Author Topic: Cutting Cable  (Read 20572 times)

Scizzler

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Cutting Cable
« on: June 08, 2012, 12:58:16 PM »
I finally got around to canceling our cable tv and phone service today. I thought it was going to be a hard-sell with my wife, but after hearing her say for the umpteenth time, "There's nothing on TV", the conversation went suprisingly well. We had initially signed up for the phone through the cable company to have a landline in case of emergencies, but we discovered it was basically an overpriced VOIP. We're keeping the internet service, which should enable all the Netflix, Hulu and Amazon videos we could ever want. Still, I'm hoping this is the first step to doing something more productive with our evenings. Total savings? About $75 a month.

In other good news my wife gets a company cell phone this week, and since we paid for our phones I'll be calling our cell phone company to reduce the phone plan to just my line. I'm leaning heavily towards going pre-paid, but it will depend on if I can continue to use my fancy-pants smartphone at a reasonable price. This should save another $50-$60 a month.

Put this one in the 'W' column in the war against inflated living expenses. For everyone who has already cancelled their cable, what has been the best part so far?


KittyWrestler

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 01:15:41 PM »
Congratulations on taking this great step!!!

 You will discover you don't really need to watch TV.. There is ton of other things to do at night. Kind of opens up a lot of possibilities.. Might even engage a lot more productive conversations between the couples.

I do a lot of housework chores at night since I work full time.. So my weekend is not burdened with housework. I also use the night time to prepare for next day's dinner so we can get to dinner table at reasonable time... Then I study whatever the topics I want to study or hang out with hubby discussing politics, or whatever.. It feels FREE.. really.. its a good thing not to have TV.. He still watches some shows.  I have detached from TV long ago, but I haven't successfully convinced my partner yet.. still working on it..

dancedancekj

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 01:23:56 PM »
Having a landline cable TV service is totally for chumps. The way I see it, you're basically paying twice for the same service if you have internet.

grantmeaname

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 01:26:08 PM »
I've been going without cable (though not without TV) this year with my whole mess of college-town roommates. Unfortunately, Hulu may start requiring a cable subscription to be viewable, like ESPN's internet video service does now. Then again, that story is now over a month old and nothing's happened on that front, so maybe not. There's still Netflix and free OTA broadcasts if Hulu does go away...

strider3700

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2012, 01:28:35 PM »
best part about cutting cable was when the cable company called and gave me better internet, better long distance and a free year of better cable then I had, plus a free HD PVR rental  for less then I was paying for just internet and phone  if I agreed to sign up with no contract.   12 months later when the free year was almost up I cancelled again going back to just internet and phone.

 1 month later they called again.  Better phone, better internet for less then I was paying,  free year of cable this time not HD and $100 visa gift card.  I didn't even bother to hook the cable up this time, I just accepted the gift card and put the cable box on a shelf.  In 5 more months I cancel again.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they offer me to come back next time.

MrSaturday

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2012, 01:34:43 PM »
The best part of cutting the cable was when I realized I get much higher quality HD video from a $40 antenna than I ever did from overpriced cable or satellite service.

Scizzler

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2012, 01:43:33 PM »
I'm hoping that not having TV will encourage my wife to do a few more things around the house during the week. Not saying she isn't busy or doesn't get things done, but I discovered this week that she prefers to use the weekends to catch up on household chores. On the other hand, I like working a little every night and having weekends free for relaxing or bigger projects. Without the 900 channels of junk on TV to distract us we may get a little more done.

Prepping for the next night's dinner is a great idea. We currently cook all of my lunches on Sunday night, but we could be smarter about dinner.

I bought a decent digital antenna for OTA local TV which should suffice for local news if we need it. What I'm really looking forward to actually dedicating some time to reading all the books that pile up around the house (and on the kindle)!

Lavender

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 01:18:35 PM »
We watch relatively little TV. The programming we do watch is mostly available on the 'bunny ears' channels - PBS for the kids, a couple of primetime shows on CBS or NBC. We average about an hour a day of TV. However, we do have a DISH network subscription because my husband *needs* his MLB/NFL/NBA fixes. We pay extra for these during the seasons, then drop those channels for the rest of the year. But, to do that, we end up paying $50 a month for the 'basic' cable package so we have the option of adding in those channels when he wants them. I feel something should be done - that is just too much money! I've done some research but don't see any feasible options for live sports programming other than cable. Any recommendations or suggestions?
(No, asking my husband to quit watching sports isn't an option :))

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 05:31:17 PM »
We watch relatively little TV. The programming we do watch is mostly available on the 'bunny ears' channels - PBS for the kids, a couple of primetime shows on CBS or NBC. We average about an hour a day of TV. However, we do have a DISH network subscription because my husband *needs* his MLB/NFL/NBA fixes. We pay extra for these during the seasons, then drop those channels for the rest of the year. But, to do that, we end up paying $50 a month for the 'basic' cable package so we have the option of adding in those channels when he wants them. I feel something should be done - that is just too much money! I've done some research but don't see any feasible options for live sports programming other than cable. Any recommendations or suggestions?
(No, asking my husband to quit watching sports isn't an option :))

