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Next week marks a different kind of anniversary for us: it’ll be two years since we “cut the cord” and cancelled our cable television service. And we haven’t missed it since!
We decided to cancel our cable for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, we often found ourselves just watching crap, staring at the box like zombies instead of taking on creative pursuits like…well…this blog. (My blogging has increased a TON since we cancelled, haha.)
Secondly, we got really tired of having to call and fight with AT&T over the ever-growing cost of our monthly cable bill. At a cost of about $50 per month, we knew we could save a good chunk of money by utilizing subscriptions streaming services instead of continuing to pay the cable company for tons of channels we had little to no interest in.
So, we cut the cord, and in the months that followed created a setup that completely replaces our need to EVER have to pay a cable bill again, all without having to give up our favorite shows. Here’s how we made it work:
- We bought an over-the-air digital antenna
A lot of people may not realize that access to many mainstream digital tv channels is actually FREE. Public broadcasting was created for the benefit of the public, and so most of your favorite channels are available over the air, for free, to anyone who wants to access them. All you need is an antenna.
This includes full access to ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS to start. We actually receive around 25 channels total over our digital OTA antenna, and have discovered several interesting channels we didn’t even know existed when we had cable like Create, a PBS affiliate channel dedicated to cooking, gardening, and home improvement shows.
Having access to all the “mainstream” channels means we get most of the popular sitcoms, news, and events like the NFL and the Grammys. And the quality (as long as you get a good antenna) is the same as what you’d get through a digital cable box.
2. We bought a TiVo Roamio with Lifetime Service Included
Once you have your digital antenna, you’ve replaced a good chunk of your access to tv, but the other big “perk” of cable service is usually the features of the cable box itself.
The box, of course, acts as both a channel guide so that you can see what’s on and a hard drive/DVR where you can record shows and watch them later. And with the box is the all-important remote control that allows you to pause or rewind live tv, or fast forward through commercials on recorded tv. We found, in the first month or so without cable service, it was actually these features more than any content that we missed the most…I mean…who wants to watch commercials?
Luckily, you don’t need cable service to replace those features. The TiVo Roamio OTA 1 TB DVR allows us to schedule and record our favorite shows, view a handy channel guide to see what was going to be on, and utilize a remote with all the features of the fanciest cable box. And it’s all made to work specifically with your OTA digital antenna.
Beyond all of that, though, one of my favorite things about TiVo service is its “suggested shows” feature. Based on what you record, watch, and like, TiVo learns your preferences over time, and will eventually start to use up some of that 1 TB of space by recording shows you’re algorithmically likely to enjoy. That means that, even if you haven’t actively set something to record or if you’re between seasons, there’s still likely something fun to watch (and without commercials, since you can fast-forward through them) on your TiVo.
But wait, you say! Doesn’t TiVo come with a monthly access fee? Isn’t that the same as paying for cable?!
Fortunately, the answer is no. While TiVo does offer subscription-based service as well, I’d HIGHLY recommend getting a TiVo that comes with lifetime service included, like the ones on Amazon for $349. It will pay for itself within just a couple months of not having cable service, and then you never have to worry about it again!
3. Lastly, we bought a Roku to organize our streaming services
Between the OTA digital antenna and the TiVo Roamio, you have everything you need to have a cable-like experience for all the channels that come in via your antenna, but you still need to rely on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for other content like movies, cable-based television shows, and original programming from those services themselves.
For us, the Roku makes that really simple. We just add the streaming channels we like from their long list to our Roku box, and then use the all-channel search for whenever we want to find something. Instead of saying, “hmm, I really want to watch The Wizard of Oz” and then having to go search for it one by one across all my services, I just type the title into the Roku search and it spits out all my options across my various services, including info on whether it’s free or at an additional cost and if it’s in HD or not. Similarly, I can “subscribe” to certain shows via the Roku, and Roku will notify me when new episodes have been posted via any of my streaming services.
Beyond all that, the best part about Roku is that the cost has really come down in recent years. You can now get a Roku Express for under $30.
So there you have it. We love our new setup, and don’t miss our monthly fights with the cable company one bit. And even though we did invest a bit to get it up and running, considering that we save $50 a month by not paying for cable, our equipment has more than paid for itself at this point!