How I Cut Cable

Cable sucks. It’s a money suck and a life suck. Our man Richard Dedor figured out how to get his entertainment fix without the $70 per month price tag.

I think most guys in our demo watched a lot of television growing up. I still grew up mostly without the internet and I certainly grew up in an age without Wi-Fi in every house. My viewing began with Tom & Jerry, moved to Garfield and transformed into The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Or was that just me? But in all seriousness, we are all spending more and more time online in the second decade of the 21st Century, which has been argued this led to the declining television viewership numbers.

Still, most people in their mid-twenties purchase some kind of a package from their internet provider for cable or satellite service. I remember back when I was growing up we got phone service from one company and cable service from a separate company. With deregulation of the telecommunication industries came this phenomenon of purchasing products as packaged goods without thinking about them individually. It is both a good and bad situation for the consumer.

Take this for example: A friend of mine and his wife bought a house and got a package of three: phone, internet, and cable. They didn’t really want the phone line, but it was part of the package (and free for the first year). Another friend recently posted on Facebook that he and his wife had finally disconnected their land line.

Ever since I moved out of the house and went to college, I have never had a “home phone number.” But I have always had a cell phone bill and a cable bill. When I moved to the big city I decided to review my budget and if I really needed cable and here is how I came to my decision to cut the cord.

1. How much television do I actually watch?

Compared to when I was growing up in junior high, I would estimate that my television viewing was somewhere around 3-4 hours per night; adding up to nearly 20 hours or more per week. Rewind to just two years ago and I was probably at, including time when I had the television on but was working, I would average it out to two hours per night. That is still a pretty high 14 hours per week. As this season of programming comes to an end, I know that my shows only take up 3.5 hours per week! I may still turn on the television during dinner or while I’m napping, but my viewership has gone down considerably.

2. Is the amount right for my goals?

Had you asked me ten years ago to get done what I am doing now and keep my viewer hours at 20 per week, it would have been impossible. But with my hours down to a much more reasonable 3.5 hours per week – less is needed – I can say that my time is being well spent now.

3. How much will I have to alter my entertainment?

The decision to get rid of cable at home has forced me to change my habits. I have had to give up the programs that I loved on TBS – mostly re-runs – but also Conan. I also miss A&E re-runs. We do get a few stations, but not CBS or NBC which means programs that I might have watched on those stations have to be watched on Hulu. (Hulu by the way has made all this possible.)

4. What does this save me?

This is an interesting question because I can answer this in a number of ways. First let’s talk strictly dollars. I just moved from Kansas City and had I done this while living there, I would have saved nearly $40 per month. (That adds up to $480 per year!) Now that I live in New York City and only pay for internet service, the money saved per month has gone up to $70 or $840 per year. Think about that, I am saving $2.30 a day by just cutting out cable!

The second way to look at this question is time. By reducing my viewing by as little as 10 hours on the low end and 17 hours on the high end, I have given myself much more time to read and create.

And guess what? I’m surviving. With Hulu and understanding that I can work around most of the issues of not having cable, it has definitely been the right choice for me.

Richard Dedor is a writer, speaker and personal coach dedicated to helping each person achieve their dreams. He ran for political office at age 18 and recently published his first book, Anything is Possible. You can find him at his blog Believe in Possible and on Twitter @RichardDedor.

  • http://kylerea.com Kyle Rea

    AppleTV 2 is great for cutting cable, that’s what I did! Haven’t looked back.

  • http://heatherhamer.com Phil Hamer

    Don’t forget netflix too. For less than $10 a month you can watch great shows like Scrubs, Arrested Development, informative documentaries. Couple that with Hulu, I don’t see any reason to pay for cable. Sure, you’ll have to give some things up (American Idol has too many commercials anyway), but its easy to find replacements. You can always get a book too. I was watching so much TV when I was younger I never got around to reading the Harry Potter Series. I was missing out!

  • Justin

    I love not paying for cable. BTW, you can watch full episodes of Conan @ teamcoco.com

  • Andrew Mac

    I use Hulu Plus and Netflix through my PS3.

    Any ideas for watching sports without cable? And what about TLC (my wife is addicted)?

  • eric

    Once they figure out live sports online, I’m there.

