How I Cut The Cord To Cable & DirecTV—Saved Over $700—With FREE TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime & Apple TV

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 8.53.48 AMEvery month my DirecTV (and before that—cable) bill contains a confusing onslaught of charges, taxes, credits, and add-on fees. With all the fine print and confusing pricing I felt like I was getting ripped off. I tried to take advantage of the “$100 referral fee” credit by lauding DirecTV picture quality to several of my new neighbors—but again, due to the fine print, impossible conditions and many wasted hours on the phone never received a penny credit. Then I had to keep jumping through hoops to keep a “promotional price” which, by the way, was higher than new customers would get. When I realized we were only watching DirecTV programming for an hour or two monthly when NFL football is not on—and STILL paying almost $100 per month for the most basic package (i.e. over $50 per hour for TV), I felt it was time to cut the cord.

I hate wasting money and I hate bureaucracy. When private enterprise starts acting like government—we are in serious trouble. I heard someone once say if government were in charge of making cars and private enterprise were in charge of the highways and roadways—today we would be driving Model T’s on roads good enough for sci-fi flying vehicles.

The average person spends $154 for home communications ($1,848 annually), more than the average household spends on clothing, furniture or electricity. And most are not happy with their services. We have “Model T”V’s in a world of Google Fiber and a la carte Internet. Cable and DirecTV still refuse to allow the viewer to choose specific programming and channels and continually hawk a “triple play” of TV, telephone (who has home telephones anymore?) and broadband Internet services.

Here’s what I suggest:

—If you are an Apple products person—consider buying an Apple TV for $99. The AirPlay alone makes it worth it. Caveat: Provides limited channels, i.e. no Pandora or Amazon Instant Video
—If you are a PC user and Amazon Prime member—consider buying an Amazon Fire TV for $99. Caveat: Still too new to evaluate properly and the user ratings on Amazon.com are mediocre at best.
—If you are a heavy Netflix and Pandora user—buy a Roku 3 for $99. Caveat:  For those heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem and like access to your iTunes (and iCloud) content and use AirPlay mirroring, Apple TV makes more sense.

All of the above boxes hook into your home high-speed Internet, have high-definition capabilities, are a breeze to set up on your existing television and have no monthly fees.

Here’s what I decided to do:

1) To determine which TV stations were available in my area I went to http://dtv.gov/maps and entered my zip code to determine I needed a low to medium performance antenna. I used this handy website for guidance in choosing the proper antenna. I bought an Amazon Basics High-Performance Antenna (to be safe) for $35. I get 39 (YES—39 channels) with it for FREE. I couldn’t believe it! The picture quality equals that of DirecTV. I watched the Masters Golf Tourney yesterday in crystal-clear High Definition for FREE. It felt so good. The picture quality was so realistic, my dog Remy was barking at the players.

2) I utilize AppleTV for my music listening, photo streaming, pay-per-view movies (I rarely go to the cinema) and for its amazing HULU Plus ($8 month) and Netflix interfaces. I have both the streaming ($7.99) and Blu-Ray DVD package (one disc out at a time $9.99) on Netflix. Hint: I find a movie I want on the Apple TV “Top Movies” page and then go HERE and scroll down to the “Released In The Last Three Months” drop down menu, search, and 99% of time the movie that would cost $4.99 is available on my Netflix plan. With their fast and convenient delivery and return service I can watch 4 to 5 Blu-Ray movies per month on Netflix for the monthly fee of $9.99. The cost on Apple TV would be: $25. A savings of $15. Caveat: Apple Radio is terrible. It has a long way to go. Use Pandora instead.

3) I stream Amazon Prime movies from my Wi-Fi equipped Blu-Ray player. However the interface is terrible and I’m considering the Amazon Fire or Roku for Amazon Prime Instant Videos (If you are a member of Amazon Prime you get thousands of great movies in HD with your annual subscription—which is increasing to $99.) and Pandora for music listening. I was paying for Amazon Prime anyway, so I consider these movies a free add-on.

4) If you are a sports fan, consider NBA Game Time five-team league pass ($109/year) or MLB.TV ($100 year) for less than the price of one month of Cable or DirecTV. These channels are available on AppleTV and probably on Amazon Fire and Roku as well.

