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A Dad’s Guide to Getting Rid of Cable

Last year I decided to switch to DirecTV to save some money on our monthly cable bill while gaining access to all of the NFL games last season. Don’t laugh. So I canceled my Time Warner Cable package and signed my 2-year contract with DirecTV for something like $85 a month. A savings of about $40 bucks a month when all was said and done. I went back to my wife, who’s veins flow with mad negotiating skills and bragged, “I just talked this DirecTV lady down and she gave me crazy discounts! WHO’S THE SHARK NOW?! HUH?! YEAH! I’M THE SHARK!”

I’m the shark…

Six months later my bill went up $20 dollars. What?! Wait! I confirmed three times with this lady that $85 was my monthly bill moving forward. What is this nonsense? Oh well, it’s only $20 bucks. Still cheaper than what I was paying before. In another three months my bill went up yet again. I’m the…shark?

I called in and surprise, surprise. Yes, discounts WERE applied to my monthly bill. BUT, each discount was a separate “promotion” and therefore expired at different points into my contract. These are all things a real shark would…ya know, READ ABOUT and understand before signing up. “Who’s the shark now, Rick?” asked Rachel. Hurtful So very hurtful. But fair.

It turns out that I’m a guppy! It’s cool though, cause guppies are highly adaptable and thrive in many different environmental and ecological conditions. SUP NOW SHARKS!

When I realized that by the end of my DirecTV sentence I would be paying over $200 a month, I decided enough was enough. I called up, spent an hour convincing customer service that yes, I’m sure that I want to cancel my contract, and paid a $275 cancellation fee. $275 for freedom, you laugh? Mel Gibson paid the ULTIMATE PRICE for freedom in Brave Heart. HIS LIFE, PEOPLE!


When we relocated to Seattle a few months later, I was done with cable. Five years, four different homes, four different states. I’ve had enough. I paid a premium for a thousand channels I never wanted or watched. I’m sick of bundles. Cable TV is like going to the market for organic baby spinach, but being forced to buy off-brand cheerios AND “freshly baked yesterday donuts” with your greens. Before you know it you’re watching a Lord of the Rings marathon that lasts from 10AM to 3AM the next day on SPIKE while munching on Cheer Heroes!.

All this when all you ever really wanted was HBO, HGTV and the weather channel (before they started sensationalizing and naming every.single.storm).

A La Carte in a Box

This idea has been floating around for a number a years and it’s finally catching on. Pick what you want to watch and pay for it. You mean like everything else we do on a daily basis? YES! In order to cut your cable, you need two things:

1. A streaming device
2. A wireless connection

Amazon FireTV (popcorn not included)
Amazon FireTV (popcorn not included)

SO which streaming device? I decided to go with Amazon Fire TV because I already pay $99/year for their Prime service, which also gives you 2-day shipping, access to 40,000 Prime video titles, over a million songs and something like 5GB on their cloud service (for pictures, etc.).

If you’re tied into Apple’s ecosystem you may want to consider the Apple TV. I was very close to picking up a ROKU box as it sports very similar technical specifications as the Fire TV. If I didn’t already pay for prime, I probably would have gone for the ROKU 3.

A list of the most popular apps available on the Amazon FireTV

Once you get one of the above boxes, you’ll have access to that ecosystem’s TV and Movie catalog along with all of the major streaming services.


Newer to the market, these little USB thumb drive sticks are all the rage now…and I see why! What are they? Well think of them as mini me boxes with inferior tech specs (especially for gaming) but enough gusto to get the job done. They plug right into your TV’s HDMI slot.

Amazon FireTV Stick

I just picked up a FireTV Stick for $39. It works just like the FireTV, but the size of a thumb drive and less than half the price. The FireTV stick sports a dual-core processor, 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of memory.

Roku also has a streaming stick for $49. The Roku Streaming Stick has 256MB of storage and 512MB of memory. I don’t have any experience with any Roku devices, but they’ve got overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Also on the market is Google’s Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player. You can plug this stick directly into your TV or computer monitor and have access to all of the major streaming services along with the Google Play store. It has 2GB of built-in storage and 512MB of memory. Again, I don’t have any experience with this device, but it’s the #1 bestseller in it’s class on Amazon. If you’re an android user and deep into Google’s ecosystem, this may be the stick for you!

Extra, Extra!

To fill in some of the holes left from cutting the cord, I did the following:

Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna


1. Purchased a digital antenna called the Mohu Leaf to get 50+ local channels over the air in HD.

It hooks up right to your TV’s coaxial cable. You can pin it right behind the TV on the wall, or stick it to a window. Mine is completely hidden by my TV.

With the Leaf, I get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS. So that’s news, weather and sports, in HD, all for a one-time fee $40. Crazy or common sense?!

