Five Ways to Kick the Cable TV Habit and Save Serious Cash
There’s nothing I despise more than paying a ginormous cable TV bill — except for filing my taxes, getting root canal surgery, and watching infomercials for The Potty Putter.
That’s why, a few years ago, I decided to kick the cable habit and join the small but growing cadre of “cord cutters,” people who’ve abandoned their pay TV subscriptions for the more interesting and generally more affordable pastures of Internet video.
Fewer than 5 percent of cable subscribers have cut the cord, according to research firm Parks Associates, but nearly all of them did it for the same reason: Their cable bills were too damned high. The average American now pays nearly $100 a month for cable TV, says the NPD Group, a bill expected to top $200 by the year 2020. Meanwhile, cable providers consistently rank among the worst companies in annual surveys of customer satisfaction. That’s a big reason why pay TV subscriptions have been steadily declining.
But you don’t have to sit there on the couch and take it. I’ve heard from dozens of readers who’ve found their own ways to kick cable to the curb. They all require a bit more work than leaning back in your La-Z-Boy, popping a cold one, and manhandling the remote, but they can end up saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the long haul.
Option #1: Beautiful streamers
These days, nearly all mainstream video entertainment is available via the web. The easiest way to stream it to your flat screen is by buying a $100 (or less) set-top box like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Roku. These connect to your set with one cable and give you one-click access to video and music services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Pandora, and more, assuming you have a modern, broadband Internet connection.
But that’s not the only way. If you’ve bought a “smart TV” in the past two years, these services are built in. Plus, nearly any digital device that connects to your set — gaming console, Blu-ray player, DVR, or a laptop — gives you access to the most popular streaming video services.
(Samsung Smart TV)
But there are three big caveats for cord cutters. A lot depends on your ability to obtain something called “naked broadband,” which isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds. That means paying only for Internet access without other services bundled in. Your cable company may not offer it, or may offer it for only slightly less than a triple-play bundle (Internet, TV, phone), which starts out heavily discounted but gets more expensive after the first year.