Cut Your Cable By Streaming Your Entertainment

cutting cable, cable sucks, I hate comcast

Comcast sucks

Comcast, RCN, Time Warner and Verizon all are out to rip your off.  They think you aren’t savvy enough to take advantage of non-cable options.  Presently, they are correct.  Roughly one-third of Americans have digital cable, according to the National Cable and Television Association[1], and the number grows to about 58% when non digital cable customers are included.  The remaining 42% is likely comprised mostly of people who cannot afford cable in any form.  So America’s lack of savvy puts the market in the billions, and everything is about to change. 

The disruptive technology that will end this party is common and inexpensive relative to its utility.  As you probably guessed (I’m not that good at being coy) it’s the internet.  Soon we will be able to pick which channels and shows we want to watch and when without having to pay for the other 1,000 channels we don’t.  A la carte.  This is already available, albeit to a lesser degree than it will be.  What follows is a general overview of what’s possible, and how you can save yourself a bundle by not bundling your cable.

Drop Your Land-line

If you are like an ever increasing percentage of Americans you don’t have a land line anymore, and instead use your cell phone.  Good for you, there is no point in paying for two non-business phone lines.  Worried about radiation?  What is this, the nineties?

 The Internet

It’s hard to say exactly what percentage of the cost of the phone-cable-internet bundles the above listed providers are hawking is due to the internet.  All of them offer the internet as a standalone product, and there are many companies which specialize in the internet.   In order for these savings to work you need a fast internet connection, because you are going to be streaming your entertainment.  So it’s important to shop around for the best one in your area, this isn’t something to skimp on.  14 mps should do it, but faster is better when it comes to streaming.  Remember, without a strong, solid connection the whole streaming thing is like watching really crappy stop motion animation.

 YourOnline Streaming Options

Your streaming options range from Net Flix to Hulu, to Ireel to Youtube.   I think it’s important to have a good mix of movies and television, both new and old to consider one as having a well rounded set of entertainment options.  Netflix is great for the kinda new and old, while Hulu or an equivalent is great for new shows.  You may not even need a service to access content, many shows are available for free on their own websites.   For new movies you wouldn’t have to stream, you can just have them sent by Netflix, but you could stream them through services like Amazon Prime, Itunes, Vudu and many others.  In HD.

Of course there will be some of you that complain that your favorite shows aren’t available.  I would like to offer my least sincere apologies that this plan in not inclusive of such gems as Beauty and the Geek reruns.

Devices/Services for Online Streaming

Clearly you need a device by which to stream entertainment through to your T.V, at least for now.  Here there are also several options.  Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku,  any video game system, and more.   Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, so do your research while keeping in mind your actual viewing habits.  Some services have devices to compliment them; others will work via a “smart TV”, video game system, internet ready blue-ray, etc…

Streaming Vs. Cable: Costs

Below is a quick comparison of this plan to the Comcast Xfinity Triple Play HD Preferred EX package, you can add or subtract items as you see fit.  I did not try to estimate the cost of the individual Xfinity components, but we all know what the components offer, so I tried to match those offerings as best I can with alternatives.  I am listing the cost of these alternatives.  I am assuming you already own a device which can stream (like an Xbox or Roku).

Numbers are rounded to nearest dollar, all are per/month

Comcast Xfinity Triple Play

Streaming Set-up

Notes

Total Cost

$120

$73

Phone

Use Cell

Internet

$40

AT&T Elite used (5-12 Mps)
Hulu Plus

$8

For new shows (NBC, ABC, Fox, etc…) + Movies
Vudu

$8

Assuming 4 movies are watched per month at standard rate of $2
Netflix

$17

Assumes streaming + basic DVD package

As you can see, the cost difference is significant and amounts to nearly a grand a year—$888/year by this example.  Note that this does not include set up costs for cable, the cost of extra boxes, and whatever else Comcast decides rape your wallet with.   In addition to the savings you also gain flexibility: you are no longer slave to the schedule networks set.  You watch what you want when you want.

