What to Do If Your Cable TV Bill is Too High

by AJ Pettersen · 339 comments

cable tv

Cable companies are a supreme example of a natural monopoly. They’re the easiest example for economics professors to use, because, due to structural conditions, only a few competitors can exist in any cable market. Often, there is only one option that consumers can choose. The consumer has no leverage and is thus at the mercy of the cable company.

Over the years, the price of cable has increased significantly. Luckily, other forms of technology and media have grown as well, leading to a shift in favor of the consumer.

If your cable bill is too high, you now have options. 

how to cut your tv billNetflix and Hulu Plus

The internet age has opened the door to new companies, such as Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus, to compete with cable companies.

Netflix offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows, while keeping their price low ($7.99/month). They offer full seasons of TV shows, movies, and HD quality video. While Netflix doesn’t offer a lot of newer shows, they make up for it with quality streaming and a huge array of movies. One account can have up to six devices, with up to four running at once. You can even split the cost among friends and family, which will reduce the price even more. I have had Netflix for over a year now and have been very satisfied.

For the same price as Netflix, Hulu Plus offers a similar platform with a different approach. Hulu Plus puts new episodes of shows on their site the day after they’re aired. My future sister-in-law and her husband have recently dropped cable in favor of Hulu Plus. They can now watch their favorite shows the day after they’re aired, for a fraction of the cost of cable and DVR.

Dish Network

The likes of Dish Network and DirecTV have been competing with the cable companies for a while, and they generally offer lower prices. My fiancé and I currently pay $50 a month for her cable bill, while Dish Network and DirecTV offer yearly contracts for $35/month and $30/month, respectively. For us, getting a dish is out of the question, because she lives in an apartment.

It could be a good option for homeowners, though, as they’ll get a full set of channels and could save a couple hundred dollars per year.

Call Customer Service

Sometimes, a call to customer service is enough to drop your monthly bill. If you look at the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes or AT&T U-Verse coupon codes, you’ll see that the bundle prices are usually guaranteed for one to two years. After that, the cable companies are free to raise their rates considerably.

If you call and say you’re considering switching companies, however, they’ll frequently offer you a “one-time” special offer. This may seem like a backwards approach, but I’ve seen it work numerous times.

What Will You Do?

Is cable best for you? Spending $600 a year on cable is less than ideal, but it’s what my fiancé and I decided was right for us in our current situation. In the future, when we’re both working longer hours, we may consider switching to something different.

Thanks to advances in technology, we now have the ability to make choices about the way we consume our entertainment.

Use your free market power and shop for what is best for you.

How have you cut your cable TV costs? 

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Chris says:

    Funny thing is that Comcast owns Hulu.

  • paul says:

    I just recently switched to AT&T for internet access.it isn’t as fast as charter but it works for me and combined with my sattelite it’s a lot cheaper.I’m saving almost $75/Month

  • Cliff says:

    I spend more time on the internet than I do watching tv. now what about some cheaper internet providers, can anyone help

  • paul says:

    Bert: that may be true,but you can’t pick up cable or satellite channels with an antenna.I watch MLB & NFL networks on a regular basis,not to mention all the tiger’s telecasts I would miss.(fox sports detroit) these are all accessible only by having satellite or cable.I am a sports nut…LOL

  • Bert says:

    Paul: If your TV was manufactured within the last three years or so, it already has digital tuner within. There is no need for a separate digital tuner, even with the most rudiment of antennas.

  • dave52 says:

    We live in a 55 plus community of 600 plus homes. Everyone in the community is “required” to subscribe $34.95 a month basic cable TWC whether we want it or not (or live here year round as a lot of our neighbors do for half the year) and TWC has informed us “valued customers” that they are removing 10 channels to digital (more bucks) service meaning for $34.95 we now will have 10 less channels. The community we live in is owned by a group with 20 or so more communities all paying mandatory cable service. How do WE cut our cable?

    • paul says:

      I don’t think that is legal. It sounds like a monopoly to me.

    • MoneyNing says:

      It sounds similar to the arrangements some communities make in order to have a lower cable TV bill for most people.

      I’m assuming this is in the contract when you joined (or bought into) the community. There must be a HOA that decides of these types of things. Can you vote for this requirement to be taken out? If not, perhaps the only way is to move out.

  • tom@bluepromocode says:

    Have you tried Hulu Plus? How is the movie selection this year as opposed to Netflix? I heard they are adding more movies, especially documentaries.

    • r a says:

      Netflix has more selection of streaming content (movies, tv-series, documentaries, comedy, etc.) compared to Huluplus.

      Huluplus has less content but does have more original programming and I do notice more British programs available (may be desired by some) as compared to Netflix. Huluplus does have manditory advertisements running at various times during program viewing. Netflix has a package where you can get DVDs by mail if not on streaming for additional cost (I stream only).

      I have used both on computer, tablets, iphone, PS3, Wii and an app loaded on a Samsung DVD player. Both run everything well. I find the Netflix vs Hulu that I like the Netflix’s GUI better. I also find myself pulled towards Netflix at this time but YMMV.

  • Jp says:

    as a former sales rep for verizon the absolute BEST way to get your current provider to lower your bill is to physically sign up to another provider if your current SP won’t budge on your bill. If you sign up for a triple play package the provider you are on will see the back end work going on and realize that you are serious about switching and will offer you the most current promotions that are usually available to new customers. One of the biggest reasons people would cancel their sign up when we signed them up for FiOS service was because their cable provider offered a counter price that typically beat ours and/or threw in an extra package for free. If you want your provider to notice you, you need to do something to make yourself noticeable. Start the switching process and the calls and offers will follow.

  • Waz says:

    I didn’t read through ALL of the comments, so somebody has probably already mentioned this: to use NetFlix or Hulu or other web-based streaming services, you have to have high-speed internet. That costs at least $45 to $50 a month. So if you don’t need high-speed internet service otherwise, that’s a pretty significant cost.

  • jeff ehrlich says:

    We are looking to switch to Apple TV. Our kids love it and save $$$$. You do have to watch network shows the next day.

  • Diane says:

    When my cable bill went up 100%, I decided to cut cable entirely and get a few antennas – each less than $30 from Amazon. I have a subscription to Amazon Prime, which also saves me $ in costs travelling to stores and taxes. (Which is going away soon, sadly.) But it’s still saving me many $ and I love my 19 broadcast channels along with all those Amazon Prime movies and videos… There is no better programming than PBS! So many interesting and educational shows! I don’t miss cable at all. I will miss it when Christmas comes, but I’ve been buying seasonal movies and shows on DVD or Blu-Ray when they go on sale to help me thru…

  • Amanda says:

    We have Directv. The fees are ridiculous. They charge $10 for hd service(which even if you dont have a hd tv but bc they send you a hd tivo yoiu have to pay for the hd service); $10 for the tivo; $6 per tv and $6 for each additional tv . we have a total of 3 tv’s and so we pay $38 BEFORE the programming package charge. We have the lowest priced package directv offers and it is $54.99 a month so our monthly bill is right around $100 per month with taxes figured in. Ridiculous. The price they advertise is only for new customers and only for a couple months and by the time you realize what your real bill will be your stuck for 2 years with ridiculous costs to break the contract. We are looking into doing the digital tuner and netfix and hulu plus. we figure we would have good choices and pay 85% LESS THEN WE HAVE BEEN!

    • paul says:

      cable companies do the same thing and they cost more. I had charter cable & was paying $125/month for extended basic without any premium channels(HBO,Cinnemax etc.) I’m paying about the same now with direct tv & get 4 premium channels in addition to the regular channels.If I drop the premium channels It will lower the cost to about $80/month.I have the ultimate package.

