How to Watch Television Without Cable Service

There was one good thing about the recession; it made a lot of people think about where they’re spending their money and how they can be smarter about where they’re spending it. Top on that list? Cable television bills. When I was younger, our cable bill was in the neighborhood of $20 a month.

It seemed expensive to me at the time but somehow, over the course of fifteen years, it suddenly seemed reasonable that cable should cost $80 to $100 dollars a month after fees and taxes!?

There’s a better way and many people are discovering alternatives to paying for cable television service.

Keep a television log of how much television you watch and which shows you watch. This will give you an idea of how much you’re spending per show and whether or not you can find those shows for free online. In keeping a television log, I learned that I almost never watched a show live and most of the shows were available online for free (and with fewer, shorter commercials). With a log, you know for sure how much you actually watch, which can be a good or a bad thing!

Considering buying an antenna and pulling television out of thin air. You can use AntennaWeb to find out which stations you will be able to receive along with the type of antenna you’d need to receive it. Antennas aren’t cheap but they’re cheaper than a $100 monthly cable bill with a two year commitment!

Watch television shows online. Almost every network puts their most popular shows online at Hulu.com or their own site. In some cases the shows are available the next day but oftentimes they are on delay and then only available for a limited. For example, Fox won’t put shows online for eight days and then only the last five episodes are available.

Netflix Instant Streaming FTW. The library of television shows available on Instant Streaming through Netflix is staggering. For their cheapest Instant Streaming plan, $8.99, you can watch a virtual buffet of television shows. Anything you could imagine is available from Nip/Tuck to Friday Night Lights, from Penn & Teller’s Bullsh*t to the lone season of Firefly (and it’s big screen sister Serenity). Find a hookup to your regular television, perhaps by way of an XBox360, and you can even watch it on your TV.

There are plenty of options for people who want to cut their cable, those were just a few of the ways you can replace that monthly bill to the cable company. Take those extra savings and help boost the economy! (or you could be boring and put it into a savings account)

Do you have any tips for someone looking to cancel their cable service?

Jim writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com.

Comments

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  1. jano says:

    The only issue with Netflix is that they don’t have curren episodes — only what has already been released on DVD. But still, they’re pretty amazing, and between Netflix and Hulu I can watch pretty much whatever I want.

    (also, the “made for TV” movie Serenity??)

    • NewsMuncher says:

      Though they aren’t up to date, there are enough shows available on Netflix to keep a person entertained for a long time. Only bad thing are those “Luke, I am your father,” moments.

    • Not Given says:

      It was made for theaters they are just being mean about it doing better in DVD sales than it did in theaters. Besides, I’ve seen it on TV and they cut out a lot of the good parts and replace them with commercials.

    • PunditGuy says:

      There are some shows that have current episodes available for streaming via Netflix. I can’t find a list, and it’s completely hit or miss. Each episode in the entire second season of Leverage, for example, was available in HD the day after each episode aired.

    • backinpgh says:

      Won’t work for long. We were watching these channels (called QAM) for a few months, but Comcast is going through city by city and putting filters on all these channels. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  2. CherieBerry says:

    I have an Apple TV, so I just purchase the shows I want, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

    • TuxedoCartman says:

      I’m right there with you. I actually did the math on the shows that I watch, and it turns out that if I BUY them, either on DVD or through iTunes, I’m still coming out cheaper than cable or satellite. Plus I actually own them then, and can rewatch or share as I like. When you add in Hulu and other online services available for watching shows for free… yeah, I’m saving a ton of money a year.

      As broadband availability expands, we’re going to start seeing the end of cable. I’d say in the next 20 years, it’ll disappear entirely.

      • OnePumpChump says:

        That’s probably one reason why broadband is so slow to expand/improve in the US.

      • brianary says:

        It’ll be interesting to see if you still ‘own’ them in 10 or 15 years. Or if you can pass them to your kids.

  3. JollyJumjuck says:

    I don’t live in the US, so my choices are either pay through the nose for cable, or pay a reasonable fee for newsgroup service. I opt for the latter, and get my shows in hi-def and commercial free. When viable alternatives crop up, I will explore them. Until then, I’ll stick with my original plan.

    • Jubes says:

      Use http://www.free-tv-video-online.info! I live in Canada and can’t watch on the American network sites, I’ve never had a problem using that site.

