Could We Cut Cable TV This Year?

Could We Cut Cable TV This Year?

I’ve seen a few blog posts and news stories written about people who cut their cable TV, and while it seems intriguing, it’s honestly not something I’ve really thought about.  But, I’ve started giving it more and more thought, and I decided that 2014 will be the year that I’ll at least look into it to see if it’s a possibility.

Our Cable TV Equipment

mb-201401cableWe have cable through Wide Open West (aka WOW).  They’ve been my carrier for over ten years, and provide cable and internet.  By and large, I’ve been pretty satisfied with their offerings and they have had customer service that I would rate way above average.

We currently have a whole house DVR system.  There is one box, called the gateway, which has six tuners so that we can record or watch up to six shows at a time. There are three media players which connect to each TV, and communicate back to the gateway for programming.

As mentioned, the system has a DVR system, so we use the system to record shows that we can play back later.

Is This Replaceable?  I understand that there are a number of devices, from TiVo or otherwise, that can be purchased to act as DVRs.


The big thing that I would have to do significant research is to see if we could replicate the programming that we are used to having today.

My wife and I watch a number of shows, live or recorded or watched later.

  • Broadcast – I know that we could receive most of the network content via an over-the-air antenna, so anything from CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CW, or PBS could be captured and watched as we have today.
  • Cable specific programming – My wife and I watch and record various shows on cable networks.  Looking at our DVR, this includes networks such as FX, Bravo, AMC, MTV, Lifetime, TNT, and HGTV
  • Random stuff – Shows on networks like USA or TBS sometimes provide entertaining content
  • Sports – I watch some sports.  Much of it is on the broadcast networks (football and such), but there’s enough that’s on ESPN or our local Fox Sports affiliate, that I’d have to see what would be available or if there are other means.
  • Kids programming – The kids enjoy watching Disney Jr or Sprout sometimes.
  • Premium content – We’ve always gotten Starz and Encore as part of our package for being a digital content subscriber.  WOW notified us that they’ll be removing that, and we would have to pay $12 extra per month.  While we didn’t use this all that much, it was just enough to prompt this post.  It simply points to the ongoing trend that prices will go up and access to content will go down.  So, this isn’t a big deal.
  • Anything else – I need to look through our recording history and talk to my wife to find out if there’s anything else we use regularly.

Now, I’d have to think that a good chunk of the non-broadcast stuff could be made up via items like Netflix or Hulu, both of which can provide some of the content above, as well as a great deal of other content.  I know that devices such as Chromecast or Roku can provide access to some of the functionality above, as well as other content.


Right now we’re paying $105 per month for our internet and TV.  If I stayed with the same provider, I could get internet only for half or less than that price.  That would be around $600 per year.  Some of that would be offset by subscriptions to any of the sources above, maybe more than one.  There would also be equipment costs for any devices that would allow us to access that content.

Our price noted above is locked in for this year, after which it will probably go up at least $20 per month.

Ease of Use

Right now, all content is pretty much right where we want it.  If you are getting content from multiple sources, is this simply a learning curve or would it add a bunch of extra steps, to the point where the frustration might not be worth it?  Or even there are a few extra steps, it seems like we might be getting access to more content with some of the Internet streaming services, and after all, we have a four year old and two year old who will soon be able to teach us how to use it all 🙂


I like the service we have, I just don’t like the price we’re paying.  I know I’ve seen people that have successfully cut the cord, but I would have to look at all of the factors above to see if it’s something we could consider.  If you’ve ‘cut the cord’ or know others who have done so, I’d love to hear success stories as well as any things to watch out for.

24 thoughts on “Could We Cut Cable TV This Year?”

  1. We cut cable and picked up Netflix ($7.99 per month) and an antenna to pick up basic channels (we got a large one, because we live about 30 hilly, wooded miles from where most signals are broadcast from, but got a deal through a friend who works at Best Buy and only paid $64.95). Our cable and internet package cost us $120 per month before, and now just paying for internet is $65 a month. So the antenna pretty much immediately paid for itself, and now our monthly expenses for TV/internet are about $73. I am SO GLAD we got rid of cable. We spent less time on our butts in front of the TV and more time being productive, enjoying more important things, and actually living, AND we save a ton of money every month that now goes straight into savings. Anything we truly want to watch can be found via our basic channels thanks to the antenna, Netflix, free shows online (the Colbert Report, for example, can be watched for free on Colbert’s and Comedy Central’s website), or maybe an occasional RedBox rental. I highly recommend cutting cable – and subsequently cutting a lot of junk programming and wasted time out of your life.

