Cut Your Cable Bill: 10 Legal Alternatives to Costly Cable

How much money are you spending to sit and stare at an electronic black box every month? I’ll give you the numbers.

On average, American cable and satellite viewers pay $71 per month, which adds up to a staggering $852 a year. Canadians pay a steep price too. A recent CRTC report found the average Canadian cable subscriber spent close to $50 per month in 2009, while satellite subscribers paid $66 per month.


TV Hound: Pivo attempts to channel Tivo, plus ten ways to watch TV online.

Upgrade to a digital package, add in a few movie channels, and you’re paying at least ONE HUNDRED bucks EVERY month to sit and stare at a bunch of pixels. That’s $1,200 a year on commercials, pseudo reality TV, and some other slop. Super.

Now, I don’t have a problem with watching television. There are a few excellent shows on the small screen well deserving of my time. What I do take issue with is paying for the other sludge that cable and satellite providers slide into the mix. My time is valuable. My money is valuable. And I don’t want to time-shift, PVR, and channel surf to find the good stuff while still paying for the crap. No. I want to cherry pick the best shows and watch them when the time best suits me. Who doesn’t?

That’s why I fired my cable company, quit paying for satellite television, and started using a few legal alternatives to get my TV fix. And thanks to the burgeoning market of new web-based and wireless services, breaking up with your service provider is easy and could save you a bundle, especially if you watch TV online.

If you’re ready to cut the cable cord and save some big money (and time), here are 15 legal alternatives to costly cable:

1. Netflix.com

I asked the very fine people who follow Squawkfox on Facebook for their top ways to tap TV without the cable costs, and the resounding winner (for both Americans and Canadians) is Netflix. Netflix is a service that offers flat rate DVD and Blu-Ray disc rental by mail. Netflix also streams movies and television shows over the internet straight to your computer or preferred device.

Price: Free one month trial. Afterwards, instant streaming packages start at $7.99 per month, with more expensive plans available.

What you need: An internet connection, a television, plus a Netflix compatible device that costs around $180-$300. The most popular devices are the PlayStation 3 (PS3), the Nintendo Wii, or the Xbox 360. You can also use your handy home computer for free if you don’t mind the smaller screen.

Pro: With over 10 million subscribers, you’ve got to assume that Netflix is making the cable companies very nervous. Plus, there are no ads with Netflix, and you can pause, rewind, or fast forward as often as you like.

Con: You need an affordable internet connection. Netflix eats a fair bit of bandwidth, so it helps to have a fast connection without restrictive usage caps to take full advantage of the unlimited service. The newest movies are not always available to be streamed.

2. Over-the-air (OTA) digital television

Live in a big city? You’re in luck since you should be able to pick up several local stations for free. Many television stations in big cities still freely broadcast their shows over the air, and a few channels are now available in high definition.

Price: FREE

What you need: Big city dwellers need an antenna (possibly on the roof) to catch the airwaves for free. You also need either a newer television with a digital tuner built in, or an older television with a separate external digital tuner box. Rural residents might be able to view 1 or 2 non-digital stations with the right bunny ears.

Pro: Just like cable, but free.

Con: Channel availability can vary wildly from area to area, so Google for: your city name + “OTA TV” to see what’s available in your location.

3. Your Library

Give the Dewey Decimal System a spin at your local library and you might be surprised by the programs available for your viewing pleasure.

Price: FREE! But you’ll pay a late fee if you don’t return borrowed materials on time.

What you need: A library card. Remember those?

Pro: Many library catalogs have multiple seasons of popular TV shows and hit movies on DVD. By borrowing from the library I’ve caught up with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Dexter.

Con: Limited selection, almost no new releases. You may need to reserve certain titles months in advance and wait…wait…and wait some more. Those needing instant gratification should probably choose another TV viewing method.

4. Hulu

Americans sure love Hulu — a website that streams ad-supported television shows and movies from NBC, Fox, ABC, and many other networks and studios over the internet.

Price: Free viewing on a computer. Hulu plus (with high definition) costs $8 per month and can be viewed on multiple devices.

What you need: An internet connection plus a Hulu compatible device, generally a computer hooked up to a television.

Pro: Many TV shows available and served on demand.

Cons:

  1. Hulu is not ad-free, so you’ll still have to sift though some sludge.
  2. Canadians will all share a collective groan with me since Hulu is only offered to Americans in the United States and its overseas territories. I’ve clicked several Hulu links over the years only to find that my internet address is blocked. Thanks CRTC. Boo!
  3. You need a fast internet connection with no restrictive usage caps.

