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How We Watch Great TV Without Cable

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, and if you make a purchase through my link, I earn a small percentage–at no cost to you!  You can read the site’s full disclosure here .

A year ago, my family gave up our beloved cable TV.  I said good-bye to the real housewives of Bravo TV and my husband said adios to ESPN.

When our bill spiked up unexpectedly last March, we called the cable company hoping for some relief. Instead we were told that there was nothing they could do about the price, so we walked away from cable completely. A funny thing happened when I called to cancel our cable, the company all of the sudden had a change of heart about reducing their price. But it was too late–we were done with cable TV. You can read more about our experience in this post: We Cancelled Our Cable TV .

And ya know what? We haven’t missed cable TV one bit. In fact, my husband said, “it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

Although, he almost changed his tune when be found out that the 2014 Super Bowl was going to be on the FOX channel. We have not been able to receive a FOX signal this past year, but thankfully, FOX streamed the Super Bowl online, so that potential crisis was diverted…WHEW!

But don’t let that crisis deter you from possibly walking away from cable TV too. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to be entertained by TV and spend very little money.

How We Watch Great TV Without Cable

1. We purchased VHF/UHF antenna for Local TV channels.

After much research, my husband decided on this antenna from Amazon: Antennas Direct C2-V-CJM ClearStream 2-V Long Range UHF/VHF Indoor/Outdoor DTV Antenna with 20-Inch Mount .

He installed the antenna in our attic and ran coax from the attic to our TV lines using the cables that were originally for our cable TV. He chose the attic over the roof due to the cold weather outside, but the antenna can be mounted on the roof.

To get reception of the local channels, he went to to find our nearest digital TV transmitters and used a compass app on his phone to help him point the antenna in the right direction.

At this point the project becomes a 2-person job. As he was aiming the antenna, I was near the TV letting him know (by phone) the status of the reception strength for each channel. Honestly, the strength depends a lot on the topography and distance of the nearest towers. We have been able to get ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, and PBS, along with a few extra channels that the main 3 networks distribute. Those channels are usually older movies and TV series.

We have had difficulty receiving the Fox channel, but that might have to do with its tower location. It might help if we moved the antenna to the roof, but my husband’s in no hurry to go on the roof and we don’t mind not receiving Fox at this time.

At the time, the cost of our antenna, stand and 50 feet was about $95 on Amazon.

2. We Purchased a Media Streaming Player

A media streaming player will allow you to stream audio and video over the internet to your TV. In other words, if you want to use online subscription channels such as Netflix or Hulu on your TV, you will need a media streamer. If you are ok with watching Netflix on your computer or tablet, you don’t need a media streaming player.

We purchased a Roku 2 Streaming Player for our family room TV. The Roku is just one example of a media streamer. There are others, such Sony, Apple TV, and select DVD players. I do not recall the exact price of our Roku 2, but it is currently around  $70 at Amazon.

More about Netflix:

The monthly fee is $7.99. Netflix offers TV shows and movies that you can stream instantly over the Internet. You can watch Netflix from any Internet-connected device that offers a Netflix application, such as a PS3, Wii, XBox, PC, Mac, mobile, tablet or Roku. With a monthly membership, you are allowed up to 5 devices. There are no commercials and you can pause, rewind, fast-forward and replay again and again. The TV shows are not the current season, but Netflix is offering their own original series now, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Our kids use Netflix and it has a lot of children’s programs to choose from. With regular cable, my kids watched channels like, Disney Jr. and Nickelodeon, but with Netflix Kids, there is so much variety they hardly noticed that we left cable.

And Hulu Plus:

The monthly fee is $8. We use Hulu Plus to watch current episodes of shows that we missed. Quite frankly, I’m not sure we’ll keep it as we don’t use it that often.

3. We Stream from our Computer, but Watch on Our TV.

4. We Watch You-Tube.

There are tons of kids movies on You-Tube and my kids will watch on our iPad. Search for your interests and you’ll find all sorts of movies and TV shows. If you want to watch on your TV, just connect your laptop to your TV with a VGA cable, like I suggested in #3.

5. We Borrow from the Library.

When the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, came out, I wanted to introduce my girls to Mary Poppins, so I borrowed the DVD from the library and we had a family movie night. We have also borrowed DVDs of current and older family friendly sitcoms, such as Full House and The Cosby Show. Just make sure you return the DVD in time to avoid a fine.

6. Skip the Screens and Play Games Instead.

As a family, we have greatly reduced the amount of time spent watching TV and instead we’ve found other things to do, such as Apples to Apples Kids or Go Fish (my girls’ favorite games).