    • Tim says:

      Does your country have broadcast TV? If so, just get an antenna and watch it that way. The US was slightly ahead of the curve with digital broadcast TV, but it might be coming soon, depending on where you live.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        Unfortunately a lot of network TV blows donkeys nowadays. It’s not really that different from cable, just less of it.

  4. 8TrackMind says:

    Unfortunately, I live in Canada. Well, unfortunately as far as online TV alternatives go, although drinking milk out of bags (not the fun kind of bags) is pretty strange too.

    Our most viable option these days is the new Canadian video store recently brought online by Sony through the PSN store on the PS3. They have a wide variety of movies, HD and otherwise, but their TV offerings pale to that in the states. Apple TV is a joke, and Hulu just isn’t available, although now that Sony has hammered out the rights to show shows here online, perhaps Hulu and other sources now have a precedent to site to the CRTC, the governing body that acts as the gatekeeper to content up here. Here’s hoping so.

  5. ravonaf says:

    Our household has been living without cable or satellite for about a year now. We use all the tricks mentioned in the article. The only issue I have with the article is that Serenity is not a made for TV movie. It came out in the theaters.

  6. Kyaa says:

    I’ve tried to get away from paying for TV, but most of the shows I watch aren’t online. But then, i mostly watch documentaries, and the Animal Cops shows on Animal Planet. Nothing popular enough to get put on DVD, but entertaining nonetheless.

  7. weestrom says:

    I’ve been doing these things for about two years now with mythtv and boxee in the mix to have better than tivo dvr and web streaming on my bigscreen.
    My only quibble with the article is that Serenity was in no way made for tv, I (as a loyal Browncoat) went to see it at its theatrical release.

    • marc_swingler says:

      I’ll second the Boxee idea. I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and love it. I run Boxee on an old desktop pc running WinXP. I’m cheap, so I haven’t sprung for an IR controller yet. So I use Synergy+ as a sort of KVM over IP to control Boxee from my laptop. I’ve also used Boxee Remote and the Kludget Engine before discovering Synergy. There are also Android and iPhone apps to control Boxee. Anyhow, I’ve linked my Netflix account to Boxee, and have access to plenty of other content. It’s not a complete replacement for cable, but it’s as close as it gets for now.

      Boxee: http://www.boxee.tv/
      Synergy+: http://code.google.com/p/synergy-plus/
      Boxee Remote: http://lot49.org/dev/
      Kludgets: http://kludgets.com/

  8. Derp says:

    Is there a way to stream Hulu onto your tv?

    • andyross says:

      Hulu is looking into expanding to other devices. The PS3 and Sony Bravia were mentioned in an article I read. It might be limited to Hulu Plus ($$$) users.

    • The Marionette says:

      If you have a laptop or pc with svideo (or any other form of getting pc/laptop display to show on ur tv) then you can do it like that. My friend’s got a 40in tv he uses as both his tv and pc monitor so anything he would watch online (hulu for example) he just watches on his tv.

    • Michael says:

      Yes, you can stream Netflix through your PS3. I also believe you can stream it through an Xbox 360 but you have to pay for an Xbox Live membership.

    • backinpgh says:

      Use the program PlayOn in combo with an Xbox 360 or other game system and you can stream Hulu (and other stuff) to your TV.

    • LastError says:

      Yep. I use a $100 WDTV Live device connected to the TV. It pairs up with Playon running on a PC. Does Hulu, Netflix, etc.

      For me the shows I want aren’t on any of those services -but it does work.

    • MSUHitman says:

      Currently the Play On software is the only way to do it without hooking up a computer to your TV and doing a lot of technical stuff. Hulu Plus is coming to the PS3 sometime soon and the 360 next year.

    • Powerlurker says:

      I run a DVI->HDMI cable from my computer to my TV. Cost me $5-7 from monoprice.

    • marsneedsrabbits says:

      My husband hooked a computer to our flat panel and runs Hulu through the desktop app available on the Hulu website.
      I prefer to log into Hulu through the browser on the same computer. Either way is awesome and results in more programming than either of us could ever watch.

  9. Nathan says:

    The vast majority of TV that is watched in my home is, alas, not available via any of these methods.

    Also, Serenity was not a made for TV movie. It was released in theaters nationwide.

    • pot_roast says:

      Agreed. That’s how we are. We watch a lot of Discovery Health and the Science Channel HD. (Unrwapped is great!)

