A Simple Guide For How to Cut The Cord on Cable TV and Get More Content for Less

imgedward20scissorhands1This site is one page long, written by a former cable subscriber who has found new light without cable.  By the end of this article you will be able to get local HD TV programming for free, get more TV/movies than you can digest for $20/month or less, get free two-day shipping on everything you order from Amazon.com, and learn a bit about home media serving for when you’re really a cordless rockstar.

Time to Jump Ship
I had finally had enough. As they do every six months it seems, my cable provider (Comcast) raised my cable TV rates and added a $10 “technology fee” on top of what was already becoming an outrageous monthly expense. And I don’t watch enough TV to justify $120/month, which if invested at 7% over the next 15 years could likely be enough to send one of my kids to college.

So I called and cancelled. And much to my surprise, they didn’t fight it. There was no retention specialist or anyone pitching me a three month sweet deal (which I wouldn’t have taken anyway). They just let me go. And I was happy about it.

I had been planning how I would do this for some time, and I want to share my experience with you because the cable companies are ripping everyone off.  Unless you must watch every reality TV show on the day it airs (and this solution may still allow you to do that), or you consume a lot of live sports (you can do a lot of that too), or have to see the premium channel content (HBO, Showtime) on the season it airs (this is the only one that bothers me, but we’re very close to a resolution), this plan very well could work for you.  This is the future of TV and it is much less expensive and easier to implement than you might think. Are you ready?

Here’s the dirty little secret the cable companies don’t want you to know.  There are a ton of HD TV signals broadcast right now in your house.  You likely just don’t have a way to pick them up. Enter the HD antenna.  Once an expensive item to own can now be had for $30-$40 and they work really well; at least in my house near the Atlanta area.

Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna

I’ve highlighted two of them here.  I purchased the Terk antenna and my TV instantly found 51 channels, twenty of which are viewable and ten of which I will actually probably watch – those being the major network broadcasts and a few ancillary ones. But it’s plenty for me. I use the Leaf Paper Antenna in my basement and it works great too.  This is a laminated piece of paper that works as an HD Antenna.  It’s mind blowing how good it is.  Read the reviews on Amazon.

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna


Also note, they came out with an amplified version.  I don’t have experience with it, but it’s worth a look. AmazonBasics just came out with this $20 paper thin HD antenna that looks like a copy cat of the Leaf at a fraction of the price. For $20 this is definitely worth a look, plus you can upgrade it to reach up to a 50 mile range.

You won’t know how good these will work until you try. Where you live is a huge factor but you can check www.antennaweb.org to find out how far you are from a broadcast tower and determine what direction to face your antenna.I was blown away.  You may be too.  The quality is fantastic, in some cases better than my clunky HD cable box, and it only goes out when the weather is bad.  That’s really the only downside.  Give it a try.

Once you have the HD antenna set up, you will need some on-demand content to supplement the live feeds.

hulu-plus-free-trial
Thanks to three key services right now – Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime (this one gets you free 2-day shipping too, Music streaming and some Kindle books), you can get virtually all the TV shows and movies any normal personal could consume, and much more.

Each of these services cost about $7 a month for streaming content, so you can get all three for $21/month (1/5 of what I was paying for cable), which is what I did, and then see if you really are missing anything. (Get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime here)

Roku 3500R Streaming Stick


There are many options for streaming devices.  The Playstation 3/4 or Xbox are both amazing.  For $50 you can get a Roku, which is a super small but massively powerful device that can bring you all this content.  I have both of those and then added a WD TV Streaming device which adds DLNA server functionality (which I’ll get to later). The cost is minimal for what you get and it’s a one time investment.

ANOTHER TIP: if you have a smartphone or tablet, check for apps from many of the major TV networks.  Many of them have apps, and stream their content, and they do it for free.

simple HDMI connector can plug it right into your TV.  NOTE: I watched the Superbowl this way.  The app stream had a live Twitter feed on one side of the screen and a choice of multiple camera angles on the other.  Cable can’t touch this…(note on the HDMI connector listed above.  I know they are more expensive, but I highly recommend using Apple branded cables for the iPad.  They just work better and more consistently than the generics).

Get a networked attached hard drive.
Here’s a sleeper many people don’t know about.  Are you using a gigantic hard drive to store your content and back up your files?  Does it connect to your router?  If not, you’ll be jazzed as heck to learn that you can scoop up a new networked hard drive from sizes ranging from 1TB-3TB for under $100.

WD My Cloud 2TB Personal Cloud Storage


I didn’t even realize all the benefits when I bought one. But these new ones have personal “clouds” built in and will stream music, photos and videos right to your aforementioned streaming device.  Have family visiting? Bring up all your photos in a nice slideshow right on your big screen.  Having a party?  Stream all your music right through your TV.