5. Network Websites

Many big television networks stream shows on their websites shortly after the initial air date. For example, NBC.com offers full episodes of many shows such as 30 Rock online.

Price: FREE

What you need: A fast internet connection plus a computer.

Pro: Watching a favorite show on a familiar network feels like having cable, except you watch TV online, on demand.

Cons:

  1. Networks often add non-skippable advertisements to the start of the program.
  2. Older episodes may not be available. The network may only have the last five episodes online.
  3. Your shows won’t all be in one place. You may need to hunt through several network websites to find your desired programs.
  4. Shows available on network websites may only be viewable on a computer in a web browser. Full-screen quality may be lacking.

6. iTunes

A quick visit to Apple’s iTunes reveals why it’s the third largest retailer of media content in the United States — the site is huge.

Price: Some shows are free, but most episodes start at $0.99 and up. Passes for entire TV seasons can save you a few bucks. Higher quality HD programs are available, but often cost more.

What you need: A computer, the iTunes application (which is free), and an internet connection.

Pro: Both a media player and an online store, iTunes sells a huge variety of movies, TV shows, and music.

Con: Apple iTunes can get expensive fast, plus your downloads may cost big bucks if your internet bandwidth is pricey. Not all television programs are available.

7. Amazon Video on Demand

Americans can surf on over to the biggest online retailer and watch new movie releases and television shows by streaming with
Amazon Video on Demand.

Price: Price varies per show, plus the cost of a compatible streaming device.

What you need: An internet connection, a television, plus a compatible device that costs around $80-$100. The most popular devices for this set-up are the TiVo and the Roku Player. You can also playback your movie or show on your home computer.

Pro: Amazon boasts over 75,000 movies and hit TV shows and dozens of compatible HDTVs and devices.

Con: Only available to Americans in the United States. Sorry Canucks, I too feel your pain.

8. Sezmi

A digital video recorder that offers local broadcast channels, on-demand content, and a few cable channels. Yes, another internet streaming device.

Price: Around $299 for the Sezmi device and $19.95 for a monthly subscription.

What you need: An internet connection and the Sezmi device.

Pro: Sezmi is cheaper than traditional cable and satellite offerings. The device combines internet content with cable and DVR.

Cons:

  1. The device is expensive.
  2. Only available in a few larger cities in the United States.

9. National Film Board of Canada

Canadians AND Americans can watch documentaries, animations, alternative dramas and interactive productions either on the web or on an iPhone. Start watching the National Film Board here.

Price: Free for personal use and on a subscription basis for schools and institutions.

What you need: An internet connection and a computer. Those with devices such as an iPad or iPhone can watch the National Film Board shorts too.

Pro: Lots of films and documentaries online, for free.
Some HD content and a few OSCAR Winning (and nominated) pieces.

Con: Mostly older documentaries and Canadian vignettes, such as The Log Driver’s Waltz — which I remember WAAAAY back when I was in diapers. Yeah, that’s old.

10. YouTube

Disconnecting yourself from the cable tube and signing onto YouTube could save you hundreds, even thousands, over the years.

Price: YouTube is a free service.

What you need: An internet connection and a computer. Those with an iPad, iPhone, or PS3 should be no stranger to viewing viral YouTube videos online.

Pro: Owned by Google, YouTube offers viewers endless hours of user-created content, limited TV programs (mostly clips), music videos, and the odd independent short film. Some full length films and television programs are legally available to viewers in the United States.

Cons:

  1. Playback is in a web browser, but many devices provide support.
  2. More suitable for viewing short video clips, not watching full programs.
  3. Many videos contain advertisements.

Final Thoughts

Quitting cable and switching systems may sound like a hassle at first. But even after buying a $300 device or gaming console to watch TV online, you’re still saving hundreds over a cable or satellite service each year.

Squawkback: I’d love to hear from you guys. Do you still subscribe to cable or satellite television service? Or are you streaming your movie and TV shows online?

Your two cents:

  1. JakeLsewhere February 5th, 2011

    All good tips, but when mentioning the kinds of devices needed under Netflix you skipped my personal favourite, the Roku box. A much more cost effective option than getting a new gaming system, if you’re not a gamer. It also has Hulu Plus, Amazon VOD, Youtube, and a bunch of other streaming on demand type services.