  2. We cut the cable last year and replaced it with an antenna which saved us $60 a month. Our needs were pretty basic; we mostly just wanted to keep broadcast football. Since we’re more movie buffs, we have a Netflix subscription and pick up movies from Redbox in between. In your case, you might have to supplement with Hulu and Netflix and figure out a Roku box or some device to record shows.

    • I just ordered a Roku box on today’s Woot-Off. Has everything. I also setup a Chromecast last week. My goal is to see if I can silently switch over, get the bugs worked out, and convince my wife to try. She’s the one that will resist. 🙂

  3. As a world-class curmudgeon, I’ve always refused to buy cable, for two reasons: a) In the US, the public owns the airwaves and we should not be made to pay to use what we own; and b) I’ll be darned if I’m going to pay for a hundred channels with nothing worth watching, all of it laced with annoying advertising.

    Until recently I watched broadcast. They make an antenna that’s kind of cool: it’s a thin flat thing that you can hang or set almost anywhere, and that works very well. I used to set it on top of the TV armoire, where it was invisible to passersby.

    In the past couple of years, less and less of interest has appeared on broadcast TV. Most times, when I get to the point where I was so exhausted that all I wanted to do to fill time was to watch the idiot box, “Idiot” was what I got: the commercial stations now have more advertising time than programming time, and PBS seems to be doing a beg-a-thon about once a month. There’s just nothing on broadcast TV anymore.

    So I subscribed to Netflix ($8/month). And I do like it. I have a large iMac — its monitor is bigger than my old TV was — and Netflix has a more than adequate selection. Some of the programs are old. However, I’m told you can find newer stuff on Hulu, some of it for free.

    The decrepit TV went out in the alley, where scavengers picked it up within hours. The armoire reverted to the function for which armoires were invented: storing linens. And now I have a nice comfortable rocking chair in the office, where I repair to watch programs I want to see when I want to see them.

    If you have more than one person in the house and a substantial investment in TV equipment, I understand there are several devices that work to stream Internet content to a TV monitor. Well worth it, I’d say!

  4. We decided to cut our cable 3 years ago and everything has remained fine on our end. For one, there’s the internet; there’s youtube and a dozen more streaming sites where we can watch some of our favorite shows… for free. It has brought us significant savings, really, and I don’t think we will be considering using/buying cable in the years to come.

  5. I’m going to chime in on why I haven’t cut the cord 🙂

    For the past decade or so, I’ve had Tivo hooked up to my cable. I tell Tivo what shows I want to record. So when I sit down to watch tv, I open up the menu and pick from the shows that Tivo has recorded for me. I don’t tend to watch movies – I prefer to watch 1/2 hour or hour long shows, and fast forward through commercials, so that most shows are about 42-43 minutes.

    I tried a 30 day trial of Netflix streaming – none of the shows I wanted to watch were available, and I didn’t find anything I wanted to watch in the list of what was available.
    I’ve poked around on Hulu – the interface is alright, but I find it hard to locate actual full length content, vs 2-3 minute “teasers” or other advertising. This may be different with Hulu+ – I haven’t tried.

    For me the biggest reasons I have not cut the cord are the following:

    1) right now I have no idea what day, time or channel a particular show is on. I like to watch Colbert – but I don’t watch every day and I never watch late at night when it is on. Tivo + cable lets me record shows and watch them whenever is convenient to me. Many websites that offer free episodes of their shows (i.e. Comedy central,, – have a limited window of time in which you can see the most recent episodes.

    2) right now I turn on the tv, push a single button, and have my entire tv episode library available to me in one place. Having to remember that “colbert is on comedy central’s page” and “agents of shield is on channel x” and “suits is on channel y, so I watch it on Hulu+” – that’s too much effort for me

    3) similar to above, right now if I hear about a new show, I can set up tivo to record it when it comes on – and it will show up when it’s available. Even if this is weeks later. When I want to watch tv, I don’t have to remember “oh yeah, I heard about this new show, let me go figure out where I can watch it from?” – everything in my list is immediately available and already something I expressed an interest in. The question “what do I want to watch now” has a library-full of options immediately visible – I don’t have to go out searching for something interesting to watch. When I’ve tried Hulu and other online things, I find I spend more time poking around looking for something to watch, than I do actually watching a show.

