Cutting the Cable Cord

I’m not going to lie, it was a hard decision. As a TV junkie, I never thought I’d find myself sitting on the floor of Time Warner Cable clutching my DVR box to my chest, about to relinquish it. How was I going to watch House Hunters (on HGTV.com) or The League (wait for Netflix or buy it on iTunes)?  Letting go of cable was a hard choice but, for me, a financially necessary one. These are the steps that helped make cutting the cord easier.

Explore Streaming Options

Technology has turned TV into a 360° experience. Not only can you watch your favorite shows on your tablet, phone, and computer, but there are also many options for streaming devices that hook into your TV.

You can consider streaming boxes like a Roku, a Google Chromecast, a WD TV Live, or an Apple TV. I’m not going to pro/con these devices because, honestly, I haven’t used any of them. I have always been old school and used a VGA cable to hook up my laptop to the TV (another inexpensive option).

Nowadays, I also have a Blu-Ray player that streams Hulu, Pandora, and Netflix. It’s not perfect because it doesn’t have all my streaming options in one place, but it’s pretty impossible to get Amazon Prime, iTunes, Netflix and Hulu all on one system. Netflix and Amazon are always expanding their libraries, but I also have this service called CinemaNow, I only recently discovered that it allows you to rent movies through the internet (like OnDemand) for a small fee.

I heard tons of people in the Time Warner Cable store talking about sites like ProjectFreeTV, and how you could catch your favorite shows there. But this isn’t actually free television.  It’s piracy. Stealing. It’s no better than theater hopping. You can, however, watch all the broadcast networks (FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, & the CW) for free on your television. All you need is a digital tuner (this is what replaced the rabbit ears) and if your TV was made in the last couple of years there’s a pretty good chance that it already has one. Connect your TV to a cable outlet and you’re good to go—no cable subscription required.

Consider What You Can Do Without the Box

Here’s the major reason I cancelled my cable: outside the fact that you can save money, I realized I had 300+ movies in my Netflix cue. With cable, I would just channel surf all the time and, honestly, it wasn’t super enriching. I would rewatch episodes of Love It or List It multiple times in a day just because they were on!

Now, I have finally been able to use my TV time to watch House of Cards, Parks & Recreation, and great little movies like Turkey Bowl—the things I always intended to watch but never did.

Additionally, not sitting on the couch also allows me to spend more time going running or hiking, going to the theater, or just hanging with friends. There are so many possibilities in life without cable.

However, I will say that not having a DVR to help me watch the Olympic Games next year will be hard. But, that brings me to my next point…

Viewing Parties

I just came back from an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewing party down the road from my house. A viewing party is pretty much what it sounds like: a bunch of fans sitting in a room or in a bar, watching a show. It’s one of my favorite things!  If there is a show you love, see if you can get a group of friends to come watch with you, and get the bar to make it a theme night. One bar near NYU had entire nights dedicated to 24 (Jack Bauer Power Hour) and Lost (Get Lost Wednesdays)—and, more recently, is still hosting Breaking Bad and Homeland viewing parties.

You can also keep it low-key and just go to a friend’s place. The OC and Grey’s Anatomy are two shows from high school I hold dear because I’d always gather with friends to watch them. Make it even more fun by turning it into a theme night and have a group of friends bring some ‘60s appetizers for a Mad Men party.

After living without cable for a few weeks, I can honestly say “it’s not that hard.” Sure, it’s a bit harder to keep track of shows without a DVR. But now that I figured out how to use my Hulu Plus queue, it’s a piece of cake. If you are unsure if you can cut the cord quite yet, test it out by giving your remote to a friend for a week, signing up for a Hulu Plus trial, and seeing how you do.

Tell us about your experiences cutting the cord in the comments!

Photo by Rob Adams

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