Won't do much good for the NFL games, but a Roku box and a decent broadband connection will give you MLB and NBA games. Of course, MLB.tv is the only half-way reasonably priced of the two at $85 for the season, if you can call that reasonable. This last year, the NBA wanted $180 for their broadband League Pass. Of course, the NFL is scared of technology and piracy, so it's only two out of three. If he cares, the NHL does streaming packages as well at $80 a season and hockey's just as violent as football. Prices are insane in my opinion, but they must be cheaper than the Dish equivalent and attending live games. Of course, if you live in a market where you care about the team and they're locally broadcast, there's always the rabbit ears and the sports news feeds the next day.

I like a good baseball or hockey game just as much as the next guy, but I still think he needs to be punched in the face (MMM style) for wasting so much money and time watching sweaty, overpaid men play with balls (not to mention for financially supporting greedy, litigious, giant corporate conglomerates that take in obscene amounts of money for the sole purpose of destroying men's lives for the sake of "entertainment", but that's more an ethical argument)... but that's just me.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 05:37:28 PM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2012, 08:36:42 PM »
Sports is the only hole in the cutting cable plan as far as I'm concerned. I am a huge college football junkie and I dabble in NFL...ESPN3 on the Xbox is an option for college football (would have to pay yearly XboxLive fee), especially if combined with over-the-air ABC, but ESPN3 doesn't always carry the primetime ESPN game. WatchESPN doesn't have this problem, but I believe you need to be paying for a cable package with ESPN in it...Thus defeating the purpose.

Am I right or is there a way to get WatchESPN/something else to fill the void?

Lavender

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2012, 09:43:56 PM »

I like a good baseball or hockey game just as much as the next guy, but I still think he needs to be punched in the face (MMM style) for wasting so much money and time watching sweaty, overpaid men play with balls (not to mention for financially supporting greedy, litigious, giant corporate conglomerates that take in obscene amounts of money for the sole purpose of destroying men's lives for the sake of "entertainment", but that's more an ethical argument)... but that's just me.

Awesome!! I completely agree. I come from a Commonwealth country and cricket and tennis are my sports of choice. I Just Do Not 'get' football. I don't even know why it is called football!

In my husband's defense, I think NFL is most dispensable. I'll pitch the Roku idea, we'll see. We both agree that living frugally and environmentally is the right thing to do, though he often needs a bit more nudging (punching?).

What about tennis? Just the Grand Slams, not every tour. And, those of you who have already cut cable, how would you watch the Olympics?

grantmeaname

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2012, 07:48:57 AM »
NBC owns the US rights to broadcast the Olympics. For the three or so events I want to watch, I assume that they'll be on my local NBC affiliate, which gets broadcast OTA (if you don't know it, you can find yours with your state's equivalent of this page).

Edit: Here's the NBC tool for finding what's playing. Way cool.

Edit2 (I'm learning so many things today!): My local affiliate really has pretty awful coverage-- like 10 events the entire summer. You can access almost any event online but only if you're a current cable subscriber. So it seems like you have to either have cable or borrow a friend's cable account number to use the online video services (that's morally dubious, maybe, but I don't have a huge problem with it).
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 07:59:13 AM by grantmeaname »

James

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2012, 09:00:34 AM »
Best part of cutting cable?  The money.  We didn't watch much TV, so it really wasn't a big deal cutting cable for us.  Cutting the land line was the same thing, not a big deal.  Going from Tivo to Netflix didn't change too much, we just adjusted what we watched based on what is available.  Have to say that not having commercials definitely beats having to FF through them, so that was a nice change.


Our mobile phone bill is something that keeps staring at me.  It's something we use daily to it's full potential, so I don't really mind the expense too much, but it is a hell of a lot of money, especially when I think back on how much I have saved on cutting cable/land line over the past few years.  I have a discount through work and then am able to write off what I do pay as a business expense, but it's still tough to keep paying that much on a monthly basis.

Will

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 06:46:04 PM »
I just called DISH last week to cancel our service.  The guy didn't really try to talk me out of it, but he did have a deal where it was all the local channels, plus a few others (Comedy Central, History, MSNBC, and a few others) for $15/month, $20 if we wanted to keep the DVR.  I considered it briefly, then remembered that I had read about others getting calls from DISH after cancelling and getting even BETTER deals than that.  Of course, it makes it hard for them to call us when my partner has a new number which he has never told them about, and I don't think they ever had my phone number in the first place.  Oh well, I think we'll be fine with OTA and hooking the laptop up to the TV for Hulu (while it is still free).