2. Added subscriptions to Netflix (8.99/mo for HD) and Hulu Plus (7.99/mo HD). These apps can both be watched on any of the above streaming boxes AND mobile devices. Hello, iPad!

Resistance and Silly Push-Back

Whenever you suggest taking something away that most people grew up with or have had access to for most of their lives, there’s always push back. Like when I started eating a mostly Paleo diet, people would say…how can you deprive your LITTLE GIRLS of peanut butter and jelly? What’s wrong with PB&J? You monster. Same with cable. How could I deprive my girls of Nickelodeon and all of it’s sub channels? Am I a monster? No fool, I’m a GUPPY!

The Amazon FireTV and Mohu Leaf are both hidden behind our TV. No more messy cords, set top boxes or cables!

For naysayers, Nickelodeon shows ARE available on Amazon Prime Video for streaming. Amazon/Nick dictate which seasons are available in the Prime catalog (included in your yearly subscription), but you can always purchase whatever you want at any time from any season that’s available. Just as an example, right now about two of the six seasons of Nick Jr’s Dora the Explorer are available for Prime Instant Video. The prime offerings rotate over the course of the year. The rest are available for purchase if you so choose.

Regularly updated new releases on Amazon’s Instant Video

And unlike cable, there are no commercials when you buy shows individually or stream from the Prime catalog or Netflix (except for Hulu Plus). So with the FireTV, my girls don’t have to sit through mind-numbing amounts of product pushing while watching a twenty minute show (as they would with cable). Additionally, with the Mohu Leaf I get PBS over the air. So while I get breakfast started for the girls and drink my cup of coffee, my 2-year old watches a show or two on PBS. I like PBS.

The really, reallys.

Before cutting the cord:
Cable – $200/month
Internet – $80/month (I think TWC was ripping me off)

Total- $3,360/year

After cutting the cord:
Internet – $55/month
Netflix – $7.99/month
Hulu Plus – $8.99/month
Amazon Prime – $99/year
Amazon Fire TV – $99
Mohu Leaf HD Digital Antenna – $40

Total- $963/year plus $139 for FireTV and Mohu Leaf

First year savings of: $2,258 (due to the one-time equipment purchases above)
Annual savings thereafter: $2,397

Keep this in mind…

I had Rach read this over and her eyes bulged as she once again realized the yearly savings that this bad-ass super awesome guppy achieved. From there it devolved into a mini debate about how I HAVE to mention that I rent one movie a week and that adds up. FIRST OF ALL I don’t rent one movie a week. Maybe two per month. But for fun, let’s say that I did rent one movie per week for a year at $5.99 per HD rental (you can pick standard def or high def, high definition being a dollar or two more). That’s about $312 a year. For us, it’s still a savings of $2,085! Sup Sharks.

And with that bullet-proof point, it’s important to remember that any extra content that doesn’t fall into one of the streaming catalogs of Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, will have to be purchased individually or by season if it’s a TV show.

The Lost & Forgotten

Letting go is hard. If you’ve ever had to downsize and move into a smaller home, you can empathize. It’s the same thing for cutting cable. ESPN, my sweet prince…how I miss your daily Johnny Football gossip.

No HBO yet…

While there are apps available on streaming devices for ESPN and HBO, they require a cable subscription to view any content. While other channels such as AMC, HGTV, DIY Network don’t even have apps. They’re simply gone, babe. Gone. The good news is this: You’ll get over it. OR you’ll just watch whatever show you’re missing out on whenever it gets released to one of the streaming services you subscribe to. OR you’ll purchase it when it’s available. OR you just won’t leave your cable bundle!

The Good News

It’s pretty clear that change is in the water. Over the next few years I fully expect major networks to break free from their cable contracts and offer programming a la carte to streaming devices. Once HBO offers their programs without requiring a cable subscription, watch for others to quickly follow suit.

But when, Rick? When!

I’m afraid guppies aren’t privy to the business of sharks.


As a dad, breaking free from cable and satellite was a really big deal for me. It not only saved my family A LOT of money monthly, but also put me back in the driver seat on what my girls are exposed to (no commercials).

In this post I feature Amazon products while mentioning others on the market. The reason I did this was because they’re the only ones that I have experience with! I did a lot a research prior to grabbing the FireTV vs the Roku and AppleTV, and it just happened to be what fit for my family. So please keep that in mind if you do decide to get rid of cable.

Do what works for you! You’re an adult!

Pros to cutting the cord:
– Over two thousand dollars in savings annually
– No Commercials
– I control what my children’s eyeballs are exposed to
– No contracts or shady business on my bills
– No hideous set top box (with outdated software) sitting on my TV stand

– Not all content is available

Get over it!

Check out part two here!


