There’s been some discussion here at the House of Kay about possibly shitcanning our always-rising cable bill and going with an all-streaming alternative. I feel like I’d be cool with it, ’cause I watch very little TV. But some other members o’ the family might feel differently. At least that’s what I anticipate. Have you done this? Does it really save much money? I mean, once you pay for internet, a primary streaming service, and all your add-ons… it feels like it would be only slightly lower than a regular cable/satellite bill. Am I wrong?
Another question: if you go with YouTube TV or Hulu Live, or one of the other similar services, do you miss anything? Do you suddenly realize that something isn’t there anymore and throw your hands into the air out of frustration? I have a feeling there would be something I didn’t even think about, until I went to watch it. Then, “Dammit! This is utter bullshit.” I need some guidance on that as well, my friends.
A few days ago Toney called our cable company, Comcast (which is very expensive, but incredibly stable), and asked the price to keep only our high-speed internet. Wanna guess? No, it’s even more than that. It’s $125 per month. Crazy! But that’s the center of the whole streaming universe. Right? You can’t be expecting to stream everything, and have shoddy internet. Then, if you add Hulu Live at $65 per month, you’re at $190. I think they have some kind of DVR service with that, which is good. But it’s still a lot of money.
And we have too many streaming services right now, which I’m paying for out of my personal allowance money, not the family budget. I need to get rid of some of them; it’s getting out of hand. Here’s what we have:
Netflix (feels essential)
Hulu (has Seinfeld and It’s Always Sunny, so it’s staying)
Amazon Prime (good stuff, always interesting and surprisingly cool)
HBO Max (love it already, especially the Turner Classic Movies section)
Disney+ (almost certainly the first one to go, after I power through the Pixar films)
We also get ESPN+ as part of a package deal, and that’s useless, except for the 30 for 30 documentaries. They have all of them, and they’re great. Maybe when baseball season starts? I don’t really pay for this one, but it hasn’t been very exciting so far. I could drop it and not miss it.
So, you see what’s happening? I don’t want to add it all up, but if I did it would be a breathtaking amount of monthly dollars — just for TV/internet. And I don’t even watch very much TV. The problem? Those streaming services are all really freaking good. It’s all right there at your fingertips, and that brings me comfort. Someday I might want to watch something specific, and need it to be there for me. I don’t really want to give up any of them, to be honest. Disney+ is the weak-link, but even it’s kinda good.
What are your thoughts on this? Help me out, won’t you? Has cutting the cord worked for you? Did it really save you much money? Or is it a fool’s errand? If it worked, let me know which “live” streaming service you’re using. Any downside? I need all the help I can get. Also, which of the add-on streaming services do you have? Is my lineup excessive? It feels like it is. But I was talking to somebody at work recently who scoffed at it, and proclaimed it “for beginners.” He had many, many more than I do. And that made me feel a little better. If you had to give up one of them, which would you choose?
Please bring us up to date on all this, if you’re so inclined.
Also, if you’re dying to hear my Appalachian accent through your earbuds, you’re in luck! Here’s the latest podcast episode.
And I’ll see you guys again soon.
Have a great day!
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I won’t be much help on this, as I cut the cable/satellite cord many, many years ago. All I have now is an over-the-air antenna and I love it. Occasionally I have a “there’s not SHIT on here to watch!” moment but for the most part I don’t miss it at all, I’ll just go read. And I LIVE for TV, it is my life!! I also don’t have an internet connection to my home. I use my cell phone as a wi-fi hot spot for the RARE occasion that I use my “fire stick” so…I’ve really only got my $70 cell phone bill.
When I go to my parents house, they have cable & there’s nothing worth watching on those 500+ channels either. The one channel I care about watching is HGTV, and most of those shows I watch are rerun episodes I’ve seen the last time I was there so … shit on cable TV.
Man… I have DirecTV bundled with AT&T landline and fiber internet. I have all the channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Epix, sports packages, etc) on 10 TV’s, and two DVR’s with the rest running on genie receivers or networked splitters. According to American Express I pay $388 a month for all of that. Most of the TVs are smart TVs so there’s the potential to cut the cord, but I have built a big system that was designed around the cord. The thing that has always kept me from looking to ditch DirecTV has been local channels (I realize you can get them over the air, but not the way my TV monstrosity is built) and college sports, which I understand Fubo has now solved.
As for streaming services, we have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime (whatever comes with regular Prime membership), AppleTV+, and also buy a lot of stuff on Vudu.