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2012, 08:24:12 PM »
I just called DISH last week to cancel our service.  The guy didn't really try to talk me out of it, but he did have a deal where it was all the local channels, plus a few others (Comedy Central, History, MSNBC, and a few others) for $15/month, $20 if we wanted to keep the DVR.  I considered it briefly, then remembered that I had read about others getting calls from DISH after cancelling and getting even BETTER deals than that.  Of course, it makes it hard for them to call us when my partner has a new number which he has never told them about, and I don't think they ever had my phone number in the first place.  Oh well, I think we'll be fine with OTA and hooking the laptop up to the TV for Hulu (while it is still free).

They offered the Dish Welcome Pack, that's normal price and it's available to any subscriber only once. If you get the Welcome Pack and then switch to say Top 120, you can't go back to the Welcome Pack again. The only time they offer limited "cheaper" rates is when they sucker you into another two year contract.

Will

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2012, 08:41:12 PM »
Yeah, I'm glad I said no.  They can take their 2 year contract and stuff it!  Seems odd that they would throw channels in there that we weren't getting in the first place (like MSNBC).  Screw them; I need to find better things to do than watch tv anyway!

keith

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2012, 12:21:54 AM »
NBC owns the US rights to broadcast the Olympics. For the three or so events I want to watch, I assume that they'll be on my local NBC affiliate, which gets broadcast OTA (if you don't know it, you can find yours with your state's equivalent of this page).

Edit: Here's the NBC tool for finding what's playing. Way cool.

Edit2 (I'm learning so many things today!): My local affiliate really has pretty awful coverage-- like 10 events the entire summer. You can access almost any event online but only if you're a current cable subscriber. So it seems like you have to either have cable or borrow a friend's cable account number to use the online video services (that's morally dubious, maybe, but I don't have a huge problem with it).

It really upsets me that NBC will be broadcasting the olympics online, but you can only watch it if you have a cable subscription.

I may try and hunt down an OTA antenna thing for the summer games.

sideways8

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 01:20:35 AM »
The best part about not having cable (aside from the dollars) is that I don't miss it. There is not a void in my life from having to wait a bit longer to see new episodes of Archer. That just means more time for me to read, clean, play with my dogs, practice piano and violin, read the MMM blog... Plus people have mostly learned not to talk to me about "Random Shitty Reality Show" to me because my response is always "Sorry, I've never seen that show. I don't have cable."

My other favorite thing is that my boyfriend doesn't have cable, either, and that was totally a turn-on when he first told me :)

grantmeaname

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2012, 06:25:14 AM »
Edit: Here's the NBC tool for finding what's playing. Way cool.
I may try and hunt down an OTA antenna thing for the summer games.

Before you do, make sure you check and see how many events are even being broadcast over the air... our local NBC affiliate has all of four events a month, with the majority of the coverage on the NBC national channel or NBC sports. So for us it wouldn't even be worth it...

LadyM

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2012, 10:10:41 AM »
I just cut cable & tivo, and it's glorious! 

Now we pretty much rely on Netflix.  We don't do much with Hulu, but there are a few things.  For the few must-see shows of mine:  "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad", I'm ok buying the seasons through Amazon Instant Video for $20:  just the shows I want to see and nothing else....no commercials, no crap.

I tried OTA at our house, but reception was terrible.  I got an analog to digital converter plus an antenna, but picked up nothing but junk, not even the main anchor channels of NBC, CBS, ABC....and we live within 30 miles of DC!  For some reason the signal is poor, so I returned the equipment.

I'm toying with the idea of getting a Roku box just to have a few other viewing options (mostly so I can view Amazon Instant Video on my TV and not my computer), but really so far I haven't seen the need.  I can watch it on my kindle fire if I want to, and I'm not paying for any extra devices. 

And for any new movies I want to see immediately: Redbox.


frugalman

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2012, 11:14:18 AM »
We were spending about $230/month on cable and internet and premium channels, and landline phone.  We are now spending $24.99/month.  I installed a DB4 antenna in my attic and we get the local channels in crystal clear HD just fine.  I cut out Tivo, Hulu Plus and Netflix also.  I have a laptop I connect via HDMI cable to our TV so we can catch up on our favorite series using Hulu basic.  Charter internet standard price is $47.99/mo but I found out if you ask, you can get the 3MBS option for only $24.99/month.  I've been running Phonepower VOIP on this setup ($11.50/month all in) but am switching at the end of this month to VoipO which is $6.88/mo all in (2 year prepaid of $165).

We have just gotten used to LESS tv, which is fine with me.  Saves $205/month also.

Somnambulist

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2012, 11:36:59 AM »
Our mobile phone bill is something that keeps staring at me.  It's something we use daily to it's full potential, so I don't really mind the expense too much, but it is a hell of a lot of money, especially when I think back on how much I have saved on cutting cable/land line over the past few years.  I have a discount through work and then am able to write off what I do pay as a business expense, but it's still tough to keep paying that much on a monthly basis.