One stay at home dad (to be) conquers DIY and Diapers

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Grant Laird Jr

    This is what we have been doing for a few years now. Netflix is basically my primary channel. When FIOS offered the best deal to include cable service for about 10 dollars more a month, I took it, however I refused to rent their basic or DVR boxes. However, they required me to pick something, I pick cablecard service for only 5 dollars a month (better than 12 dollars for a basic box with on demand service) and I never used it. I used my iPad or Android phone to watch cable channels from time to time. Also, we hook cable straight to my TV for local channels and it works good. (Only 12 channels total)

    For HBO, since we save a lot of money, we just buy Blu-ray DVDs. I used Sony Blu-Ray box for all of our DVDs plus it has built-in Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and many others. (Very similar to Roku2, AppleTV and Chromecast) My question for you is, will Mohu Leaf work for ANYONE? This is something I need to take a good look at it. Again, thank you for sharing good information!!

    I paid about $95 for everything, including cable service above plus 75/75 Internet service. Not too bad.

    I may have to look for a deal again once two year contract is over. Ugh.

    1. Rick

      Hey Grant, Thanks for the reply! Looks like you’ve got a pretty great setup going currently for a decent price! $95 isn’t too bad! The Mohu Leaf is great, but reception is everything. It seems like I get slightly above average reception, which equates to around 52 channels.

      How do you find if you’ll get good reception? Go to TV Fool, type in your address and click “Find Local Channels”. After loading, it will bring up a color coded chart with all of the networks in range, strength and distance of signal. All of the major networks are in the green for me (broadcasting from about 20-25 miles away).

      With this information you can decide which Mohu would work for you. They have the Mohu 30 (which is what I have) and the Mohu 50 (which is amplified to pick up broadcasts up to 50 miles away). What I found is that my Mohu easily picks up broadcasts much further than 30 and even 50 miles.

      If your report doesn’t have anything in a reasonable range, the Mohu may not work out for you. I know there are stronger roof mounted digital antennas, but unfortunately I don’t have any experience with them!

      Hope that helped a little!

    2. Colette

      So if you have Hulu and Netflix, why do you need Amazon Fire? I know you had Prime already, just wondering if this adds anything other than the ability to watch more movies / shows?

      1. Rick

        The FireTV and TV sticks have amazon video and amazon prime video on them. The former is similar to cable’s “on demand” where you purchase and rent movies and TV shows. You can also subscribe to new TV shows to get the latest episodes for certain shows. Amazon prime video is similar to Netflix and Hulu, sporting their own original series along with a large catalog of TV shows and movies without commercials.

  2. Lisa

    This is great Rick!!! I want to do this but always am worried about being able to see the Flyers and Phillies in real time. I am NOT technically savvy enough to know what that would take or if that is possible. Also, for multiple TV’s do you need multiple antennas to get local channels?

    Happy Holidays!!!!

    1. Rick

      Thanks Lisa! Merry Christmas!

      At this point I’m not sure if there’s a good way to get all of the Flyers/Phillies games without a cable subscription. I know that there is an MLB.com app and an NHL Gamecenter app, but I’m not really sure if they offer full games and what the price associated with those may be. So that may be a deal breaker.

      As for your second question, yes multiple TVs would require their own digital antenna for local channels, along with their own streaming box or stick. For example, our bedroom TV has it’s own Mohu Leaf with the Amazon FireTV stick.

      Hope that helps and give my best to Rich and the family!

      1. James Hayward

        As you mention in your article, it is always strange doing something different from how it was when you grew up – that’s why I always find the lack of aerials in the US a bit strange! Every home in the UK (mostly) has one as for a long time that was the only way to get any channels.

        Lisa – if you go for a roof-mounted aerial, you can then get a splitter unit and have that one aerial feeding multiple TVs. If you are feeling brave you can route the co-axial cable into the walls and have aerial sockets in the rooms your TVs are in. This is what we tend to do in the UK – everyone has access to the same free digital channels over the air.

        If you do that, I would suggest getting an installer in for the roof-mounted installation, as they are directional, and a bit tricky! You can then put the splitter in your loft (roof space?) and run the cables where they are needed.

        1. Rick

          James- That’s really interesting about most UK homes having these. Cable companies in the US really suck consumers in with their contract and bundles. It seems most people forget you can get so many channels in HD over the air! Great info, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Joe Smith

    Dudebro – http://www.ulive.com has all of the HGTV/Travel/Food Network etc. shows. There’s a plugin for xbmc which can be loaded onto the amazon fire tv.

    1. Rick

      Thanks Joe! I’ve never heard of ulive up until now! I’ll have to read up on XMBC and report on that later.

      For everyone wondering…ulive.com is a collection of the major home & garden channels (The Food Network, Travel Channel, HGTV, DIY Network the Cooking Channel) all available to view/stream for free.

  4. Henri

    The best thing for me with cordcutting is the quality of what I’m watching has gone up. Instead of push content from the cable companies, it’s pull content therefore I’m choosing what I watch. I used to just flip on the TV and watch what was showing at the time. Also having no commercials has tremendously increased my quality of TV viewing.

