My experience cutting the cord from Cable TV

Back in 2014 I decided to “cut the cord” and ditch cable TV. Cost being the obvious reason. But also I had taken stock of my viewing habits and decided a change was needed. Like many I was a passive viewer. I’d turn the TV on, flip through the guide, and eventually settle. Typically landing on a movie I’d seen ten times before. I watched what was on.

I like The Matrix but I’ve never turned on the TV hoping I could watch it again.

This is what I mean by passive viewing. Active viewing would be I want to watch something specific and then turn on the TV.

Granted these days TV is sometimes a thing you have on in the background as you stare at your phone. But I wanted my viewing habits to lead to new territory, not tromp over ones previously travelled.

There are a few things to consider when ditching cable TV.

  1. Streaming apps
  2. Streaming devices
  3. Local TV

Streaming Apps

There are a lot. And most are paid. But not all. Obviously the more subscription services you stack will eventually negate or surpass the cost savings of ditching cable TV in the first place. So it may require being artful in how you mix and match. However these days with so much good content in so many places it seems that adding in some apps is hard to avoid either way.

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, are the biggest names. But there are a slew of others like SlingTV, YouTube, Pluto, Fubo, etc.

Finding the show you want on the app you want can sometimes be a little confusing but I think over time this experience will only improve.

Steaming Devices

It’s become commonplace for TV’s to come internet ready without the need to purchase an external device. Roku, Amazon Fire stick, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast are the big names. I tested all of them and found Roku to be my favorite. But there was no big difference or benefit from one to the next. I just liked some interfaces better than others.

TV not required! Any computer, tablet, or smartphone will work too.

Local TV channels

If you’re interested in your local news or sports you’re going to need a good HD antenna. I get my news online but couldn’t cut the cord if it meant missing the NFL.

My house’s cable line ran through the attic so it was easy for me to splice it and hooked it up to an HD antenna. This meant the cable line that running down to the TV was now working off of my antenna. If your antenna’s distance is too far from your TV the signal may degrade and require a singal booster. This was the case for me. After the booster all is well.

This ensures I get all the local ABC, NBC, FOX affiliates. However I still miss out on ESPN. And unfortunately at this time ESPN+ does not include live NFL games. But if you have the NFL app on your phone or tablet you can still watch Monday Night Football for free.

Parting words

Obviously you can’t do any of this without internet. And depending on your situation this may still rely on the cable company.

As for me it’s been six years since I escaped cable. Which is how it felt because they wouldn’t let me go easily. I had to argue with them, jump through hoops, and in the end they charged me to leave. I haven’t looked back. I haven’t once felt like I was missing anything. And as predicted I do a lot more active viewing these days.

Author: Jeffrey Stoltzfus

Filmmaker. Author. Artist.