    Right now, my Tivo is going on 10 years old (knock on wood) and has a lifetime subscription on it. When it eventually dies, I will probably try cancelling my cable and see if I can make it work – at least until I can save up enough to buy a new Tivo 🙂

    • Yes, I can definitely see some of those challenges including finding out about new shows, which often happens while watching other shows, or finding out when shows premier, which you just use the grid on the cable box to do, or set it up on DVR and it just starts recording the next season.

      These are pretty good points to consider, sort of intangible type things outside of the more well known ‘comparison between’ this service and that.

      Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed write up!

  6. $105/mo is pretty cheap for what you’ve got. $125/mo might be pushing it, but you could just get rid of the movie channels and get back to $105/mo, right? We were paying more than $180/mo for ATT Uverse. We have taken that down to $90/mo for just internet (20 Mbit) and the “base” channels with DVR. Our home phone is over VOIP using an OOMA box. I would not cut the cable if I were you with $105/mo.

    • I’m fine with $105 but that price is only good for 2014 and I expect it to jump considerably going into next year. I’d like to have a plan in place on either leaving when they give me the price, or at least be able to use my research as basis to convince the cable company to continue giving me that price.

  7. Netflix is good, but I heard someone using Roku Box. Many channels are viewed by subscribing, but there are also lots of free channels. The cost of the Roku is really less than people spend for one month of cable.

  8. I have toyed with the idea for a while. My real problem is the learning curve. Not only would I have to teach The Wife my parents would be a nightmare to teach how to use our tv. When I had surround sound every time they babysat I got at least 2 phone calls LOL

  9. We have been thinking about cutting cable too. The only things holding us back have been our DVR, sports, and the fact that we have roommates. The roommates could fend for themselves, but I do like how much time they spend in their room thanks to tv.

    As for the DVR, let me know what you think of your Roku. I need to know if it will fill the void. 🙂

    And for sports (he watches NFL football and all sorts of rugby and curling), we may suck up the fact that he’ll only see the games on local channels and need to go to his parent’s house for anything else. But that is very inconvenient…

    • I would miss some of the NFL games but not many since most I watch anyways are televised on what would be over-the-air. I’d miss being able to watch Detroit Tigers games, but I usually just pop in and out anyways, rarely ever watching a full game. I have memories of my grandpa always sitting around listening to them on the radio, so that’s always an alternative as far as that goes!

  10. We researched for quite a while and actually ordered Netflix before we cancelled to try it out. Netflix is pretty cheap, but we actually got a killer deal on Ebay as someone was selling a gift card for a year of Netflix for $50. I’m not sure how often that happens, but it’s worth looking for. We also got an bow tie antenna. That isn’t the real name, but it looks like a figure 8 or bow tie. It works great and we get network from Denver, Salt Lake, Albuquerque, and surprisingly, Dallas. We have Hulu off and on as a show we want to watch is available. Also Amazon Prime has a pretty good selection, including many seasons of House Hunters and some other HGTV shows. They aren’t the latest seasons, but for those type shows, it really doesn’t matter. On average, we are paying around $17 per month now plus the cost of the Roku and antenna, which is much better to us than paying for those one or two things we are missing that would require signing up for paid TV again. I think there would be more than enough stuff for your kids as well. Good luck with the decision.

  11. If you do decide to cut the cord, do yourself a favor and get the Chromecast. At $35, it will pay for itself in under 5 months by not having to buy a Hulu Plus subscription to watch Hulu on the tv (assuming you have a smart tv or other smart device).

    That said, while I do have a smart TV, a Chromecast, and access to Amazon Prime and Netflix, we are keeping our DirecTV service. We don’t have any fancy features other than HD service and DVR and only have it in one room, but sometimes content just isn’t available online.
    One of the shows that my wife and I watch is Lost Girl which is re-broadcast on SyFy after originally airing on the Canadian channel, Showcase. If we don’t watch it live or DVR it, we aren’t going to be able to watch it. It’s not available to watch through the SyFy channel website, Hulu, or my mother’s Xfinity subscription. You can only watch it on the Showcase website, but you you can’t watch shows on the Showcase website unless you are in Canada!

  12. Honestly, I don’t see the necessity of having a cable connection. There are a lot of free sites over the internet where you can watch live TV shows and latest movies without having to pay extra amount.

    • As my wife pointed out, though, you have to weed through the ‘giant’ Internet to get there, and know what to look for and how to get it, where a cable show is just there and you know where to look. The learning curve is pretty steep, from what I’m finding.

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