Same here. My wife and I have a five phone family plan with AT&T with two iPhones on it and it comes to about $200 a month with unlimited (throttled after 3GB) data and texting and 1400 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends (starting at 7 PM), unlimited mobile to mobile and calls to any other AT&T number. The other three phones are normal phones with no data plans for my folks, her folks, and my grandmother and only cost about $12 each per month to ride a long on our plan. It seems like getting prepaid phones to replace these wouldn't really come out any cheaper given our texting/calling patterns although I have seriously considered dropping my iPhone.

I am embarrassed to admit how much I love this stupid thing although I try very hard not to be one of those guys who walks around with my nose in it even when I am out with family and friends. A few people have told me an iPad or iPod touch would be a good replacement (I mostly stream movies/music and listen to music and use a handful of tool apps to make music and do quick math / conversions, etc.) but I don't see any point to buying something else to replace a perfectly good device that is doing what I want it to do. At the same time we're paying in the neighborhood of $3600-4000 a year for Cell Phone service and that is obscene. (Hello two brand new kick ass touring bikes...)

The worst part is if you price out the other carriers the prices may look better but when you factor in all of the different fees and the cost of buying a new device it comes out to the same thing. I looked at some of the suggestions on IP.Daley's communications thread and being somewhat heavy users due to work I just don't think this is something I can fix right now.

We did drop our 15MB crappy cable connection for a 6MB DSL connection that actually streams Netflix much better and we're paying half the price. Yay $25 a month savings there. Sort of makes up for the phones I guess. (Not really. The phone bill irks me.)

Fawn

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2012, 09:57:01 AM »
Well, I never cancelled cable, since I never really had it. But if you rephrase the question, what are the best parts about not having a TV for 10+ years, even with youngish kids in the house?

I would say:
1) money saved, both by not needing to pay for cable, or dish or the actual idiot box or the converter box when everyone went from analog to digital
2) money saved by reducing my exposure and exposure of the kids to endless marketing streams
3) but thevery best parthas been raising children with lengthy attention spans who can entertain themselves for hours by reading, playing musical instruments, building couch cushion forts and cool imaginary stuff out of items found in the recycle bin.

Yeah, yeah...there were moments when they were tired and whiney and I was tired and whiney that I wished I could have plopped them down in front of any electronic device that would make them immobile and silent. But we got through those moments and got a nap and we are all the better for it now.

GW

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2012, 10:01:40 AM »
I want to cut my cable because my TV is on probably an hour or two a month at the most, but #$@%#$@&# Comcast has a monopoly in my area, so it would cost me more money to have high-speed internet alone than high-speed internet and cable together. The high-speed internet is necessary for my side hustle. Does anyone have any creative suggestions on how to get around this?

Fawn

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2012, 10:29:07 AM »
I want to cut my cable because my TV is on probably an hour or two a month at the most, but #$@%#$@&# Comcast has a monopoly in my area, so it would cost me more money to have high-speed internet alone than high-speed internet and cable together. The high-speed internet is necessary for my side hustle. Does anyone have any creative suggestions on how to get around this?

Move?

grantmeaname

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2012, 10:35:38 AM »
Look into business class? Share an account under the table with some neighbors?

GW

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2012, 10:38:10 AM »
I might check to see how much it would cost to turn my phone into a WiFi hotspot. Hm, still thinking of ideas.

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2012, 02:19:31 PM »
I didn't realize it until the past few months, but the best thing about not having TV is NO POLITICAL ADS!!!  Was at my folks' house and they had the TV on and every commercial break was filled with politicians and their inane barbs.  Didn't realize how annoying those really are until they were out of my life.  Don't usually hear them on radio either since I listen to CDs/Pandora.  Just another plus, on top of the money savings...

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2012, 03:54:46 PM »
I want to cut my cable because my TV is on probably an hour or two a month at the most, but #$@%#$@&# Comcast has a monopoly in my area, so it would cost me more money to have high-speed internet alone than high-speed internet and cable together. The high-speed internet is necessary for my side hustle. Does anyone have any creative suggestions on how to get around this?

Aye, there's a couple options. First is to look into internet service through Earthlink (same cable, same service, no TV). Second is to look over the relevant post on my communications guide for a few other novel approaches to shave costs elsewhere. Good luck!

GW

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2012, 05:12:36 PM »

Aye, there's a couple options. First is to look into internet service through Earthlink (same cable, same service, no TV). Second is to look over the relevant post on my communications guide for a few other novel approaches to shave costs elsewhere. Good luck!

Thank you for the fantastic resource!

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2012, 08:50:58 PM »
So no one really has an answer for the sports issue. I get it, if I were like many of you and only really watched serials then I'd be good. I do enjoy a few shows (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead), but my main TV consumption is during college football season. ESPN3 on Xbox live is great (and Live Gold is pretty cheap @ $50-70/year, depending on the deal you find), but it doesn't often broadcast the primetime games. Sure, ABC is over the air so you're covered for a lot of those, but some are on ESPN proper.