My Final Thoughts

Our initial investment for the set-up was about $150, but we were saving $55 a month when we canceled cable, so it paid for itself after 3 months. We now just pay $7.99/month for Netflix which we use quite a bit. Other than the minor blip during the Super Bowl, we have not regretted our decision one bit. I read more, my husband loves the documentaries that Netflix offers, and our girls don’t even realize we cancelled cable.

Have you considered cancelling cable? Or have you already cut the cord? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, and if you make a purchase through my link, I earn a small percentage–at no cost to you!  You can read the site’s full disclosure here .


kate amberg says

I cut the cable cord a year ago as well. My antenna is on the roof and I get many channels. I ended up getting an Over The Air DVR to record some shows – it reminds me of an old-school VCR, but saves to a hard drive. Current CBS shows aren’t on ROKU/Netflix/Hulu so I tape my CBS faves (Survivor, etc.) I could probably figure out streaming from computer to TV, but this has worked great. The only time I “missed” cable was during some of the red-carpet coverage of the Emmy’s and Golden Globes – no E! TV and the streaming they offer on those days is not the same as the TV coverage. I got by – but love love that I am not tied to the cable company anymore. I do have my internet through the cable company. I save $100+/month

Kristia says

I’ll have to look into the Over the Air DVR. That sounds interesting. We use the cable company for our internet also, but we need high speed for work. Thanks for the comments, Kate!

Laurie says

We have been married for almost 30 years and have never had cable or satellite. Two years ago we did get Netflix. We have a large collection of dvd’s. We’ve never missed the “extra” channels that cable/satellite provide.

Kristia says

Laurie – we didn’t have cable when we first got married too. We subscribed years ago when we wanted to watch the Olympics and the Tour de France (back when Lance was racing and “winning”) and instead of canceling it when those events were over, we kept it for years. Right now we don’t miss cable and hopefully never will. says

We have been cable free for 18 months and there is no way we are going back. The savings it has created, and the value of being “unplugged” are completely worth it. More channels just gives us more ways to kill time when we could be enjoying being outdoors or spending time with family. We have considered getting google chromecast but even then it might not be worth it to us.

Kristia says

Jon – I completely agree with your “value of being unplugged” comment. I was spending WAY too much time getting sucked into the reality shows on Bravo channel–complete waste of time LOL! Thanks for the comments.


at NOVA Frugal Family says

When we moved into our house 12 years ago we decided to not get cable because we were just trying to make the house payments and we had a million projects that we needed to do on the house. We are still here and still without cable because our house came with a great antenna on the roof. We are looking at moving and I asked my husband if we were going to take it with us. He said no that we would get a new one because they are smaller now

I laughed because I just pictured trying to get our huge antenna into a truck to move it. We have two VCRs and we record the shows that we can’t watch because there is something on another channel so that we have more to watch later when there are repeats on tv. There are so many other things to do other then TV but it is super nice to have that as an option to relax.

Kristia says

VCR…I wish we had one of those to record our favorite shows! Ours broke a few years ago. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Alison.

Katie says

We have been cable-free for a year now and the savings are so worth it! We were able to get basic cable channels for free because we have cable internet. It’s a little-known secret that if you have cable internet, the company has to give you basic cable for free! All you have to do is run a cable line directly into your TV (no cable box). We also have Netflix and I have found a lot of internet sites that stream TV shows. (Like I love Conan and streams it.) The kids watch PBS kids and Netflix.

Kristia says

wendell says

erika says

i want to get rid of cable but want to find a way to still watch channels like bravo and USA network i tried Hulu but they dont have the shows i watch. I agree its not worth the money$$ i pay for triple pay 120and its going up to 150 in a few weeks not worth it.

Kristia says

Hi Erika – Have you checked Bravo’s and USA’s websites to see if you can watch full episodes on Bravo and USA? Some channels offer full episodes of shows for a brief period after the show airs.

Regan says

Hulu has Bravo shows now!

Virgil says

I have both Netflix and Hulu which is great with the variety of shows to watch. Also, I supplement with Redbox for the newer release movies. At $1.50 per movie per day and Blu Ray at that, it is a great way to watch newer movies.

