I’ve paid for cable TV in one form of fashion for the past 10 years. Most recently I’ve been a DirecTV customer since 2008 when they offered 15,000 Priority Club points for sign up.
I had tried to cut down some of the cost by purchasing an owned receiver off of Ebay for so that I would skip the monthly rental fee. If you choose to go down this path, make sure that prior to buying you get the RID number from the seller (most post it in their pictures) and call DirecTV to confirm that it is in fact an owned receiver. I had a couple of people who stated in their auctions that their receivers were owned but DirecTV said they were in fact leased.
Even with doing this, my monthly DirecTV bill was $90 plus $6.95 monthly fee for my old school Series2 Tivo and $0 for my old school Series2 Tivo with lifetime service. This means that I was paying $1163.00 a year for the privilege of having access to cable TV. And for what? To watch American Pickers, Top Chef, Bar Rescue, and America’s Test Kitchen? Certainly there was a fair amount of sports as well. But is all that worth $1200 a year when I could be using that money for something else – perhaps travel?
I decided it was time to formulate a plan to cut the DirecTV cord and go for something a lot cheaper while still having access to some decent shows. I started by looking at different set boxes in order to run Amazon Prime, NetFlix, Vudu, Hulu Plus and all the other various on demand services out there. I ended up deciding on the Roku 2 XS mostly for the clean interface and that it has a ethernet connection on the back to cut down on buffering. I picked up a refurbished one up for $50 from 1saleaday.com and another from Costco for $80 that included an HDMI cord.
The Roku interface
Next, I had to find an Over the Air Antenna in order to pull down the free HD channels. The forums at TV Fool and instructions on Antenna Web were very helpful in helping to pick out the right antenna. You can even enter in your address and it will show a map of which direction to point your antenna to get the maximum amount of channels. I ended up purchasing the Antennas Direct DB4E Antenna for $55. A good friend came and installed it in my attic pointed in the correct direction.
I called Tivo to find out about upgrading to an HD receiver. The associate I spoke with actually suggested that I shop Ebay for a Series 3 HD Tivo that was going for around $40 and that I would be able to transfer my incredible $6.95 rate over to that unit. The Series 2 Tivo with lifetime unfortunately won’t transfer.
Lastly, I have been playing around with the various streaming services. My favorites are the free Amazon Prime service when you subscribe to Amazon prime for $79 a year. I also have enjoyed the selection and parental control options with Netflix.
In summary, my upfront costs have been:
$55 for Antenna
$120 for 2 – Series 3 HD Tivos ($40 + $20 shipping each)
$50 for Roku 2 XS
$80 for Roku 2 XS
My ongoing monthly costs will be:
$7.99 for Netflix
$6.95 for Series 3 TIVO
$9.95 for second series 3 TIVO
This comes out to an ongoing savings of $72 a month or $864 a year. I’m still able to get all the normal channels – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, and PBS in clear, crisp HD.
clear, crisp HD for free
Most of the TV series are on Netflix or Amazon Prime though a little delayed. Luckily my favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, are usually on nationally on the normal channels. If I start to miss the NBA too much, I can buy the NBA League pass through the Roku for $75 a year. Overall I’m glad that I finally dumped DirecTV and freed up some more cash for traveling. If you’re sick of paying so much for cable each month, you can cut the cable too!