Before I cut the cord my cable bill at one time was as high as $110 a month. That included HD channels, DVR services and HBO. I switched off that plan and then spent a few years with Dish network where I kept the HD Channels and DVR but dropped HBO (honestly I only had HBO so I could watch the Sopranos). With Dish my monthly bill was closer to $80 a month. So for these calculations I will use $100 and $75 (we take a little back for taxes and to make the satellite companies feel better).
So what did I watch when I had cable?
Taking channel surfing out of the picture it comes down to this.
|Old Episodes||New Episodes|
|Sons of Anarchy||Netflix||Amazon|
|Fringe||Amazon/OTA (Over the Air)|
|Reruns of Futurama||Netflix||Amazon|
|CNN||CNN App on Roku or WD Live|
|Sports Center||ESPN App on PlayOn|
We will take a look at this over the course of a year instead of just a month by month basis. The reason I am doing it this way is because I am looking at the long term of at least 2 years instead of the short term savings of starting the cord cutting process from the beginning.
I am already setup with everything I need but I will assume that you have nothing but a personal computer and an internet connection. I will have to purchase everything else.
To start with I went out and bought a Media Center device such as the Roku or the WD Live TV Hub. The Roku is a perfect entry level unit and the winner of my $100 Media Center Challenge. If you want a broader scope of capability then go with the WD Live TV Hub for $199. It comes with a 1TB hard drive, better processor and a few more perks and abilities not necessarily relevant to this discussion but very nice indeed. Next I recommend you purchase a PlayOn lifetime subscription for $79. Sign up for Netflix at $7.99 a month and as an option to expand your capabilities add Hulu Plus for $8.99 a month. Just so you know, you can access all the Hulu content using PlayOn but the Hulu Plus apps only work if you have a Hulu Plus account. I also recommend you purchase a good solid antenna and have it properly mounted, bunny ears are fine and only cost $20 but some people need a little more power so you might have to drop $200. Let’s assume you need the $200 antenna. You can also use Skitter TV to stream your local channels to your set top media center box if it is available in your area. If Skitter TV is available then I highly recommend that you check it out not only for the excellent service it currently provides but for future features that I know are coming down the pike.
So now you have purchase all of these components which satisfy everything that I have on my must watch list above. So let’s break down the costs. I am going to go with all of the higher cost options just so you can see that even then, the savings are there.
|Source of New Episodes||Cost|
|Sons of Anarchy||Amazon (New Season)||$24|
|Fringe||OTA||Free ($199 for antenna)|
|Reruns of Futurama||Netflix||$7.99/month|
|The Shield||Amazon||$20 for 1 season|
|CNN||CNN App on Roku or WD Live w/ PlayOn||$199 for WD Live TV Hub|
|Sports Center||ESPN App on PlayOn||$79 for PlayOn|
|Daily Show||Hulu/PlayOn||$8.99/month (x12)|
|$768.76 first year cost|
So for my first year I spent $768.76 getting everything setup. Remember I could go with the Roku and save $100 and I could go with the rabbit ear antenna and save another $180. But even getting everything I still spent $131.24 less than the low cost cable and $431.24 less than the high cost bill. I get access to hundreds of TV shows and thousands of movies through Netflix and Hulu. I can also take that savings and turn it into TV show subscriptions for an average of $20 each. That means I could buy 6 more TV shows, the full seasons and still break even with cable. Plus once you buy the shows from Amazon, you own them and can watch them from any Amazon compatible device.
I know what you are saying. That does not seem like such a great deal. I am not saving that much. Let’s take a look at year two shall we?
Let’s say I decide to add a TV tuner to my computer so now I can turn my PC into a DVR. That will cost me about $99. That is the only new cost I decide to incur. Other than that I just want to watch about 10 full season TV shows on Amazon that I cannot watch through Hulu, OTA or Netflix. Those 10 shows at an average of $20 each cost me $200 during the year. So I have my monthly Netflix and Hulu bill plus the TV Tuner at a one-time cost and the $200 for TV shows spread out over the year. So in year two I spend $502.76. Low cost cable would have cost me $900 and high cost would cost $1200. So in year two I save $397.24 for low cost and $697.24 over high cost cable. In year three you can increase that total savings by another $100 because I don’t have that one time expenditure for the cable card. This does not sound like chump change to me. Plus I have the full flexibility of watching what I want, when I want and mostly without commercials. All I need is the devices or software described and the internet service I am already paying for.