Cancel your cable or satellite ?

By glblguy


When we first moved into our new home here in the mountains, one of the first things we did was order satellite TV. We didn’t go with a large package, just a basic one with local channels and a few kids channels. Expensive enough though. We have Dish Network, and the cost (even with bundle savings) is $64.77 per month or $777.24 per year.

This isn’t a significant portion of our monthly budget, but big enough especially considering we really don’t watch much TV at all. In fact, the only time my wife and I watch TV is on the weekends, and that has recently been spent watching movies from Netflix (more on Netflix in a bit). Our kids don’t really watch much TV either and if they do it’s shows on either PBS or Nickelodeon. My wife and I spend our time in the evenings either reading or working on our computers. I do enjoy watching the occasional Nascar race and Carolina Panthers game, but if I couldn’t it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Alternatives to cable and satellite

Given the limited amount of time we actual spend watching TV, I honestly feel like I’m throwing $64.77 per month out the window. We do like to watch a TV show or two every so often, so completely eliminating our ability to watch TV isn’t a preferred option. As a result, I’ve spent some time researching various alternative options. Here’s what I’ve found:

Network shows

Most all major network shows are available on the network’s websites. This includes shows like Lost, 20/20, Dancing with the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Ghost Whisperer and many more. What’s not available there is most likely available on which includes shows from NBC, FOX, Comedy Central, PBS, USA Network, Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, SPEED Channel, Sci Fi, Style, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus, and Oxygen.

Amazon Video on Demand also offers streamable episodes of popular TV shows from CBS, FOX, NBC and Showtime. Episodes currently run $1.99 each. They can be watched on your computer, on your TV through your computer, or by using a device such as the Ruku Player. The big advantage with Amazon Video on Demand is that episodes are commercial free, which is nice.


Quite a few options have recently become available for watching movies in addition to the standard options. Local movie stores such as Blockbuster are still an option, but so is renting online from services such as Netflix, which I have recently become a HUGE fan of. Check out: Blockbuster vs. Netflix for a great comparison

Netflix offers DVD rentals by mail, along with certain movies streamable over the internet. Streamable movies can be watched through your computer directly, your computer hooked up to your TV, or by using a box such as the Ruku Player. While streaming options are limited at this point, I except this selection to grow over the next few years. has also entered the business of streaming movies in edition to television shows also through Amazon Video on Demand. Movie prices are generally around $4 for a 24 hour rental.

Media PC

An option I have been researching is using one of our old computers to set-up a Media PC. This would allow us to watch DVDs, YouTube videos, Netflix video on demand and Amazon Video on Demand. I’m still researching this option and if I do anything, I’ll write something up about it.

The big advantage here is that we wouldn’t need to move our laptops over to the TV.

To cancel satellite TV or not

To cancel satellite TV or not. This is the question I’ve been struggling with for the past few week. I mean, why pay the monthly fee when I could watch the very limited TV shows we normally watch for free. I’ll keep you posted on my decision and how things go.

Have any of you made this switch? Are you happy with your decision? Any major cons I should be aware of? Do you have a Media PC, Ruku Player device or something else? Share your experience, add a comment!

Photo by: vår resa

31 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Cancel your cable or satellite ?”

  1. Nicholai Says:

    We dropped cable about a year ago and are never planning to go back. It was weird the first three weeks or so, because we had no idea what to do with all our extra time. We don’t even have an antenna because we’ve been spoiled not having to watch commercials and watching our two or three favorite shows on our own time. Our TV has a VGA port so we just hook it up to the laptop. Between Hulu and Netflix, you’ll get by just fine.

  2. Nicki at Domestic Cents Says:

    We switched everything a few weeks ago. We had a bundle package and realized we didn’t need many features we were paying for so we broke it all up: basic cable, slightly slower internet, and local-only phone. We are saving around $70/mo.

    We were initially very nervous about switching, thinking we’d really be missing out. That hasn’t been the case. We’ve actually been just fine watching less television (because we no longer have our DVR) and found ourselves talking more. It’s definitely been worth it to us.