      Torrents are worthless because then I have to spend even more time hunting down the torrents and shuffling files around. This is something the wife simply does not want to do herself. torrent RSS feeds often go stale (or disappear altogether) and haven’t been reliable enough.

      it’s been easier to just pay for the damn cable. Our FIOS was $89/mo and now with the Ultimate HD package and $9.99 box rental, it’s $149/mo. So, $50/mo for all of the channels. I see the “omg cable is $100/mo” but our bill isn’t reflecting that. We already had FIOS internet and were cable-tv free but the wife & stepkid complained constantly and I finally gave in. Verizon seems to be aware of this and is bundling things together nicely.

  10. andyross says:

    The big issue with on-line viewing is data caps. More and more ISP’s are putting some form of monthly usage cap on their users. Comcast has a generous 250G. Some smaller ISP’s can cap you at as little as 2-5G, or charge hefty fines for going over.

    Some ISP’s may also impose some form of bandwidth usage limit during peak times. Comcast does it through reducing your packet priority through their routers if you seem to be causing congestion on your node. It’s ‘updated’ every 15 minutes or so.

    • ShreeThunderbird says:

      Verizon Wireless charges a $59.99 access fee for the internet. The data cap is 5GB a month. Usage above 5GB is 25¢ per MB. You would not believe how fast that 25¢ can add up. To “save money” we now have two 5GB accounts which costs less than doubling our data cap. We have no cable available and to many tall trees for an antenna.

    • jason in boston says:

      I downloaded a 4k video last night (engineering sample). 300 gigs for about 90 minutes. I have a Comcast business account for the home. Comcast was brilliant for putting in a data cap from a business sake. From a consumer standpoint, it sucks. In a year or so, people like me will stream 100% of their media. I expect many people to get kicked off Comcast.

  11. Split Cents says:

    I would love to ditch cable, but unfortunately my wife is obsessed with certain shows that don’t make it online (via TLC, Bravo, etc). Our contract is month-to-month with no termination fee. So I’ve been contemplating just dropping cable during the summer months when all of our shows are off… Has anybody done this? You would risk cable prices fluctuating, but would you also be ineligible for any promotional rates if you drop your contract?

  12. keepher says:

    That works only if you don’t live in the sticks and your only source for television is satellite for TV. And satellite for internet since the only source is dial up. Anyone tried the net on dial up lately? And since the amount of downloads is metered it wouldn’t take long to use up the allowance.

    • bigTrue says:

      So, move out of the sticks? The only reason I ever hear from people as a positive benefit involves that is is away from everything and in the sticks. If you’re a tech type who wants high end cable and internet, don’t live in the sticks or be rich enough to pay for the infrastructure yourself and make a donation to the community you live in.

      You can’t live away from everything and still get the same stuff as in the city. It doesn’t work like that.

  13. YarpVark says:

    Serenity made $10 million in its opening weekend… at theaters.

  14. FREAKHEAD says:

    Yes, my wife and I go through this every few years. We walk away for a year then come back for two. Each time we come out of cable land we find more options available. I think this time we may finally stay free of its grip.

    We have Netflix streaming and I have my wife hooked on Hulu through Play On (http://www.playon.tv/playon) which we will soon be replaced by Hulu Plus (I am willing to pay just to gain the ease of use for the family). I have already picked out my new outdoor antenna (replacing our unreliable indoor ones) which will bring in all the locals and our library has a great selection of a DVDs. We are also purchasing a Roku box which will go great with the MLB TV I will be able to afford next season. We also have Red Box as a backup in a real pinch.
    The only thing I will really miss is all my college football. I realize some of those games will be available on ABC, etc but maybe the college channels (Big Ten Network) will come to streaming devices in the future.

  15. loudguitars says:

    Fox puts their shows online the next day. FX is the network that doesn’t put them on for 8 days. They’re corporate siblings, but one’s a broadcast network and the other’s a cable network. And the 5 most recent episodes thing is almost all shows on broadcast TV, not just Fox.

  16. jeff_the_snake says:

    we ditched our fios tv a couple months ago in favor of a connection speed bump. neither my girlfriend nor i miss it especially since we both tend to watch a whole show start to finish through netflix or torrents.

    • bigTrue says:

      Don’t mention torrents as an option here. The morality asshats will start telling you how you’re raping babies and killing nuns with your evil ways. Seriously, you’d think you skullf*cked their mothers when you offer BT as a way to cut cable.

      I, myself, would download a car if I could and figure the corpses of the nuns make fine furniture until the savings from not paying for cable allows me to buy all new stuff. :)

  17. erratapage says:

    The thing I’d miss is the lazy stumble upon of a great show.

