Lanny inspired me this week to call my cable provider, AT&T, and see if I could reduce my current monthly bill of about $110/month. I know this is extremely expensive and the bill is almost split evenly between internet and TV. However, unlike his success story of helping his family reduce their bill, I left my phone conversation frustrated and craving some better alternatives. Darn you AT&T, why must you pay me such a great dividend! I figured I would document some of the research I have been performing all morning as I search the internet for better solutions.
If you recall, last year Lanny wrote about how he was able to cut the cord all together. Kudos to you Lanny, I’m pretty jealous (obviously, considering the fact I am writing this article in the first place) and I know cutting the cord would be a huge savings in my quest to save 60% of my monthly income. We have a few things that are holding us back from ditching cable entirely, and that is why we have been subscribing to cable for the last year and a half. First, we love watching live television and aimlessly surfing what is on TV. Plus, my fiance and I love watching a lot of shows on random networks when we have time. So it is not that we hate the services cable provides us, we just hate the astronomical cost that comes with paying for this service. Second, this one is on me, I love watching sports and cable TV has a strong grip on watching live sporting events. I have always been passionate about watching my three Cleveland sports teams and Ohio State when I can, so I know this would be very difficult to give up. Currently we subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Instant VIdeo, so we aren’t as concerned about finding ways to stream old television shows. Our focus is on finding a cheaper way to stream the live and current shows/sports events that we both love. With that being said, it is time to do some digging and see what options are at our disposal. The name of the game is lowering your cost as much as possible so we can invest the money now and get that dividend snowball rolling! Please everyone, give us your suggestions in the comment section. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Some Options Available
As we continue to find ways to reduce our cable expense, here are some of the available options at our disposal. Our issue isn’t streaming of old shows and movies, we are very content with the services we receive from Netflix and Amazon Prime. Rather, we are trying to address our issue of watching current programming and sports without having to pay a massive bill to a cable provider each month.
Another Cable Provider – The current offer from another local cable provide is a bundled $75/month and offers similar cable and internet services. I’m sure the final cost will trickle in around $85/month with taxes and add-ons. This is more of a band-aid, don’t get me wrong, but this would allow us to currently reduce our cable bill and enjoy the aspects that we currently love about having cable. Switching providers is the lowest cost savings idea, but some cost savings are better than none I guess, right? Plus, we would have a full menu of channels at our disposal.
Sling TV – Is it just me or is this a relatively new option in the marketplace? It is an intriguing option and seems to address the current movement towards streaming services. Sling TV is an internet based TV option that allows you to access some of the most popular cable networks for $20/month. After quickly reviewing the network offerings, this includes ESPN, TNT, Food Network, HIstory Channel, A&E, HGTV, and a few others. Sling TV can be accessed through your laptop, devices such as a Roku (which I bought last year), or an Amazon Fire Stick. I like the accessibility of the program and how it seems pretty easy to use. However, I find myself asking, is $20/month low enough for me to switch to this service? I am still required to have internet for this option to work, will need to purchase an antenna for local channels, and I am losing over half of the current channels that we currently subscribe to and some major sports view options such as Fox Sports (no Indians games for me), no Big Ten Network, or NFL Network. I know those are all luxuries, but that is the main reason why I find myself subscribing to cable in the first place. To me, this option just does not seem worth it, is too expensive for the limited offerings, and the final cost of Sling + Internet + Antenna would be just as expensive (if not more) than switching to the cable provider above.
Hulu Plus – Right now we share a Netflix account and have Prime Instant Video, which is a huge benefit of paying for the full Amazon Prime membership (We order a lot of stuff online, so it is worth the membership for the free two-day shipping). Since we use Roku to stream these services, another option is to add one more streaming service and subscribe to Hulu Plus. This would allow us to stay up to date on the current TV offerings, many of which are not available yet on Netflix or Amazon. Hulu offers plans starting at $7.99/month and you can upgrade to a no commercials for a small fee. After reviewing their network offerings, I left pretty impressed with the diverse selection of shows, which was significantly greater than the offerings of Sling for a fraction of the price. The one sticking point for me is there are no sports options, but I am sure I can work around this. I could always purchase a subscription to a sports network, hang out with friends for a big game, or continue digging for some other solution. I am sure it is there if I look hard enough! This seems to be the lowest cost option of the group and the best solution for those looking to watch great network TV at a lower cost.
Subscribe to the Various Sports Networks- Have you picked up yet on the fact that I love sports? Heck, one of my annual goals is to watch one of my sports teams in a different city. Luckily, there are some streaming options available. I could always ditch cable together and subscribe to the MLB Network, NFL Network, or NBA Network independently. There were a few things that I found interesting in funny when I began researching these options. First, if you don’t have cable…man these options are expense! To subscribe to MLB.TV and NBA.TV on Roku (which gives you access to every game), it costs $130 and $199 per year respectively. That’s $27 per month! Am I really saving anything? Heck No! It’ll probably be more expensive in the long run when you couple these subscriptions with Hulu. The second thing that I found interesting was that you can access all of the networks remotely by entering in your Cable information on the website. So if you subscribe to cable, you can access these channels on your laptop or Roku without having to pay a fee. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure that out! Maybe I’m just not utilizing my cable services as much as I could be.
Where do I go from here?
What this research has shown me is that there is no cheap way to watch sports or current TV without having to pay. The market has just not evolved in this manner yet and we are currently having to pay the price for this. It is an unfortunate reality. Even though I wanted to leave this article inspired to cut the cord and move on, it seems like the best option may be just to shop cable providers and seem if I can lower my monthly internet and cable bill. Isn’t that strange? It would be much easier to find alternatives for live cable and Hulu would be a great service if I were willing to give up sports. Sadly though, if we did give up our sports service, I would likely end up watching the game at a bar with friends, which would add expenses elsewhere. There really is not a great solution. So until the sports market evolves or I am willing to back off of my love for watching sports on TV, I am going to have to pay. There is one glimmer of hope. A few weeks ago, Yahoo streamed one of the live NFL games in London and it was a major success. My thought is that they were testing the technology for a future “Pay for streaming” service that would solve all of my issues! The name of the game is scraping every dollar you can to invest now to reach financial freedom ASAP, so let’s hope some cheaper alternatives become available.
What services do you use? Are you a huge sports fan? If so, do you use cable or a different source? Please share this with me and I will begin researching it immediately. I am looking for some answers here haha