WatchESPN remedies this problem (I think the only thing they don't show is blacked out local games & Monday Night Football), but from what I understand there's no way to use this unless you're paying for cable. Obviously you can negotiate with someone who has cable to borrow their login or even pay them for it, but this obviously isn't ideal.

Thoughts?

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2012, 10:59:52 PM »
So no one really has an answer for the sports issue. I get it, if I were like many of you and only really watched serials then I'd be good. I do enjoy a few shows (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead), but my main TV consumption is during college football season. ESPN3 on Xbox live is great (and Live Gold is pretty cheap @ $50-70/year, depending on the deal you find), but it doesn't often broadcast the primetime games. Sure, ABC is over the air so you're covered for a lot of those, but some are on ESPN proper.

WatchESPN remedies this problem (I think the only thing they don't show is blacked out local games & Monday Night Football), but from what I understand there's no way to use this unless you're paying for cable. Obviously you can negotiate with someone who has cable to borrow their login or even pay them for it, but this obviously isn't ideal.

Thoughts?

If you're only using the Xbox Live account for streaming video, you need to retire the Xbox and just buy a Roku box. ESPN3 works fine with it as well. Don't know what else to tell you about your sports watching habits other than suck it up and learn to watch and appreciate what you can get for free.

LadyM

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2012, 10:28:45 AM »
If you follow a specific college team, you have some options to tune into a radio or tv broadcast.  Some might be free, some might not be.  Here's a list of SEC teams and online video and audio streams.

http://askville.amazon.com/watch-alabama-football-online-free/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=59013321

I personally don't subscribe to these, but I know they're out there.  I'm sure there's more if you do some digging.  There are also, I believe, a few channels you can pay for on Roku (don't know the price) like NBA and MLB networks....I think even NHL as well.  If you like your local NFL team and can't get games OTA, I suggest you listen to the radio.

HeidiO

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #33 on: June 16, 2012, 09:51:09 PM »
NFL is our sticking point.  I would rather just make a standing Monday night date with friends or at a bar, but I haven't convinced my wife yet.   (My parents had a standing once a week dinner and TV watching night at my grandparent's when I was a kid.) Don't know if that would save or waste more money, but I would find it more fun.  I've also suggested she just work during every game (her office has a big TV they can watch from their desks - supposed to be so they know about weather/crime/disasters but somehow it is always turned to sports or people's favorite sitcoms.)
Heidi

dahlink

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2012, 10:19:57 PM »
I.P. Daley,

  How do you get espn3 on the roku?  Is there a trick?  Thanks again.

So no one really has an answer for the sports issue. I get it, if I were like many of you and only really watched serials then I'd be good. I do enjoy a few shows (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead), but my main TV consumption is during college football season. ESPN3 on Xbox live is great (and Live Gold is pretty cheap @ $50-70/year, depending on the deal you find), but it doesn't often broadcast the primetime games. Sure, ABC is over the air so you're covered for a lot of those, but some are on ESPN proper.

WatchESPN remedies this problem (I think the only thing they don't show is blacked out local games & Monday Night Football), but from what I understand there's no way to use this unless you're paying for cable. Obviously you can negotiate with someone who has cable to borrow their login or even pay them for it, but this obviously isn't ideal.

Thoughts?

If you're only using the Xbox Live account for streaming video, you need to retire the Xbox and just buy a Roku box. ESPN3 works fine with it as well. Don't know what else to tell you about your sports watching habits other than suck it up and learn to watch and appreciate what you can get for free.

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2012, 11:16:36 PM »
I.P. Daley,

  How do you get espn3 on the roku?  Is there a trick?  Thanks again.

So no one really has an answer for the sports issue. I get it, if I were like many of you and only really watched serials then I'd be good. I do enjoy a few shows (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead), but my main TV consumption is during college football season. ESPN3 on Xbox live is great (and Live Gold is pretty cheap @ $50-70/year, depending on the deal you find), but it doesn't often broadcast the primetime games. Sure, ABC is over the air so you're covered for a lot of those, but some are on ESPN proper.

WatchESPN remedies this problem (I think the only thing they don't show is blacked out local games & Monday Night Football), but from what I understand there's no way to use this unless you're paying for cable. Obviously you can negotiate with someone who has cable to borrow their login or even pay them for it, but this obviously isn't ideal.

Thoughts?

If you're only using the Xbox Live account for streaming video, you need to retire the Xbox and just buy a Roku box. ESPN3 works fine with it as well. Don't know what else to tell you about your sports watching habits other than suck it up and learn to watch and appreciate what you can get for free.

My sincerest apologies, I stand corrected and was operating on some dated information. There used to be a couple private Roku channels that allowed ESPN3 access (no official channel), but they have apparently since been discontinued. It appears the only method left now on Roku is via PlayOn, which requires a subscription and a Windows PC running and middle-man streaming the content as well, which runs more expensive than the Xbox Live service. Don't mind me, just chewing on my foot here.