  3. Dan Pedersen Says:

    We dropped back to the $10 cable package in January when the rates went up. But DTV has better signal quality than our local cable and the most basic package has nothing useful to the family in it. I’m going to cancel that too – total savings $~55/month. We watch most everything we’re interested in on hulu now minus things like espn – not sure how I’m going to get by without Monday Night Football…

  4. Scott Edwards Says:

    I took out a satellite contract just over 6 months ago, thinking I would watch enough TV to justify it. Going through the list of recordings I have made, I barely watch anything on any of the premium channels I have subscribed to.

    I’m planning to cancel at the end of the 12month minimum term and switch to another provider but only for my Internet connection. I will be happy with just the free to air TV channels, Skype as my home phone and cable broadband. It should save me about £40 ($60) per month.

    Very good points about the shows that are made to tempt you onto a network being available online!

  5. Lee Says:

    I personally enjoy being able to just turn on the t.v. and catch a show that I like when it’s on. And my family and I make it a family thing to do together.

    I believe that the expense is okay when you’re meeting your obligations and the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Just because you’re generally frugal doesn’t mean that you cut out all enjoyment.

    I think it’s fine to pay for satellite, as long as you and your family are using it sometimes, and you’ve worked out the best deal you can get from your provider.

  6. Diane Says:

    I currently don’t have cable since my roommates didn’t feel like paying for it, and it’s really not bad at all. I got an antenna so that I could pick up local channels, but I don’t even use that very much. So I would say cancel the satellite, you probably won’t miss it.

  7. Brian Says:

    I cancelled my satellite (Dish Network) about 3 months ago. I find that a simple pair of rabbit ears gets me 4 local HD channels 100% of the time and another 6 channels about 75% of the time. That, combined with an Apple TV device provide all of the TV entertainment I need. I love Apple’s $0.99 movie rentals (they normally have between 3 and 6 movies at that super low price each week).

  8. Andrew Says:

    If you go the Media PC route, you could drop in an ATSC tuner and have free HD DVR capabilities. Been running one with 2 tuners for about 3 years and love it. Between that and Netflix we don’t have much need for cable/satellite.

  9. Heather Says:

    We dropped cable 11 years ago and haven’t looked back since. We get Netflix, watch on the living room tv or download play on hubby’s computer (the rest are Ubuntu machines). When things get super busy (like summer) we drop Netflix until we start craving movies again.

  10. Bible Money Matters Says:

    We don’t pay for cable or satellite TV, mainly because the offerings on Hulu and netflix combined are so good.

    Combine that with the fact that you can stream Hulu, netflix and other online video services directly to your TV using an Xbox or other compatible media player, and the reasons for paying for cable just about disappear.

    We use a software called Playon by Media Mall to stream all those services to the xbox from our computer. It costs about $40 for a one time fee. Much cheaper than cable!

  11. Craig Says:

    I couldn’t do it just yet because there are a lot of shows I enjoy watching and quality special programming like HBO I want to watch. But I see how people can. Between, Netflix, and other sites that stream, it is very easy to watch shows for free.

  12. Katrina Says:

    I cancelled cable last August, when a move “justified” Time Warner in doubling my fees and cutting my channels in half. I’ve loved every minute of it. All the good shows can be found online, either through the broadcasting company, hulu or netflix (lots of shows are on netflix the day after they broadcast, with NO commercials, including some cable shows.)

    I do have rabbit ears & a converter box, so I can still watch shows (mostly the news), but I don’t miss cable at all. At this point, with so many other options, it just seems silly to pay a cable company such ridiculously high rates for something you can get for free.

  13. D Says:

    I currently own a Ruku through netflix and I love it! For $100 you get any shows you want for FREE through netflix. I’m not much of a TV watcher myself, and when I do it’s normally old shows – so I can get them through netflix and watch them on my ruku. I also invested in one of those DTV Converter Boxes, so I have all the basic channels (Fox, PBS, NBC, ABC, etc.), and have everything I could ever watch! Also by not watching too much tv – I can be creative in another way!

  14. Erin Says:

    We are canceling our satellite on the day that our contract runs out (April 12)…like you, we realized we weren’t watching it and were spending too much on something we didn’t get value from. We do use Hulu and we love Netflix. A note about canceling: we were prepared to pay the early termination fee of $150 back in October, but when we called, they basically cut off more than $20 a month from our bill, saving us $120 for six months of service, so we decided to continue the service that the discounted rate until the cut-off date. It didn’t change our mind, but it saved us money in the short run–we got four months of service for the fee it would have cost us to turn it off ($40/mo x 4)…so we only paid an additional $80 over canceling early.

