Your Cable Bill is a Convenience Bill

By Carlos Portocarrero

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A month ago, I wrote Cable TV is Here to Stay…for Now. I had just finished doing a whole bunch of research on ways I could cut my cable and decided most people weren’t ready to make the jump.

There wasn’t (and still isn’t) a convenient, reliable way to kill your cable bill and replace all the functionality you get with cable (like DVR and not having to fiddle with a bunch of wires or remotes).

The Challenge

But after I wrote the post, I said to myself, “Carlos, you aren’t ‘most people,’ you’re a tech-savvy person willing to figure a way to make this work.”

The challenge was set: it would test my problem-solving skills, my research skills, and my tech skills. I was excited to come back and disprove my article and announce to the world how I had killed my cable and saved a bunch of money.

It didn’t go as planned.

I spent a bunch of time and money figuring out a way to replace cable with an antenna and my Internet connection, while while making it as convenient as possible so my wife would approve.

And I couldn’t do it.

I tried different setups, I altered strategies, I returned one product to test another one…none of it mattered.

In the end, I couldn’t get the channels I wanted with the reliability and quality that I get from cable.

If I would’ve been successful, I would’ve saved $564/year.


And that’s when I realized I wasn’t paying $47/month for “cable.” I could replace cable and make it all work, but it wouldn’t be as convenient.

And that’s really what it comes down to: convenience.

So I’m here to reaffirm that cable cutting isn’t ready for the masses. The masses watch a lot of TV and they want the channels they want without interruption and on a DVR.
Cable cutting won’t be ready for primetime until someone comes out with one product that you plug into your TV and boom—you get everything you need in one, handy remote.

Of course, some of you can do that fairly easily if you don’t watch a lot of TV or don’t need a DVR. But for the average TV watcher that’s been spoiled by having a DVR, cable is still the best option.

What’s the Best Option?

There are pretty much three basic ways you can replace cable, and the most convenient is to get a TiVo Premiere or something like it. Plug an antenna into the back of it, and you’ve got all the major networks (if you’re lucky) and a built-in DVR.

Then you can use their Amazon Video on Demand channel to get the rest, along with Netflix and Hulu Plus.

It’s convenient, but it’ll cost you $20/month (or the $499 one-time fee) and if your antenna doesn’t bring in a good signal it won’t matter: you won’t be happy. Still, that’s the closest thing I could find to buying one box that does it all—and again your paying for convenience.

I’d love to hear from people who’ve made the switch, are happy with it, and what setup you’re using. Please share in the comments!

Image by Luke Wisley

4 Responses to “Your Cable Bill is a Convenience Bill”

  • Ella Says:

    We got rid of cable. We connected an unused laptop to the TV and bought a mini wireless keyboard and mouse for $20. We don’t have an antenna and I catch most of the shows on Hulu. We can access Netflix and play DVDs. My husband catches the NFL and college football at sports bars or at his buddy’s place. We are thinking about getting an antenna or get the local channels (at $5 each month) from our internet provider so that he can watch more sports. Windows Media Center (on Windows 7) can record shows for free.

    I don’t agree that having a cable box is necessarily more convenient. I like that I can watch from any source on my TV seamlessly and the wireless keyboard/mouse works very well as a remote. Maybe the Tivo box you mentioned would be a tad more convenient, but for that cost I would have kept my cable. It’s all a question of getting used to things. I recommend that you try again, but focus on getting the simple things first. Good luck!

    • Carlos Says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Ella! But for most people, cable is still more convenient. Sounds like for you it was pretty easy since you don’t mind waiting and aren’t obsessed with your tv shows…but most people are! And I agree on Windows Media Center…it’s the one product Microsoft somehow managed to not mess up.

  • sam Says:

    We stopped watching tv altogether. Now we just hang out as a family and talk; we catch movies every week though.

  • Maggie@SquarePennies Says:

    We can’t get good signal with an antenna. We finally went to satellite tv as it was cheaper than cable. We got the basic package, with no added movie channels. We don’t have Netflix and we don’t rent or buy movies. We just watch any movies that come with our satellite channels. So far it’s working well. We enjoy using our laptops in addition to tv.

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