    All-in-all, good tips for cutting the cable. I cut mine a year ago and haven’t looked back since.

  2. Case February 5th, 2011

    If you have a laptop and a relatively new big screen TV, all you need is a $2 or $3 HDMI cord to play Netflix, Hulu, or anything else you can play on your computer, on the big screen. We do this all the time and you can generally get really great HD-quality TV shows through even the cheapest cord.

  3. SavingMentor February 5th, 2011

    These are all great ways to get rid of your monthly cable bill. Combining a few of them together works wonders! I wrote a guide that I think is very complementary to these tips you’ve given us that links to all the major Canadian network websites that offer free and legal TV streamed online:

  4. Seedling February 5th, 2011

    Just an FYI, Sezmi is $149 through Amazon and Best Buy and they recently dropped the cable channels package. So the monthly fee is $4.99 and basically provides a Tivo-like service for local channels.

    I just picked one up a week or two ago to test it out. It has its quirks and is far from perfect, but it’s certainly the best option I’ve seen to record local TV (much cheaper than Tivo).

  5. Jutebug February 5th, 2011

    Love the awesome photo of your dog….how’d you ever get him to pose like that?

  6. Marlene Dufresne February 5th, 2011

    Looks like we Canadians are out of the loop – what else is new? Too bad momma CRTC is so paranoid!

  7. Jaymus (RealizedReturns) February 5th, 2011

    I use my PS3 for a couple of things. I leave a PS3 media server running on my main PC which streams from a few sites and I watch that on my PS3. Also, it flawlessly plays any downloaded media files.

    CBC’s videos don’t work on the PS3 though for some reason – or I just haven;t figured it out yet. It means I have to watch Dragon’s Den on my laptop which is a bit of a drag.

    I’m cable free, but with kids in the house I can see subscribing to something sooner or later. My configuration is just too complex for them to get their TV shows going on their own right now.

  8. Jean February 5th, 2011

    Well, #1 reason for me to still get cable (Digital HD package from Shaw including internet = $138 a month), is that no part of me wants to watch TV on my computer. I have a very nice HD TV. Sure, I could buy a laptop or some other device on which to download shows, but that adds several steps to a (currently) dead easy process.

    #2 is sports. HD sports in particular. If you live in an area of the country where your OTA options are limited (as I do), then you are looking at satellite or cable for sports. And no, I am not going to try to watch tennis or hockey or football or anything on a laptop. Even if it is available, which it usually is not.

    That’s it for my entertainment, generally. I don’t rent movies, can’t get Hulu, and tried Rogers DVD for a while. I have an HD PVR, and love it.

    Do I wish there were cheaper options? Sure. But I feel like there are dozens of things that are higher on the list for me to cut.

  9. Jules February 6th, 2011

    Most of the Internet packages available to people here are phone-Internet-cable deals, going as low as €25/month. Even after the introductory period is over, though, it’s rarely more than €50/month.

  10. Erin February 6th, 2011

    Excellent article, Kerry- wish I had this research when we gave up cable a year ago. Ours wasn’t so much a lifestyle choice- the UK went digital and our current television set didn’t accommodate. I didn’t want to commit to 18-24month type contracts which is the only way to get a competitive rate.
    In the UK, one can use Lovefilm for a similar service to Netflix. The BBC iplayer can be downloaded to stream television shows (I have no cap on my bandwith) and watch live tv as well. Other channels have similar services though they usually include adverts. We could also have purchased a freeview device that sounds a bit like Sezmi.

    We make good use of our library as well, who sometimes run 3 for 2 deals on DVDs. Although our local library has a limited selection, we can reserve titles through the online card catalogue to be delivered to our local branch.

    And frankly, we pursue other interests now- going swimming, internet, reading, crafty stuff, writing, canoodling ;). In the summer with the lighter evenings, we spend more time outdoors.

    I find now when I am around ‘normal’ television, it drives me a bit bonkers with the ads, the noise, the short attention span it seems to cultivate.

    Thanks again. Erin

  11. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple February 6th, 2011

    I was just talking with friends about this yesterday. I have friends who have canceled cable and just do Netflix.

    We have a Roku box ($80? $200?) for streaming Netflix and Amazon. I think the Blu Ray DVD player has the capability too. My husband also built a computer to hook up to the TV to do the same thing as our DVR.