  • Brandon

    I havent had cable in over a year and love it! Got Netflix, basic hulu and Amazon through a WDTV Live Plus box, I use Playon to get all kinds of other channels free (TLC, natgeo, discovery and most news channels) ESPN has deals with most Internet to get there content. Doubt I ever go back

    Playon (Playon.tv) is set up to where anyone can create channels for the community) plus they work out deals with providers. I pay 20$ a year.

  • Shaun

    My husband and I never signed up for cable when we moved into our new condo two years ago. Instead we subscribe to Netflix streaming through our PS3 (if you ever needed a reason to convince your wife to get a gaming system, this is gold.) We also use Hulu and just connect our laptop to our television with a small cable; it’s annoying sometimes, but not enough to stop doing it. Lastly, though I thought he was crazy when he bought it, my husband bought an HD Antenna. New school Old school. We pick up about 30 channels just through the air, so we have the major networks, fox, pbs and then some random foreign language channels. The only thing I really miss about cable is AMC for Mad Men, but now we make plans to watch with friends, making TV a social experience. Go figure.

  • http://www.richarddedor.com Richard

    Great comments everyone! :-)

    @Phil – Definitely a great option (I just don’t use it).

    @Justin – Absolutely! I love how awesome Conan’s site is too!

    @Eric – Tennis has gotten pretty good at getting sports online live. Hope more! It is rumored NBC will do some live Olympics as it will help them show them when they are in Russia.

    @Shaun – We do some of the same too with the laptop to the TV and the antenna!

    The times they are a changin’!

  • Shale

    I keep the cable to get the PPV – UFC fights…if there was access to order online I might consider cutting cable…anybody know if its possible to order and watch live online??

  • Derek

    I’ve cut cable too, and haven’t looked back since. For big sporting events (UFC and NCAAF mainly), I’ll either find a watch party or go to a sports bar. Also, ESPN3 streaming (free with Xbox Live if you have a compatible internet provider) covers most of the non-football sporting events you’d want to see.

  • http://passersbyillustrated.blogspot.com Steven

    Why did you give up on Conan? I cut my cable months ago and haven’t missed an episode because they’re all on teamcoco.com

  • http://passersbyillustrated.blogspot.com Steven

    By the way, I watch considerably more television and I ran the numbers to see how much you would save with my own viewing habits if I were to move to AppleTV. http://wesleytech.com/can-apple-tv-replace-cable/2309/ The math didn’t quite add up if you intend on watching everything. I still cut my cable and I don’t think I’m missing anything I couldn’t live without.

  • http://richarddedor.com/blog Richard

    @Steven – I didn’t give up on Conan … I love watching him online! Speaking of Conan … search for his Dartmouth Commencement speech … hilarious!

    @Derek – Do you know if Time Warner gives you access to ESPN3 if you only buy internet, and not cable with them?

  • Derek

    Time Warner is a participating internet provider of ESPN3, no cable subscription necessary. For a list of all the compatible providers, check here: http://espn.go.com/espn3/affList

  • Ricardo

    When I first subscribed to netflix, i bought a Roku digital media box so i could stream the (back then VERY limited) netflix movie selection to my TV. That was the start of it.

    Today, I havent had cable for nearly 2+ years, and between Hulu+ ($7.00), Netflix ($7.00), Crackel (free), Revision3 (free), and Roku Newscaster (free), I’m NEVER without something to watch. I have a coupld of old rabbit ears on my TV when i want to watch the local news. On the rare occasion that I absolutely MUST catch a game, I just sneak over to the local pub and watch it there (which is more fun anway).

    I pay $14 a month total, and have more content than I could ever burn through. All in HD.

  • Scott

    @Shale – if you were to have a streaming device (Roku, PS3, etc.) you could subscribe to the UFC channel and get your PPV through it.

    I have a Roku, and I stream MLB.TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle through it. No more cable bills!!!!!!

  • Denis

    I thought you were going to talk about cutting cables in the sense of audio, etheret, and other cables from bulk rolls and fitting conectors on. Ha!

  • http://www.urbanadventurer.com/blog/ Jennifer

    Apple TV and Netflix are all my boyfriend and I need. Especially in the summertime! Cable is a huge waste for us; we so much prefer redirecting that cash toward something more active and fun!

  • Craig

    Wow, I just found this site. It fucking rules.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Hey Craig, Glad you like it!! Thanks for reading!

  • Ethan

    know I’m late, but as of today I have officially cut cable!

  • http://richarddedor.com/ Richard

    @Ethan – Doesn’t matter when, you’re doing it! :) Way to go!