  18. dreamfish says:

    Naturally, Consumerist didn’t recommend acquiring TV shows over the internet by less reputable means ;)

    However, it really does surprise me how much TV Americans watch. When I visit friends there, if we’ve been out and return to their place they immediately turn on the TV and leave it on for the rest of the day – seemingly irrespective of what channel or programme is on. It just appears to be second nature.

    .. and when it comes to the number and length of adverts? Comes across to me as watching the commercials channel that is occasionally interspersed with programmes ;)

    • reishka says:

      We’re guilty of it in this house — I’ll turn on the tv for background noise and go about what I’m doing. Most often I keep it on a news channel (I can keep it pretty much on one channel from 9 AM – 1 PM, and then I have to switch), but in the evenings we’ll actually pay attention to things like Jeopardy, and shows we want to watch (Bones, Fringe, House, Castle, etc.). I find I’m more likely to have the tv on if I’m home alone — if my husband is home, unless we’ve been out of the house for half the day I don’t feel a need to have it on.

  19. jayde_drag0n says:

    Everyone who is willing can get away with paying
    Zero for their television
    Technically, it might take a couple of steps, but there is a
    Veritable smorgasborg available to you
    .
    If you know where to look and
    Take the time

  20. aj says:

    I use a program on my computer (Macbook Pro) called Eye TV from Elgato, which works as a DVR from over the air TV using an antenna. It connects to TV Guide online. This gets all the network programming I might want. I also stream Hulu, etc., to the TV using component cables. If I had a newer TV, I’d be using HDMI.

  21. MurKam says:

    All of these suggestions work as advertised, but remember that you need a high speed connection for the Internet streaming video. We have FIOS and a Dell Zino hooked via HDMI to a 42″ Panasonic plasma TV. The online video is every bit as good as DVD. Also note that we are (seriously) “getting along in years”–so now you have proof that it is possible even for old foggies to get connected and save tons on money.

  22. ferndave says:

    To each his own, but I still don’t understand the move to completely ditch cable (or satellite). There is a fair amount of programming that isn’t available anywhere (legal or illegal) than through cable. If money was that tight, I’d still keep a basic subscription and supplement with other sources.

    • Beeker26 says:

      It all depends upon how much value you place on that extra content. Sure there is a ton of stuff you can only get on cable, but is it worth the $40+ a month to see? Or is it just all filler crap that you can live without and do something else with that $500 a year? There is absolutely no shortage of free content out there to watch.

    • jason in boston says:

      What can’t you find online? I have been able to find everything except HGTV stuff online via less than reputable means (although where I have my server setup, it is 100% legal).

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Local news, but with the digital switch, mostly it should be available by Antenna unless you’re in an extremely rural area.

        • jason in boston says:

          Don’t most people who cut cable put up an antenna?

          Also, OTA has a much higher bitrate than cable. Local stations over the air is actually enjoyable. None of the compressed signal that Comcast gives you.

          • frank64 says:

            Yeah, just the basic cable only bring in what I could get on OTA, so that would not be smart.

      • ferndave says:

        Like you said HGTV, but off of the top of my head, lots of FoodNetwork, all local sports except football, and non-Bordain/MvF Travel Channel.

        Not to mention the convenience factor. I’ve tried many avenues to get programming, but nothing will ever compare to turning on the TV. The less reputable means can be a pain and most people aren’t willing to deal with it. At some point, all that time and effort isn’t worth the savings. It is only tv after all.

        • jason in boston says:

          I have a ZBOX running boxee. I have a server in the spare room that connects to another server overseas that automatically downloads any show I want – minus Hulu shows.

          I would argue that I have more shows and movies that On Demand can even dream of.

          • jason in boston says:

            The time commitment to set everything up was about a weekend and then about an hour a week to maintain. Is that worth a $1200 savings a year? To me it is.

  23. leprechaunshawn says:

    Am I the only one getting sick of reading these “cut the cable” stories? A google search (or you could Bing! it, if that’s how you roll) for “how to watch tv without cable” yielded about 47,500,000 results for stories just like this. Plus they all offer the same advice – Get an antennae, watch shows online and stream Netflix. Nothing groundbreaking about that advice! Also, none offer a viable alternative for being able to watch sports other than go to a bar for sporting events. If I went to a bar everytime I wanted to watch the Brewers or Yankees play I’d be spending enough money at the bar to have every channel DirecTV has, TWICE!!