That said, there may be a very cheap work-around for the more brave hacker-DIY types this July via the $49 VIA APC which runs Android 2.3, which means the WatchESPN app should work if you've got an ISP that offers service. The VIA APC is looking to be a game-changer for cheap amateur homebrew HTPC units given the Android inclusion and the abundance of streaming video apps for Android from all the major players that weren't necessarily available via vanilla Linux (on x86 or ARM) for whatever reasons (I'm looking at you, Netflix).

LadyM

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2012, 10:09:18 AM »

My sincerest apologies, I stand corrected and was operating on some dated information. There used to be a couple private Roku channels that allowed ESPN3 access (no official channel), but they have apparently since been discontinued. It appears the only method left now on Roku is via PlayOn, which requires a subscription and a Windows PC running and middle-man streaming the content as well, which runs more expensive than the Xbox Live service.

I.P. - Since you're the Device Man, would you mind doing a quick rundown on both the Roku and PlayOn?  I've been looking at both for possible no-cable TV solutions.  We currently have a Wii that we can use to connect to Netflix free of charge (no subscriptions like Xbox), but you can't do much else with it.  It has access to HuluPlus but not regular free Hulu (at least I don't think so....actually haven't tried it so I might be wrong).  But I'd like to have access to Amazon Instant Video from my TV, but the Wii won't connect to Amazon.  PlayOn (the paid version) will connect my Wii to Amazon, but the Roku will connect to Amazon as well (and supposedly without PlayOn). 

My questions is this: If I get a Roku, I don't need the PlayOn subscription service too, do I?  I thought the Roku was the device to get you on to some internet TV channels, but the PlayOn site confuses me further, offering a "free" Roku when you sign up for their Lifetime membership.  If I have a Roku (a one-time payment for the device, no subscription), why the hell do I need PlayOn (a subscription service) too?  Perhaps it's a way to get more channels...it just seems strange.

Could you please enlighten us to these services/devices and to what extent one would use either or both together?  Your expertise is always appreciated.  Thanks!

Will

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2012, 10:58:38 AM »
Can someone please help me understand the appeal of Hulu?  When I looked at it, it seems like there is a lot of crap I never heard of and would probably not want to watch.  How do you find the "good stuff"?  What are the secrets of a quality Hulu experience?

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #38 on: June 18, 2012, 06:34:20 PM »
Can someone please help me understand the appeal of Hulu?  When I looked at it, it seems like there is a lot of crap I never heard of and would probably not want to watch.  How do you find the "good stuff"?  What are the secrets of a quality Hulu experience?

Hulu's appeal is not what it used to be. Back in the heyday, it was the perfect resource for four of the big five networks (NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS) primetime programming on both their OTA shows and cable network channels as well as a handful of smaller cable networks like Food Network and some interesting movies from time to time. This past year has seen despite the introduction of the CW to the fold, the near gutting of Fox's content, massive time shift delays in programming, paywall with continued commercials on their archives (including the Criterion Collection - pay with commercials *twirls finger*), ongoing bizarre Hulu+ blackouts for current content from the networks, and the threat of sealing off to cable/satellite subscribers only in the coming year. So don't worry, don't feel like it's some opaque mystery... Hulu just kinda sucks compared to how it used to be.

I'll reply to the other question soon (probably tomorrow).
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 06:36:31 PM by I.P. Daley »

arebelspy

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2012, 07:47:14 PM »
Can someone please help me understand the appeal of Hulu?  When I looked at it, it seems like there is a lot of crap I never heard of and would probably not want to watch.  How do you find the "good stuff"?  What are the secrets of a quality Hulu experience?

On top of what I.P. posted, Hulu was never that good, IMO.

Those main networks he mentions that used to be more available are filled with "a lot of crap I never heard of and would probably not want to watch."

I checked out Hulu when it premiered, and again shortly after Hulu Plus premiered.  Didn't ever find it of much value.  Haven't checked it out in the last year, but hard to imagine that it's even worse.

I guess if you love mainstream T.V. it was fine, but mainstream TV never had much "good stuff," IMO, so hard to find "good stuff" on Hulu, at any point in time.

IMO.
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TwoPupsOnACouch

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #40 on: June 18, 2012, 08:17:44 PM »
Hi all!  The Roku box sounds interesting.  I would love to know more about it if anyone cares to explain further.  A quick glance at the website says that there are over 350 channels.  Are some of the channels free?

Lavender

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2012, 08:53:22 PM »
Update - Husband coming around!!! We've ordered an antenna, and he thinks between OTA channels and MLB.tv and NBA, plus the ESPN3 sports content we get free online by virtue of being Comcast internet customers, he might be willing to let go of cable. Baby steps, baby steps.

