It was a year ago this month that we cancelled DirecTV, less to save money than to stop wasting it. We were paying $85 a month — $1,020 a year — on hundreds of channels we never watched.
We didn’t give up TV, and we didn’t stop paying for it. We just watch it differently, and we’re paying a lot less.
I could have bought an antenna for under $100, but where’s the fun in that?
Our house was already wired for cable, so I plugged the antenna into the cable, meaning we can watch TV in any room.
Our PC has a TV tuner, too, so Windows Media Center lets us use it as a DVR. It’s slicker than the one we used to rent from DirecTV, and it’s essentially free.
We also have an Xbox 360. It connects wirelessly with the PC and streams live and recorded TV from the computer to the HDTV downstairs in the living room.
It sounds complicated, but, in practice, it’s exactly like watching cable, except we use a game pad as a remote control. (We could buy a special remote control, but that seems pointless.)
Downstairs, we have a WD TV Live. Upstairs, in the bedroom, we have a Roku. They let us watch Netflix, Hulu and a bunch of other online “channels” on our TVs. We pay $7.99 a month for Netflix and $7.99 for Hulu Plus.
Our monthly bill has fallen from $85 a month to $16, from $1,020 a year to $192.
One year after cutting the cord, this is what I’ve learned:
- Cord cutting isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot easier to pay $85 a month for a single box that gives you everything.
- Still, a new survey by Deloitte says 9% of respondents have already cancelled cable, while 11% percent say they’re thinking about it. The younger you are, the more likely you are to cut the cord.
- We don’t miss cable. We certainly don’t miss the cable bill.
- We aren’t hurting for things to watch.
- We can’t sit on the couch anymore and mindless flip through the channels anymore. We have to put some effort into it, put some thought into what we’re going to watch. I think that’s a good thing.
- We can record live TV and watch it later, but usually we don’t. Usually, it’s easier just to stream the show on Hulu.
- I wish we still had ESPN, especially during college basketball season, but some games are on broadcast TV, and every game of the men’s tournament will be streamed online free.
- Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL all have online subscriptions where you can stream every game online — and watch them on a TV instead of a PC. You don’t really need cable or satellite anymore to get your sports fix.
- Worse comes to worse, there’s a pizza place up the street with big-screen TVs and ESPN.