It’s been more than 5 years since we have had cable at home. When we first cut the cord we were worried about how to watch TV without cable or satellite subscriptions. But we figured it out.
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What good is the knowledge if no one shares. I am here to tell you how you can still watch all your favorite shows without paying a fortune for it.
Honestly, we talked about it for a while before finally making the decision to ditch the overpriced TV watching that we hardly watched. We didn’t know anyone who had done it yet to guide us. So we just figured it out.
Our kids were consuming the TV more than we were. And with the quality of the content on the screen, we were overwhelmed with trying to police it.
In addition to paying for the cable, we had been long-time subscribers of Netflix. Back to the days when they were sending your movie picks in the mail. And we had recently bought into Hulu, to test the waters.
I could watch what I liked to watch, by and large, between Netflix and Hulu. The only concern was for my hubby and his sports. Which is really all he would watch when he got a chance to watch television.
Once we analyzed how often he actually sat down to catch a game, we decided to pull the plug.
He vowed that if there was a game he wanted to watch that was not on local channels, this would give him a chance to go out, guilt-free, every now and again.
I am not a big sports watcher. I love basketball. But most of the games I wanna see, I can. Typically the local games or the big ones, like the super bowl and playoffs, are available on local channels. So sports was the least of my worries.
We don’t get to see awards shows and special features on the cable networks immediately. But we are good with that. The extra 200 a month we have in the budget to do other things, like actually get out of the house, we're good with that too.
I have had many people inquire how and what we do to make it without cable. So here goes.
How To Watch Tv Without Cable Or Satellite
The first thing is we got an antenna for most of the rooms. You may not have known that they were even available for the new fancy TV's, but they are. It's a bit of an investment, depending on how many TV's you have. But if you think about it in terms of what you are already spending monthly, it may only equal one, or two months of your cable service bill for the initial investment.
We bought the white ones and painted them the color of the wall and you can't even tell they are there.
The next thing we invested in was streaming hardware. Which I’ll explain down further.
When we first started we had three that we were paying for. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. About a year ago we nix Netflix because we got a deal on DirectTV now through our mobile phone plan.
There are now so many subscriptions you can use to get your TV programming in a way that works for you.
We subscribed to Netflix back when you built a movie queue and they would send you the titles you requested in the mail with a return envelope.
It was perfect for my homebody, introverted self. I got to sit in my lady cove and watch movies on the DVD player. Then they introduced streaming and I was in binge watch heaven.
If you are a movie buff and you are gonna go without cable signing up for Netflix is a MUST.
Netflix has a variety of options and exclusive features that can only be found on Netflix. While they have a wide selection of TV shows and movies available, typically you can’t watch them until the season has ended. So it is a binge watcher’s heaven.
The cost is low and it is available online and via almost all streaming devices.
Some of the downsides are that the movies are rotated, so sometimes you may not have access to your favorite selections. You have to wait until seasons of a TV show end for them to be uploaded.
Hulu has both movies and TV as well. But Hulu, to me, is more for the TV lover. Hulu uploads TV programs the next day. So I normally get to watch whatever my Tuesday lineup is on Wednesday, Wednesday on Thursday, and so on.
I’m good with that. I can’t remember the last time I was able to watch TV in real time anyway. So I always sprung for the DVR feature with cable.
Last I checked, if you want to try it out, you can do a free two-week trial subscription to take it for a ride.
Hulu has a great variety of TV shows and is also great for binge watching. The cost is also low starting under 10 bucks a month. And they now have the live TV option which is a little more, but more in line with the pricing of basic cable I spoke about when giving my reasons for quitting cable.
Like Netflix, it is available online and via most streaming devices. I will tell you that there is a limited movie selection, so if you are in it for the movies, Netflix would be more your jam if you had to make a choice between the two.
Let me just say Amazon Prime is BAE.
I signed up for Amazon Prime for the sole benefit of being able to have free two-day shipping. The fact that TV comes with it is a bonus.
When we first cut the cord, if there was a show that I couldn’t find on Netflix or Hulu I would head over to Prime and see if it is offered there. But honestly, now, I hardly ever go on Prime for TV. They have some seasons that are free and others you have to pay an upcharge for. And to me, it is all too confusing and I am not paying anything extra so I don’t even bother.
DirectTV Now is a streaming cable service. It is very similar to Direct TV but with limited selection. It is very reminiscent of basic cable and it works for me. This is where I can watch some of the live TV programs if I want to. We keep this exclusively in our bedroom to continue to limit the access the kids have to certain TV shows.
They now have a beta feature where you can record programs like a DVR so that is a bonus. One downside is that it buffers a little more than I would like it to which is annoying.
When I tell people we are cable free and that we just use our subscriptions. The next question is how we manage the subscriptions and stream them.
A lot of devices actually stream nowadays. Gaming systems and DVD players pretty much all have them now. When we first started this was not the case, so we bought Roku Players, which have the different subscription apps on them. In addition to Roku players, there are now Firesticks, Google devices, AppleTV and so many options to stream.
We also have one smart TV which has the apps. I personally will never buy another smart TV if I can help it. Which is why we only have one. But that is an option if that is your thing.
And then we also have the apps downloaded on our phones or tablets which you can connect via HDMI. This is not a good option if you are a live tweeter or person who interacts on social while watching programs. But it is dope for when you are traveling or may want to watch stuff on the go.
There are even a few other subscriptions available out there that I don’t know a lot about. But here is a short list, as I am sure there are more.
When we first got rid of cable It was more of an adjustment for the kids than us. But the reality is we didn't, and still don’t want to spend all the extra time we have sitting and watching TV anyway. There is life outside of the couch and the TV box, and we are choosing to live it.
Having cable and satellite TV is no longer the only way to be able to watch all your favorite programming. And the unknown of what it would be like without it can be a bit scary. I am here to assure you that there is another way, that works, that is more economically feasible that you can live with.
Note: This post was originally published on March 24, 2017