  • Russell Matthews says:

    You can always find great free trials for a product like netflix online! If you are unsure if you like the service, give it a try with a free online coupon!

  • bstring says:

    We cut out cable TV with all its fees and still DVR our prime time HDTV shows using:

    HD antenna
    HDHomerun tuner (to stream multiple channels to PC)
    Windows PC to record content with Media Center (free)
    XBox 360 for viewing on any TV (or watch on the Windows PC)

    For free land line phone service, we use an Obi110 ($40 one time) with a Google Voice phone number.

  • ken wilkinson says:

    I was being charged $166 a month by TIME WARNER for internet phone & cable
    no HBO or Showtime either!
    “If I cut out cable TV how much will it cost” ” over $105 ” What! internet & phone only…..
    over $105 I don’t think so…..
    Why do they screw loyal customers? Not good business, it should be cheaper not more expensive, I guess most people are lazy so TIME WARNER just gets richer.

    Ok here is what a lot of people do not realize…
    Digital over the air is clear….either you get it or you don’t, no adjusting rabbit ears here. I even get Hi-def PBS at no charge, Cable did not even offer that.
    I purchased my own modem & an antennae plus a “Clear channel DVR ” & a Magic jack & ported my own number to it. $20 a year if you buy the five year plan & $20 to port (change) my number to my old one .Could not be happier.
    I subscribe to Netflix for 7.95 & have over 100 channels over the air!
    I am saving over $110 a month after being ripped off by TIME WARNER
    Easy to do yourself & save a fortune!

  • Mr Oblong says:

    I don’t have cable. I do pay $7.99 per month for Netflix streaming, though I rarely use it.

    I get digital TV over the air, and watch the local news every few days. Beyond that, I simply don’t see the need for cable TV. I’ve got plenty of other things to occupy my time. Paying $100 a month for cable TV would be trivial, I probably wouldn’t notice the money missing from my account, but I just don’t see the value I’m getting in return.

  • floyd says:

    Problem solved for everyone. Get a new LG Blue Ray/DVD Player with WiFi, and place a WiFi router at your internet modem. Use the router to stream Netflix on your HDTV. If you choose you can play regular DVD’s or Blue Ray DVD’s. Use a regular antennae for OTA signals of common channels. Plug the OTA antenna into the TV jack for antenna signal. Plug the Blue Ray player into another TV jack for DVD player. Your HDTV will allow you to select which signal to use for a particular device. We use TV signal for OTA TV. We use HDMI #1 for the blue ray player internet signal. We have played discs directly by selecting it on the LG blue ray player interface. We have plugged USB memory stick into the front of LG blue ray player to play movie recorded on the USB memory stick by selecting it on the LG blue ray player interface. Just remember that router WiFi signal will only penetrate one to two walls, so do not attempt to send signal through too many walls. If you have to go the distance, place another router wire fed a few rooms away to use as a signal relay.
    When we use our old analog tv in another room, we use Digital converter box purchased at target for about $49 to convert signal from our old analog antenna, which is perfect for receiving Digital signals. No problem, no worries, it works, and it works good. Now we need to either install a splitter and a cable from the LG blue ray player to our other TV, or purchase a separate LG blue ray player. The LG blue ray players are reasonably priced and seem to provide perfect streaming from cable internet. We turned in our Time Warner boxes and whacked $80 a month off of our monthly billing by cancelling cable TV. My spouse whines about missing HBO, but frankly I am happy to be un-hooked from the bleeding of cash for a once a week HBO production that is only offered about 4 months of the year. It does take a while to learn what channel on OTA carries certain programming and on what time and date. We get just as much TV as before, but the programs are slightly different. Nothing stops us from renting a DVD or Blue Ray DVD when we want to. I have learned that I can not watch all that is available anymore than I can drink all the water my kitchen tap can deliver.

  • Don says:

    If cable bill gets too high.

    Turn off the cable and read a book.

  • lsjogren says:

    Quitting cable tends to work well. I had triple play with my local cable provider at my old apt. I bought a house and wanted to transfer the service.

    They gave me no options on the hookup, just said they’d send a guy out over an 8am-11pm window to see if the cable reached my house, and sign me up for “self-install” to take it from there.

    I got so fed up I canceled and signed up for phone and internet from my local phone co. I needed cable for TV though, since they have a monopoly on broadcasts of our local NBA team. Funny thing, they treat you 1000% better if you are a prospective customer rather than a continuing customer. They offered me a cheap introductory rate and sent out a technician who spent over an hour connecting me up, giving me a new compact HD box instead of the old klunker I had that would freeze up frequently, and he verified that I could get the channels on my TV before he left.

    If you are on cable and want cable but are dissatisfied, cancel your service and they will try to win you back.

  • TOM says:

    I ditched my cable tv and home phone. I hate paying big bucks and now I got Netflix & Hulu then Magicjack. It’s a big saver. Try it nothing to loose 🙂

  • J. King says:

    Here in the foot hills of NC, I pay about 240.00 a month for cable, internet, and phone. We live in a valley with mountains all around and there is no broadcast TV or Radio signals available. We have been waiting for 5 years for HD channels and they have no plans to install but advertise it daily for all 5 years. Even the local government channel is advertising it. I had to cut back to basic cable and have a HD TV 3 years old that is a waste, waiting for HD. You’d think I’d have more sense that keep waiting, but still hoping.

  • Baldo Hudson says:

    COMCAST SAGA: I started in the Detroit area with COMCAST during 2005.
    They offered a “special” so that the $99 triple play was only $49.50, half price.
    The period of the offer was for one year. The bill started well above $49.50, as
    I recall it was about $97. COMCAST claimed that covered the cost of the
    connection equipment. Each subsequent month the bill was higher! Each time
    they had a song and dance for the extra charges. I complained bitterly and the
    monthly bill was dropped to around $72. Still well above the $49.50. And this
    was so even though the cable TV was not available. It seems the apartment
    managers get about $100,000 per year to have JUST ONE PROVIDER. I live
    in the Detroit area, so ANYTHING GOES. The upshot of all this hassle was that
    I turned in my black COMCAST equipment and cancelled the entire transaction.
    Incidentally, if the contract is not complied with exactly, by either party to the contract, the contract can become null and void due to the requirement for the parties to the contract having a “meeting of the minds”, which is a clear understanding of what is required under the contract, and who does what for whom. As I was standing in a long line at the COMCAST turn-in location for their black equipment boxes, I noticed several things. One was that there were more than 35 persons in line with arms full of black boxes. It took me over an hour to turn in my black boxes. Second thing was that the guy ahead of me had a large WHITE box in his collection. I pointed out that all the COMCAST equipment was black. His eyes rolled, he breathed harder, he shook a little, and said to me that he didn’t give a damn, he was getting rid of EVERYTHING connected to COMCAST, and TO HELL WITH THEM!. The third thing I noticed was that there is a mail slot provided at the turn-in place so that you can pay your bill just by dropping a check or whatever in the mail slot. During the 90 or so minutes I was there only one person came in and dropped an envelope in the slot. Incidentally, the turn-in desk is protected by two-inch-thick (bullet-proof?) plexiglass complete with double-lock pass-throughs for the equipment.
    I guess that is so no one takes out their anger impulses on the poor employees.
    Let’s see……35 accounts closed; only one bill paid. You can do the math.

