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Are you at the stage where you resent the cost involved to watch Cable TV? Are you spending hours browsing, searching, scrolling - just trying to find something of quality to watch? 

I knew I was ready to cut the cable cord, but I needed to convince my family too. 

We all enjoy the relaxation, entertainment and staying informed through TV and so there was a definite reluctance to make a change. {We all hate change, right?} Our family discussions seemed to get stalled at - how can we watch [insert favorite show or sport] without cable?  

We decided to find out. We put ourselves on a one month trial with the reassurance that we could always go back to cable and cancel whatever monthly subscriptions we had added. 

First Steps to Cutting the Cord

  1. Research the different options around watching TV without using a cable TV provider. 
  2. Decide on the cable alternative - Antenna, Chromecast, AppleTV, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick.
  3. Call your cable company and tell them to stop your subscription.
  4. Discover what you really want to watch.
  5. Decide if you prefer cable or if you like the new way you watch TV (and don’t forget to analyze the financial costs of each).

Watching TV Without Cable

What are your choices without cable? 

  • Free to air TV with an antenna¬†
  • Casting Device¬†
  • Streaming Device¬†

Watching TV with an Antenna

Mother and daughter watch TV on the couch.

You can go old school and watch TV for the single price of an antenna. Antennas today are much more advanced in their ability to receive broadcast signals and come in all shapes and sizes for indoor and outdoor use. 

If you live in a major city and don’t have roof access, you can likely get great reception using an indoor antenna. The FCC has a map to see what signals are available in your area.

If you have easy access to your roof or a balcony, try an outdoor antenna. The cost of an antenna ranges from $40 - $150.

Using your antenna, you can then access free to air TV from networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC as well as some local channels. 

The most significant advantage of using a TV antenna is that it doesn’t require Wi-Fi or internet to operate. This is great if you have data limits on your internet or if your internet signal isn’t reliable.

Casting to your TV From your Laptop, Tablet or Phone

Casting devices will cast what is on your small screen to a larger TV screen. You can ‚Äėcast‚Äô or transfer what is on your laptop, tablet, or phone on to your TV - without paying for any cable service.¬†

If you already subscribe to Netflix, YouTube, or some other free platform or app, this allows you to view videos on a big screen for a TV-like experience. You can also download movies or shows from your local library for free and then show these on your TV.

A casting device will require an internet connection - although there is a more complex route to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi suggested on Lifewire. 

The most straightforward casting device I found is Google Chromecast ($35). You pay a one-off purchase price and no monthly fees to watch anything you can put on your laptop. 

The most significant advantage of using a casting device is that you can use what you already have without getting into new subscriptions. If you are happy with what you can view on your phone or laptop but just want a bigger screen, this is likely the cheapest option. 

Streaming Devices - the Cable Experience Without the Cost of Cable TV

Streaming devices will show subscription type channels through the equipment you purchase directly to your TV in the same way that a casting device will. They also offer several networks that you probably regularly watch with cable. Popular streaming devices include Roku (29.99) and Amazon Fire TV Stick (Streaming) ($49.99).

A streaming device will show the same apps a casting device can (YouTube, Netflix); however, you cannot watch movies downloaded to your laptop. The streaming device is connecting directly to an application - using your username and password, rather than through your own laptop or phone.

The table below shows cable and streaming costs per month - the savings is a huge plus to cutting the cable! (Xfinity charges November 2019 in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.)

Table comparing prices of cable and streaming

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Learning How to Watch TV in a Different Way

Young man watches TV on laptop

Cutting the cable cord isn’t just about switching from one service provider to another. You will watch streaming services differently, becoming more intentional about which provider you want to browse and use the search button as you would when browsing the internet. 

You become the driver of your experience, and mindless channel surfing becomes a thing of the past. As a viewer, you are in control of choosing what you watch and when you watch it. You can search for shows and movies by subject, topic, keywords, or even an actor - similar to an internet search. Rather than being shown a library of shows that may not be of any interest to you, now you are in control of your viewing experience.

If you love to browse channels and see what pops up, there are a few platforms that provide a cable-like experience - a scrolling guide of channels with times the shows will be available.  

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We Cut the Cable Cord Permanently

With our one month trial over, I was surprised at how easy it was to cut the cable cord. And more importantly, my family members have happily adapted to the new style of watching TV. 

We can still watch all of the shows, sports, and programming we liked to watch via channels such as SlingTV. 

We have also discovered a treasure trove of diverse content that cable companies wouldn‚Äôt normally show! Saving $100 per month was the initial driver to change, but now this is just a side benefit to good, entertaining, and informative TV that is driven by the viewer.‚Äć

You might also be interested in: Hulu vs. Netflix: What Streaming Service Wins?

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Posted 
May 6, 2020
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