  24. Kodai says:

    2 other possibilities:

    eztv.it

    work for the cable company and get free (or nearly free) serivice.

    2 year commitment??? you are thinking of sattelite, not cable.

  25. kimdog says:

    In NYC, there is another option. Even if you don’t have cable service, if you have a cable that is actually connected to the system, you will get all of the broadcast channels plus a few other goodies clear as a bell for free. I have never paid for cable in NYC, and when I moved in with my boyfriend, he stopped dropped his Time Warner cable service. This has worked at four different apartments. But just buy screwing the cable into the back of the TV, we get all four networks, CW, UPN, TBS, Food Network, ION, C-SPAN, two different PBS channels, WLNY, three different spanish language channels, and four NYC public access channels (on which you will find insane programming, especially at night). That’s more than enough TV for me, and the few other shows we like to watch we either watch online or through netflix.

    • backinpgh says:

      PS And we were getting TONS of channels…Food Network, HGTV, Discovery, TLC, basically all the “extended basic” channels. If you check forums online you will see how people started to lose all those channels one city at a time.

  26. sjb says:

    How to save on your TV bill? Put the TV into the recycle bin.

    Its going onto 15 years now from the day I just cut the cable. I got the cable bill one day and while looking at it I just said enough.
    - no more commercials
    - no more biased news reporting
    - no more of brain numbing TV shows
    - no more more of the endless flipping of channels looking for something worth watching

  27. PsiCop says:

    OK, for everyone who thinks I can watch what I want to watch, without having cable or satellite, please tell me how I get the Red Sox (carried by cable channel NESN) or all UConn games (football and most men’s basketball are carried by the various ESPNs), if I’m not hooked up?

    Go ahead and figure it out.

    Oh, and don’t suggest MLB.tv or ESPN360. I can only get those with a broadband Internet connection, and where I live, that’s only provided by (you guessed it!) the cable company. I have to use them, no matter what.

    Please, can we finally end the fiction that you can watch “anything you want” without cable/satellite hookup? It’s just not true of all programming, and it isn’t true for all consumers. Repeating this mantra ad nauseam can never magically make it true. Just stop with it already!

    • sponica says:

      I see your in market interest, and raise it to being a Met fan in Red Sox Nation and a Jet fan in Patriot territory. While I have NO interest in watching every Met game…I do like watching the football games, which usually leads me to the NFL sunday ticket sports bar.

      I did price out the MLB package and it was insanely expensive….

    • partofme says:

      If you have access to a VPN at an organization who is serviced by the cable company, you can get ESPN360. Now, that certainly doesn’t solve all of one’s sports programming problems, especially if you’re a hockey fan, but it’s a start.

      • PsiCop says:

        I get ESPN360 for free through my cable provider (Charter). And a good number of UConn games are carried on it. The problem is that any games which are carried on the main ESPN channels, are not always simulcast on ESPN360. Some of them are … but some aren’t. There doesn’t appear to be any consistent logic behind this, but that’s just the way it is.

    • jason in boston says:

      Fine…i’ll be that guy. Put this search term into the google: “torrentstream redsox”. Poke around that forum. I haven’t missed a sox game yet.

      • jason in boston says:

        And if you want to keep legal, turn off uploading on your appropriate ports.

        • PsiCop says:

          Don’t worry, I’m not torrenting.

          • Gunner says:

            There’s also http://www.atdhe.net or channelsurfing.net- both of which are how I saw all of my World Cup games online when they were only on ESPN otherwise, and they also have a long sports lineup. Even if you want to watch WNBA games, they’re on there live.

            As for your cable company/broadband dilema- I had to deal with that a few years back as well. Keep the basic cable if you have to- no one is suggesting you avoid cable like the plague, just that you get familiar with the options you have and not feel the need to give Comcast more than they deserve.

      • PsiCop says:

        Illegal downloads are not the cure.

        • jason in boston says:

          It isn’t the download that is illegal – it is the uploading. See the Hurt Locker case, the MPAA cases, and the RIAA cases. What did Joel get sued for? Distribution. Just downloading has not been brought to court yet.

        • laffmakr says:

          You didn’t specify legal means in your challenge.

