Canceling Cable

We recently canceled our cable. It’s been about 4 months now, so I thought I’d share how it’s gone. In a nutshell – great.

Our Setup Pre-Cancel

We had Brighthouse cable here in Tampa, with high-speed internet (40 MB/s). The total cost each month with HBO/Showtime was around $240/month. As digital video has become more and more prevalent, with content on demand services ruling the web now, I figured we could get the most out of our TV experience without cable.

We have three TVs (two full size and one small – two had a cable box), as well as our laptops and iPads.

What We Use Now

Here’s what we use for video services now:

  • Netflix – $7.99/month. Movies, older TV shows (many entire series), cartoons.
  • Hulu Plus – $7.99/month. Current TV shows the day after they air, many older shows, a few movies.
  • iTunes – varying prices. For those last few shows that aren’t in Hulu Plus (HBO, Showtime) and new release movie rentals.
  • Amazon Prime – $79/year (roughly $6.58/mo). Many free older movies and TV, rentable new releases of both movies and TV shows. I consider this a wash on pricing, since it also gives us free two-day shipping on almost everything we buy on (definitely more than $6.58/mo value) and $3.99 overnight shipping. To be honest – we almost never get content from Amazon – the interface is more clunky, and the content is similar to iTunes. I only mention it since we do subscribe.

Dollars and Cents

So after canceling cable of everything except the highest-speed internet, we wound up at exactly $80/month. Add to it Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the 2-3 shows we purchase weekly (in season) from iTunes (usually the HBO/Showtime shows we like), and our total bill is now around $125/month. Almost half what we were paying before – and we haven’t missed it at all. Out of season for the HBO/Showtime shows we watch, our bill is under $100/mo.

Things to Know

We wound up purchasing an Apple TV for both TVs. These are $99 each (so we’d already paid for them within 2 months of our new savings), and are the best way we’ve found (best UI, simplest to understand) for watching Netflix and renting movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, they don’t support Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. We already had a Playstation 3, which has downloadable apps for both (so does the XBOX 360), which we use on the main TV if we’d like to watch either of those services.

Most content providers have iPad apps – Robyn uses Netflix, Hulu Plus, ABC, and CBS apps on her iPad often (Netflix and Hulu Plus being most used). HBO and Showtime both have apps, but so far they require a subscription through your local cable to view.

Apple TV works great with Home Sharing in iTunes. We have a central computer in the house which is always on and has the most storage. You can easily rip your DVDs into this computer, and watch the movies from any Apple TV. We haven’t done this yet, but plan to with our few hundred DVDs we’ve collected over the years.

We don’t watch sports. Those still pose a challenge (although if you have a standard HD antenna on your TV, you can watch your local games OTA).

Other Products Available

There are many other products and services out there to help you cut the cable cord. We have used these and found we don’t go to them often, but I’ll list a few which may fit in your situation.

  • Roku 2 XS – $99. Roku makes a few different boxes which have varying configurations (the least expensive being only $49). They are one of the few that offers support for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus all on one device (in addition to a host of other content sources).
  • YouTube / Vimeo. Two of the largest video serving platforms online. Vimeo is more creative work, YouTube you’re familiar with. Tons of entertainment on both of these.
  • Boxee Box – $179. Another web-video box like Roku or Apple TV, but pricier. Netflix on here is great, but the rest of the content is blah.
  • Google TV – varying prices. Two of our TVs came with Google TV built in, and our tiny TV has a Google TV set-top box I bought when they first came out. There are some advantages of these (Netflix looks great on here, and there are video rental services and media player apps on here), but we rarely use them. Almost everything they do is done better by the Apple TV.

In Conclusion

We’ve saved over $120/mo since canceling our cable, and haven’t missed it at all. There are some great web content providers out there – easiest and best being Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes. If you watch a lot of non-local sports, it’s not time to cut cable yet.

By Kyle Matthews

Kyle Matthews is an internet entrepreneur, musician, and amateur photographer. He lives in Tampa, FL (but hails from Seattle, WA) with his wife and son.