    So, we have a lot of electronic gadgets, yet haven’t canceled cable. I would, spouse wouldn’t. Though I really do love canadian shows (Til Debt Do Us Part). Why is it that Canadian “reality” shows are so much higher quality than ours?

    So we do Netflix mail movies, on-demand, Amazon (you can get a lot of Disney movies this way), Hulu…

    I think our cable bill is about $100 a month, and if we keep the internet it would be $60.

  12. AJ February 6th, 2011

    I’m one of those people who rarely watches TV anyway (I’m either on my laptop or reading). I cut my cable about 6 months ago and haven’t missed it. The $40 per month I’m now saving I’m putting down against my mortgage. At first my teenage kids squawked, but I pointed out to them that all they really watched on TV were Friends and Two and a Half Men episodes. So, I bought them 3 seasons of Two and a Half Men (they already had all the Friends’ series and watch them over and over!). This has kept them happy. We also found some other shows online (I like CTV for that). I will be looking into Netflix for my movies though. Great article and research Kerry!

  13. Rose de Chicago February 6th, 2011

    We don’t have cable. My husband is a computer programmer. We have Netflix, Roku, and a fairly new gadget – Boxee Box. I foresee cable as we know it changing in the next few years as these gadgets and more become mainstream.

  14. zoey February 7th, 2011

    We have what a street person once called in an article about begging for money “poverty TV”–or Rabbit ears. We live in Winnipeg and we cut the cable almost 20 years ago! We get all 4 major channels, CBC, CTV, Global and City TV as well as Joy TV, which we don’t watch often. We get some ‘snow’ and sometimes have to fiddle with the antennae a bit, but it’s FREE, COMPLETELY FREE. You have to purchase Rabbit ears, around $80 at Circuit City or whatever the Radio Shack is now called. We have an older TV, don’t know how you would get the rabbit ears to stay on top of a thin TV.
    By the way, we also have three teenagers and yes, we get all the channels we want… even watched the Superbowl with good reception yesterday! Cut the cord people!

  15. Kathy February 8th, 2011

    We’re in Regina, SK. We’ve never had cable…we just use those “rabbit ears” to pick up the 3 local english stations – CTV, CBC and Global. And they work fine with the new flat panel tv (the older one finally died). Yes, we splurged and got a blu ray, which can connect to the internet to watch netflix or youtube…..but we don’t do that. Instead we’ll hook up the laptop to the tv via HDMI to watch the internet.

    We watch streaming video from the websites — discovery.ca, slice.ca….hubby was happy to find spacecast.com (I think that’s what it is??) which has his StarGate type shows. We do buy tv series on DVD. The one show we have trouble watching legally is Top Gear UK….we’ve bought the DVDs when they come out, but it’s quite delayed….they’re now on iTunes as well now…still delayed though.

  16. SavingMentor February 8th, 2011

    @Kathy

    I’m not able to include links here as the link in my comment above was automatically edited out. But I have written a guide to free internet TV that includes links to 35 television broadcaster sites in Canada that offer full length episodes online.

    If you click my name it will take you to my site and then look for the link called Free Internet TV – A Complete Guide For Canadians in the sidebars.

    Hope that helps you find more of what you want to watch online!

  17. Dave February 10th, 2011

    Apple TV is another way to get Netflix and iTunes stuff, as well as public podcasts like TVO.

  18. Kate February 11th, 2011

    Good suggestion except that the bulk of our Comcast bill is -internet- which we need in order to take advantage of non-cable options. We’ve already cut back to basic channels and internet, but if we cancel channels, they’ll jack up our internet price! I predict that as more and more people ditch cable, we’re going to see internet get more expensive. I think that anything over $50/month is ridiculous (and we pay more than $50 for internet already). How about an article on how to reduce internet bills?

  19. Mark February 12th, 2011

    To get around the Hulu in Canada issue you can download “Hotspot Shield” (google it). Works really well and provides great access!

  20. Mitch February 12th, 2011

    Yes, I am sick and tired of the stupid censorship and blocking of my freedom by the CRTC which stops me from viewing HULU and other US tv shows on the internet.

    There must be a way of getting around this maybe through European sites or other countries’ web sites which would by-pass the Canadian restrictions.