  28. ap0 says:

    I only pay for Internet and basic (local channel only) cable from Comcast. My bill is $60/mo. I also have a one disc Netflix plan for $11.99 I think (so I can rent a Blu Ray every once in awhile). Most of my content I get from Netflix, some I download from various non-legal sources if it’s not available on a free site or a reasonably priced subscription site, and the rest is DVRed on my Media Center PC from the local stations. I have plenty to watch and my bill is 1/3 of what it was before I changed my stuff around.

    • reishka says:

      We just did this too, last month. We somehow manage to get the Travel Channel and Bravo somehow, even though we shouldn’t (I was so happy when I saw the Travel Channel! Bravo I couldn’t care less about). We also rent from Netflix, and I have an old laptop running Ubuntu with XBMC hooked up to the TV, so we can use it as a media center or pipe hulu through the TV. I am *LOVING* paying $60 a month versus $130 (for their next tier up of cable…. of which I really only miss TNT, the Food Network, and the DIY channel. Paying $60 for three channels is just… ugh).

  29. Dustbunny says:

    I tried using an antenna — I live in a condo & we can’t have outdoor antennas — & the indoor one was useless. Reception was awful. So I got basic cable for around $13 a month, (which sadly doesn’t include Nickelodeon so now I can’t watch Spongebob). The next “cheapest” option Comcast offers is over $50 a month. WTH can’t we have a la carte cable?? I have no interest in any sports, food or shopping channels but I want my favorite toons back.

  30. backinpgh says:

    For a few months I managed to view ClearQAM channels for free and we only paid for basic cable (in order to get a deal on internet service). Then Comcast filtered all the QAM channels. :( So we’re back up to $100 a month.

  31. backinpgh says:

    Once Hulu is more easily streamable through Xbox 360 (we use Playon now, but it’s still a little cumbersome), we’ll likely cut the cable. But what I really wish is that HBO shows were somehow legally) available online. They have a lot of shows I like to watch.

  32. kindness105 says:

    oh Call your cable company ask for the cancellation department tell that representative they can not help you you need the cancellation department, then tell them you have found a better offer from a competing service ( yes fib) or that you just dont watch enough tv to pay what they are asking and you want to cancel your acct. They will give you a promotional offer, probably for 1 year then you have to do it all over again but it may be worth it!!! If no promotional offer is given (Ive never had that happen) you can always say well I need a little time to be sure and nothing will happen no cancellation.

  33. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    TV? Some people pay for that?

  34. elganador says:

    My biggest issue with all of these “replace cable with…” postings is that they’re great at replacing 1:1 contained programs, but I need to be able to replace CNN, MSNBC, A&E, HGTV. If I could replace these, especially the first two, I’d be able to cut the cord. The SO uses them as background noise during the day while working.

    I know MSNBC had a live stream of what was being broadcast for a while, but I can’t find any info newer than 2000-2001. CNN did too, but they’ve started redoing their shows as either on-demand (with secondary hosts) or podcasts.

    Anybody got a lead on this?

    • tenners says:

      I download Countdown w/Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow show as iTunes podcasts. They’re usually available 3 hours or so after they originally air.

  35. teqjack says:

    Watch television shows online –

    To expand on an earlier post, look up newsgroup, usenet, newsgroup reader [free], and so on.

    I have internet access via local cable provider, but NOT their TV services. I get most (OK, not all are available) TV from Usenet (esp. alt.binaries.teevee, but many others) for about $15/month with a “premium” Usenet service.

    And not just “American Idol” please. I also get shows from Australia, England, even New Zealand. There are other-language shows, French/Spanish/Geman/Netherlands/Swedenm though I do not personally watch them unless English subtitles are provided.

    Also I watch old 1930s-1940s movies: and movies over a year old (2009 or older) are often available.

  36. seishino says:

    Most modern TV’s have VGA input jacks for computers. Most people have an ancient computer kicking around that is too slow for most purposes, but would stream video over the internet just fine.

    The Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 all support streaming Netflix. In the case of the PS3 and Wii, you have to request a free Netflix disk. the Xbox 360 can just download the Netflix application from the dashboard. Hulu premium supposedly will be available on the PS3 by the end of the year.

    Most major ISP’s provide streaming sports online through ESPN3. http://espn.go.com/espn3/ If you can see that site, your ISP supports it. Supposedly Xbox360 support for ESPN3 will be available by the end of the year.