PS: This http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Plus-Amplified-Indoor-Antenna/dp/B006GQIIEM/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top is the antenna we've ordered, we should have it next week and I'll post an update as to whether it lives up to the hype.

Will

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #42 on: June 18, 2012, 09:52:02 PM »
PS: This http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Plus-Amplified-Indoor-Antenna/dp/B006GQIIEM/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top is the antenna we've ordered, we should have it next week and I'll post an update as to whether it lives up to the hype.

That looks a LOT like this one:  http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-Company-FL-5000-FlatWave-Digital/dp/B0063705PE
which I bought at Costco for $29.99 and works like a charm.

Lavender

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #43 on: June 18, 2012, 09:59:35 PM »
Yep - the Mohu comes in a basic version for about that price. The one we ordered has an amp integrated, so picks up more channels. I would have gone with the basic one, but some concessions are necessary to preserve marital harmony :)

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #44 on: June 18, 2012, 11:24:11 PM »
Yep - the Mohu comes in a basic version for about that price. The one we ordered has an amp integrated, so picks up more channels. I would have gone with the basic one, but some concessions are necessary to preserve marital harmony :)

There's a problem with amplifiers, especially with digital reception. Amps don't just increase signal, they increase noise as well (and can only filter so much), and you have to have a really clean, strong signal for OTA digital to work. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't pay $75 for an indoor antenna if my life depended on it, and I doubt it would perform too much better than a $20 omnidirectional UHF antenna, especially if you're under 15 miles from all the major stations. That Mohu's also gonna choke on any VHF signals more than about 10 miles too, but to be fair, the RCA I linked will do likewise.

This might be of use: http://www.antennaweb.org/

Also, if you get your internet from the cable company, frequently you can also just hook up the coax and pull all the local stations for free. Always pays to try first before buying an antenna.

I know it was a "concession" for marital harmony, but spending upwards of an extra $50 on an antenna if you live in a metro area to pick up the same stations? Go to Antenna Web, find out what the distances and strengths are, and see what you can get with a $10 pair of rabbit ears before spending more than necessary. If he was willing to compromise to this point, an extra couple days of further rational talk and educated purchasing would've gotten you there for less.

I'll cover the Roku a bit more in depth tomorrow (if I have time, it's one legged arse kicking season here for me), but honestly, I'm not down with any of these little subscription media boxes, they're designed to bleed you dry with monthly subscriptions and nickel and dime purchases just like cable tv on content that you could otherwise watch for free or without buying additional hardware on a regular computer desktop. That $50 Android box is going to be a Godsend for a lot of non-technical media junkies because it'll be as cheap as a Roku box and nearly as easy to use, but have access to nearly the exact same content, plus web based content through a browser like Dolphin HD set to desktop browser ID mode and Flash installed (think regular Hulu, Amazon VOD, VUDU, etc. - Clicker.tv would be a decent unified front end aggregator for that content), and be easy to set up. I'd call it the idiot-proof beginner HTPC, but every time someone declares something idiot-proof, God builds a better idiot. It should just be simple enough that if you can operate a remote control and a smartphone, you're golden.

All that said....

Humanity has survived for thousands of years building great empires without the blue glowing rectangle in their lives, and the most mustachian entertainment choice is still good conversation, literature and the outdoors... all are insanely cheap. Do yourself a favor for your old friend Daley here and try to unplug from the magical talking head box that tells you what to think? You'll save far more than just money if you do.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 11:31:14 PM by I.P. Daley »

Lavender

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2012, 05:36:07 AM »
Ouch. Here I was patting myself on the back, and you pretty much punched me in the face. It worked though, I've cancelled the amp+antenna order, and went with the antenna-only version.

Daley

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2012, 11:45:03 AM »
Okay, Roku box and PlayOn, as promised if not a day late.

We'll start with PlayOn. What makes PlayOn useful (if you can call it that) is the fact that it allows a Roku/Wii/PS3/Xbox360/iPad/any other assortment of "media devices" that are restricted to only receive what media conglomerates deem allowable to watch that are heavily restricted otherwise from what normal and regular desktop computer users are allowed to watch. (A great example of this is the difference in content availability between Hulu and Hulu Plus.) You're probably asking yourself why the differential is made, it's all internet video being displayed on what's basically a computer appliance. Well, that's where big media gets its panties in a wad. They're computer appliances attached to a television, not a computer monitor (not that there's much differential between those these days anymore either beyond a tuner), and as such, big media screams bloody murder about advertising and subscription revenue loss of streaming media being available on televisions. Yes, I know... it only makes sense if you sustain enough brain damage to be able to actually watch and enjoy America's Got Talent, let alone think it's a good idea to greenlight.

As for stuff like iPads and phones? Well... frequently, those are just viewed as cash cow devices and second class citizens, so they just get lumped in with the TV devices, but I digress...