So I guess that’s like $5k a year on TV, Subscriptions, Internet and a landline that I only use when I can’t get a good cell signal.
surreal killer says
I cut the cable after a really big wind event knocked out service for a couple of weeks last september. My internet service was highly problematic even though I was paying for a premium comcast service level. I switched to CenturyLink fiber and only pay 65 a month for perfect service.Turned out the coaxial cable coming into my house was circa 1980s and basically full of noise. They never upgraded their equipment for the online era. Simply excellent. I use hulu plus for another 70 bucks a month and netflix ($20), so I guess I am saving about 40 bucks a month since cutting the cord. As a bonus, I am able to effectively telecommute now even with my teenage boy doing his distance learning via Zoom. That was not happening very reliably before…
surreal killer says
Comcast can suck a butt.
Just bought an internal antenna and was blown away by how many channels I can receive for free, and a good deal of them are pretty decent. Just tried to shop internet only from Spectrum but they are being cagey about it (well, ok, I kept trying to use a different address so I was being cagey first). I suspect I will see the same thing ya’ll did – internet cost will go up when I cut the cord.
When I moved back into this house, two years ago, there was no TV service, as the estranged never paid the bill the year I was gone. Even tho there is a giant TV in the living room, it has no service. Wifi is my only trip to the outside world, on my tablet. The year I lived in an apartment with my girlfriend, who died about a month ago, at age 42, we only had streaming, but all we saw was PBS, CBS 24 hour news, and the rest of the time watched horror DVDs. And I was OK with that. Now I live in a three bedroom, two bath all by myself, and happy with just perusing the internets. TV is overrated.
Robert Blankenship says
I’ve been using Youtube TV for over a year now. Love it!
I pay $69 a month for around 70 channels. Most of which go unwatched, if I’m being honest. And no contract!
I cut the cable back in 2008 (Time Warner now Spectrum) when the prices just kept going up and up. Got fed up with the bitter channel battles; ESPN begging me to call and demand, etc. Looked around for a bit and chose Sony’s alternative Vue which gave up the ghost a couple of years ago.
I’d suggest figuring out which channels you can’t live without, and then review the pricing. For me it was TCM. I was willing to pay a bit more to keep my access to it. Quality is excellent, lots of HD channels and a great DVR type of structure. I figure I get enough enjoyment to keep paying for a while.
We dumped our cable and stream exclusively. We pay for Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. we’re saving around $70 per month.
One downside is that you’re unable to “channel surf” – you sorta have to know what you want to watch ahead of time.
Tubi and PlutoTV are both free and have channels to surf. I rarely use them but they scratch that particular itch.
My cable modem crapped out last summer. I called Comcast and they said they’d be happy to give me a new one, gratis. I went down to the Comcast store and they told me there’d be an exorbitant cost for one. And I didn’t like the prices for cable modems in general.
So I invited Comcast to felate me and switched to Wow! Internet only. They had a pretty good deal. I think we pay $60 per month for pretty speedy service and get network TV on the $20 antenna we got from possibly Home Depot.
I will say I miss the DVR and some of the on demand stuff, especially as relates to network TV.
We have Netflix, Amazon Prime (which I also use on my kindle for free books) Disney + because I have young kids and the Mandalorian and Marvel stuff is pretty good. CBS All Access got added for Picard and I’m also enjoying Star Trek Discovery. We added HBO Max at Christmas for Wonder Woman and really liked the Flight Attendant. But we might dump it and just add it back for a month next year to get caught up.
We also got a nifty new Samsung TV that comes with a bunch of streaming channels too.
But I agree all these services are a little bit like death by a thousand cuts. Overall I’m pleased with the switch and am happy to let Comcast wither and die as more people finally get fed up.
I was watching Chips yesterday over the air and the episode was a back door pilot for a show called Force 7 with Fred Dryer.
It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen and it was beautiful. You can see part of it on YouTube. Johnathan Rhys-Davis wears a satin mask with nose holes to fight Fred Dryer as an eye patch wearing ninja. Hilarious. I recommend it if you want a laugh.
The Yodler says
I only have internet and over the air TV. I canceled my Amazon Prime account and I’ll survive with Hulu and Roku. Will probably dump Netflix shortly because it isn’t that great anymore.
We have an over-the-air antenna and get dozens of local channels and it’s free. Then we stream Netflix ($15 a month), Amazon Prime (which is free with membership) and we just subscribed to Discovery + ($5.00 a month). So there you go…$20 bucks a month and a huge variety of TV shows. Way better than cable.