 Drawbacks of Streaming

Aside from the lack of HBO and Showtime, there are additional drawbacks to the streaming plan.

  1. Sports.  You can stream sports, but doing so is not quite the same as watching via a major channel.   Sports fanhood is a social endeavor however, so go to a friend’s house and watch the game.  Or a bar.  Or buy a digital antenna and watch it from home anyway.
  2. Cable offers single point of access for all content.  Just click on the cable box and your off.  With streaming as it currently stands, you may have to access the content through several sites pending what you want to watch.  I personally don’t think this is a big deal, but you may.
  3. Lack of discovery.  There may be a show you might just love buried somewhere in the ridiculous amount of channels your cable package provides, and streaming might not have it (although the show’s website may).  But that show is probably garbage anyhow.
  4. You may not have inexpensive internet options in your area, which can make the savings of cutting cable rather less than exciting.

Obviously results will differ pending the available internet providers in your area, how much content you watch and need, etc.  You may have qualms with my examples, so I encourage you to do your own research.  I am confident that you will discover that this option is always less expensive and meets the vast majority of your entertainment needs.  A La carte is the way of the future, like plastics.

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Other amazing Snarkfinance articles:

Exceeding My Parents

Income Distribution in America

Becoming Rich in America

Debits and Credits


[1] According to the latest census there are roughly 300 million Americans, and according to the National Cable and Television Associations around 100 million of them have some form of cable or satellite T.V.

20 responses to “Cut Your Cable By Streaming Your Entertainment

  1. I thought about cutting cable but most of the best packages here would only save me $50 dollars as we have a bundle with the internet, cable, and alarm. So cutting the cable would probably just make those go up individually. Call it lazy right now but i really haven’t looked into getting an alarm monitoring company and internet provider separately. We have netflix and I know a lot of people who stream from there laptops, phone and tv. Need to check and see the savings I would get. Every little bit helps but then I would have to talk the wifey into cutting it as well.

    • I hear you. Where I live I only have one internet option which is truly a rip-off, so my savings aren’t quite as high as I would like them to be. Still, I took the plunge and haven’t looked back.

  2. Mitchell! Great info if you need to watch TV. We just got so sick of it all in March of this year, we eliminated TV form our lives. I thought I would have a stroke and die for sure since I love sports and Animal Planet so much. But I miss it not and get a lot more done than I used to. Sick, right?

  3. I only have internet, but they have a monopoly here where I live, so my options are fast internet or dsl. I will say that if you are going to try and stream, 2.5mps is not enough these days. You will struggle to get a video fully without quite a bit of buffering.

    • I have a monopoly in my area as well. Sometimes I see that white dude in the top-coat sliding out of my window with my money. He is kinda a dick.

      Thanks for letting me know about the speed for streaming… article updated.

    • I just want to let you know that I copied your post entirely, even though I wrote this post almost a year ago and just posted it. I still copied your post.
      Netflix, with its great original programming, is not nearly as good as HBO.

  4. We cut cable over a year ago and after missing the local 24h news station for a few months, I got over it. Our internet recently went up, however, so I want to see if we can re-negotiate our rate. We do have Optimum (Cablevision) for our internet who are one of the last companies who still doesn’t charge us a rental fee for our modem AND they have lots of free Optimum hotspots for customers throughout the city so I’m pretty happy with their service.

  5. Confession: I tell people I don’t have cable, but secretly I do. It’s only a box that gives me the network channels I’d get without cable, though. So I figure that doesn’t really count. The reason I have it is that it saves me $4/mo on my internet because of the bundling. We mostly use Netflix.

  6. We don’t even have cable where we live, but we did have satellite TV for years, couldn’t stand the thought of cancelling. I cancelled it in July, and it’s great not to have something blabbering on and on in the background. We just got and antenna for $55 on Ebay and put it up where the satellite dish was. It gets about 100 channels, but many are duplicates of different network affiliates. Still, we can watch network shows and use Netflix for the rest. I don’t miss it at all.

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