  • Patricia Scott says:

    The future of TV is internet streaming..been threw a lot of money for years with all those satellite companies..save some big money buy a ROKU..they will eventually put satellite companies OUT ! High-speed internet will be on the rise but look what you’re getting! I’ll say again Roku you can buy @ Wal-mart..I purchased mine through my bundle package and land-line IProvider

  • Pam says:

    My husband made this antenna – and it works perfectly to bring in all network channels plus our 3 PBS over the air. Plus maybe 2-3 others. Hides behind the 2 year old HDTV – couldn’t be simpler and have NEVER missed cable. Fantastic reception.

    We do live in a large metropolitan area so probably would not work in a very rural setting away from source of broadcasts.
    But, what’s to lose ? try it – piece of wood, a few screws and some coat hangers cut in pieces. You can do it!!!

  • Dave says:

    Canceled Comcast and that was the best decision ever. Now I pay $35 a month for internet. My new internet speed is faster than Comcast. Purchased the MOHU antenna and picked up 60 channels some in HD quality, all FREE!

    I have Netflix for $7.99 and stream whatever I can on the internet. My wife and kids have all adjusted to the new lifestyle and we are interacting with each other more.

  • Charlie says:

    We are supplier of eco-homes that come as kits that local builders construct. Our homes are super efficient and very affordable designed and sold with the thinking being that if you are paying less to own and operate a home each month you should end up with more $ in savings and investments. That’s somewhat of a “nobody is going to do it for you, take care of yourself” approach. We supply our homes with an antenna so that just like drastically reducing the utility bill you can reduce your entertainment (cable tv) bill to zero. Our owners get 15-25 channels and the picture resolution is actually better than cable.

  • Chris says:

    if you want to keep your current cable/internet proveder who has good service but simply paying too much, call them!
    call your provider i.e (COX, Time Warner) talk to customer service and tell them the bill is simply too much to afford, if they cany help you which they probably wont then ask to be transferred to the “retention center.” State your case with them and you will very likely be seeing a lower bill!

  • Kim says:

    Put a $1000 in your pocket want a $1000 raise its so easy drop the cable sat or otherwise and you will be amazed at the $$$ and how much better it is not to worry about how much of you life is dominated by an advertising vehicle trying to squeeze you cash so you can save even more than the cable bill if you give up brand names and loyalty as well. Will you no you are mind controlled slave of advertising so pay the bill set down and watch it will be over (your life will pass before you eyes) before you know it. You can say then if I had had the time I would have…
    Its you life and the life of your family it wont be easy its like trying to quit smoking. But it will save the moments for when you could be doing something you can!

  • Chippy55 says:

    I had Comcast for 20 years and got ticked off when something as simple as “reminder settings” on my box was erratic, sometimes it worked other times it didn’t. Kept resetting (unplugging for 60 seconds) and even changed boxes (per Comcast tech instructions) So, I decided to get FIOS. Dumb move on my part.
    * FIOS remote controls eat batteries in 15 days! I have my own battery charger at home, but Comcast remote controls last for months. (FIOS remotes light up every time you use them thus draining battery supply for something as simple as changing channels).
    *Verizon PROMISED ME a $100 VISA Gift Card for switching. Before I switched to FIOS, I have Verizon phone and internet service for years. No one told me that by switching to FIOS, Verizon would then issue me a new account number. So, when I went to pay my bill on-line like I have been doing for umpteen years, Verizon sent a bill collector after me, insisting that a bill for $66 (prorated due to me switching to a FIOS bundle in the middle of a billing cycle) and I started receiving dunning notices and harassing phone calls from a bill collector who would NEVER explain to me whom I owed money to. Finally I used the caller ID to find out it was Verizon. I PRODUCED THE BANK STATEMENT, and even had my bank send PROOF that I paid the $66 5 months ago, on time, and the bill collector and Verizon still would not accept that proof.
    Verizon then told me, I am not making this up, that since I was behind by $66 on that bill, that therefore NEGATED the $100 VISA gift card that they owe me. (They never paid it).
    * So, I switched back to Comcast for TV, phone, and internet. Verizon still send me monthly bills! It’s been 6 months since I switched! Verizon has left 7 messages on my cell phone telling me they want to “clear things up”.
    * While switching to Comcast, I notified Verizon by email, by phone (talked to 2 people) and also wrote on the current bill that I was DISCONTINUING their service, effective June 18th. Three different methods of telling them that! And they still send me bills! Monthly bills! No late fee or charges, just monthly bills! It’s like their computing system is retarded!
    * When I switched, Comcast asked if I wanted to keep my old phone number and I said yes. Per their instructions I called Verizon to have my phone number “ported” over to Comcast. They acted like they had never heard that term! Anyway, for 2 weeks my phone never rang. I made outgoing calls, but didn’t have any inbound. THAT’S because (unbeknownst to me) since Comcast never received the “port” request from Verizon, their technicians presumed that I had requested a new telephone number, and Verizon NEVER told me that they had simply DISCONNECTED my phone. Since I primarily communicate by email, I didn’t have acquaintances or doctors making phone calls to me, and for 2 weeks I was completely unaware that my phone number had been changed! I had a dial tone, but who would think that their phone number had been changed. I simply decided to call my house with my cell after 2 weeks and the message, “Number disconnected”. Unbelievable. I’ll never deal with Verizon again.
    PS I collected all the Verizon flyers and junk mail for FIOS over a 2 year period (they still sent junk mail for FIOS even after repeated requests to stop sending it since I had FIOS) and it weighed 6 lbs. Over 300 pieces of junk mail. It cost me $18 but I Fed-Exed ALL of that junk mail back to Verizon headquarters and told them, “Explain to your stockholders why you are “killing all of these trees” as Verizon likes to state it.

    • JTL says:

      I had the same dreadful, inconvenient and aggravating experience with Verizon in 2009 (lasting well into 2010). As for the “bill collector(s)”, I believe that Verizon (and AT&T) sell their ‘bad-debt accounts’ periodically as bulk-lists to collection agencies such as Pallisades Collection LLC who has pestered me with bogus demands for exactly what you describe here.

  • Leonard says:

    Time Warner Cable is a lost cause. After spending 2 weeks dealing with TWC, I cut the cord and refuse to ever do business with them again. I’d rather give up watching tv than to give them my money.

  • charles s says:

    Another ways to save not mentioned here . Time Warner has local channels I was paying $11 a month to just put the cable straight to my TV , I didn’t need a converter box or antenna . I cancelled my cable last month but I can still pick up local channels for free without a box , I don’t know if Time Warner knows about it and I’m not going to tell them .
    Yes its a good idea to call your company and say you’re looking at other options when I was with AT&T this worked for me more than once . The cable co. hate to see you go esp if its to another cable co.
    when starting a cable account listen carefully to what is being said and read the back of your receipt all your services should be listed . I saw super turbo internet is $20 a month in conjunction with reg internet service starting 6 months from now along with some other crap I don’t need

  • JJ says:

    The most cost effective way to get full cable is to use a Slingbox attached to another person’s cable box. If you split the cost of the cable with that person, the slingbox is a one time fee that quickly pays for itself

  • JASON says:

    Another alternative is just use the digital ‘free channels’ Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS. I still use the old tube television with the digital converter bunny ears and I get great reception. I also have Netflix. I find most people with cable end up watching the free channels anyway. You can get CNN news from the internet and watch other shows as well. There’s no need for cable at all. There’s too much TV out there as it is.

  • Hazmat77 says:

    It’s dishonest to talk about lower costs of one form of supplier over another when using their ‘come on’ special prices.

    • Jake evans says:

      Very few people are honest, I am also an honest person buy when it comes to unscrupoulous cable companies I will lie to get and honest price

  • Bob says:

    ” Spending $600 a year on cable is less than ideal.”