I had cable/internet/phone bundle with spectrum and with the dvd boxes I was paying about $265/mo. That doesn’t count Amazon prime or Netflix which we had before and will be keeping. About 4 months ago, we dumped the phone (only had it as part of our alarm system – switched to a cellular relay), went with a different internet provider and upgraded to highest speed, installed a home mesh network, and went with YouTubeTV. All in, we cut our bill from $265 to under $165 a month ($90 for internet, $65 plus taxes for YouTubeTV.) We have 6 TVs on our account, can use up to 3 of them on YouTubeTV simultaneously, and the only channel I don’t have that I used to watch occasionally is the cooking channel (I stan for Alton Brown, sue me.) DVR/on demand is better, service is more reliable, and when we rearrange a room, where the cable is doesn’t factor into our decisions at all. Wish I had done it years ago.
I have Netflix, Hulu w/ HBO (includes HBO Max), Disney+, Peacock (full version with commercials), Amazon Prime, and Shudder that I pay for, and use apps for PlutoTV, Tubi, and YouTube that are free. I opted for the annual plan for everything but Hulu and Netflix, so my monthly bill all told is about 40 bucks. The annual services renew between 50 (Shudder) and 100 (Prime) bucks a pop, but don’t factor in to my monthly budget. I pay $80 a month for internet, which I’m gonna have regardless of whether I have cable TV or not. Worth it in my opinion. The only thing I can’t get are CBS shows, but they all suck anyway, so I don’t think I’m missing anything. Peacock is probably the weak link, but I couldn’t resist a channel of random SNL sketches available 24/7. Honestly I watch more Youtube than anything else.
We dropped cable/satellite in the last couple of months and are not regretting it. We bought an Amazon Firestick. The main thing we wanted was to have local channels for the local news… that’s the most difficult thing. We used Beast TV until it went out of business. It was great… had all the locals and 4000 channels with locals from all over the country (that’s right, you could watch the local news from Wichita KS if you wanted). All for $15 a month. After they went out of business, we switched to Sapphire. But not as many local channels are available. the great thing about these apps is that you get every major sports event you can think of. All the NFL and MLB included. Since this is somewhat illegal (though they say it isn’t), you need to get a VPN app to hide who you are
Anyway, we added Youtube Live for $69 a month and it works great. Sapphire and Beast both had buffering issues, which you won’t get with YouTube Live and Hulu, because their servers are beefier. I thin the cost is high, but we are trying it out for a few months.
We also get the same apps you mentioned, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney+. We pay for some and use other family member passwords for some… That way the cost is shared a bit. Either way, the total cost is way cheaper than cable and Satellite.
Highly recommended is to get a fiber account from Google or AT&T if it is available in your area. The Band width is always better than what you get with cable internet. I hope that helps! Shoot me an email if you have any questions!
Unlike Chauncey Gardner, I don’t really enjoy watching all that much (except for Shirley MacLaine), but I probably spend six hours a week in front of the television, so I need some stimulating programming. The economics are slippery: I spend 20 hours or more a week on my computer, so I’m going to spring for the $45 a month for asymmetrical Inet broadband from our public utility company. I buy stuff from Amazon, so I’ve been a Prime guy since way before Amazon created and resold video content. I don’t have any “cable” services: a one-time expense of $35 a few years ago for a decent OTA antenna. Every once in a while, I get a free month or three of a content service like Netflix on a “trial offer” and “catch up”. (Just did that with The Queen’s Gambit and Longmire). Free YouTube is free. I’m not sure how many televisions a person needs. Certainly not more than one at a time; (I don’t quite see the need for ten) but they come in integers, so I guess it’s either one or zero so I have one. If I depreciate the capital costs of the TV and the antenna, and assume the Inet connectivity and Prime are for other purposes, I’m spending a few bucks a month on television “entertainment”. I’m not quite deluded enough to think that makes me virtuous. We all choose our entertainments like we all choose our poisons. It’s your body and your soul, you save yours and I’ll save mine (David Bromberg).
