Cord Cutters Survival Stories: Bye Bye Cable TV

What’s it like to cut the cord from pay TV? What’s working, what’s missing, and what kind of equipment does the best job replacing the cable box? In our new weekend series, we’re asking cord cutters to tell us about their experiences. This week’s featured cord cutter is Ryan Flynn, who estimates that he saves around $70 per month since he cut the cord.

A few weeks ago I did what some might deem impossible or unthinkable: I cancelled cable TV. In retrospect it was long overdue. With today’s technology and high speed internet connections, I can watch most of my favorite shows on-demand with little or no extra cost. Ditto for movies, news, and even some sports.

Pre-Cord Cutting Setup: Our house has two TVs: a 42” LCD coupled with a soundbar/subwoofer on the main floor and a 50” DLP with 5.1 surround sound in the basement. The TV on the main floor has a DVD player and in the basement we have a DVD player and Xbox 360. We also have been subscribers of Netflix’s 2-disc-at-a-time plan for years and use their streaming service to watch movies on the Xbox.

Our traditional TV package that we had for the past year was from AT&T’s (s T) U-Verse.  Before I made the call to cancel the U-Verse TV, I put together the following products and services for a seamless transition:

1) Antennas Direct DB4 Multi-Directional HDTV Antenna An antenna hooked up to your TVs still allows you to get all of your local channels, over the air, for free, the good ol’ fashioned way. Lucikly, my attic was already wired with coax cable from a previous owner who had satellite. This allowed me to easily split the antenna signal to both TVs in the home without running extra wires. To my surprise, all of the local HD channels look better when received over the air than they do on AT&T or Comcast. However, a HUGE disappointment is that the local CBS station doesn’t come in at all. Doing some research online, it appears a lot of people in the Chicagoland area experience the same problem. Once the snow melts and the weather gets warmer I may attempt to mount the antenna outside on the side of the house towards the transmitter.

Cost Savings Breakdown:
U-Verse Costs Pre Cutting the Cord
U-Verse U-200 Package – $70/monthly
HD Technology Fee – $10/monthly
HD Premier Fee -$5/monthly
Additional Receiver – $7/monthly
Total: $92

One Time Costs to Make the Transition
HDTV Antenna – $45
Roku XDS – $100
Total: $145 

Monthly Reoccurring Costs Post Cutting the Cord
Hulu Plus – $8
Netflix – $15
Xbox Live – $5
Amazon / Zune / Redbox Rentals – $12/month (estimated)
Total: $40

Time to Make Up One Time Costs: 4 months

Monthly Savings Thereafter: $52

Ryan was already paying for Netflix and Xbox Live before he cut cable so his true savings by cutting cable is $72/month.


2) Roku XDS

3) Hulu Plus Hulu Plus allows my wife and I to keep up with most of our shows from NBC, ABC and FOX.

4) Netflix This combined with getting physical discs delivered in the mail fills our movie fix just fine.

5) Xbox Live It  might just seem like an expensive online gaming platform but they have really come a long way the past several years to offer quality content through partners and their own store, the Zune Marketplace. Zune allows you to purchase and rent movies and TV shows. A rather new, but interesting feature of Xbox Live is ESPN3, the sports giant’s solution for streaming and on-demand sports content. While I’m not a huge college sports fan, ESPN3 offers dozens of games either live or on-demand. There are also clips from other ESPN shows (but no full version of Sportscenter yet.) I would consider ESPN3 still a work in progress but the intial version looks very promising.

How It’s Going So Far: We are now about a month into no cable TV and we haven’t looked back. We didn’t watch a ton of TV before we cut our cable and watch less now. Yes, we have less content to chose from but we still are able to watch most of the shows we did before.

We have started to use one of the queues in our Netflix account just for TV series on DVD and we are currently catching up on past seasons of shows we just started watching. The TV series on DVD in addition to Hulu Plus has been taking up most of our viewing time. We were never big movie-on-demand people with cable but surprisingly we have already bought several movie rentals through Amazon Video-on-Demand on the Roku box and Zune on the Xbox. Amazon runs daily movie rental specials and some choices aren’t that bad. FOX and NBC have been great to watch football on over the air but since I don’t get CBS I have been forced to stream games through my laptop’s HDMI port through not-so-legal sources.

A DVR system is noticeably absent from our setup but it’s not too significant since most of what we watch is streamed on-demand. The potential cost savings of cutting our cable and watching TV through alternative methods was never the primary motivating factor for doing it. Don’t get me wrong, its great to save a good chunk of money each month by ditching cable but it was more about the dissatisfaction of paying a lot of money for a service that we really didn’t use that much anymore.

Ryan Flynn is a self-described banker by day, social media and tech enthusiast by night. He maintains a blog on, where you can also read an extended version of this survival story. The views expressed in this guest column are entirely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of GigaOM.

Want to ask Ryan a question? Then fire away in the comments! Send us an email to cordcutters (at) if you have a survival story of your own to share, and please also check out the most recent episode of our weekly web series Cord Cutters:


Image of piggy bank courtesy of Flickr user alancleaver_2000.

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