    Hey, if I could get cable for $600 a year, I would not have dropped Comcast. I finally got fed up when I found myself paying $160 a month for basic cable plus Internet, of which $110 represented the cable — that’s $1,320 per year for basic cable. And what’s on basic cable? It’s basically paying to watch reruns of NCIS. After a decade of reality TV, the content has gotten so bad that there is literally nothing to watch. Once I dropped cable, the charge for Internet went up from $50 a month to $70 a month, and we added Hulu Plus to the Netflix we were already getting ($7.99 each per month — by the way, Netflix is a much better value than Hulu Plus).

    Over many years prior to dropping cable, I had developed a deep, abiding hatred for Comcast as a company. And I still feel that way about Comcast. It’s just that I don’t think about it as much, now that I’m not paying them for cable.

  • JeffRoe says:

    I got tired of paying $180/month for Time-Warner cable. Sounded simple enough in the beginning: $99/month for cable/phone/internet. Then slowly the price increased over the next 5 years until we were paying $180+/month (this included equipment fees and other bullcrap service fees). Finally I said, “enough!”. I installed a (hi-def) long-range antenna with an amplifier, purchased a Tivo box ($99 one-time-fee plus $10/month service fee if you do NOT connect it to a cable provider – antenna only), signed up for Netflix (one-at-a-time via mail & streaming through Tivo box @ $18/month), signed up for HuluPlus ($9/month), signed up for web-based phone service ($38/year), and kept the Time-Warner internet connection for $65/month (gotta have internet no matter what). With the antenna we get about 10 hi-def over-the-air channels (free), including ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox, plus local public TV. So, if you’re keeping track, we’re down to about $105/month and now we get to pick the content we WANT to see, not the 100+ junk channels the cable provider decides to provide that we do not want to see. Go for it!!

  • Miles Batty says:

    Truly, the answer is even easier than that.
    Whenever cable salespeople call my house and ask if we think we’re paying too much with our current provider, I happily tell them, “My monthly cable bill is ZERO. Zip. I do not have cable. I do not want cable.”
    “But all these great offers,” they say, “you can hook up all your TV’s and bundle the savings…”
    “All the what?” I ask.
    “Nope. We do not have a television. We do not want a television. And no TV, means no cable. What I WANT to watch, I download. And watch it when I want to.”

    • Jukesgrrl says:

      If you don’t even watch TV, why are you reading this article? To gloat? You choose not to watch, fine for you, but it doesn’t make you a better person than people who do.

  • birdmom9726 says:

    Just fire your cable company! I had the cheapest package available ($29.99/mo), so I was spending $360 a year on entertainment that was mostly infomercials, commercials for dubious products that I didn’t care to listen to (Viagra, anyone? How about those increasingly graphic toilet paper commercials? They won’t be satisfied until someone actually demonstrates their toilet paper on national TV!), and some of the most un-entertaining “entertainment” I’ve ever seen (I’m in my 50’s, and no prude). A stream of total garbage that I was forking out good money for. So I fired the cable company, bought a Leaf antenna and a digital tuner from Amazon – spent about $90 for both – so they will pay for themselves in about 3 months. I get more than enough channels, and I don’t have that ridiculous bill every month. I just don’t watch TV enough to justify the expense. I have many different hobbies, a store on Etsy, and whatever I don’t get from TV (not much) I can get on the Internet. There are more constructive things for me to do than sit in front of the TV.

  • Bert says:

    Hey Bob. A DSL connection from ATT works fine. The only caveat is that after a year the cost will double the promotion. You do not need a phone for this internet, and it is a fairly fast broadband, not dial up.

  • Bob Wright says:

    One of the problems that no one mentions is that there are areas where the only viable high speed internet connection offered is through the cable company – and it’s offered only as part of a bundle. So we don’t have the option of “cutting cable” and using internet fare.

    • Tail says:

      Bob, have you looked at ViaSat’s Exede satellite broadband? It’s fast (12Mps), competitively priced (starts at $50/mo), and not affected by weather like old satellite services. Cover about 75% of US. Only downside is it does have metered usage…but from midnight to 5am you can download all you want.

    • KLM says:

      Look for CLEAR or Clearwire in your area — unlimited for $45 if you can get it.

  • Paul says:

    Great article. You do a good job of laying out the different options you have. I think a Tivo box with an antenna gives you the best of live TV and streaming TV. Tivo also allows you to temporarily add cable for times when you want to go back to the cable companies for service (i.e. football season). When you are ready to pull the plug you can just hook up your antenna and record NBC, CBS, PBS, ABC, and FOX to catch your favorite network shows. Then you can watch your Netflix or Amazon videos using the Tivo’s streaming features.

  • Bob says:

    I believe the cable tv department to call to have your rates dropped/adjusted is called Retention Dept.

  • Dan says:

    Best thing to do: UNPLUG!!! AND BE FREE!!!

    We cancelled all kind of cable in our house, and we’ve become so much happier AND SMARTER. We read more, and talk more. We also spent more quality TIME with our friends and family, and have an extra over $1,000 per year to spend on more meaningful things. I got tired of spending so much money to have to put up with all the propaganda and junk coming through the “tube.”


  • brents says:

    Get an HD antenna from amazon. I paid $46 for on at the store, than later bought another on for $26 dollars at Amazon and the shipping was free. I get 25 channels, the best part- 6 are non commercial PBS stations like create and rt news. You get to skip the pesky Geico commercials and save about $1329 per year on cable bills. I really got into watching France 24 news election coverage because the third party candidates actually came close to winning.

  • ShirleyTx says:

    I live on $1100 per month, very FIXED income. I get cable TV, Internet, and telephone for about $155 per month. The economy has gotten tougher and I must do something. I have a 15″ flat screen TV by my bed that is not HD and is 8 yrs old and a 22″ HD wall mounted TV in the living room. It is probably not Internet ready. What equipment do I need to take myself off of cable except for high speed internet? And who do I go to for information?

  • JAYHAWKER says:

    Cut the cable two years ago and do streaming netflix, and rent DVD’s occasionally from Red Box. Added an RCA amplified HD antenna and receive 19 stations. Don’t miss the BIG monthly bills.

  • Rich says:

    We dumped satellite a little over one year ago to cut our costs with the understanding that when things improved, we would re-visit Dish or DirectTV (no cable in our area). Instead we bought one small, digital, internet ready TV (about $340) to replace a very old analog one (one single coaxial jack) , and bought a analog to digital converter box for the larger set we watch most often. To get a signal, we bought a Mohu flat leaf antenna for each one (about $40 each). This is great antenna. It’s about 8 x 11 inches and flat like a piece of paper (meant to hide under pictures in an apartment setting). It hangs on the wall near the TV and pulls in digital signals from our nearest city 55 miles away. That gives us all the major networks, 5 PBS channels, ION, MeTV, ThisTV and few local channels. Since we mostly watch network anyway, this works well for us. For additional options, we subscribed to Netflix (about $8/month) and stream it to each TV through our wireless router. The Netflix app was built into the internet ready TV. For the old TV, we installed the Netflix app on our Wii. So, all the TV we want for about $8/month (after equipment costs). It has been over a year now and the funny thing is, we don’t miss satellite at all. When I mentioned to my wife (who was the most resistant about quitting satellite) about going back to satellite, she said there is no need. She is not missing anything. Every now and then I fell like we must be missing something. However, when I look at what they offer and all the channels I wouldn’t watch, I realize we are not missing anything.

    This experience has led me to realize that television, in particular satellite/cable, has been sold as a necessity, something every house must have. It is definitely not.

