How to Live Without Cable

The black box that sits in almost everyone's living room is filled with endless possibilities for entertainment. It often leaves us in a trance, sucked in to watching more and more. Kels and I have been convicted of this for awhile. It wasn't that we thought cable was bad or a waste of money (even though it is costly), but rather we saw it as a time sucker. It left us wondering what it would be like to live without cable? As with most things in life, cable TV is fine in moderation. But it took us away from other things we wanted to do (blogging, spending quality time together, being outdoors, riding our bikes, etc.) and decided that we wanted to cancel. It came to a point about a month ago when we decided to upgrade our Internet connection and exchange our old modem for a newer one. This presented the perfect opportunity to cancel cable and DVR. And so we did. Here's what we have discovered so far...

Options for Watching TV Shows Without Cable

Watching TV online: There are a number of websites that allow you to watch TV shows online, and we have found Hulu to be one of the best. They carry most of the current TV series and is updated a day or two after they air live. We've also watched shows directly from the network websites (ABC, NBC, CBS).

Equipment: We have a nice 42" Toshiba HDTV (which was a gift) and didn't want it to not be used. We also have a 3-year-old Macbook that we can use to access those websites that allow you to watch TV online. But we needed some new cables to hook them up together and make it happen. We went to the Apple store and had to buy three cables:

  1. Mini DVI to VGA, $20 (similar) live without cable 1
  2. VGA to HDMI, $20 (similar) live without cable 2
  3. A male-to-male headphone cable for audio (we have had this for a few years and it allows us to play iTunes on our laptop through our surround sound speakers) live without cable 3

Netflix: We signed up for one free month of Netflix and are enjoying watching LOST instantly through our Nintendo Wii. This couldn't be easier, although I hope that Netflix Instant grows its library quickly as I feel that it's selection is pretty limited. LOST has consumed all of our TV viewing time currently though, so we haven't checked out much of the movie selection. We added a one-DVD-at-a-time service so we could catch up on Parenthood season 1. We just finished the last disc and have canceled the one-DVD-at-a-time service for now.

Sports: We still need to purchase an antenna so that we can watch live TV on local channels. Not being able to watch live sporting events is a downfall to not having cable, but the big games should be televised on local channels and we will be able to view them live once we get an antenna. I'm leaning toward this RCA ANT1650 flat digital amplified indoor tv antenna. Another alternative is With our upgraded Internet speed we are eligible to use and view live games that are televised on ESPN. Some games are archived for up to a week as well.

There are more options out there such as Apple TV, Roku, etc., but we have not tested any of these.

A Look at the Cost Savings

  • Previously, Internet (3 mbps), cable and DVR used to cost us $132.60/month
  • Currently, Internet (12 mbps) costs us $60/month
  • Netflix Instant is $7.99/month after the free month trial
  • Savings: $64.61/month and $775.32/year

The only downside we have seen thus far is that Netflix Instant is not in HD. But we will take that trade off since we will save $775 a year.

Have we convinced anyone to pull the plug?