Cut the Cable Bill

2 07 2010

Savings – $57 / moth
Lifestyle Adjustment – Medium to High

If you’re like most Americans you pay around $71 per month for cable or satellite television (likely more).  Cable TV is a huge expense for something we are using less and less.  As I prepare to move from a home that has free cable to one without, I am exploring options for cutting the cable all together.

How to eliminate your Cable bill without lowering your viewing options:

1) Netflix – Starting at $8/month Netflix is a great alternative to cable withunlimited streaming from a massive and  growing catalog of television series and movies.  For about $80 $50 you can get a device that connects to any TV to stream Netflix content for free.  Have an XBOX 360*, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, or a computer connected to your television? Then you already have a Netflix streaming device.  Netflix streaming has no ads and is available when you are ready to watch. I don’t even remember what it is like to watch television with ads.

2) Over the Air – Remember how your grandparents used to get TV?  Over the air for free.  That still exists and with the Digital Transition there are more free HD channels than ever before.  If you have a Windows Vista or 7 PC with a TV Tuner you can easily record shows right out of the air and stream them to your XBOX 360 with the free Windows Media Center software.

3) ESPN 3 – Are you a sports fan? has thousands of live and on demand sports including the 2010 World Cup for free**.  If you have a way to connect a computer to your TV then you are all set!  ESPN and Microsoft recently launched ESPN3 for Xbox Live. Thousands of live and on demand events, highlights, and clips in full high definition are available for free. I can watch my local teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the University of Oklahoma Sooners, live or on demand without a cable subscription.

4) Hulu – This joint venture of NBC and Fox offers free online streaming of hundreds of past and current shows from  dozens of networks. Currently Hulu is free on computer screens, but the company offers the service to set top boxes, portable devices, and video game consoles as their $8/month HuluPlus service. In addition to increased device availability HuluPlus subscribers will also have access to full season runs of current shows and a massive back catalog.

The plan for my home’s TV entertainment:

XBOX 360 connected to my network and television
Windows 7 PC w/ TV Tuner connected to DTV antennae

With this setup I will be able to record over the air shows, watch live news/weather, stream Netflix, watch DVDs, and watch ESPN3 and HuluPlus.

Total month fee?

$7.99 – Netflix
$4.50 – XBOX Live Service
$13.49 – Total

Add another $7.99 for HuluPlus when it becomes available and you’ve got a full package!

The long run…..
If you have the average cable bill of $71/month this plan will save you $57.50/month. With those savings the $150 XBOX 360 pays for itself in 3 months plus you have a fully capable gaming device.

For a Windows 7 PC with TV tuner you are looking at around $500.  This isn’t necessary to enjoy the benefits of Netflix and over the air TV, but it gives you the ability to DVR over the air broadcasts.  If you don’t have a Windows Media Center PC with a TV Tuner consider this optional.
* Netflix Streaming on XBOX 360 requires $50/year XBOX Live Subscription.  This is accounted for in the “long run” section.
**ESPN3 is only available to customers of partner ISPs. See if your ISP is included.