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Going Without Cable TV

Updated on July 17, 2014
This shows how different antennas perform from 70 miles from a broadcast tower.
This shows how different antennas perform from 70 miles from a broadcast tower.

It's entirely possible to cut the cable TV cord and save a ton of money monthly. But, it is not without some sacrifice.

What sacrifice?

Specifically, you will not be able to get "live" TV broadcasts and news, like CNN, or, watch live sports or other premium channels like HBO. But, for exchange, your TV bill will drastically be reduced to under $30 a month.

It is estimated that 20% of American homes now live without cable TV. This is making Comcast and others, nervous. Who wants to spend $120 a month for hundreds of channels that only a handful are watched? More is not always better.

Cutting the TV cable is part dependent on your home location. If you live close or in an urban environment within range of a TV broadcast studio, you can buy a small digital antenna for less than $100, sits on the bookshelf, and watch many channels free. You can also subscribe to Netflix or Hulu Plus for a total of less than $20 a month. Netflix is best for shows no longer on TV, but ones you missed. There are so many I missed, you can binge for hours. They also have their own like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. They also have some shows that are still on TV, like Scandal. Hulu Plus augments Netflix by offering many shows that are still on TV. Most of these are ones that have been on TV for a few years. Both offer movies.

To further augment this, you should get Roku, to make the selection much like cable TV. It works flawlessly and allows you to watch your shows on your TV instead of on the computer monitor. Roku costs around $80. Once it is activated, there are no more further costs. Roku also allows you to watch some "live"news on their news channels, like CNN International from London, Fox News, Sky News from London and RT from Russia in English. The connection is not always the best, but, it is live or delayed. Roku has over a 100 channels to select. They have movie channels offering recent movie releases for a small fee.

Getting a digital antenna is really a great device in urban areas. For instance, in the San Francisco area, you could pick up 80 channels-free. It all depends on where their broadcast towers are. Generally, you want to be within 60 miles of the tower for best reception. To determine what is available in your area, go to: As an example, I am about 70 miles from SF broadcast towers, by using a Mohu antenna with amplifier, I can receive all of the TV stations. The antenna I need costs $150.

So, through a combination of devices, you can easily cut the cable cord and save a ton of money over time. You will have more than enough channels and things to watch. Paying even a cheap Comcast account per month is $80. So, within a month, you will save!


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 3 years ago

      Thanks- cutting off cable is not without some sacrifice, for sure, but using the newest Roku certainly has made it much easier, IMO. I wish Comcast would simply offer xfinity to watch TV content as a single package, instead, they want you to subscribe to TV cable to get it. The combo of Netflix and Hulu Plus + Roku pretty much covers the void cable TV may leave.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      We had both a set of digital "rabbit ears," and a digital box, and yes, we got about 20 - 26 channels for free. However, we were missing the shows we liked to watch, and being on a fixed income, and not having credit cards, it was not possible to subscribe to either Netflix or Hulu Plus. So, all we had was 'standard' Hulu, and the shows are all older--you are watching months to a year or more behind.

      We also have a Roku device, and while it will hook up to those two services, the selection process is VERY time-consuming, because you cannot use a mouse, but have to use arrow buttons to travel around an alphabet screen, slowly selecting the name of the show you want, letter by letter. Not user-friendly at all.

      So, given that my husband is fully disabled, and cannot do much but play on Face Book or watch TV, he was so frustrated, that we finally had to figure out where to move things around in the budget and break down and get cable.

      Even having done that, it is far from matter what channel you are watching, it is certainly not like "the old days," when the new TV season began in the fall, and ran until early summer. Re-runs were only in the summer months. Now, the reverse is true. They give you only 5 or 6, if you're lucky, a max of a dozen new shows, and then they re-run them ENDLESSLY, so you are still stuck with little to watch. It is SO frustrating!!!

      And, btw--I fully agree that they should allow you to choose your OWN "packages," instead of shoving you into any of several 'pre-packaged' deals that have hundreds of shows you don't have the least interest in watching. The technology to do that certainly exists!!

      Voted up, useful, interesting....

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Voting up and useful. We don't watch television and haven't since 2007, but we do choose some good documentaries or even movies via You Tube or the library or via We don't do this to save money. We just got tired of all the garbage coming in to our living room and decided not to have it anymore.

      Sharing your hub.