Time to Get Rid of Cable?

November 8, 2017

For at least a year, Consumer Reports, the Motley Fool, Kiplinger and the Washington Post have hinted that it may be time to get rid of cable. No question there are still great shows on cable, but the news seems to be you no longer need to pay through the nose to get them. Given the latest online options for “cutting the cord” and still being able to view entertaining content, more and more people are experimenting with different possibilities.

Cutting the CordIn Consumer Reports’ (CR) latest survey, cable operators fared poorly in the areas of value and customer service. One single dad looking to economize found if he quit cable and added an antenna for free local broadcasts, as well as a promotional $20-per-month internet rate and a subscription to Sling TV, he could save $1,000 a year.

And that’s with no sacrifice to the news and entertainment content he watches, says CR.

If your monthly cable bill is running upwards of $175 a month, you too might be asking, “Should I get rid of cable?” For some of the upsides and downsides to cutting the cable cord, here are a few insights.

TV Antennas

This lower-tech throwback will enable you to get rid of cable and watch local broadcasts. Outdoor antennas, especially on a roof, generally offer the best performance, particularly if you’re miles from a broadcast tower. But an indoor antenna is easier to set up, and for some people it’s the only option.

Getting great reception from an indoor HDTV antenna can be tricky, however, and Tom’s Guide offers up tips to get the best results – complete with video tutorial.

If you do get rid of cable and want antenna reception for local broadcasts, visit AntennaWeb.org, enter your street address, and see which channels are available to you and what kind of antenna would be best.

You’ll need the antenna, and maybe an external converter box, to get the digital signal. Both are available at Best Buy, Amazon or any electronics stores. And it’s worth mentioning that newer TVs (just about any TV sold in the last 5 years) often have a digital tuner built in, so you might not need a converter box.

Smart TVs

If you bought your television after 2009, there’s a good chance it can already stream television shows via the internet. Again, newer TVs come with apps like Hulu and Netflix already embedded in them. With all the buzz about streaming boxes and sticks as a way to get rid of cable, it’s easy to overlook the technology you may already have.

Buying a Player

Cord CuttingEven if your TV doesn’t have internet apps built in, you may already have an external device that does. Most Blu-ray players can help you cut the cord by streaming shows and cost as little as $50. And newer gaming systems such as PlayStation, Wii and Xbox can also stream videos. If you do need to buy an external device, the Washington Post has some suggestions to help you decide which one to buy, based on the shows you want to watch.


Video Streaming Services

Clark Howard, the money-savings guru, lists nine cheaper alternatives to cable including Hulu, Sling TV (owned by DISH Network), DirectTV Now (AT&T) and YouTube TV (Google).

YouTube TV offers live streaming broadcasts from 40 broadcast and cable channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN among others. YouTube TV also offers cloud DVR capability, just like Hulu and Sling TV, and the $35 a month covers six accounts (but only three streams can be watched at once).

Best Internet Deals

To get rid of cable means you’ll still need a reliable, inexpensive internet connection, and CordCuttingReport.com offers tips and tricks when dealing with the local internet service provider (ISP) in your area. The two ways to lower your fee are either your ISP’s introductory deal, usually a temporary one-year offer, or the secret rate offered to customers who are likely to leave. The Cord Cutting Report has more information about those rates and other alternatives to expensive internet connections.

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