Kristia says

We have never rented from Redbox, but there are a lot of newer movies that we’d like to see, so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Maurine says

We gave up cable over a year ago when we moved in to our new 17 acre home. Initially, I thought I’d I’d never survive, which was ironic because I didn’t have cable until I was in college! But then something amazing happened, we were never inside! Life had so much more to offer out on our new homestead! We didn’t even notice that we didn’t have cable. We found a handful of shows that we could get with our antenna & we’d watch them if we happened to be home or right before bed, but nothing we cared enough about to give a rip if we missed.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t anti-tv people. We love the Brewers & Packers. We sometimes long for some of the cable shows that actually interested us (not many). And let me tell you, that very rare occasion when Im sick enough to come home from work during the week, or during a blizzard on a weekend, or when daylight savings rolls around & suddenly its winter & cold & dark when you leave work at 5:00? Yeah those days can be ROUGH.

BUT, we have smart phones with the internet readily at our fingertips. I get free movies from the library. We rent from the Redbox. We go hang out at friends houses, grill out, watch games & spend time with friends. But mostly, we don’t. It hasn’t even mattered.

I’ve thrown myself into a new cooking hobby & go to exercise class 2 nights a week. When its “nice” out (opinions vary on that in the state of WI) I go running, my hubby goes biking. They broadcast Brewer & Packer games on the radio, so we put a stereo in our garage & listen to games while we do yard work, let our dog run, or have a campfire.

Cable/TV, they’re just not a priority anymore. There’s SO much more to life! Free yourselves people.

Kristia says

Congrats, Maurine, on your new home! I wasn’t sure if we would survive not having cable, but we don’t miss it either. And you’re right, there’s so much more to life–I’ve been reading more. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your cable-free experience.

Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says

I could totally go without television and rarely watch it. The rest of the family is another story. The hubs is not on board at all;0) Maybe some day!

Kristia says

Jayleen – I didn’t think my husband would give up ESPN, but he was so angry with the cable company that it ended up being an easy decision for him.

Melissa French, The More With Less Mom says

I love our Roku! We haven’t had cable for years. Thanks for posting. Hello from Thrifty Thursday.

Kristia says

Thanks for stopping by, Melissa.

Vonetta says

Thanks for your review, Kristia. I have long contemplated giving up cable, and with a recent $20 price increase from my cable company, I bought a Roku 3 and antenna to see if that would work for me and if I would miss certain shows (especially the ones on Bravo and HGTV). I can always buy a season pass though. This should save me about $75/month, which is worth it to me, plus all the free time I will have.

Kristia says

Good Luck, Vonetta! I can honestly say that I don’t miss Bravo and was a hard core viewer of that channel. For me personally, when I stepped back from watching Bravo, I realized just how many hours I spent watching women cat-fighting and decided that the break was needed anyway. After you have used your Roku for awhile, stop back and let us know how it’s going.

Shelly says

I just cut the Direct TV cord on Monday. Tired of paying over $100 a month. I got a membership with Netflix and Hulu Plus. Bought a Roku 3 a year ago and finally decided to hook it up. It wouldn’t connect with my TV. Bummer. So am now waiting on an Apple TV device. I was just on the Hulu Plus website trying to watch the Real Housewives of New York episode from Tuesday. It wouldn’t let me. It said you have to watch it through your TV provider. Well, I don’t have one anymore. Do you know if there’s any way around that? Pretty addicted to the Real Housewives shows. LOL

Kristia says

Shelly – I was heavily addicted to the entire BravoTV channel before we cancelled cable. I went cold turkey at the time, but I think Hulu and maybe even Netflix are offering the housewives shows. We watch Hulu Plus through our Roku on our tv, so I’ve never tried watching thru the hulu website and we don’t have a provider anymore either.

JEn says

Hey Jayle. We are cutting the satellite TV now and we have a 16 year old so we thought it would be more challenging. We have netflix and hulu as well as the roku which pretty much covers everything except my husband and daughters sports which is major for them. We will be getting an antenna so that will cover Sunday Football. Sling will cover ESPN and EXPN2 and there is an NHL channel you can buy for the Roku that has an annual fee. All in all we will save over $100 a month and pretty much not miss a thing! As far as the Real Housewives on Hulu…. you have to link it to a cable subscriber to get it so although its on it is not available to those of us trying to cut cable.

Kristia says

Thanks, Jen, for your input!

Jennifer S says

We haven’t had cable or satellite in 4 years. We use Netflix and our huge collection of DVDs. We also borrow from the library. We don’t miss it. My husband streams the audio for his Auburn games (he just listens to the games while doing something else). The kids don’t notice and we are happy without cable/satellite.

Kristia says

We haven’t regretted cutting cable either! Thanks, Jennifer, for stopping by!

veronica says

Kristia says

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