John (carbon neutral since Tuesday)
We cut the cord in November 2010 and never looked back. The only streaming service at the time was Netflix and we used a hacked first-generation AppleTV. What saved us was our ability to get over-the-air TV for local news. I live near Jeff’s old stomping grounds in SoCal and most people in the valley can’t get service, but we’re up a hill that has a good line-of-sight to the towers on Mt. Wilson (and with the switch to digital broadcast, our channel count is around 30). Started with a small $20 book-sized antenna that we put in the window as a proof-of-concept, then eventually mounted a “real” antenna on the roof. Over the years we’ve added Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and dropped Netflix a few years ago when their content started changing to home-made movies. We’ve never signed up for a live TV services that replicate “Cable” because we were just too fed up with all the commercials that come with cable. Oh, and our Spectrum Internet service is only $75 for 200/10Mb service.
I cut the cord about three years ago, and switched over to the decades-old rooftop antenna that came with the house. It pulls in 50 or 60 channels; that’s about 50 or 60 more than I watch, but the price is right.
I’ve had Amazon Prime since its inception, so I “would have had that anyway.” I don’t subscribe to any other money-costing streaming services.
Cost: my land line, Dish Network and DSL internet totaled about $200 a month. Now I have fiber internet; it’s $150 a month, and 10 times as fast as the DSL. It’s much more reliable too.
Fun fact: Comcast routinely places in lists of “Top 10 most hated corporations.”
Yeah, chill, I think they finished just ahead of Steel-toed Boots For Touchy Feminists Inc. in the voting. As usual, I could be wrong.
carbon neutral since earlier today (I fucked up)
Fucked up? Are you even trying? What did you do, shower with hot water?
Clue, at my age any additional shrinkage could be life-threatening or maybe ego-threatening. I brush my teeth with cold water — every other body part gets hosed down in “volcanic hot”. So I brush my teeth seven or eight times in the interest of carbon neutrality. I might misunderstand the concept.
carbon neutralish since bedtime (am I supposed to take my mask off before brushing?)
And Clue, while we’re off the subject can we call today’s topic something else? I got my cord cut in the summer of my 26th year (8 AM appointment), and when we got home my then-wife iced down my crotchal area and brought me multiple shots of brand-named bourbon to ease the pain (it didn’t hurt but I didn’t let on). Since I was immortal, as 26-year-olds are, and pain-free, I played 18 holes the next day and came home walking like Marty Feldman as Igor in Young Frankenstein. I had to go into work on Monday dragging one leg behind me, explaining that I had pulled a muscle although it’s not technically a muscle. This could have been an early warning of the shrinkage that awaited me 44 years later although I doubt it. We didn’t have carbon in those days.
Oddly enough this story is word-for-word true except for the carbon part. Now it only hurts when I reach for things on the top shelf, which might explain why I no longer drink top shelf bourbon.
About twenty-five years ago I was taking some inane quiz, and one of the questions was to name your favorite body of water. My answer was a hot shower. The answer still holds.
The 4th Stooge says
I’m one of “those” people without a TV. I don’t say this to brag, but I just didn’t feel like replacing the TV I inherited from my piano teacher. (Think olde-tymey wooden models). There’s not much I can’t get from YouTube or Tubi or anything else.
(I’m also cheap, so I refuse to watch shows that I saw on TV during their run or in first run syndication.)
Cut it! I dumped cable last year for You Tube TV. I loved the service but they just kept adding on unnecessary channels and raising the cost so that it is now only $10 less than what I was paying for basic cable. So I dumped You Tube Tv too. Now I just follow people on YouTube for free and use my Firestick and Amazon prime for movies so it cost nothing.
Milissa Sampson says
We cut the cord 2 years ago. Today we pay for:
Amazon but I also read so it stays 12.99?
Hulu 5.99,? Not sure on cost, not sure it’s staying.
Netflix, no idea on price $15?
We just got the $5 for 6 months of Starz.
That’s like $100 per month I guess
Plus we have the Antenna and the new TVs come with a shit ton of free stuff.
That’s it! I miss Nicole Curtis and AMC but not enough to pay for it.
Ah…Comcast. The ONLY high speed internet option in my ‘hood..and they know it.
Love/hate relationship with them. They took over service here from Adelphia, which was not only incredibly unstable, but also run by an actual federal criminal. After Comcast took over, service improved, and prices crept up.
We also have landline service with Comcast as part of TV/phone/internet bundle. We are clinging to the landline because we live in a holler and sometimes the cellular service is spotty because of terrain. We pay a LOT for the three bundled services, because of options I exercise for bigger bandwidth and TV channel packages.
Up until last month, Comcast and I have also had this arrangement where every year or two they increase their prices. Then I call them up, complain about my fixed income and my plan to cut cable out of my budget. In return, they would either substantially discount the current service ($20-40/month) or toss in some premium channel or package at an intro rate for one or two years. It was an arrangement we both understood and I was fine with it.