    Note: I have no association with the Mohu company except as a very happy customer.

  • monkeyfurball says:

    $600 a year? lol. I pay $140 a month and I don’t even get HBO with that. Worse yet, I WAS paying $202 a month(includes internet) and talked them down, but I did have to eliminate a tier of channels to get there. I’d go with netflix or hulu, but I want more current movies. No other way to get that except cable or satellite. Maybe this will change next time renewal comes around in a year or so.

  • Dan Stanton says:

    Interestingly, the TV was sold in 1991 and there was no looking back. Games, travel, though there is an Internet connection of course. With that said, having just an Internet connection leads to difference activities and a shift in the way one accesses content. There is NO lack of content and many fewer commercials. They are nearly absent. The Cable Companies hate the Internet… and believe that they ARE the Internet. They are not. Importantly, content… be it a TV show, movie, phone call or web page… they are ALL zeros and ones…. The only difference is perception. The cable companies are very fearful…. that the “average” American will finally realize the truth regarding the technology.

  • Daniel says:

    Canceling the service entirely would save 100% of the monthly cable bill. Why is that not mentioned as a way to avoid a cable bill that is too high?

  • floyd benson says:

    We had cable and it kept going up so we switched to DirecTV and we had a problem. We called everyday and it was always a different problem from the sky and etc. It was on local channels only. Then we got the basic dish network and it was better for the first year, contract went up $30.00 afterward though. We still kept dish for another year because the disconnect fee is $300.00, when this is over we are going back to cable or we ere going to the plain box. The DirecTV and dish tv companies are not truthful on their product description.

  • Peter Guild says:

    It is surprising that TV via internet was not proposed as a cost saving option. Roku, Apple TV, and Google all manufacture and sell devices which provide TV shows, Movie, Sports, Etc to your TV using a wireless or wired internet connection. Using this method of obtaining content for your TV represents a significant savings over cable TV. As yet I have not figured out how to get NFL content, but when that hurdle is surmounted, I will switch to getting TV content via internet as opposed to via cable TV.

  • GregP says:

    I hated to give up the DVR. I found that with Windows7 WMC and $80 HDHOMERUN device I could record nice crisp over the air TV. On cable I was watching the same shows that are broadcast for FREE, but the quality was not even as good. That made no sense.

    Don’t have a computer with enough storage (500GB or even 1TB)? Drop cable and buy you one in about 3-4 months w/ the money you save.

  • Sally J says:

    DISH Network NOT AT ALL the best deal if there is some cable programming you actually like. This year, DISH botched negotiations with a number of cable networks, including AMC — and therefore, dropped them from their lineup. A number of years ago, AMC began offering award-winning original programming, instead of just American Movie Classics. This trend toward high-quality original programming has increased the past few years, and has resulted in higher ratings than most other cable offerings. This naturally warrants higher payment from DISH, for AMC to be able to continue to offer these programs. But DISH refused, because… well, because they refused, being the all powerful DISH. So if you like shows like “The Walking Dead”, “Mad Men”, “Breaking Bad” — you’re out of luck with DISH – They have not been available on DISH since about May 2012.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Dish is trying to hold the line on unwarranted price increases from suppliers like AMC. They are asking HBO type prices and their ratings don’t come close to justifying it. AND they insist Dish take their entire bundle of channels – Sundance, IFC and a bunch of others no one watches.

      More power to Dish!

      BTW I got a $10 a month credit when I called them and complained so that I can buy those shows off Amazon via ROKU for $2.00.

  • Greg Colpitts says:

    I don’t have cable TV but I still pay $47.00/month for highspeed internet from the cable company. Even that seems too high for me but internet is more essential to me than TV. I can get my news online and that is all I used to watch on TV anyway.

  • Vince says:

    I forgot to mention this: I haven’t paid for TV of any type for over two years (and have not missed it once). That’s over $1300 saved in two years in my area.


  • Vince says:

    I guess there are ways to reduce the bill, but frankly I think most TV of any type is a bad deal, when you can get a lot of stuff online for no cost beyond your ISP monthly charge. And don’t forget libraries who lend DVDs.

    Perhaps most importantly, play some games, get outside, and live actively instead of being a couch potato. I spend about an hour a day on the internet, and sometimes fall asleep to downloaded shows. Try reducing your time in front of glowing rectangles, and you’ll enjoy life more, I think. Good Luck to all!

  • Gary Engmann says:

    We finally had enough and cancelled our home phone and cable. We were bundled but over $200 a month for telemarketer calls and only watching 5 0r 6 channels finally hit home. We can rent/purchase what we like considerably cheaper!

  • Delmer Dumbutt says:

    Those who download copyrighted materially illegally are only smart until they get caught. Then, as Walter the Dummy would say, “Dumba$$!”

  • John says:

    I just illegally download whatever I want to watch or I find it on youtube. I haven’t had cable for years, but you don’t need it if you are smart.

  • Mnyama says:

    Roku box, Hulu Plus and internet ready TV. Roku box one time $99. $7.99 per month for Hulu Plus. Case solved.

  • JJ C says:

    I envy those of you who can determine that they do not need Cable and get rid of it. We live in the mountains and no antenna in the world will bring in anything over those peaks. The irony of it all is the fact that we have six TVS and all of them are set to only one channel, Fox News Channel. What a waste of money, paying for all the other channels we never use.

    • renee says:

      Buy a roku, watch fox news on it and disconnect your cable. You will need a broadband internet connection, an HDTV, and a roku.

  • scott says:

    I got an antenna for 24 bucks on amazon and hooked it up. Wow, I was impressed, we got most of the regular channels and the HD was better. best picture I’ve ever seen.

    Go to:
    click start, then put your zipcode and address in. It will give you a very detailed analysis of your reception patterns for over the air TV.

    Looking into a professional install, but I think this is the way to go. We already do Netflix, so I think cable’s days are numbered.

  • DOhm says:

    We got Directv because we were told it would be 52.00 the first year and 71.00 the second year. It went up the VERY FIRST bill. I called and they told me that was for all of the tv boxes. They said they can raise the price on equipment. I told them that they HAD A CONTRACT with me as well for those prices. She said no, they can raise equipment prices. Shortly thereafter, they raised my monthly charge for SERVICE. I called back again and they told me it is in fine print SOMEWHERE that they can raise their prices. I would have to pay 275.00 to break the contract and cancel service. So basically, what I am saying is it is a ONE sided contract. Only thing is I don’t remember signing a contract. I called them, they gave me info over the phone and set up an appointment for installation. The only thing I signed was with the installer and that was just that he did install the service and I would be responsible for paying 275.00 if there was a cancellation before the 2 years was up. So I guess if they decide to raise it 300.00 a month I still have to honor my side. But, as always they can give a price to you that you will pay and THEY don’t have to honor ANYTHING. BEWARE of DIRECTV.

    • JTL says:

      Exactly the same with Verizon (and others) — Charges are obscene — and contracts protect “providers” unrestrained greed, allowing customers virtually no influence or flexibility.

  • joe quinn says:

    I remember my new wife and I sitting in our living room watching “The Fugitive”. Used to get frustrated as commercials were taking 12 minutes of 30 minute episode. Then “cable tv” promised no ads if you paid $6 a month for their cable. My my, what a hoax. We now pay $112 a month and getting bombarded with 13 minutes of ads every 30 minutes of tv. The only answer to this is to SHUT THEM OFF, but since we are spoiled brats that will never happen and rates will keep going up. I too shall soon shut them down.