    1. Rick

      Henri- Great points! I didn’t realize how much junk I would end up watching with a cable subscription and all the things that came with it (commercials and marathons). The quality of my viewing experience has gone up as well!

    2. Eddie Dykes

      THANKS a bunch guys and gals. I have had DirecTv since the beginning of time, when you had to pay a YEAR IN ADVANCE for the service, plus pay for the receiver and antenna. WELL I finally CUT THE CORD last month when the service was $140/mo. I bought and OTA antenna, an put it on a 21′ length of 1 inch black pipe and attached the pipe to my steel fence post. Then hooked the coax cable from the antenna to the coat that is pre-wired into the house, added a 4-way splitter and get 48 FREE channels (some are Latino). I live in Waxahachie, Texas approximately 14 mile from Cedar Hill, TX. Cedar Hill is where all the television broadcasting towers are locate. It is the highest area in Dallas/Fort Worth.

  5. Justin

    Have you tried out any of the free streaming services like Crackle or Tubi TV? You’ll see commercials again but free is nice.

  6. Thanks for the info, Rick! We had been thinking about changing over for awhile, and then our kids gave us Apple TV, Netflix and HBO for Christmas! Now we just have to figure out the major channels part and we also will be cable free forever! Happy New Year!

    1. Rick

      Thanks for reading Sue! I think you’ll REALLY enjoy having Netflix and the Apple TV. It can be a HUGE savings annually and personally I enjoy what I’m watching much more now than I did with cable. It feels like a curated, more premium experience! Happy New Year!

  7. Beth Roberts

    mohu also offers a streaming device that allows you to set any website as a channel. Allows you to watch cbs.com content, for example, for free, but with their commercials. Has anyone tried this yet? http://store.gomohu.com/channels-ota-streaming-device.html
    Initial cost is a little higher than other streaming devices, but claims to give much more…

    1. Rick

      Hi Beth!! Thanks for showing me this, I didn’t realize Mohu had a streaming product on the market. I have to say I’m really impressed with the Mohu Leaf so far, so I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on one of these.

  8. Tyrone Barton

    Rick, you can also watch current tv shows posted just minutes after being on tv (and with NO commercials) on couchtuner.eu. BUT use an adblocker on a browser other than safari. For some reason it doesn’t do a good job of blocking the pop ups and Russians brides. LOL — they also have the full seasons leading up to the current shows. For example, I use an iPad with Google Chrome browser turning adblocker on, or another great browser for tablets, Mercury(turn adblocker on) and use your fire/google/Apple to watch on ur tv screen. Also I, you can stream local news and weather real time online or with apps. I know sometimes people worry about realtime weather reports.

    1. Rick

      Hi Tyrone, Thanks for the suggestion! Is this website legal? I’ve never heard of it!

  9. Tyrone Barton

    The website is, but maybe what it’s doing isn’t? All the videos there are hosted BY other people’s sights that link back to video play. So maybe that’s how they get around being shut down? — I don’t know the legalities of it Rick. Maybe that would also be a good post?

    I know in my travels other countries don’t have the same copyright/trademark et cetera rules…that’s why in Belize it’s legal to make as many copies of music CDs you like and resell them…or videos in Benin.

    Not trying to justify…I just don’t know.

  10. Celestina

    Allllll righty then! I”ve been thinking of this; I have a smart TV, an Apple TV box, and I have a leaf. It think it’s time to learn how to use them!! Thanks for the push, Rick!!

    1. Rick

      Wow you’re locked and loaded lady! Glad I could inspire you to take the leap! Let me know how it works out for you!

  11. Rachel

    Really great tips! Question – what if I want to record something from local cable (connecting through the Mohu Leaf)? Do I need to buy a dvr or am I just out of luck?

    1. Rick

      Thanks Rachel! There IS an option for this! It’s called the Tivo Roamio OTA and it hooks up directly to the Mohu Leaf (or any digital antenna). And it’s only $50! BUT! There’s a $15/mo subscription fee, so keep that in mind!

  12. Nichole

    Hey Rick! I’m definitely using your post to convince my mother to get rid of cable and do the switch; I already have, Firestick all of the way! I just wanted to let you know about this app called Sling that popped up when I was browsing the Amazon Apps. It’s 20/35 bucks a month, but it has these channels:

    ESPN, TNT, TBS, AMC, Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Polaris, A&E, IFC, CNN, History, ABC Family and Lifetime. Since you missed ESPN and HGTV (I understand missing the HGTV!) I thought you’d like to know. That package was 20 I think, and then for an extra 15 dollars a month you also get HBO and subsequently HBO NOW. Even with the extra cost each month it’s still cheaper than cable! Good luck! 🙂

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