That all changed last month. We went through the usual phone call and I was escalated to the usual “retention specialist” (or whatever they are called) and here’s what Comcast offered: a $5 discount on one premium channel”. I told them the offer was insulting and said know.
They know there’s a pandemic. They know I need broadband for work, They know we’re streaming ad nauseum as we wait for vaccines and a return to life that doesn’t involve endless cocooning.
So: I probably could drop the premium channels and channel packages…but it just seems like too much work to be constantly fiddling with settings in streaming services. Shoot, we can barely keep up with “was that on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon” now. And I like to channel surf on the non-streaming channels, so…
I hate Comcast and suck it up. At least while I hate them for having me over a barrel they are delivering rock solid service.
We cut the cord about a year ago. Cable bill (triple play) was about $250 with little extras. Went to internet only with a higher Speed package for less than $120. It comes with Peacock for free (which is actually pretty good). We joined Philo for $20 per month because it had the channels my wife mostly watched (Hallmark’s, Discovery’s, etc). I use the free channel NewsON for local news. Amazon Plus is a definite, not that we use the streaming much. We family share Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu accounts for now.
We didn’t watch much sports, kinda miss not having that option when there’s a big game however. Was considering doing the NFL thing for a few months but chose not to.
Overall, it’s an ongoing adjustment but well worth it in the long run. We were is the same mindset with the cable bills. I considered the idea for a couple years before I got the wife on board. She completely agrees now.
It started out as a financial move to save money. After examining the cable bill and seeing all those bullshit charges and fees, it became a mission.
We got rid of most of TWC/Spectrum channels, but we pay for basic cable. We use Roku, and get Netflix, Hulu, Prime…UNC/PBS and Peacock. It costs us much less now.
JIm Carroll says
We cut the cord, six month ago and never looked back:
– Verizon Fios Internet, basic 200MPS $39.99/mo. You don’t need faster for normal home use.
– Big Amazon user, Prime, Fire TV Cube, really use Prime for the free shipping, not content, Fire TV Recast DVR/Tuner
– OTA antenna, get all local channels, 43 in total
– Philo, $20/mo
– Pluto TV, free
– Sling’s free channels
– Lots of other apps on the Fire Cube installed: Peacock, Tubi, Crackle, etc. etc.
– Disney+ and HBO Max, free for us because our two older kids have both which we access. In exchange they use our Prime account for free shipping. Both are really good with lots of good content.
One of the nice things about the Cube/Recast combo is that it integrates the OTA channels plus Pluto, Philo, Sling and Tubi into a channel guide so you don’t have to go into each app to access most content. Just like with cable, 100s of channels and nothing to watch, LMAO
Dr Buford says
I haven’t come close to shitting a kitten in years but when I saw $388/month for cable I had to trigger the defibrillator. I’m a cheap, cheap bastard – I’ve never even had a car payment that high.
We cut the cord in 2002 when we bought our first house and joined mail-DVD Netflix soon after. That worked until our daughter was born in 2008 and we needed some occasional ‘oh dear god we need a break here watch some television!’ time so we turned it back on. Around the same time-ish I got my first Apple TV and Roku and was able to access the hundreds of DVDs id ripped over the years.
Then Netflix started streaming, we moved and got FiOS and that was almost everything until the kids started getting a little older.
Our current lineup.
Netflix – $14? A month
Hulu – free (sister in law’s login)
YouTube Premium – $29/month. Was free on a friend’s family plan until a year ago but he was sick of his kids seeing ads. One day of free YouTube and I started paying for it. I loathe ads. I’ve got 20 or 30 content creators I follow that are entertaining AF and do all kinds of fun shit (fix old cars, build things, music theory).
Amazon – comes with Prime
Spotify – $16.99/month. I use this more than anythjng.
HBOMax – comes with ATT
Disney+ $6.99 (though there’s no wax that’s not going up)
Internet coming into the house (Spectrum 120 down/25up) $99.
So $170/month which still makes my ears bleed sometimes but it keeps the spouse and kids entertained when I can’t.
But when you start adding in all of the other Communication/Subscription stuff it starts adding up. Subscriptions to New Yorker, atomic ranch, Harvard business review. Cell phones are $200 a month. I’m paying more for subscriptions and entertainment that the mortgage on the house I grew up in. That’s occasionally tough to swallow.