paying almost 300 a month for the premium cable package I had, plus internet and phone service. We switched to Uverse for phone and internet. I get the 5dvd package from Netflix (We have five people in our family) plus streaming and Hulu Streaming, so its 28+9+8 +60 (Rounded)= 105. That’s almost $200.00 a month savings, or $2400 a year. Now that’s savings. I do have to say that Uverse offers a limit of 250Gb with our plan. This was our first month, and the kids were out of school for summer so we watched a lot of streamed video. We didn’t go over our plan at all.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What if you have multiple tvs in the house? Do you have to buy equipment for each TV ?

    • Carina Beck says:

      Yes, but some t.v’s are already equipped. My Tv is a Vizo 3-D t.v. It says wifi right on the T.V. and also has a netflix application included in the T.V. features. I’ve had this for about 2 years now and never had to buy special equipment.

  19. Christie says:

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been researching this non stop for the last week because I am about to make the leap. I wish this one stop shop would have been here to read last week ;) I would like to see you break down some options for the Internet needed to do this. My cable company wants $90 for just internet which is not going to work. I’m thinking of trying Clear Internet for $50/month.

    • Homeschoolmomof2 says:

      I have had Clear for two years now. I have the $50 month plan. It is ok. I always look for different plans and end up keeping Clear.

  20. Tinka13 says:

    I’v bee concidering one of these options but I wish there was a way to see exactly what current shows are offered. I have a few shows starting in the next 2 months and don’t want to miss them

    • KevAmy Rowles Jacobs says:

      Hulu Plus offers a free 7-day trial. Amazon offers a one-month trial although we cancelled as their selection is a bit limited. There are tons of movies available but many are “rent for $1.99 or buy for $7.99″

    • Anonymous says:

      Hulu Plus is pretty good. I watch several shows through there and since it remembers what I watch, it also tells me when there are new episodes. Some shows you stream directly from the channel (Discovery Channel etc.)

  21. Paula says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the free Hulu content is only available on PC. Not on your TV or mobile device. For those you have to pay for the premium, and then also keep in mind that not all shows that you can watch on your PC are available to watch on your TV. A big drawback.

    • Carina Beck says:

      You are correct, the free Hulu is only for PC. Not sure what shows you want to watch. Most of mine are on Hulu Plus, but sometimes they are a week or two behind the current television episodes. I’m good with that.

    • Sarah says:

      If your TV has HDMI and your computer has the same, then you can just stream Hulu from your computer but see it on the big screen. That is what I have done in the past. Works really well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Buy a wifi Blu Ray player (even if you don’t have Blu Ray discs). It hooks up directly to your TV, and will stream Hulu, Netflix etc., right to your TV thru the wifi internet connection.

      • Paula says:

        I already have a Wii, which streams Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Youtube. My point is that some people will be disappointed to find that certain shows that are available on the website are not available if you are streaming to your TV. Hulu expects you to scroll through a time-consuming list to see what is available where. The trick of using a cable is a good idea, but it would require me to buy a new TV and a new computer, so it wouldn’t save me money!

  22. Victoria Dorn says:

    Yes, you do also need to pay for internet, but most people are paying for that already so it wouldn’t change. I have my internet through AT&T UVerse and spend around $60 a month, and then I have Hulu Plus and Netflix.

  23. Priscilla Butler Strickland says:

    Who do you get your internet with? Doesn’t Netflix and Itunes need a WiFi connection? What do you use or who?

  24. Kim says:

    Is this still a good deal if you pay for each gig of internet usage? I have no access to cable internet, just a small mifi device (live in the country).