What makes PlayOn suck is that it's literally giving you no more content to watch on these devices than what you can already access for free on a desktop or laptop computer for a price premium. In fact, that's exactly how it works! You have to install their media server/remote desktop client on your desktop/laptop computer and have that computer running in order to allow your other device access to that free content. So in addition to paying extra for free content just to get it to your television, you're having to run your computer as a middle-man media server on top of it. Yes, the more you understand the logic and stupidity of all this, it's natural to desire to partake of it even less.

Now, the Roku Box, Apple TV, GoogleTV, Boxee Box, and other sealed media consumption boxes of its ilk. These devices are primarily designed to provide a-la-carte paid programming from same said big media companies to your television, but you'll notice they still control what you have access to with an iron fist and refuse to provide anything digitally to your television in any time frame that might undermine their immediate cable and advertising revenue streams. It's the promise of a-la-carte cable programming being fulfilled in a way that keeps many people from dropping cable and instead winds up becoming a trojan pay-per-view scheme to sucker people into doing pay-per-view who normally aren't stupid enough to do pay-per-view through the cable company.

As for the less sucky nature of the Roku box? This is what puts it head and shoulders (as much as a locked down media platform can be, anyway) above the rest, and this is where the "over 350 channels" comes from: they support the ability for people to roll their own content channels. Roku doesn't particularly offer any more crappy big media content for viewing than the other guys, and yes they convert some of the free desktop content that is deemed acceptable to be put on television as suddenly requiring paid monthly subscriptions to access as well, but they can inflate the numbers of what's available to watch artificially by providing amateur and pirated content as well from sites like Justin.tv. Just like regular cable, "350 'channels', and nothing but crap on," only this time, the majority of the crap offered is produced and distributed by 14 year olds instead of Hollywood. Mixed bag, eh? You bet it is. And it's hard to justify spending $70 on a box for the living room just to only be able to watch TED and Kahn Academy videos for free.

I mentioned alternatives to this in the communications thread and here. The neat thing about Android is the proliferation of web browsers like Dolphin HD versus Apple's browser lockdown and the availability of Flash, so clever people can use an Android device to fool websites into thinking you're on a desktop computer and display desktop media content. Thus the potential beauty of the $50 VIA APC running Android. Alternatively, if you're not opposed to a bit of hacking, it's also why I recommend re-purposing an older desktop or laptop into a homebrew HTPC using XBMC versus buying a dedicated device.

That add some light to the subject?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 11:47:25 AM by I.P. Daley »

LadyM

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #47 on: June 21, 2012, 12:02:38 PM »
Thanks I.P., that helps a ton.

I thought PlayOn was retarded, but it was so hard to tell with all the fluffy marketing BS surrounding it on the webpage....I never felt like I could get REAL answers until now.  I'm glad it's not my imagination.  Thanks for clearing that up. 

As for the Roku, I now feel less inclined to purchase one.  What little Amazon VOD that I feel inclined to watch, I'll check out on my kindle fire or PC, and not worry about my TV.

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #48 on: June 21, 2012, 01:33:05 PM »
Thanks I.P., that helps a ton.

I thought PlayOn was retarded, but it was so hard to tell with all the fluffy marketing BS surrounding it on the webpage....I never felt like I could get REAL answers until now.  I'm glad it's not my imagination.  Thanks for clearing that up. 

As for the Roku, I now feel less inclined to purchase one.  What little Amazon VOD that I feel inclined to watch, I'll check out on my kindle fire or PC, and not worry about my TV.

Yeah, PlayOn's pretty retarded (but crookedly brilliant). It's a business model built to make money solely on the lack of common sense of its users.

Roku can be great if you want to spend money watching TV/sports but save money on cable, and you're as technologically savvy as my 89 year old Gran who really wants to watch her Angels... but it's pretty limited in its appeal when you know what's actually up and care about where your money is going.

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Re: Cutting Cable
« Reply #49 on: June 23, 2012, 06:49:20 AM »
Thanks for all of the tips IP!  We canceled cable early this month.  I haven't missed it (much).  I find that I tend to watch Food Network, HGTV, and some financial shows.  I can't find those, but eh, I don't really need those.  We upgraded our cable speed at the same time and are saving about $60/month.

My husband actually bought PlayOn, but I think he paid up front for it instead of a monthly fee.  I was a little skeptical (because, well, he did it without asking, and it was pricey enough that I thought...wow, this thing better be around for awhile).  He's a computer nerd, so I let him go with it.

The usefulness that I find with it right now is watching it on the TV.  He's also set it up with "Play Later" so I can actually record a show from the networks and watch it later, thus getting around the "how long will it be available" issue.  And the issue that I can rarely stay awake long enough to watch an entire show, so I can go back to it later.  Still not sure it's worth that flexibility.

I've also been wondering about the usefulness of Hulu.  Haven't tried it, and looks like I might not.  How to get Top Chef  I wonder...well, maybe I don't really need that show.  I think I'm gonna be busy this summer anyway.