  15. Cheapchick Says:

    Try for free radio entertainment. Many genres from Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Acid, even Surf and Trance stations. My husband found this site when looking at possibly buying satellite radio. He listens to this instead. For free you get access to 90% of the stations listed. For a small monthly membership you get higher frequency stations, less popups and add free listening but personally I am ok with those for so many listening options. This might add to the free entertainment pie.

  16. Abigail Says:

    As someone who watches a LOT of TV (fatigue issues, home a lot and hubby is unemployed) I personally love our satellite. I actually did some budget massaging to find enough to upgrade. Even so, we pay less than you do. (We were paying $46, now paying $59.) So perhaps you should consider downgrading first. There’s no way you have the basic package at that rate. I never quite understood why people who don’t watch much TV get such big cable packages.

    That, for me, would be the first step. If you really don’t watch it much, though, it sounds like you should cancel. My husband and I catch up on shows like Dexter (we don’t have premium channels) through rental. Hulu is pretty good, too, but we’re not big on watching things on the computer.

  17. Catherine Says:

    PLEASE write more on this topic … I’m soooo confused :(

    I have a bundle package with my cable and internet, but I don’t have a land phone. How do I get the best internet connection? How do I hook the tv up to my computer? I will do without cable in a heartbeat if I could just answer these questions. Help!


  18. Abigail Says:


    If Comcast is available in your area (and you’re not already using it) the company routinely offers a $19.95 cable internet 6-month trial. (Well, affiliates offer it, technically.) Just type in “Comcast” “19.95” into a search engine and you should find it. Then, at the end of the trial, call and say that money’s tight and you will probably have to cancel because you can’t afford the full rate. Generally, you can get at least another 6 months at $22.95.

    As for hooking up a tv to cable, I have no idea. But I’m sure the instructions can be found through a search engine, if no one here can answer that question.

  19. Travis @ CMM Says:

    I recently renewed my contract and added HD programming for the same price. I really enjoy having the TV to watch our favorite programs and sporting events. While I could just buy the dvd’s of my favorite tv shows, there’s nothing that can replace all the sporting events I love watching. So for now the satellite stays. But I can definitely see the benefits of not having one.

  20. Curt Says:

    Yes, I cancelled by cable a few months ago to save $450/year.

  21. Faerylandmom Says:

    Yes. Cancel. Not only can you watch them for free, but on your own time. No planning around the shows. Plus, there are many shows you can now buy used through Blockbuster/Hollywood/etc… previously viewed for decent prices.

    I’d say go for it. :-)

  22. Marie Head Says:

    tv programs are generally boring, except for some PBS, I haven’t had a tv since ’94. I do watch Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Columbo on other people’s set. I have used my computer for movies, but the sound sometimes, usually is a little too low. I’m thinking of getting a flat screen tv for just watching movies, but I don’t know if that would work. I love classic movies.

  23. DDFD at Says:

    I am struggling with this one . . . I am considering a combo solution. A solution that blends online, high powered antenna, and movie service. I am reaching the end of being disappointed with cable’s high prices and low service.

  24. MyJourney Says:

    Someone above me said downgrading first. I just did this and saved approximately 250 bucks for the year – and dropped HBO another 120 for the year.

    The downgrading occurred because when I called to complain about how much I was paying, I was informed I had 100 chans I never wanted or even put on!!!! And with HBO I just hook up my laptop and boom I have tons of movies via hulu and a couple other legal sites.

    Even wrote a post about it

  25. Trendy2 Says:

    I’m also considering doing this. So much content can be streamed via Hulu, Netflix, Boxee and others. My only concern is live sports. I’m a big fan of Formula 1 and Premier League soccer and I’m not aware of any kind of streams for those. But, yeah, I’m trying to cut down several bills just because it’s getting out of control and paying $130/mo. for DirecTV has just got to stop.

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  27. Adam Eike Says:

    We love your blog. I hope you post more things like this. I will definetly be returning to see what else you post….

  28. Andrew Says:

    One website changed it all for me. I dropped cable and have been running on my media center pc since.