My husband and I have been enjoying savings from having cut the cord for a few years. Although streaming services have been around for some time, and have become increasingly more popular, I still get lots of questions about how we cut the cord and alternatives for watching our favorite tv shows. I’ve addressed these questions below hoping to clear up the confusion.
Having grown up with cable service, we started our streaming TV adventure by dipping our toes in. For about a year we subscribed to both a local paid cable TV service and what are probably the two more popular streaming services – Netflix and Hulu. As the months went on, we realized that pretty much everything we were watching came from cable TV alternatives like Netflix or Hulu and not the cable service. We were only watching cable TV for a specific type of auto and bike racing that my husband likes. In fact, these auto sports were his biggest resistance to dropping our cable service.
I was finally able to win him over by pointing out the cost of watching those sports – since we otherwise never watched cable TV, I allocated the full cost of the service to each race. So, for example, if he watched only 1 race each month, the cost of watching that race was $80 (the original cable bill was $125, but $45 of it was internet, which we would still need). He eventually gave in and we officially became cord cutters!
I love our entertainment options now, I find the process easier and we’re saving money every month. One caveat, we hear from a lot of people that they watch less TV after cord-cutting. This has not been the case for us. Where we would have watched one or two episodes shortly after it aired, we now keep up with current shows PLUS binge watch on others. So, rather than one show at a time, there’s often an urgency to catch up on every episode of a show…even if we’re 5 seasons behind. Here’s the questions I get asked the most and what we’ve found most useful:
What things will I need to be able to cut the cord? For the most part, a combination of 3 things:
1) A strong internet connection. If your internet speed is too slow, this can affect the quality of your streaming. And if you connect other devices to the internet at the same time that you’re watching TV, you’ll slow the speed more. This is especially true if your family owns multiple TVs that will be streaming simultaneously. This happened to us at first and we were able to switch to a faster service.
2) A way to access your streaming apps. Your streaming channels (ex, Netflix, Hulu, etc) function very similarly to your smart phone in that each channel is like an app. You’ll often hear the terms app and channel used interchangeable for streaming. Most everyone has smart TVs that can access these apps, but some don’t have access to all the channels you may want. For this you can use:
- most gaming systems (we used an old Wii for the longest time)
- a streaming device such as Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV sticks or Apple TV
- or a TV with a streaming service built in. For example, Roku TVs or Google Smartcast TVs. The added bonus of these is that any updates happen automatically, so you don’t have to purchase a new streaming device whenever there is a new update. We switched to a Roku TV and love it!
3) Lastly, choose which streaming apps / channels you want. There are tons of alternatives to cable TV! Many channels have a small monthly cost, so the objective is to choose the ones that will provide the most comprehensive viewing package, while still saving money when compared the total cost of all of them to the price of the local cable service.
For example, in our house, we predominantly use Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access. In total this comes to about $24 per month for all three. Compared to the $80 for monthly cable service (cable service only, not including internet), we’re saving $56 each month or $672 each year.
There are many, many other channels to choose from. There’s, of course, Netflix and Hulu, but also options such as Sling TV, Amazon Video, news channels, children specific programming, sports and many more.
How do I find the shows I want to watch if I don’t have cable?
Super simple. If you know how to search online, you already know how to search your streaming channels. You can search from within the app / channel itself – for example, you can search within Netflix for movies and shows they have available. Or, if you use a service like Roku or Chromecast, you can use their search menu to look for a show or movie and they will show you the apps/channels where you can watch.
What if I want to rent a movie from home?
There are channels you can use for movies or TV shows available for purchase or rental. With these you’ll pay a small fee, like you would have done years ago at a movie rental store. And, if you rent, you’ll have access to stream it for a predetermined period of time. The amount of time depends on the movie or show, but typically you’ll have 30 days to watch and 24-48 hours to finish watching once you start. There are several of these services available. Our favorites are FandangoNOW, Vudu and Google Play. If you purchase a movie or show, you’ll have rights to view it indefinitely. *if you like saving money, you may want to sign up for emails from one or more of these services so that you’re the first to know when they have discounts or promotional codes available.
Easy peasy! We love our TV options now that we’ve cut the cable cord. More importantly, love all the savings we’ve gained.