Back in December, I wrote how my family cut the cord. It was basically a financial decision — our cable bill was growing from $120 to $180 a month and that seemed ludicrous considering how few TV shows watched. So we joined the 60M Americans that use only over-the-air signal. Surprisingly, we’ve survived and we’re not going back. In case you’re thinking about it, here’s what you can expect if/when you take this route:
1. The first two weeks without cable are the toughest! When I shared my decision with my oldest, he cried saying his world was coming to an end. And for the first two weeks, it felt that way because we constantly swarmed around the television looking for background or “filler” shows that we would watch whenever the TV was on. Luckily by the third week, we finally stopped looking for them and started doing other things.
2. You will miss your DVR. With cable, I used to record primetime shows and then wait 10 minutes just so that I could rewind them to the beginning and skip the commercials. I could also pause a show whenever there was an interruption. Once I cut off cable, I had two options: attempt to watch it live (and hope that you don’t get interrupted) or wait a day and watch it for “free” online. The frustrating part about online shows is that you have to sit through several 3 minute commercial breaks. It seems no different then cable until you realize that the commercials tend to repeat over and over, and there are only so many times that you’re willing to listen to the Internet Explorer 10 jingle!
3. Your computer is the best TV media access solution. I investigated buying a media center/streaming device, like Google TV, Apple TV and Roku, or even a tablet because they came with TV apps. But in too many cases, the device didn’t have the specific app that I wanted or the device wasn’t technologically compatible with the service that streamed the show. To overcome these limitations, I found that a laptop (or micro tower like the Apple Mac Mini) with an HDMI or miniDVI port is the easiest way to access any content that you want.
4. You will start paying for shows and when you do Amazon will be your go-to source. While you can find illegal websites with TV shows, I also got tired of being subjected to pop-up ads and constant buffering delays. The best alternative to this was an annual Amazon Prime account, which includes access to Amazon Instant Video. This service continues to have a bigger/better catalogue of free shows than Netflix. I also got into the habit of paying $2 a show on Amazon whenever it wasn’t included with my Prime subscription.
5. You have more free time (again). I used my Amazon Prime Account to go on a few binges and watch back-to-back episodes of shows that I previously skipped, like The Walking Dead. But once I caught up to the current season and ran out of shows to watch, I discovered that I had time to do other things.
At this point, we are committed to watching everything on either my laptop or the iMac. We spend approximately $20 a month buying various shows. Considering the $65 a month that I now pay for Internet only, I’ve saved more than $600 so far and it doesn’t seem like I am missing anything. While it wasn’t easy at first and we’re still in the minority, I don’t regret the decision to cut off cable. At least not so far!