Three Basic Ways to Replace Your Cable

By Carlos Portocarrero

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I’ve been doing a lot of research in my quest to cut my cable bill, and let me tell you: there are hundreds of different ways to go about it. It all depends on your viewing habits and how addicted you are to the conveniences of your current setup.

Which can make the whole process very intimidating.

So I’ve tried to create a guide to help everyone thinking of cutting their cable and get them going in the right direction.

The First Step: Who Are You?

Before you start buying things and excitedly hooking them up, you should know the type of viewer you are and the different alternatives that are out there.

There are three types of TV-viewing habits:

The Addict: Loves his/her shows and won’t miss them for anything. Loves talking about the shows and the characters in them. TV isn’t just something to do, it’s an art that exists to be enjoyed, discussed, and critiqued. If this is you, then this is going to be a real challenge—but it’s still possible.

The Average Viewer: Watches a show or two religiously, but that’s about it. Will flip the TV on if there’s nothing else to do—will find something to watch. Missing an episode is not really a big deal—DVR to the rescue. If this is you, cutting cable is definitely possible depending on which channels you watch.

The Casual Viewer: You have no idea what Modern Family is all about and would rather turn the TV off than channel surf. You have very few things you have to watch. If this is you, congratulations—cutting cable is going to be easy for you.

Up Next: The Setups

When you break it all down, there are three basic ways to go about replacing your cable:

Network Boxes

There are tons of products out there that are easy to set up and bring a ton of content to your TV (via an Internet connection): Apple TV, Roku, Vudu, some DVD players, some TVs, etc. The idea here is to open up the Internet on your TV.

Pros: One box, one connection.
Con: Relies on apps—no app, no channel. No broadcast networks built it.


The company that made their brand name a verb (“I TiVo’d the game last night”) makes it pretty easy to cut cable. Hook up an antenna to this device and boom—you’re pretty much there. With Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu Plus you’ve got a wealth of options at your fingertips.

Pros: Very easy, very convenient. Built-in DVR.
Cons: Monthly bill eats into your “profit” from cutting cable.

DIY Setup

This is what tried to do. It requires the most amount of research, time, and patience. But it’s well suited to people who like customization and digging into details. And putting themselves through hell.

Pros: Set it up however you want it, no monthly bill…ever.
Cons: Time consuming and costly. Will test your patience.

And Lastly: Cost

Before you pick a setup and run with it, see how much it’ll cost you and compare it to your current bill. How much is convenience worth to you? How easy will it be to watch all your shows? How much do you want to save?

If you go the DIY route, you’ll probably spend more money up front but reduce your monthly bill to zero. A network box is a one-time cost, but won’t get you all the channels in real time. And if you go with TiVo, it pretty much gets you everything but the monthly bill will eat into your profit.

There you have it! I hope this helps everyone out there that’s been toying with the idea of eliminating their cable bill. Good luck!

For more on cutting cable, check out my Wisebread article Cable TV is Here to Stay…For Now.

Image by Nick J Webb

One Response to “Three Basic Ways to Replace Your Cable”

  • BlackCardCathy Says:

    I had a funny experience with my sister, who’s husband approached me to apply for a visa black card. I only learned later that they were having financial difficulties, and told her she might, ahem, want to get him to cancel the card with its $495 annual fee lol

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