Cutting the TV Cable – 3 month update

Three months ago when we moved home from Baltimore to St. Louis, we made the decision not to sign up for cable TV and instead to try to get all our TV content through internet services and the modern equivalent of rabbit ears.

The good news is that the experiment is still working: we are still saving $145 a month on our cable bill and everyone seems to still be happy.  In fact, I was even happier after listening to an NPR article on August 7, 2013 which described the bundling of cable TV packages and even revealed the ‘secret’ prices of some cable channels.  According to the article, the Hallmark Channel costs cable subscribers 6 cents a month.  CNN is 60 cents a month, and ESPN is more than $5.54 a month!  This is almost the cost of a Netflix subscription.  This might be justifiable if you are a sports fanatic, but think of all those cumulative costs of channels that you never watch.

However, going without cable is not without its own costs:

  • We have upgraded to the Mohu Leaf Ultimate HD antenna.  The regular antenna was

    Mohu Leaf Ultimate HD Antenna ($79)

    cutting in and out, but this $79 purchase has made reception of network channels much clearer.

  • We’ve continued to make iTunes purchases: Top Gear for me (I like to watch it on the treadmill), and Doc McStuffins, Night at the Museum, and Epic and the Madagascar series for the kids.  Of course, all of this content can be played on any one of our 3 Apple TVs or 3 iPads.  (Wait, this does sound a little excessive…)
  • I bought the Google Chromecast dongle ($30) to stream the wonderful Google Play Music through the TV.  This service offers so much more than Pandora or Rdio: find a favorite song, choose “Play Radio”, and Google Play Music will play an everlasting stream of songs similar to the one you chose.  My wife has really enjoyed listening to a stream of long-forgotten but soon remembered 80s songs (“99 Red Balloons!”).  However, the Chromecast dongle will stream a few songs to the TV/ stereo system, but then it stops. This is most frustrating and really defeats the whole purpose.  As Chromecast is so limited in what can be streamed, in my view, it is worth spending the extra $60 or so to buy an Apple TV.

Sports-wise, we’ve been happy with our set up.  We were able to see a lot of the US Open tennis, numerous golf tournaments, and we get Thursday and Sunday football games (fortunately, we don’t follow any particular team).  The new antenna works a treat, particularly if no-one moves around the room!  (Not always easy with small kids!)

We’ve also enjoyed some new content including:

  • Orange is the New Black, a Nettflix original series about a preppy woman who does time for getting court up in drug smuggling ten years ago; this is a great drama!
  • Shameless, a long running British drama/soap about a family living in poverty in a rough area of Manchester, England.  The family is ‘headed’ by alcoholic, anarchist, good-for-nothing Frank, played with humor and great pathos by the Shakespearean actor David Threlfall.  We are now in season 4, and as with the case with many British shows, characters come and go pretty quickly (James McAvoy starred in the early series), but all of them are ‘colorful’ to say the least.

I’ve been really surprised by the popularity of these “Cutting the Cable” posts: it seems that many people are really interested in doing it.  Apart from getting slightly plagued by my cable company who can’t understand why we have done this, I would highly recommend it.  Please feel free to ask me any and all questions.

So, if you’re thinking about it, go for it!