Is Cutting The Cord Even Worth It?
Chances are the answer is “yes.” Depending on what you watch on TV, it may be easier or harder for you to cut the cord and ditch your current cable company, but its definitely something you should consider carefully. Americans spend on average over $100 a month on cable service, with about $150 a month on a TV and internet bundle. If you also already pay for premium channels and sports, you’re likely paying much more than that already. You have to figure out what you need to keep, and what you can get rid of. There’s a good chance that you can get everything you want to watch through a few streaming services that will save you money in the long run.
When you start the process of getting out of your contract, your cable company will probably try to offer you a temporary discount or some other kind of short term promotion to keep you locked in. Do yourself a favor, and do the math first.
You’re going to need:
- An internet connection
- A modem
- A wireless router (could potentially be combined with the Modem)
- Digital media streaming set-top box
- Streaming services that have the content that you want.
- Compact Antenna for Local Channels
Find Out What Internet Only Service That You Can Get
How much are you paying for your cable and internet right now? On average, Americans are paying more than $100 for cable and $47 for internet access separately. Depending on what you already have, its easy to pay much more than $150 for them both.
It comes down to how much speed you’re going to need in order to comfortably stream all your content, without having buffering issues. Netflix says that you need 5.0 Mbps (Megabits per second) to watch HD video, and for 4k you’ll need 25 Mbps. If you’re happy with HD quality, you can get by with 10-25 Mbps which shouldn’t be impossible to get for most of America. If, however, you’re looking for higher quality video, or if you are going to have lots of people using the internet, streaming at the same time, you need to opt for more bandwidth.
Based on what you’re paying now, and what you would pay for internet only, how much money would you have left?
Modems & Routers
Renting your modem from your internet provider costs somewhere between $5 and $12 for the most part. In 2 years that works out to $120 to $288 that you don’t need to spend. If you already have your wireless router(s) figured out, then just get a modem that is approved by your internet service provider. Here are some amazon search results for routers compatible with a few popular cable companies in America:
Streaming Set-Top Boxes
You’re going to need something to receive the streams on. Some TVs come with a few of the services out of the box, but it may not be the best option down the road when new services and apps come out, and TV companies aren’t always fast to update their software.
For a more in depth look at the top options check out our Streaming Set Top Box Buying Guide.
As long as you’re not looking for 4k and extra features, these are very likely your best options.
- Roku Express – Most users will find this one to be good enough. Supports HD, but not 4K. ⇦ Three Broke Guys Pick
Note, if you wind up deciding that getting a subscription to Sling, then you can get the Roku Express for free just by signing up for 2 months.
- Fire TV Stick – Its worth pointing out that it is possible to install some apps on your Fire TV Stick such as Kodi that might be worth considering. If you feel adventurous, do a search to see if this is an option that you want to consider.
The Roku mentioned above is cheaper, and will be great for most people, but the Fire TV Stick is also a great option , and it’s voice remote adds enough convenience to justify the additional cost.
Also, if you want to save some more money, check out the certified refurbished units. They come with warranties comparable to new products and are certified by the manufacturer.
If 4K is important to you, or you want to know what other options are out there, have a look at our Streaming Set Top Box Buying Guide that talks about the different types of Rokus, Amazon Fires as well as other options that you might want to consider.
Get The Streaming Services That You Want
This is where you really have to do your research. We’ve covered the most common options here, but it might be a good idea to look at our Streaming Services Guide anyway so you can see a few more options that are out there. For instance, if you want more news channels or sports, our guide can help you figure out how to get it without breaking the bank.
For a more in depth look at the top options check out our Streaming Services Guide.
Movies, Shows & Documentaries
- Netflix Standard ($9.99/mo) – Netflix has tons of popular shows, and they’re the biggest players in streaming right now. They might not be the only service you need, but you really should consider picking up a subscription to Netflix. This package supports 2 screens and HD streaming. It doesn’t support 4K.
- Amazon Prime Video – (Comes with Prime Membership, $99 per year) – Since it comes with Amazon Prime anyway, and since Prime has so many other benefits, we feel that its worth the expense. There are some great original programming as well as many movies that you can chose from that are free with your Prime membership. If you already have prime, great! Use this as much as you can and get your money’s worth.
Live TV, News and Sports
- Sling Orange – ($20/mo and up) – If you want to stay plugged in with news, sports and local programming, Sling has you covered. This basic package should be good enough for most people since it has most of the popular channels. Sling also has 2 promotions running; they offer a Roku Express if you purchase 2 months of service up front, or a Roku Premier+ for $50 with a prepay of three months of service, which are both pretty great deals. This is a great option if you cant live without your live TV.Before you get sling though, check the next section to see if that might be a good alternative to a $20+ recurring monthly payment.
Get Your Local TV Broadcast Channels Back
If your area has decent over the air local programming, you might be able to get a lot out of having a high quality antenna to let you pick up those channels. The Mohu Leaf is great at that.
Mohu Leaf: This little device comes in handy for picking up local channels that are being broadcasted near you. Keep in mind though, it has a 50 mile range for UHF channels, but only a 20 mile range for VHF channels. Depending on how far you live from the broadcasting station, you should be able to get some of your local programming back onto your TV.
We hope that this guide has been useful in helping you decide how to cut the cord, and free yourself from being stuck with your cable company. If there is anything that you’d like us to talk about, or anything that you feel we’ve missed, let us know in the comments.