  37. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I wish there was a way to find out if an antenna would bring in signals. Where I live, it’s mountainous and we’re about 90 miles as the crow flies from any local TV transmitters. I think there are translator transmitters about 20 miles or so from here, but I have no idea if the signal could come in. I really don’t want to spend a lot of money on an antenna, coax, etc. just to find out I can get one or two stations. I’d gladly ditch Comcast TV and just keep the internet service if I could get networks over the air.

    Other than that, I’m stuck with Comcast for both TV and internet, with dial up or satellite as the only alternatives. Verizon won’t even consider upgrading our area so we could get DSL.

  38. Donathius says:

    I would go with the Wii or PS3 over an XBox for my Netflix streaming. You’ve gotta pay for XBox live to get the Netflix streaming, but it’s free on the other consoles.

  39. LastError says:

    An antenna need not cost a lot. I paid literally $4 for mine and it pulls close to 40 channels out of the air.

    That’s not a mistake or a typo: almost 40 channels for less than than the cost of a sub sandwich.

    Admittedly I do live close to a major city, and a better antenna might do more but what the heck, it works. Try a cheap antenna first. Go up if you need to, but stay cheap if you don’t need more.

    Alas, I still have DirecTV. There are too many things I watch that aren’t on any of the alternative sources.

    • catnapped says:

      Not around here…maybe can spend $500+ to get around a half dozen channels (can maybe push that up to around a dozen if you include the digital sub-channels).

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I just checked AntennaWeb, and it said no signals for my area. Bummer.

  40. Madcat_Mike says:

    Good news then… Apparently Microsoft signed a deal with ESPN to offer live sports to gold members (if you’re on one of the affiliate service providers here: http://espn.go.com/espn3/affList ). There’s even mention of college football. That’s about all I can add to all this.

  41. Rehab Man says:

    ROKU! ROKU! ROKU!
    For $100 for the Roku and $9 a month for Netflix, I watch an incredible variety of stuff ON MY TV, with more and more being added everyday. I dislike watching TV on my computer monitor,
    These Roku guys need to advertise – every one I tell about this gadget buys one and loves it. Many never new you could watch Netflix on their TV. Of course, if you have a Wii or PS# you can watch it via that, too.

  42. Bohemian says:

    The things we watch that we can’t get on broadcast and i don’t think we can get on the net are our issue. BBC, TCM, Showtime, and some of the USA shows (Burn Notice & Royal Pains). If we could get more of this content online we might cut the cord. Sure we could buy Dexter when it comes out on Netflix or something but you have to wait. This also does nothing for the other 3 sets we have in the house. The kids also watch quite a bit of Nick and Disney and I don’t think any of that content is available online.

  43. MSUHitman says:

    The only thing keeping the cable/satellite companies relevant right now is with all of these different options (I use the Play On software (www.playon.tv) to watch streaming, legal online media on my consoles from Hulu and other sites,) none of them have decent sports coverage. ESPN3.com (if your provider carries it) has limited coverage and no NFL. If you want baseball, you have to get it from your Fox Sports Net/Comcast/YES/etc. regional sports network as MLB.tv does not allow you to watch games from your local market.

  44. Draw2much says:

    We were paying $91 for next tier of TimeWarner’s Cable/Internet pack. Then we figured out we watch almost no cable TV. And what we do watch we can either get online, on Netflix, or just buy the DVD boxset. Now we only pay $43 for our internet. Haven’t missed our cable at all.

    Honestly, most of the stuff on TV isn’t worth watching anyway. And if I can’t find anything online or in our massive DVD collection, I just pull out a favorite book and read that. (I know, I’m pretty boring…)

  45. brinks says:

    When I lost my job, I called my provider and said I was unemployed and needed to cancel my service since I could no longer pay the bill. I have been a customer for over 10 years, so the rep was more than happy to help me find a way to keep my service. I already had a cable and internet bundle, but I downgraded my cable to the second-lowest tier and dumped my premium channels. The rep also hooked me up with an additional $10 off per month for 6 months. I don’t know the mbps (?) of my internet service, but it’s in the middle of all of the speeds offered and I wasn’t willing to change it.

    $40 total for cable and internet. If you live in the Midwest, get WOW (Wide Open West). They’re awesome…and never a subject of Consumerist stories.

  46. baristabrawl says:

    Yeah…I have rabbit ears and we stream a lot of video.