5) My work requires me to have High Speed Internet so I don’t include it in the costs. I’m very happy with the services offered by Charter High-Speed Internet. I get 30 Mbps for $39.99 per month.

Annual Cost:

Netflix: $215.76 + Amazon Prime: $99. + TV (Free) = $314.76
DirecTV: $1047. (Basic plus NFL Package)

SAVINGS: $732.24

Hard Costs:

Television Antenna: $35.

Question: Have you cut the cord? What do you do?

15 Responses to “How I Cut The Cord To Cable & DirecTV—Saved Over $700—With FREE TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime & Apple TV”

  1. Ah. An antenna!! That’s the one piece I’m missing. Thanks for the links!!

  2. Randy, how many tv’s do you have hooked up to this system? We currently have 2 and will probably be adding 2 more. And our big hesitation is losing ESPN for football and NASCAR. Any way around that?

    • Karin, I have two TV’s—One only runs AppleTV. Losing ESPN sucks. I now allocate 30 minutes to ESPN.com —It’s so video rich in content I feel as if I’m not missing much and I watch it on my own schedule. Also, AppleTV has a nice ESPN channel.

      I’m not into NASCAR so someone else will need to address that issue…anyone?

  3. I did it a few weeks ago. Since football is off until September, I thought it would be a great time to renegotiate my pricing with DirecTV, especially since they won’t have the SEC Network (which will carry the games I want to watch anyway). The more I dug into it the madder I got and then I just realized I don’t need it much. Live sports is really my biggest problem.

    It’s not completely the fault of cable and satellite providers that we don’t get a la carte packaging. For example, ESPN requires any provider that carries any of its programming to have its flagship channel ESPN on every package (above locals only). Trust me, at $5.68/month/subscriber, they’d love to spin that off into a sports package. So everybody who wants say the Discovery networks but doesn’t watch sports is still subsidizing ESPN.

    But I digress. I’ve got an antenna, Roku 2, Apple TV, FireTV and Chromecast. There were still some NCAA tournament games I couldn’t watch. In first, the first 2 games of the Final Four were not on broadcast so here’s what I did. All games were streamed for free to PCs and mobile devices. I hooked my PC into my Home Theater receiver with an HDMI cable and boom! Not the highest quality, but got the job done.

    What I’ll do once football starts is anybody’s guess. I figured I’d at least pocket the savings over the summer and see how it works for the first part of the season.
    Bryan´s last blog post ..Blaring Hymns of Praise

  4. Yes! We did this a while ago, for the same reasons, and haven’t missed a thing. We skipped the Netflix disc option because the rare times we want to watch something that new, we are usually conveniently near a Redbox.

    We still have TiVo for recording some live TV, but it is rare, and the $20/month for the one show we regularly DVR, is weighing like an albatross. Will probably dump that soon, too, although pausing live TV is very convenient for skipping commercials!

    As far as hardware goes, though, you missed a couple of options that a lot of people may have in their houses right now – a next-gen gaming console (Xbox or PlayStation). They have a TON of apps for streaming video and music, and you don’t have to hook up/buy another device. I watched the college football championship on my Xbox, in stunning HD, without a cable subscription. This is also how we watch Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  5. I actually think iTunes Radio is great. And subscribing to iTunes Match to get all my music in the cloud and iTunes Radio ad-free is worth the $25/year. I’ve got an Apple TV and subscribe to Hulu and Netflix. Haven’t had cable in years. Roommate is considering picking it up just for sports (the Apple TV sports apps wouldn’t let him watch the games he wants to see). Rumor has it that Apple may be introducing a streaming cable service through Comcast, so we shall see if that develops.
    Aaron Matthew Kaiser´s last blog post ..April: 30 Days of Creativity

    • Aaron,

      Maybe I’m doing something wrong. My iTunes radio quits regularly and will not resume…I didn’t know about the $25 option. That is awesome. The ads were another irritation. I heard the Comcast rumor as well…But an Apple Comcast marriage…yikes…

      Thanks!

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