  • Steve says:

    I also got tired of Time Warner raising my cable bill every month after the first 2 years. I switched to DirecTV and lowered my bill by around $40.00. However, I will probably switch back to cable when my 2 year subscription expires. Every time there is even a cloud in the sky I lose bits and pieces of reception. If it happens to be raining I lose the whole program until it quits raining. I also had to get AT&T uverse for my high speed internet and have been well satisfied with that. I may try AT&T programming as well after my sporaddically direcTV subscription expires.

  • Bridget says:

    In my area, we have only option for cable – Cox Communications. My cable bill was over $200 a month. We have now disconnected cable and we subscribe to Netflix. Couldn’t be happier.

  • Al of Cumming, GA says:

    We have saved thousands over the years by installing two attic antennas with a signal amplifier, pulling in stations as far away as 90 miles. The antennas were aimed with the help of an Internet website that asks your address and suggests aiming according to channels you want to pick up. The stations we receive are mostly HD with very good definition as the signals are not compressed like they are with cable and satellite transmissions.

  • Ernest ODell says:

    I got rid of cable 14 years ago and switched over to DISH Network… and haven’t looked back. I tried DirecTV but they were a bit higher and their customer service was horrible. When I switched over to DISH, I got to know some of the “higher ups” in the company, and their CSR’s have been with them for several years. Not only do they take care of their customers, but they take care of their employees, too. I guess that’s why I’m still with them. At 20 bux a month for the family safe programming (got kids) I guess I can’t go wrong with the price.

    • Yea Right says:

      Sorry, but Dish treat their employees like crap. You should be working somewhere else for twice the pay. I’m hoping you get out of there asap for the sake of your family.

      Dish’s prices are the lowest, and there is a reason why.

  • Robert Gatesh says:

    How about going to Antennas Direct — http://www.antennasdirect.com/ — and buying an antenna for less than 100 bucks, once.

    We get about 25-30 choices and don’t get a bill at the end of the month. In ten years that will be about a $20,000 savings if invested at 10%.

  • Tim Morris says:

    My wife and I dumped our cable months ago and we haven’t looked back. Far too many evenings we’d turn the TV on and turn it straight back off w/o having watched anything. Back in the day it used to be 57 channels with nothing on, now it’s 1507, 200, 300 channels and absolutely nothing worth watching.

  • tim says:

    The most recent ‘deal’ from our cable company expired and the bill increased almost $30. Was going to get Direct TV but the area I’m in has a contract with a company I don’t care to do business with. Decided to try out dish network. Will try that out until the contract expires in 2 yrs.

  • bob says:

    I couldn’t afford cable when I moved out at 19, almost ten years later and never missed it.

  • Angie Chittenden says:

    I had my cable T.V. cut off. My grand parents lived without one and if enough people do this you will see the cost come way down! Have some guts and cut it off. Don’t pay another penny and I don’t miss it. I have found that there is a way better life in this world without T.V. You get more fresh air. Plant a garden, read, go to the lakes and parks. Get a real life and show these people you don’t need them. They need you!

  • Michael says:

    I’ve had cable and satellite services and quite frankly I spent a fortune to watch only a few stations worth watching. Two years ago I moved to another state and it was time to decide who was going to be my TV provider in my new home, after thinking about it I went with none. I already owned a good rooftop antenna and supplemented it with a thirty-something dollar used HD receiver that I purchased on eBay. I get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and a few lesser known channels in HD for free now and when I want to see my sports teams who’s games may not be on the channels I get I just go to the internet where you can find it all for free if you look hard enough. I even watch my NFL team out of market online for free when I used to pay Direct-TV, with their NFL Sunday Ticket Monopoly, nearly $300 per season. Dump the service providers and save a ton of money while having more control over the content on your TV screen. The only thing I miss from my service providers is the Tivo-like devices that allowed me to pause shows or skip commercials.

    • Larry Butler says:

      For Tivo like device, look at the Magnavox DVRs. There are several models carried by Walmart with varying disk capacity. Cheapest is the Model#: MDR533H. It will let you pause and rewind live over the air TV, as well as record shows when you are not there for later playback. It will take the place of the converter if you still have a TV with the older analog tuner.
      I watch mostly public TV, and enjoy the ability to choose from 4 simultaneous programs from one PBS channel and 3 from another. Lots of choice!
      The cable rep dropped by recently to inquire why I did not avail myself of their service. After I explained the above, he stated that they plan to upgrade their system to also carry the simultaneous subchannel programs in the future. They will probably want to charge customers even more for that. But I get it all for free now!

  • Pablo Rivera says:

    What TV? I do not have time to watch it for most of the time & when I watch it there are trash shows any way. I also think watching TV gives me high blood pressure.

  • Dave B says:

    Got rid of all the cable and Netflix etc. A regular antenna and new TV with digital tuner is all I need. With older TVs, you can use a converter box from Walmarts (29 Bucks) along with regular antenna. Cable guy came by once and said there’s no way to get HD with over the air broadcast. That’s BS. The best HD is direct over the air. It is not compressed and uncompressed several times when it is passed thru cable companies. I donate my extra cash to public broadcast stations instead now that I am free of cable bills. Don’t miss the cable BS at all.

    • Phil says:

      I have a digital TV and dropped cable and added a digital antenna. Unfortunately I’m in a sublevel apartment and can only pick up about 5-6 local area channels, only 2-3 clearly with no problems.:( I went with Hulu+ and bought a Roku 2 which picks up Hulu and many other subscribers. Hulu is ‘normally’ fine as long as you’re watching it on the computer, but as soon as you watch it wirelessly via the Roku on the TV , it freezes up and frequently is unwatchable.

  • Ray says:

    I used to have an antenna in my attic, but after the analog to digital switch, I got nothing…zip, zero, nada. I live about 35miles WNW of NYC in a county of 1/2 million people and cannot get broadcast TV which is Bull****.
    The next best thing is “Broadcast Basic” cable. It costs about $13.00 a month and if you need a box, it’s $20. and change…TOTAL. You get several dozen channels (1/3 are worthless shopping and Spanish language) and if there is nothing on, there is plenty to watch on Youtube, etc.($26.month DSL from the phone co.)
    Check out your cable provider’s website. You may have to dig some, as they don’t like to advertise it. I think by law, that they have to provide it. Cablevision says I can switch plans anytime, not just monthly…such a deal!

  • James E Phillips says:

    We have had Time Warner Cable TV with the phone and computer combo for about 2 years.

    The price was to be $138.00 a month. This was never true from the start. We never got the same bill twice. The bill was always $25.00 to $45.00 more every month. Never buying movies to watch, just watching TV and renting Netflix for $8.00 a month.

    Every month We had to call and complain to cable company that the agreed upon bill was wrong and needed to have the extra charges removed. Did this for a year.

    Took care of the problem after that time got rid of the package, just kept Road Runner. They even tried to give us an extra charge because it took them a week to come by and put a block on the pole. We had already had Direct Dish installed and the cable equipment had already been taken back to cable office.

    Now for Netflix. We dumped them for doubling their fees. Will never buy either system again. OH! funny thing happened several weeks later. One of the Cable TV agents came to the house to ask why we let them go. I showed him the bills – all of them. He had no answers left and never heard from them again.

    Just the bill for the Road Runner comes in the mail once a month the same charge nothing added they got it right now.

    • Phil says:

      Indeed. It took me over a year to finally have Time Warner stop charging me for a modem which I purchased myself.
      In Cleveland they have a monopoly on cable and claim it’s only because no other cable co. wants to serve the area. The representatives in the local office simply tell you to switch if you’re dissatisfied, knowing you have no other choices. AT&T DSL service has raised their rates and it’s almost the same as cable now. Not too many alternatives left. Someone in city government is certainly getting kickback from Time Warner I’d say.

