I had a “nightmare” the other night, I didnt wake up screaming or sweating and really wasn’t even all that scary. I had a dream that I signed up for Direct TV! Now for you to understand the reason I call it a nightmare, you have to know that my family and I haven’t had cable TV or satellite for over 5 years now! I thought I’d share with everyone how we do it, what we use and how much we’ve enjoyed it. I’m sure many people have given it a thought, we always complained when we did have cable that there were hundreds of channels and nothing to watch. Now we control mostly what is on, the huge benefit to streaming your content is you can hit pause and finish it later without having a DVR set up. The other HUGE benefit is cost, I’ll do that comparison at the end.
How we do/did it
At first we were a little worried that we’d be missing out on the new shows and news, etc. It turns out though, we get more news from our phone/device than anything and many of the new shows aren’t that great or can be found streaming fairly soon after their broadcast, you may just have to be patient. The most important part that we use in replacement of cable is our internet connection. We try to find the fastest and most reliable service available for the cheapest to get the best bang for our buck. Without it we’d be limited to just over the air TV (I’ll get to that later). We now use a combination of different devices, apps, and services to get A LOT of content.
The first one we used (and the big dog in streaming) was Netflix of course. We’ve had a Netflix account since the times when we would get the DVD’s by mail and almost streamed 0% of our content! Boy that seems like a long time ago and I can’t imagine having to wait for the next DVD in the mail if I wanted to binge watch a TV show like The Walking Dead (I’m all caught up to the current season now). When we first cut the cable cord we still had a lot of DVD’s mailed to us, mostly newer released movies that weren’t available via streaming. We’ve always found the cost (currently $9 a month for streaming) of Netflix is worth the hours and hours of entertainment it provides us. When they decided to raise the rate and split off the DVD by mail and streaming service we only stuck with the streaming. By that time there was plenty to just stream and getting and sending the DVD wasn’t worth it. If we want the latest release on DVD we usually just hit Redbox now so we can just return it the next day and the cost is only a couple dollars a night now for DVD.
The Roku was our first device we purchased to use for streaming to our main TV, it was one of the first generation Roku X D ‘s and wasn’t anything fancy. It was all we really needed though, we only used it for Netflix and after having to set up a wireless bridge to get a decent network connection we were good to go! The ol’ device is STILL alive and kicking, the kids now use it in the basement for Netflix….boy I’d like to see the Gigabytes of data that bad boy has served up!!! The new ones look pretty awesome now too, I especially like the Roku 2 and Roku 3 where you can plug in headphones to the remote!!!
Over the air
We started off with a small set of bunny ears (how many of you remember trying to position those!) that we used to get at least 6 or 7 decent channels with over-the-air (OTA) TV reception. We lived in the suburbs of Phoenix so it wasn’t too hard to get them and this was the time when all the stations were moving to Digital signals and the government even sent out gift cards for people to purchase digital TV tuners! We actually found that most of the ‘prime time’ shows on the basic networks [ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX] were decent, and we found our favorites we watched each week. Soon we didn’t even miss having cable at all, after all it wasn’t that often we wanted 24hr news or weather. About the only thing we missed was the occasional sporting event but that wasn’t very often. Many times we found we could find it on OTA or stream it online even. NOTE: Figuring out how to connect your laptop or computer to your TV and mirror your screen comes in very handy then!
Since we’ve moved to Colorado (suburb of Denver now) we’ve upgraded from the little bunny ears to a full size house antenna. It was only $60 on Amazon and can be mounted on the roof or in the attic. Right now, since we’re renting, we have it on our back patio is all and it still picks up over 20 digital channels now. We were lucky this place was wired up for satellite or cable to I just plugged it into that coaxial feed outside and now it is fed to 4 rooms inside easily!
A few years later now there are some TV shows that my wife and I have found aren’t available on Netflix to stream (even though my wife was ecstatic that they added Friends now!). So we’ve now added to our ‘streaming arsenal’ Hulu Plus, there are TONS of TV content on there, including many shows current season, so if you miss it on OTA and don’t have a DVR set up then this is well worth the $8 a month it costs.
We started to read a lot more when we cut the cable cord…this is one of the best benefits of doing it…READ MORE! Read to your kids too, it is soooo important for them to learn to read and have an appetite to read more. Every place we’ve lived we like to find the local library, first of all it is very important to keep reading books. It is also important for our kids to get books and develop their reading as well. We try to take them there at least once a week to pick out books etc. Our local library here in Colorado also has an extensive selection of movies and TV shows on DVD, even some of the more recent releases (I just watch Lone Survivor and Her from the library), this is a great way to supplement your watching content for FREE!!!!
I would love to set up a TV box set / media server running something like XBMC so that we can stream the movies we have digital copies. I took many of our DVD’s and ripped them so we could watch them on laptop etc when traveling. You can fit a lot more movies on your hard drive and it is a lot easier to carry than 20 DVD cases!
When we had cable/satellite we were paying (after the silly introductory price to get ya hooked) around $150 a month! Now we pay (Netflix, Hulu, and Internet) around $60 a month for those services. The rest of the cost are all up-front, like the purchase of a nice big antenna. So we’ve been saving around $90 a month for the past 5 years….that adds up to around over $5000!!!! THAT IS AWESOME!!!!
Let me know if you have any questions on more specifics of how or what we do. I encourage anyone I talk to to give it a try, we love not having that cable bill every month!!! I’ll be more than happy to help you out with what info and ideas I’ve had.