A couple of weeks ago a friend was over at my house and he said to me ,“I get the idea that cable is kind of crappy, but why go through all that hassle just to save a couple of dollars?” I couldn’t believe my ears.
Just a few dollars? Are you kidding me? You can cut the cord and save money – way more than just few dollars – by ditching cable and satellite. It was this common misconception that inspired me to write today’s post, where I’m going to break it down for you, dollar for dollar, how much cheaper and effective it is to cut the cord. Let’s get started.
Cable vs. Cord-Cutting
For the sake of this argument I’m going to use Comcast as the baseline for most cable companies. Comcast is everywhere, and it’s often the only option many Americans have. Now the cheapest cable package you can get from Comcast is the Digital Starter Package, which runs for about $45 for the first year; and jumps up to between $55-$70 depending on your area and their petty whims.
For 12 months with their basic package, you will spend $540 for the first year and anywhere between $660 and $849 for the second year. Let me just remind you that that is only for 80 channels. We’re not talking premium channels or sports packages. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s less than ideal. Now let’s see how much the alternative is.
Over-the-Air Antenna + Streaming = All You Need
First let’s get to the free stuff. You will be surprised by how many of your favorite shows come on Network television. Anything that’s on ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, or FOX can be accessed completely for free by using an Over the Air antenna. (If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically the rabbit ears of the 21st century. The Mohu Leaf 30 Indoor HDTV Antenna is one of the most popular and the best-rated antennas on the market and will cost you $39.99.)
Next, let’s assume you have no streaming devices except your computer and maybe your phone and that you want to watch stuff on your TV. So you go and buy a Roku streaming device. For simplicity’s sake let’s say you bought the cheapest one, the Roku 1; which will cost about $50-$55 depending on where you get it. So right now our total cost is around $86.
After you purchase your streaming device, you run home and sign up for all the wonderful streaming programs available. Netflix winds up costing you $8.99 a month / $107.88 a year; then you sign up for Amazon Prime and pay $8.25 a month / $99 a year. I would include Hulu Plus into the mix, but since there is not much you can get off of Hulu that you can’t get off of the other two, it’s a bit redundant. If you’re interested, though, Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month / $95.98 a year. Our total price is now approximately $292.87.
How to Access Shows Not Broadcast Over the Air
Most, if not all, of your favorite shows can be found through Over the Air broadcasts, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. There are some shows that slip through the cracks on these plans, but they are not lost to you! For example, The Walking Dead is one of my most favorite shows. Sadly I can’t stream new episodes. Luckily with Amazon Prime, I can catch the new season the day after for $2 an episode OR I can purchase the whole season for $26.99 in standard definition or $41 for high definition. Since we’re going with the cheapest option, we’ll go standard definition. That brings our total to $320. You could actually buy eight more seasons until you caught up with the price of the most basic cable package.
Another show I love is HBO’s Game of Thrones. And great news for cordcutters like myself who love HBO content but don’t love being tied to a cable subscription, they’ve just announced an HBO streaming plan that should launch next year! Since no pricing details have been released, we won’t factor this cost in yet.
Alright, now let’s take a look at our two prices. For one year of cable, you will spend at least $540 for the first year. For one year of cord cutting television you would spend at least $325 (assuming you purchase at least one television show from Amazon Prime). In the second year of having cable, you will spend at least $660. In the second year of cord cutting, you will have spent $240. In the first two years of cord cutting, you will have saved $646. In two years you will have saved enough money to pay for an entire year of basic cable; and the savings will continue to grow every year.
When you think about it, cutting the cord isn’t as complicated as it sounds. You go out, buy two devices, and sign up for two or three streaming services and you’re done. Is that so hard? I don’t think so. No matter how you slice it, cord cutting is a great deal for you. It’s far cheaper than any deal you’ll get at the cable company; and it’ll take you an afternoon at best to get it all set up. I know its hard quitting something you’ve always done; but believe me when I say you won’t regret it. Not only do you have a better selection, but you also save a boatload of money. That sounds worth it to me. What about you?
Dave Kennedy is a long time cord cutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Since then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.