  • TD1az says:

    I’m not understanding your comment “For us getting a dish is out of the question because she is at an apartment.” Why? Apartments have to let you use a dish (for years now). Most complexes I’ve seen here now all have hookups on their roofs for dishs wired to each apartment.

    • MissBee says:

      I lived in an apartment that wouldn’t let me get a dish. I showed them the law under the FCC and I swear I can’t make this up they told me it didn’t apply to them lol. I know thats not the truth but it would’ve taken to much energy to fight it but I have since moved and won’t look back.

  • chas says:

    Hulu and Netflicks requires high speed internet. The cost of just the HS internet by itself is very high, since one is not buying the triple whammy from the Cable Company.

  • MontieR says:

    Cable is NOT worth it. They LIE. Price GOUGING and repeated LIES. They do NOT provide the service they SAY they do.

  • Cincinnatus says:

    After the last price increase I simply called them up and terminated service. Most of what is on TV is junk and the 10 PM news is worthless.

    Don’t watch it and don’t miss it.

  • Francesca says:

    My husband got upset with the constant increases from the cable company we were with and wanted to try the dish companies. I called Dish, after three days of not being able to install their system, they gave up although there are others in our neighborhood who have the Dish. Guess the installers didn’t know what they were doing. So, we called Direct and discovered there are not as many chanels as advertised because of the repeat chanels. After the first year the rates doubled and we have decided to get rid of it when the contract expires. Don’t know who we will be going with but we have HD TVs so we have to have something or we won’t be able to get any programs. As the time approaches we will be exploring the options.

    • edrock says:

      DISH at least installed you. I have been waiting since November 2008 for my DISH, which was credit-checked, approved, received window for installation, and never came. Nobody at DISH had any idea who I was on calling, nobody tried to re-start approved sales process. And I am the HOMEOWNER with excellent credit! I hope the WHITE people can get it.

      • NYCJanie says:

        Playing the race card about this?? Really? Come on. As a black woman I find it ridiculous when my people blame every little piece of bad luck on their skin color. I had Dish for years and while I didn’t like the service I never, for a moment, thought it had anything to do with my race. Lighten up edrock.

      • paul says:

        I wouldn’t go with dish network. DirecTV is the way to go if you want satelite TV.

      • Tamara Williams says:

        edrock, I had Directv and the lowest package they offer. After the “good”? pricing ran out I called and called wanting better deals. What a joke, I finally dropped them one month before the end of my contract, I was paying around $103. a month for the lowest programing, they suck severely. I am now watching DVD’s but it’s better than dealing with those jerks every month.

  • direct lenders @ Harry says:

    There are so many alternatives of this problem you can have DTH services and you have to pay only for those channels which you like most. this is perfect way to money on Cable TV.

  • Carl Lassegue says:

    I think it’s a matter of priorities. Some people cannot survive without cable so the savings would not outweigh having no tv for some people.

  • Financial Advice for Young Professionals says:

    I download a lot of shows/movies online and stream them wirelessly from my Logitech Revue. The technology isn’t perfect, but in a year or two these boxes should be a no brainer!

  • Chucks says:

    Just cut the cable, silly. Why pay for 100 channels of which you watch maybe 4-6 shows on 3-4 channels, of which 30-40% is just advertising, intro scenes and exit scenes? Most shows you won’t care about a year from now anyways. Cut the cable and Netflix/pirate the rest. You’ll save time and money.

  • Jeff Crews says:

    Anyone here have DISH? I have always wondered if there were any big differences. Also, calling the cable company can save some money….they always want to keep your business.

    • Financial Advice for Young Professionals says:

      I’ve tried Dish a couple times, and I did not like it as much as Direct TV or cable.

      • christymac says:

        Just barely exaggerating: At the first gust of wind or the first raindrop, DISH is g-o-n-e, either for a few minutes (so you can miss the ending of a drama) or for the rest of the night. We’re in tornado country, so that’s pretty regular.

        • Tail says:

          Had Dish for 2 years and didn’t have a single interruption? Where do you live ChristyMac, Antarctica?

          • Mike says:

            I’ve used a dish for many years and weather can be a factor ( bad snow storm causes freezing(no pun) and blocks randomly) for the most part I watch tv without a hitch. If you have crappy signal then even a light rain will kock your TV out. Do not blame the dish for your poor setup.

  • Marbella says:

    There will always new players with better deals in the market so not tie you up more than 12 months at a time. there’s always room to negotiate after 12 months contract for a new better deal

  • Herbert says:

    If you notice the comment by April, the digital tuner only applies to an older TV model. For all one would need for a TV purchased in the last couple of years is an antenna. Go to http://www.antennaweb.org to determine the possibilities. Free, over the air TV, is much more than it appears. Each network has at least one extra signal. My local NBC adds MeTV (Memorable Entertainment) to their menu. To my baby booming eyes, it is a great diversion, with some shows I had forgotten just how good they really were back then. One tip: Do not invest in an expensive complex antenna. I have aligned a series of three tabletop rabbit ears for my other TV in the garage, and it gets all but the most distant signals. I paid 98 cents each for these at the thrift store, and used the cable left by the cable company I got rid of to connect them. The bottom line is: FIRE!!! that Pay TV and buy something useful.

  • Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey says:

    When I noticed our cable bill is getting higher and higher, I cut it off! I was trying to cut on our expenses and the cable bill is just an additional expense as my family is not really into watching TV. Besides, we have an internet where we get our news and movie updates.

  • MoneySmartGuides says:

    I simply call my cable company. I’ve gotten my current promotion extended now for 2 years (they only extend it 6 months at a time). The 10 minute phone calls are certainly worth the savings.

    For anyone calling up their cable provider, the customer service associate may not be able (or unwilling) to help. I’ve gotten the run around from them saying they cannot do anything for me. I then ask to be transferred to the cancellation department. There, the associate is always will to extend my deal.

    • kasek says:

      Me too. I have a local office I go into about every 6-8 mos. They always renew my promotional rate, or restructure my ‘plan’ so I get the channels I want for a better rate.

  • Catherine says:

    My comment is that satellite prices vary depending on your area. They know where people have options, and where they do not. I live our where neither cable nor DSL is an option. Therefore, my basic satellite package for two tvs (only one HD) and a minimal set of channels runs me $100 a month. Like the economists teach, there has to be competition to lower prices.

    BTW, any comments on the benefits of Dish Network over DirecTV are more than welcome!

    • Ray says:

      Have you considered dropping sat. TV and getting sat. high speed internet?
      You can get live news from various sites and there are lots of free movies, shows, etc. if you take some time to find them. Like mail delivery, broadcast TV should be an option for everyone, but it’s not.

      • Al says:


        We used to live out in the country and had only dialup. We subscribed to Hughes satellite so called broadband as soon as it was available. It was limited to less than 1,000 kps and cost $60 per month and was usually much slower, which ruled out streaming. One of the reasons we moved to town was the ability to get cable broadband with the additional possibility of dsl for some competition. We have used outdoor antennas for over 50 years, and our digital tv reception is sharper than either cable or dish.

        We have had Netflix-3 since 2002, and of course are now able to stream with 12 mbs cable broadband. We record over the air tv shows to Tivo to watch at our convenience, and generally end up with as much as we want to watch with over the air tv and Netflix.

  • Nay says:

    you failed to mention Apple TV and also Roku or Boxee box. The bes alternatives!