  21. Brian February 14th, 2011

    TV is one of the greatest time sucks out there….it pisses me off that I pay a hugh cable bill for what amounts to a lot of redundent channels, seemingly endless advertizments, and shows with little or no production value. I would like to cherry pick too, but, I fear that day will never happen as long as the CRTC has anything to say about it, and the cable companies force us to buy shit channels to get the one channel we really want.

  22. Rob February 18th, 2011

    I actually found, having given up cable & TV that suddenly the TV shows I used to watch (and the ones I didn’t) really aren’t that interesting any more. I suspect that since I’ve taken the previous TV time and turned it into reading and active recreation the focus of TV shows, even if I watch them on my computer, is “off”. Movies are slightly better, and I do watch the occasional DVD on the computer, but even then I’m not as absorbed by it as I was when there was a TV and a sofa involved.

  23. NaN March 15th, 2011

    The GeoIP blocking done by media sites like Hulu has nothing to do with the CRTC – the content providers don’t licence the content for viewing outside of the United States, because they’re largely funded by national advertisers (even though less-frugal types probably buy many of the same large brands here, and thus fund the content). As noted, this is easily worked around by using a proxy or by onion-routing (which is a distributed proxy).

    I know it’s trendy to pound on the CRTC, and there are lots of reasons to do so. This isn’t one.

    Great blog btw.

  24. ross March 29th, 2011

    I have netfilx and i love it. It’s 1/2 the price of a premium channel like HBO or Showtime and i get about 4x the use out of it. It’s the best entertainment you can get for $8-$9 per month

  25. Solo April 6th, 2011

    I really want to cut cable because my bill is just out of control now but how can you get live laker games, Disney Channel, Travel Channel, Food Network, Spike TV, Showtime, FOXNews and CNN that is the only reason I have cable now; thank you a head of time for any info you can provide.

  26. Rob April 6th, 2011

    @Solo:

    Seems to me that you have a pretty easy choice. Cut the cable, save money, and do something else with the time you spend sitting in front of the TV. Or don’t, and keep spending the money.

  27. SavingMentor April 6th, 2011

    @Solo

    I believe Spike and Showtime have some of their content online now. If you use HotspotShield as a proxy, you can probably get at Disney Channel and Fox News content. Live sports is tough, but online options are starting to appear, so I don’t think it will be that way forever.

  28. ianwtn April 8th, 2011

    Any advice on live sport options?

  29. Tracy April 25th, 2011

    My husband was looking into Netflix in Canada, and tells me we’d need to “upgrade” our XBox 360 account. I mean, we have the tower, isn’t that enough? I don’t get it. Basically, he said it would be another $10 “gold subscription) on top of the $8 Netflix charges. Anyone know about this?

  30. Beadtweety April 27th, 2011

    I have watched programs by hooking my computer to the TV with an HDMI cable when for some rason I didn’t get it on the PVR but I live in the country so no local cable just satellite. My husband watches alot of sports so until there is a way he can do that we will be paying

  31. MrE July 22nd, 2011

    @Everyone
    As long as we keep paying for greedy service providers and thier “bundled packages” then we will never see change for the better in the system of media delivery.. Every month you pay your cable bill your just giving the service provider more funding to controle the market and pay off people like showtime, disney, HBO, ESPN, cartoon network, nickeloden ect… to keep them from letting us get service directly. Why not just have a competitive internet provider market for wired or wireless internet conection and at the same time let the tv networks have it’s own competitive market because a competitve market will always equal higher quality and lower cost. Wouldnt it be nice to pay 40$ a month for 100mb internet service and have an app store on your tv where you can choose to pay for this channel or that. Cable/satilite tv is dead but we are still alowing companies like concast to milk the old. Stop being sheep and take controle of the market because if you keep buying broken shit then the shit will never change untill it benifits them. I would sell shit to if people buy it.
    Ps, Some things in life just need to be left behind like the 8 track

  32. Virginia October 15th, 2011

    does netfix always take so much time to ‘retrieve’? we spend more time waiting than watching

  33. Trevor October 17th, 2011

    Another great device that will give you tonnes of content to watch – so much that you’ll never miss cable – is the Boxee Box. Costs $199 and allows you to access Netflix, hundreds of tv shows, thousands of movies and films, plus tonnes of web series via hundreds of apps – most of which are free.

