Why I’m Considering Cutting the Cord & Dropping Cable

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.

Cut the cable

The issue

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

Bert

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22 thoughts on “Why I’m Considering Cutting the Cord & Dropping Cable

  1. We cut the cord about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. We use a digital antenna to bring in about 5-10 channels and then Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime for everything else. No longer having that cable bill every month has been amazing.

    The biggest issue I haven’t been able to get around is watching Brewers baseball. I thought MLB.tv would be an option but baseball still uses outdated blackout rules so its hard to get around it (need to mask where you are watching from). I’ve learned though that I normally enjoy listening to the games more than watching them so it has actually helped free up some time for me. If there is ever a game I really want to watch, there is always a way to find a TV with it on!

    • Thanks for the idea! That’s a great idea. Honestly, I am a huge baseball fan and I love having Indians games on in the background while I’m doing stuff. IT is just relaxing to me and I can check in/out of the game whenever I please without feeling like I am missing something. What’s crazy is I never really considered the fact that I can still listen to games on the radio. Never crossed my mind haha Maybe I should look into buying a nice radio for our place that has some great speakers/music playing options. I don’t mind spending the money on a quality product and I know I could get a great product at a discount on Black Friday + the use of coupon codes. I’m excited to look into this.

      Do you use anything special? Any speakers/radio recommendations? Or do you just use a standard radio?

      Thanks for the great idea and I’m sure I’ll keep everyone as we progress!

      Bert

  2. I’ve looked at it a bunch, but ultimately I can’t cut the cord yet. I love live sports too much and ultimately there is no way to stream them all (especially college football) without a cable subscription. Things get better every year, but I think we are still 10 years away from this really working for live sports junkies who want to watch everything without illegally streaming.

    • Dividend Dude,

      I understand that for sure. It is discouraging seeking the lack of sports streaming services. It blows my mind how that industry has forced everyones hand and makes us watch games traditionally. Did you know that the blackout rules apply to MLB TV still? So even if you buy the ridiculous monthly service, if the game is available on cable in your area you can’t watch the games on the network. So I cold subscribe, but wouldn’t be able to watch the only team I care about. It is ridiculous! Hopefully we are a lot closer than 10 years!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Bert

  3. We cut the cord about 9 months ago and don’t regret it. We have Netflix and a Tablo which acts as a DVR for over the air signals. Works great. We tried slingtv for a bit and just realized we didn’t need it. I do miss sports but oh well, I have radio still for that.

    • Good for you Adam! I’m very jealous. I was checking out Tablo last night after you mentioned it in a Tweet. Let me get this straight, it is essentially a DVR that has a cable subscription as well? It looked like your standard cable menu, you hit record, and then you can watch. Can you still watch events live or are you required to watch them after the fact?

      Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Definitely an interesting product and could be a potential game changer as the product continues to advance and the technology continues to improve.

      Bert

  4. My bill is $130 spitting expense, so I pay about $45 for myself. Verizon is my isp. That’s why I hedge Verizon stocks. I hope someday, I’ll own enough that the dividend would just pay for the service itself, no more heartache. :$

    • Vivianne,

      haha I see you are hedging Verizon the same way I am hedging AT&T. Do you use both Verizon FOS and internet service? That’s an expensive bill for sure, but at least you split it so the cost isn’t terrible. I know you could be splitting a much lower expense, but that’s not too bad. Hopefully we get some better options available soon!

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Bert

  5. Hi Bert,

    I made the decision to cut the cord last year and haven’t looked back. The option to stream many of the more popular shows on Netflix, Cineplex digital movie rentals for newer content, and itunes to buy or rent content, means that there is no reason to keep cable apart from live sports in my opinion. Depending on your preferred sport, there are even packages directly from the leagues to stream games live in HD. Of course it is tougher for a sports fan to cut the cord, but I must say it has been great to use the extra money towards buying dividend stocks.

    Cheers

    • I’m very jealous! You are right, the end game is to save as much money as possible to invest in these great dividend growth stocks now! Make the sacrifice now so you can enjoy as much of your life later! Honestly, if it weren’t for sports, I would have cut the cord a while ago. I’ve had a lot of fun looking up great old TV shows and binge watching them. I have now been through The Wire and am working through Boardwalk Empire and Portlandia at the moment. Any other great suggestions? haha

      Thanks for the insight.

      Bert

  6. I did this for 6 months, but it wasn’t worth it, in my area it is 60/mo for Internet or 80/mo for Internet and cable. Between 2 people the 10/mo each difference is not worth losing the convenience, particularly during football season! 🙂

    • That’s not a bad deal at all. I guess you can’t ignore the high cost of internet in all of this. IT is not like you are cutting the cord and your expense magically disappears. No, you still have to pay internet which for me is around $50/month. Thanks, this helps put the argument into a different light!

      Bert

  7. Hi Bert! Gotta love the telecom companies, they sure know how to make money off their customers. 🙂

    Here in Canada, our two major companies are Roger and Bell. Both these companies are dominating the sector and I even invested in both of them. Sweet dividends but for some reason I sold them a while back, I don’t remember why.

  8. I decided that the convenience outweighed the savings – for the moment at least. So my approach was to buy the content (i.e., teams). BCE (Canadians, Raptors, Maple Leafs), MSG (no div – Knicks, Rangers), and RCI (Maple Leafs, Canadians, Blue Jays). The only one left that’s public (that I’m aware of) is LMCA (Braves).

  9. Cutting the cord was one of the best things I’ve done. I’ve been strictly Netflix for about 3 years now, but I’m not a huge TV person. The streaming libraries have grown significantly over the past couple of years.

    You may actually see price drops in cable providers, I don’t see how they can continue the ludicris pricing while they are losing so many customers.

    You’re biggest loss would be live sports, but alternatives are popping up.

    • Chimp,

      Thanks for stopping by. There is no way their current model is sustainable. They are going to be in trouble when their contracts with the NFL, NBA, and MLB expire because I am sure they will receive some offers from Netflix or other streaming services. Maybe Yahoo will make a play after testing their streaming services for the NFL in London game. Bottom line is that the industry has been shaken to the core and something will change soon. It is just a matter of when.

      Good for you for jumping ship and cutting the cord.

      Bert

  10. And now I wonder why I still have it… my wife and I barely watch TV for over a year now. I guess it’s for the kids who watch it a little. The next year in the RV might be a new beginning on this regard as well! 😉

    Cheers!

    Mike

  11. My roommates and I decided not to get cable in our apartment. We all generally just stream from our laptops so no real need to. The only reason i ever use TV for actual shows is for certain shows which i usually record and watch later, which you could do with the right websites online.

    Live sports would be one of the only reasons i would keep it, but i’m not huge into them right now. In the future i may get it so i can watch the NFL and Motorsport races like NASCAR or F1. Maybe after college.

  12. We cut the cord almost 3 years ago. We use a Roku with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and an over-the-air antenna. Saves money and no contracts to worry about except Amazon Prime is paid on an annual basis.

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