  • Jean says:

    I have unsubscribed to most channels except the sports since there is still no good alternative for watching live sporting events but as far as TV shows or movies go, the options are definitely numerous and far cheaper than paying for those channels on cable.


  • Drew says:

    In the UK our fibre optic ‘cable’ is used by lots of different service providers, currently resulting in some hefty competition between companies, not to mention the dish services on top. No monopoly over here, and no monopoly on your side of the pond judging by the alternatives you’ve described.

    • Jean says:

      That is an interesting point, Drew. I remember a friend of mine from the UK told me about 10 years ago about how BT had total monopoly over the UK and other companies were finding it hard to compete. I guess the situation has changed for the better in that aspect now.


      • Jeff says:

        BS Drew. I just moved back from the UK a few years ago. Sure their is no “monopoly” but everything costs twice as much as here and then throw the TV license tax in on top of the cable bill. You actually have a license to watch TV (about $250 per year, per TV).

        They pretend to have choices but the reality is that BT still controls the cables and sets the base price over everything on top of which the other providers add their costs.

        • Alex says:

          A number of errors…
          – At the current exchange rate, the price is actually slightly under $230/year, which is about $19/month USD
          – The TV tax covers an entire residential premises (house, flat, etc.) no matter how many TV reception devices are in it
          – The TV tax gives you access to both terrestrial (using an antenna), AND satellite channels in both HD and standard definition. It also allows you access to watch most BBC channels live, online via iplayer (and on a mobile device as well).
          – The BBC, including their news channels, and all 4 of their main channels, have NO COMMERCIALS, including their online streaming. Imagine watching the Olympics opening ceremony without a commercial!

          • Marju says:

            Ugh. I found the commercials a welcome relief from the tedious, propaganda-filled opening ceremony. The ads were better.

    • Larry says:

      “…and no monopoly on your side of the pond judging by the alternatives you’ve described.”

      In many rural areas in the U.S., there is only one broadband provider, and the “broadband” service is very slow — much too slow for high-def streaming video.

      • William says:

        I agree Larry.I’m in a rural area.(love it here by the way).The only access to the net is the MiFi from Verizen.Streaming often requires buffering and even then I run over my data plan(8Gb).So Netflix really isn’t cheap online anyways.The discs are a good deal though.I am installing an antennae on the roof soon.

  • Steve Mertz says:

    My cable bill drives me crazy! You are right about calling in after the “one time” special is up. I’ll ask what the current best offer is and have been lucky so far in getting the current deal. Good idea on the digital tuner as well 😉

  • April says:

    I’m disappointed you failed to mention using a digital tuner. My husband & I recently got one (yes we have an old tv) and attached it to an old antena in our attic, though my brother just uses ‘bunny ears’ and is completely satisifed. We get most major (CBS, NBC, etc.) channels for free (the box cost $60) without a single monthly fee. We also stream Netflix through our Wii if nothing we want to watch is being broadcast and are very happy with it.

    • hank says:


      i have an antena new one but some of my old tv (i have 4) are analog so i need to buy a convertor box, is that what u use?

      • KLM says:

        I ditched cable more than a year ago and have never looked back. Saving about $70 per month now. From amazon I bought a $10 antenna and $45 tuner and I can get about 17 channels: all the major networks plus 4 PBS and more, NO monthly fees or contracts. I also use Netflix: 2 dvds + streaming. Then there is Hulu, Crackle, amazon Prime — although Prime has more costs than Netflix — the shipping and free Kindle books are the best value there. I have also built up my own DVD library — you can save money buying used/like new and looking for bargains on the classics and new “classics” of good movies that YOU enjoy, not what HBO or cable picks for you. Netflix seems to be the most convenient and best priced for the value. If you have to see everything immediately, and you cannot be patient, then it’s not for you, BUT if you like seeing items on your time table and saving money, you can have more TV and movies than you can watch, even cheaper. Plus you can see current movies at the theatres for the matinee prices if you can’t wait for everything. Some of the networks run their shows over the web, so if you connect your computer to your TV with a ten dollar cable, you can see over the web shows. I use a website called “Zap2It” to list the channels I get to stay organized with the networks that my antenna and tuner pull in. Bad weather can effect viewing, so have a back up plan — that’s where books and the DVD library comes in handy. If you must see a sports event in bad weather, go to a sports bar or a friend with cable. For most people, they can cut cable and make changes, and realize they will be OK and happy saving money.

        • stone keyboards says:

          Okay, that’s great but what broadband service are you using?
          You still have to have a service, I know because I have Netflix…:)

    • Scott says:

      600 a year? what does this guy have Basic cable? I spend 600 in just over 3 months with comcast. Unfortunately, the HD portion of cable adds significantly to the cost….who knows why…it’s a signal through a cable line either way. It’s a necessary evil for the internet capability etc… but i did find this individuals comment of 50 a month rediculous…and ill bet you he/she doesn’t have basic cable at 50 a month.

      • paul says:

        I was paying 125 dollars for extended basic(no premium channels).now for 98 dollars a month I get 4 premium channels + all the basic channels with dir. tv.

    • Charlie says:

      April, Right on!

      I got tired of paying lots of money each month to Comcast and finding myself on a saturday night zipping through 400 channels to find that the best thing I could find was a some old movie from 1950. Dropped the cable for TV, connected my widescreen to an antenna and much to my amazement the clarity was better than cable. I get all the major channels plus some I never knew existed. If anyone lives within 30-40 miles of a major city this is the only way to go. Still get to watch the same crap and it is FREE. Hey 30+ bucks a month times 12 pays for a lot of other items in life.

      • Kathy Dabanian says:

        Charlie what antenna works for tvs now- i thought you needed some special box? Also anyone know about tv through online?

        • Bert says:

          It turns out any antennae that used to work with analog will provide a digital picture just fine. Kim Komando, (komando.com), has a free video showing how to create one out a wood and coat hangers.

        • paul says:

          you need a digital conversion box for an antenna

        • elaine says:

          We have only one TV. It’s a plazma. Which antenna would I buy, and what kind of a box would I need? I’m retired and don’t understand all this stuff. Please help me.

          • paul says:

            I’m not sure where you buy them, as I’ve had cable or satellite for years. When the conversion was made to digital you could order them for free, but now it costs about $50-$75. Try Radio Shack, maybe they can help you.

          • Kirsten says:

            My family bought our digital conversion box from Brandsmart USA for approx. $45. I hear they are more in other places.

            All you have to do is shop around at places like Brandsmart, RadioShack, BestBuy and other eletronic stores and ask for an antenna and a “digital conversion box”, or even type it into a search engine and you will see places to buy them online.

            Then plug the box into the tv and the wall outlet and then the antenna into the tv. Adjust the ears so you can get your best picture quality.

            The reason you have to go through all of this trouble to watch tv for free is because tv signals are no longer being transmitted the same way; analog. Everything is now digital, so you need to convert the digital television signals to analog through a converter so that your analog televsion can read them properly.

            Please refer to this governement site that will explain everything you need to know:

            and this wikipedia article that will tell you more:

  • Venita Peyton says:

    AJ, where is the FCC? The dish companies in Raleigh NC can require a 2 year contract and a hefty cancellation fee. The big print says $19-$21 month, while the small print for the second year is unreadable in a TV commercial.

    I can’t get a clear understanding on HULU – especially AFTER talking with a chat person. I know there’s a fee for buying or renting a box that must be installed (and that a separate one may be required in each room). These costs can exceed $99. So I don’t know if I need a TV less than 2 years old or if my 10 year old ones will suffice (w/o a converter box).

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