  47. Yorick says:

    In 2001 I realised I was watching three shows on cable, plus Headline News; everything else was on network channels or the local, all of which were basic cable, so I cut it back (easier after one of the 3 cable shows ended). Last fall I moved and dropped it altogether because everything I wanted to see was available on the internet one way or another – and, most shows were available up to 5 weeks after airing, so I could watch in marathons (which is my preferred way of viewing anyway). The only difference I’ve noticed is being slightly less informed, lacking access to televised news. There’s probably a source for that, too, if I look for it.

    It does help to have a computer that’s fast enough to handle the video.

  48. gman863 says:

    The FCC should force cable and satellite providers to offer customers an option for a basic service fee plus “a la carte” channels. I subscribe to a few magizines I like; why should I have to pay for 200+ TV channels if I only watch ten?

    The NFL Network, MLB Network, Disney Channel, FOX News, The Oprah Channel and others I don’t watch can suck it. If customers could pick and choose it might make many channels more affordable since the network can’t make it an all or nothing deal.

  49. TPA says:

    I went from $68/mo for “basic cable” to an antenna, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon-on-Demand/iTunes. For all of my euro TV (BBC/ITV) there’s torrents. Total cost: $18/mo or so including the on-demand stuff I’m paying for. AND, no commercials, can pause it at any time, etc. If I were a cable company, I’d be crapping my pants over this.

  50. smo0 says:

    I hardly know anyone (who isn’t a sports fan) with cable tv these days.

    I never got into the sports thing but something is up if you spend 100 bux a month to watch ESPN, honestly – there are sooo many pubs, bars and restaurants out here that play at least 4 different channels or games on flast screens mounted on the wall… you should reconsider….

  51. Pax says:

    For us, well, it’s either Cable TV, or lose all the shows we give a hoot about.

    History, Discovery, SciFi, Animal Planet, Food Network, Gameshow Network, National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon …

    *shrug*

    $100/month is painful, yeah. But the alternative (go stark raving mad with boredom) is worse.

  52. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Everytime I move somewhere, I plug in a coaxial cable and I’m good to go with basic cable.
    Comcast is a POS and we have had so many issues with them with internet. So I don’t feel guilty at all.

  53. brianary says:

    If you hook up a computer to your TV, you can get some combination of: MythTV/XBMC/Freevo, Netflix, Boxee, hulu Desktop, Windows Media Center, Zinc, Kylo, plus Steam games and Google Earth.

    If you’ve got a current-generation console, Netflix has you covered, and you can ‘purchase’ shows (DRM-laden, non-transferrable, no backups) on the PS3 and XBox360.

    The Boxee box and Android-based Google TV may be coming out within a year (we’ll see), but the Roku is a good option now, as is Apple TV and TVs that have built-in support for some internet content like YouTube.

  54. ChemicalFyre says:

    This seems to be a common question: How do I hook up Hulu to my TV?

    You’ll need to find a way to connect your computer to your monitor or TV. Most of the time, LCD TV’s have VGA, DVI, or HDMI Inputs, and you can literally just swap the cable. Most of the time. DVI to HDMI adapters are available…don’t buy Monster cables and don’t buy them from best buy.

    If you have an older TV that has component video, S-video or Coaxial input, you’ll need an adapter box. Remember the RF-switch that came with your old Nintendo? Yeah, you’ll need something similar.

    From experience, its not worth it to send video to an old-style TV.

  55. SugarMag says:

    How about just not watching TV?

    Twice in my life I’ve been without a TV for a year or longer…and one stretch with a TV that didnt get channels but I kept around to watch DVDs. It is amazing what you believe you dont have time getting done when you dont watch TV.

    My free cable channels disappeared a few weeks ago after telling Comcast for five years I was getting them as unpaid. It’s been a favor to me, really.

  56. perfectly_cromulent says:

    this is what i have done, and it’s totally worth it. plus, you can then just watch all the shows you want in one gloriously lazy night!

  57. codeman38 says:

    Once again, I’d gladly cut the cable if half the content that were captioned on TV were available in that form online. It’s not nearly as enjoyable when I have to keep rewinding and rewinding and rewinding just to make out what a particularly mealy-mouthed character has been saying.

    At least Hulu’s made some strides there, but iTunes and Netflix streaming are still leaving me out in the cold.

  58. SilentMountain says:

    Hook a Mac Mini up to your TV. It comes with a remote control, and is dead simple to use. Then use Hulu, Plex, Boxee or Clickr to tune in your programming, including Netflix streaming. Of course, if you use cable internet, you won’t be able to cut the cord entirely. RemoteBuddy is a huge help in getting the whole 10′ experience tied together.