  34. LBJ October 18th, 2011

    You may want to add the AppleTV as a device. Even if you don’t download content from iTunes, the AppleTV with an iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch can now mirror content from those devices to your TV in HD. Also it plays Netflix as well out of the box and has access to YouTube, Vimeo, MLBTV and NHLTV. The AppleTV is $129 cdn

  35. Maakadoodh October 19th, 2011

    Just cancelled our Rogers cable… We weren’t comfortable with pay $120 for content available legally online for FREE.
    We access Hulu and other US network sites from Canada simply by downloading a FREE software called hotspot Shield. This software auto assigns us an American ip address to allow us access to everything in the USA.
    Love it that we can save…. The CRTC doesn’t have our best interest at heart…. Regulate the cable industry… It’s extortion right now

  36. cat67 October 27th, 2011

    Thank all of you for the useful information. I really appreciate it. I’m moving soon and planing on not hooking up my cable then. Will try to just use internet for free movies and tv. I am tired of paying so much for cable and internet too for that matter…

    Why Shaw and MTS need to be soooo money hungry is beyond me. They should be ashamed of themselves for such capitalism.

    Sorry for ranting!!!!!

  37. Shine February 4th, 2012

    I like to watch movies or shows when I feel like watching. With cable, you have to go with their schedule.

  38. TL February 10th, 2012

    All these suggestions are good ideas, however, some of us have huge internet bills that would be even higher if we used our computer for free TV or movies. Remember it is only free if you don’t have to pay for the internet :)

  39. Deba February 14th, 2012

    Internet is basically free. Anyone can go to any Starbucks or Local Coffee shop and download a favorite show, soap, or whatever. Its basically priorities over luxuries. Its a choice. Some people have to have the high Def Everything…if you can afford it great if not do what is suitable for you..but yes right now with the economy being what it is..I am saving money! I usually just download everything on my high Def Laptop…its great!

  40. brian March 15th, 2012

    After some research i am alarmed the fcc is not requiring cable companies to unbundle service. Wholesale pricing for the E network is 2O cents a month. Can you believe that! Sure the Kardashians have other revenue from sponsors but let them support thier own network. If you asked a 100 people would you pay to have the that show most if not all would say NO. But yet we do and billions of dollars are sucked out of our wallets to networks that wouldnt survive without these arrangements. I say screw cable get the government to offer options. I would bet a group of say 20 channels would be more than enough for people and cut out the BS.

  41. TL March 22nd, 2012

    Internet is NOT free if you live in area without restaurants offering free wifi. I also would imagine some of those restaurants would change their policy if 50 people sat around watching/downloading TV for a couple of hours a day without buying something:)I guess it would be hard for most people to imagine a place where the population is only 35,000 (that’s not a typo…35,000) people covering an area that could hold New York State four times over! I do agree that we need to have more options. I would certainly enjoy having a choice of 5-10 channels if I could pick my favourites (if I could even get cable). For now I will have to live with high internet prices. And satellite TV if I want to watch something :) On the plus side I live without city pollution and overcrowding so it is a decent trade off.

  42. Vic March 27th, 2012

    Great article, but it avoids the most common way viewers go cable-free, dish-free and subscrition-free: BitTorrents. While the legality, sustainabilty and saftey of this method is far assured, and varies from region to region, millions of people get all the premium TV available in the world for the cost of an Internet connection. While this “Wild West” situation will likely end, for now millions make this their first choice for video.

  43. cliff April 11th, 2012

    I have a tivo and I am using hulu plus. I want to watch suits from USA network and fairly legal as well. I can’t find these shows on hulu plus on the tivo, but I can find them on my computer on hulu. Is there a way to show the shows on my computer on the tivo and which is easiest/best/most cost effective? I want to do this wirelessly through my home network as well.

  44. Taraz June 30th, 2012

    There are ways to get Hulu here (with IP masking services) and you can pay for it with Visa “gift cards” which act like a credit card.

    Also, if you cancel your cable for a few months (or a year), they will often come back with a far lower price offer.

  45. Leedo September 12th, 2012

    Canadians: use an anonymous VPN (virtual private network) service. I use vpnauthority.com, but there are many others. 6 bucks a month. With a VPN, internet sites don’t know which country you’re in so they can’t block you. So you can access any site (like Hulu) from any country. All you internet surfing is anonymous as well – nice bonus!

  46. John Paul January 10th, 2013

    You are so correct in your assesment. There is no justification to pay for 400 channels and really one watch 20 of them regularly – of which 14 are available for free over the air – so ultimately paying $100+ for 6 channels.

