Say it with me now, “Cable companies are terrible!” It’s a simple idea we can all unite behind. Most of us would happily walk away from cable with a reasonable plan to access our favorite content on all platforms. The good news is that a growing number of people are canceling their cable subscription and driving an exciting new trend.
The Motley Fool posted an article on the trend of more people than ever cutting cable out of their life in the first quarter of 2017. The net number of people who left their cable television bill in the past grew to 762,000 during those three months. That trend is making it more attractive for new content providers to pop up online with new shows and movies. You can also find more online sources than ever before for your favorite current content on cable TV. It’s a perfect storm to finally cut cable for good!
Here’s our simple guide to cutting cable from your life for good:
Find Your Content Online & On-Demand
The average cable TV bill rose to more than $103/month last year. That gives us a great baseline for what we can budget in content services should we cut the cable bill out. The big three of online content providers are not much of a secret. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are leading the way when it comes to delivering regularly updated television shows and movies. You certainly don’t need all three at once to have lots of great selection for content. Netflix is currently $12 per month for their top tier plan. Amazon Prime and their video service is $8.25 per month and Hulu Plus is roughly $8 per month.
HBO, Showtime, and other popular movie channels are now offering direct subscription options. You may want to consider subscribing to Amazon Prime first if you plan on adding these digital subscriptions. Many past HBO and Showtime shows are available as part of Amazon Prime and you get a small discount on the monthly service for the movie channels when ordered through Amazon. Plus, it’s just easier to manage in one clean platform.
Live sports are one of the toughest things to watch at home without a cable subscription, but that is starting to change. There have already been a number of limited partnerships, like Twitter and the NFL, that have introduced some live sports for broadcast online. Disney is set to shake up the market with an option to subscribe to an online streaming version of ESPN directly without a cable subscription. By all accounts, they will not be offering their most popular sporting events through the service at first, but it is a clear indication of where the market is going.
Finally, start using some of the free online video content sites if you really want to save some money. It’s kind of amazing how much interesting stuff you can find on YouTube if you just want to relax and follow their suggestions deep into the depths of their video vault. You can actually kill three birds with one stone. Find something interesting to watch, use it as an opportunity to learn about something new, and get the content for free. Of course, you do have to deal with their sometimes annoying ads.
Certainly, there are websites that offer all kinds of popular shows and movies for free, but we aren’t suggesting you should use them. Quite the opposite, proceed with great caution should you venture into the dark corners of online free streaming. Free streaming sites are a quick way to download a virus or get your computer hacked.
Get an Antenna for Your HDTV (They Work Great!)
We understand that it may make you feel like a grandma to buy an antenna to watch television, but you won’t be adjusting the rabbit ears to get the signal to barely show up anymore. Since 2009, the United States has digital broadcasting of more than 50 channels in most major cities. In almost all parts of the country, you can at least get the major networks in HD for free with a cheap antenna. Walmart.com has a bunch of options for HDTV antennas for under $15.
If sports were a major reason that you have not cut cable out of your life for good, then a simple HD antenna can deliver many big sporting events since they are commonly broadcast on the major national television channels, like CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC.
Support Community Networks & Municipal Broadband Providers
If you really want to cut cable companies out of your life, you should support movements to improve competition among broadband internet providers in your city and state. Monopolies on what companies provide high-speed broadband internet services only profit that conglomerate. More decentralized sources of cable and broadband internet services can make it easier than ever for cities, towns, and even small communities create their own municipal broadband internet provider, and will absolutely lower the cost of internet access and dramatically increase the average internet speeds around the country.
A recent ruling in a lawsuit involving Google Fiber and other competitors helps to establish a “one touch make ready” utility pole system so new broadband and fiber internet providers can enter new markets much easier. These new broadband providers are essential to the growth of great online content providers.
MuniNetworks.org compiles an ongoing map of all the community broadband internet and cable providers across the country. Wikipedia.org has an extensive guide to municipal broadband as well. It’s a great way to see if there are projects and additional options in your community. If not, getting involved in a push for more competition in your area could potentially save you and your community lots of money on internet and cable services.