On the go? Some network hard drives, such as those from Western Digital even include mobile apps that connect to your drive (and your cloud) and let you access files from anywhere.  It’s amazing technology.  Please look into it.  You won’t be disappointed.I keep everything on here now and serve up the files to every TV in the house along with app-connected devices.  My Western Digital streamer will even allow me to stop a movie in the basement and resume it in the bedroom.  This new “personal cloud” may be better than the corporate-run clouds everyone’s pitching nowadays.  (I do love Dropbox though).

The latest bad boy on the block: ASUS RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 Dual Band Gigabit Router

Upgrade your wireless router.

I upgraded my wireless router to the fastest one I could find.

Based on CNET tests and some research, I opted for this Linksys router.  It’s blazing fast, the wireless coverage is amazing, and it’s throughput is other worldly to support a bunch of streaming devices throughout the house.  It’s not a requirement for any of this, but it can help significantly.  Since I purchased this router technology has continued to evolve and there are even faster ones out now for the same price.  I also upgraded my modem recently and that made a world a difference in streaming to so many different devices around the house.

This is just a tip but make sure you get a receipt and hold on to it for the return of any of your cable boxes and remotes and such. Once you’re gone, you won’t want to deal with the cable companies ever again.

Now you’re ready.

Everything I’ve outlined here is 10X easier to do than you might think at first. It’s a gut wrenching plunge to disconnect a service that has been your best friend for so many years. But it’s time has come. It can’t keep up with technology. So why not put money in your pocket and get tons of the content you want the most. Go for it.

KEEP READING: “A Few Updates From My Original Post

Posted in Cord Cutting
19 comments on “A Simple Guide For How to Cut The Cord on Cable TV and Get More Content for Less
  1. RJB says:

    So do you record programs off the air and store on the hard drive? If so, how do you do that?

    • admin says:

      I do not do that but I believe you can. The easy way is to use Aereo, the new streaming cable provider popping up in certain pockets of the country. Otherwise you would need to run it through a computer with a TV tuner and record, which is a little more involved.

      • Allen says:

        I just started doing research on this today since I am moving and Comcast is our “only” option. It sounds like Aereo is dead. Sling TV sounds like good and offers streaming devices for free or at discounts. The research I did sounds like the best option is to have Sling TV (with HBO in my case) with a Roku, and a Tablo DVR.

  2. Jen says:

    I’m getting a little dizzy doing research on all this “cut the cord” stuff. I have got to start saving money on TV viewing but I’ve got to say, I’m starting to wonder with all the subscriptions, equipment etc, if its going to be cheaper in the long run. I live 60 miles from the city so I’ll need a powerful antenna, $150, new TV (mine is 20+ yrs old) $350, subscriptions to at least 1 viewing service – $20 a month, DSL – $50 a month, that DVR/hard drive thingy $200, and if I want to watch my local sports (MLB), what, another $20 a month? Seriously? How is all this all that much cheaper than what I pay for Directv now? Am I missing something? Please tell me I’m missing something…

    • admin says:

      Given where you live and the requirements you mention, you may be better off staying with cable overall. If you’re streaming TV via Hulu, or Netflix, or Amazon, you don’t really need a DVR since all the programming is on demand. But I would weigh your options and see what works best for you. Cutting the cord might not be right for everyone. Thanks for your note.

    • Pas says:

      Yes, another option that had worked great for me is a private channel in roku. It has local, premium and sports channels so I don’t miss anything from cable and all that for only 15 a month.

  3. Jon says:

    So I am committed to cutting the cord but my head continues to spin. We currently are mostly Apple folks. Have Apple TV. Subscribe to hulu, Netflix, HBO Now. I can stream movies from my desktop Mac through Apple TV (I have a 1TB hard drive connected to the Mac) so I can watch things like home movies, my photos, movies I’ve purchased on DVD that I’ve ripped, etc. Is there some other big benefit of a network hard drive that I don’t already have?
    Thanks.

    • admin says:

      I would say no, there really is no additional benefit because you are pretty much doing it by using your laptop as the networked drive. You just pointed out another good way to it that utilizes the Apple TV and equipment people may already have. Thanks for the note and good luck.

