Among my most popular articles over the last couple of years are those related to dropping cable TV. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching TV and cable has been a really good option for a number of years that has provided us a growing list of viewing options. What has happened, however, is that with that growing list of options has come a larger and larger monthly bill. Basic no frills cable is now $50 - $60 monthly in most areas. If you want access to the premium channels, you can easily end up with a bill of more than a $100 monthly. One option that will be coming soon for cable TV subscribers is the ability to pick channels a la carte'. There is a move afoot in Washington to force cable TV providers to allow subscribers this option. I would love to just pick the handful of channels I would watch and not pay for the 200 others I never tune in to.
Here is a link to my three prior articles, which will serve as a more comprehensive review of my strategies on how to drop cable TV and replace it with less expensive and similarly robust options.
My prior articles lay the foundation for this article, which outline the amazing new devices that allow you to connect your TV to the Internet and tap into hundreds of new viewing options. At the top of my list is the Roku and also Apple TV. There are other such devices and televisions that have these Internet connections built in. You can review the entire list here.
In my own situation, I have a Roku. With the Roku I can access Netflix ($8 monthly), Hulu Plus ($8 monthly), and Amazon Prime (membership includes free Amazon shipping and also access to thousands and free movies and e Books - $79 per year). I also can pay for premium new release movies with my connection to Amazon through the Roku ($3 to $4 per movie). By the way, Roku has quite a lot of Christian TV programming options as well.
What has prompted me to drop cable are several factors. First, the explosion of options I have through the ROKU. There are now more than 600 channels, and there is the availability of major league sports as well (by subscription). Secondly, there are now live streaming channels vs. just pre-recorded shows. Lastly, it has become easier to get high quality live TV with HD antennas. If you live near a major city, for about $50 you can get an HD antenna and receive quite a large number of channels for free (with digital quality). Here is a website that you can use to get a rough idea of what channels are available in your area. Prior to 2009 you may have had several stations in your city that were still broadcasting in analog. Of course, no one wants an analog signal on their fancy new HD TV. With the right antenna, you will be amazed at how many local channels you can receive in and crystal clear digital quality. If you live in an outlying area, you may have to invest in a more expensive digital antenna that may cost $120.
More Options Coming Soon
Aereo will be providing live local TV via the Internet for just $8 monthly. The service is being rolled out now. Don't ask me to explain the details of how it works, but here is my understanding. Aereo receives the signal from an HD antenna and then makes that program available through their network over the Internet. Supported devices will include Roku, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and most computer browsers as well.
Getting Used To Not Having Cable
We just dropped cable 24 hours ago and yes I am still getting used to the transition. I was able to watch a couple of shows tonight from Fox News on my Roku (The Five and Fox and Friends). My wife is sitting on the couch right now watching a travel show from our Hulu Plus account (through Roku). One of the biggest adjustments is trying to choose from the hundreds of choices available. We have had a Roku for three years, but mostly used it for watching movies. Now we are learning how to tap into it for news and lifestyle programming as well.
A Bonus Roku Tip
For some reason you will not see all of the channel options inside your Roku menu as many require private codes (so called private channels). I have no idea why this is, but this applies to a lot of the free live streaming channels. Here is a link to a list of those codes you might want to use Roku Private Channel Codes.
If you have dropped cable, please use the comments section below and let's start a conversation. Share your own experience, good or bad, and let's all save some money!