    For me it has been exactly two years since I cut the cord and have saved $2844 (minus $105 for a digital TV antenna). The Only channel i can truly say I miss is ESPN during football season and then only when my team plays on MNF.

    Since Windows Vista there is a program called Mindows Media Center that will allow your internet connected PC with a TV tuner card and digital antenna to display a channel guide. The best feature for me is that it will also act as a DVR. I now can access 48 digital channels which consists of the 4 main networks as well as many other national networks (ION, WB) too. This method allows me to view channels guides up to 10 days in advance and opt to record new episodes just like a cable DVR. All for free. I do pay for NetFlix and have a free subscription for Hulu for other content and shows.

  47. John Paul January 10th, 2013

    Oops, forgot mention in my previous post that the PC is connected to my main TV.

  48. cindy February 21st, 2013

    I have a stupid question and I didn’t take the time to read all of the posts so it may have been answered but do you get the tv shows on these alternatives a day late a week late or the time they are on? Also, can you get channels like golf channel/sports channels on these alternatives? Thanks to whomever can answer…

  49. John Paul February 21st, 2013

    My belief is that cutting the cable is about individual values and I cut the cable for two main reasons; to save money and to not get sucked into the commercialization of everything. Doing this has forced me to exhibit patience and make sacrifices. Patience because using other sources of viewing will require waiting for a day or sometimes months. Services like Hulu will often allow viewing of shows within a day or two of the original broadcast and Netflix will show full seasons of many popular shows within a year of the season’s original broadcast. Sacrifice comes in when wanting to view live sporting events being shown exclusively on a cable network. If it is that important for you to view it might be a good idea to get with some friends and go to a sports bar or may give you a reason to hang out with friend (that is paying for cable).

    I was scared that I would not be able to live without my precious cable but it has been more than two years and I really don’t miss it. Honestly, I have discovered so many full seasons of shows on Netflix that I overlooked in the past. Also many channels have their own web sites that show full replays of programs within a day or two – like HGTV has the last 4 or 5 episodes of most of their shows.

    I hope this answers your question . . .

  50. I haven’t had cable for a number of years… I don’t miss it at all. Netflix, Hulu and an antenna cover just about everything I need.

  51. js July 23rd, 2013

    cable was nice but long movies are better.

  52. Sharon July 24th, 2013

    Great ideas but too bad for me! I live in Huntsville, Ontario and have no access to a good internet connection. Would love to do this!

  53. klv September 7th, 2013

    Chromecast For The Win!!!

  54. Denise December 16th, 2013

    Just read your gift list for 2013 and jumped to this site for further reading about ditching cable. My hubby and I just dialed it down to the basic cable package for about $19/month so we could watch our regular network shows and local news. The rest of our TV time is through amazon Prime. The only thing we missed was our national news station, and we cured that problem by hooking my laptop up to a large computer monitor that we were storing. Instant Fox News! Cable needs to get on board–who of us is content to spend $225+ a month to watch 10% of the channels offered in a “bundle”??? Great stuff, Kerry!

  55. Carolyn Jane Gillis March 25th, 2014

    I cut the cord two years ago, opting for $30.00 per month Internet cable, and OTA TV, which gives me ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, Fox and PBS, via rabbit ears. I couldn’t live comfortably without Internet access to my favorite online sites. When I have a favorite cable show that I just to have to have, I buy it in DVD form, or get whole seasons of it at my local library.

    I’m going to buy a new computer this year, an iPad, and a Kindle Paperwhite eBook reader with the money that I saved by not paying for cable TV for the last two years.

  56. kei b August 29th, 2014

    I am really amazed by the options. I never would have known about it if I did not do reviews for mostly everything. I honestly have not had cable in my home for maybe 2 or years, I am here to tell you its very hard my kids. Oh well its not in our budget not when cable prices are starting at $120.00 is not pocket change. I’m thankful that I discovered these few options. Thank you all again.

  57. Jepaul August 30th, 2014

    Kei – remember that this is old article. I save by using a TV tuner card in an old PC running Win7. This allows me to access Netflix, Hulu free, YouTube, and network websites. My roof antenna picks up 58 channels but using the PC and tuner card I am able to use media center in Windows and have on screen guide and the ability to use a DVR feature too. The channel guides updates itself via your internet connection and allows the recording of shows automatically just like cable or sat would. Your children will survive without cable and will adjust just fine. Just think of the wonderfull things you can do in the future with the thousands you will save.

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