  4. Ron says:

    Hello,
    Wanted to share now that I have been ‘cordless’ for about 3 months as got tired of paying DirecTV 100 a month.
    Went to Walmart and started with regular rabbit ears but that gave me nothing so went back and bought an attic mount
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/20976617?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227015448057&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40880531312&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=78810483272&veh=sem
    Per Antennaweb.org I would pick up about 10 channels but I actually pick up a ton more (see below)
    I also recently bought xbox one part of the reason I chose it over PS4 was it has SlingTV ( I couldnt lose ESPN)
    I already had Netflix, and work from home so my job pays for my internet.
    So bill went from 100/mo to 28/mo and now I dont have to worry about kids watching Kardashians:)
    I am hoping xbox adds DVR function per rumors as I do miss recording TV.

    My channels living in zip 03109
    2.1 PBS
    2.2 World
    4.1 WBZ- CBS
    4.2 Decades
    5.1 WCVB – ABC
    5.2 MeTV
    7.1 WHDH – NBC
    7.2 This TV
    9.1 WMUR – ABC
    9.2 MeTV
    11.1 PBX
    11.2 PBX
    11.3 WOrld
    11.4 @Create
    13.1
    13.2
    21.1 iON Life
    21.2 iON TV
    21.3 qubo
    21.5 qvc
    21.6 hsn
    25.1 Fox 25
    25.2 Movies
    25.3 Laff TV
    27.1 Univision
    27.2 LATN
    38.1 my 38
    44.1 PBS
    44.3 @create
    44.4 PBS Kids
    50.1 IND
    50.2 GRIT
    50.3 GRIT
    56.1 CW56
    56.2 zuus country
    60.1 Telemundo
    60.2 Telexidos
    62.1 Cozi
    62.2 Cozi
    62.3 the works
    66.1 unimas
    66.2 bounce TV
    66.3 get tv
    66.4 Escape
    68.1 ion TV
    68.2 qubo
    68.3 ion Life
    68.4 shop tv
    68.5 qvc
    68.6 hsn

  5. Joseph Talbot says:

    What is the best streaming player for accessing content on multiple tvs. If I use roku3’s in all rooms do I only have to pay once for subscription to sling tv or for each device.

    • admin says:

      I don’t know specifically for Sling, but with most services you pay for one subscription and then log in with the same account on all devices. There are limits to the number of devices that can share an account, but with three, I think you will be fine. Thanks for the note.

  6. Pas says:

    I have been cordless for the past 6 months and with my roku and a private channel I have more channels than with cable and I only pay $15.

  7. RR says:

    I live in Manhattan and have been trying to get Time Warner Cable’s greedy hand out of my pocket for years. I cut the cable cord in April 2015 but had to keep broadband, at $41 a month, for Netflix and HBO streaming. TWC raised broadband to $79.99 after just five months. A few complaining phone calls persuaded them to knock the rate down to $47. Still, I want these folks out of my life for good.

    Thanks for the suggestion about watching TV via iPhone. Question: How do I avoid the data-overage charges?

    • admin says:

      First off, congrats on cutting the cord and good job knocking the broadband cost down. That’s about what I pay for service each month from Comcast.

      Avoiding data overages on a cell phone is tough. That’s all plan/carrier dependent but I think there are some carriers that will offer more or even unlimited data on some of their plans.

      Data overages on broadband are becoming a whole new animal to deal with. See my note about what Comcast is trying to pull in Atlanta: http://icutcable.com/?p=150
      – Andrew

      • RR says:

        Thanks for you reply — and nice article. I’ll be looking out for the data overage charges. And whatever else TWC has brewing.

  8. Brian W Cuddyer says:

    I currently use dish it costs about $120 per month I have five TVs in my house The hopper three Joeys and dish anywhere for the PC it’s in a remote area I pay $75 a month for Cox cable

    I watch a lot of network television from the DVR and buy sports package for my teem baseball and basketball that are out of California where I am How should I cut the cord

    • admin says:

      Given the specialized sports it would be difficult to do. You might be good w the current setup you describe.

  9. WantToCutCable says:

    Nice article, but it does not address my number one concern: internet speed and internet access.

    I currently get internet through my cable provider. I am not happy about it, but they are the only ones that offer speeds like 25 MB, 35 MB or 50 MB and higher download speeds and no data caps. This includes wifi.

    I have looked online to try to find internet providers in my area. It boils down to two cable companies battling each other and so fairly equal on price, or going with a satellite internet provider with their data caps and low speeds, and very few other options even though I am in a major city.

    Most cable companies seem to have a monopoly on local internet. There are very few options, even DSL or other, although DSL is extremely slow even where it is available.

    The whole situation is very discouraging. Currently I get TV, a phone with unlimited minutes, internet and wireless all from the same provider. I see no way to get all of these services from different providers for less money.

    Also, the online sites that list internet providers in my area are very inaccurate, which makes research more difficult.

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