Ask Jo: Cable Television-Not Here

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days.

Recently I wrote that I loved watching the show Line of Duty.  I wrote that I watch in on Acorn Television.

Brenda wrote:
“Curious to hear anything you have to say about having to pay another fee beyond the ridiculous cable bill we are already paying ??????”

I thought I would write a little and tell you a bit about what I do here for television watching…

First up, I do not have cable.  We were never really into cable at all.  It was expensive and with having five kids, we had other expenses that were more important than cable…besides we were also against kids sitting in front of the television all the time.  We had an antenna and they watched PBS.

Later we bought this antenna and have it on top of our house on the outside, Antenna’s Direct C4-CJM 20-Inch ClearStream 4 Extreme Range UHF Outdoor Antenna Mount.

We also have an amplifier.  This was around $45.  It helps to boost the television signal.  We were finding that the sewing room and garage televisions weren’t getting as many channels as the living room television.  This boosted the channel strength and then were able to get all of the channels on all of the televisions.

This set up is awesome.  With this $100 antenna, we get MANY free channels.  We get several channels and not just the main ones.  For example with our channel 7 which is NBC we also get:

7.1- regular NBC programming
7.3-Me TV
7.4-Court TV

We have similar with channel 2, 3, 9, 10 and PBS.  So we end up getting about 30ish channels for free with the $100 antenna that we’ve had here ever since we moved here which is 5 years ago.

I love this…I really like Me TV.  It has old episodes of MASH, Leave it to Beaver, Mayberry RFD and other great shows from the past.

If you have kids, there are about 3 different channels of PBS that only offer children’s programming.

For us we felt that we didn’t need cable with so many options.  Did we always find something we liked?  No…but I have been to hotels with cable and seriously with 75 channels I often didn’t find something I liked to watch.

Beyond the antenna we have….
a Roku Streaming Media Player.  This allows free and subscription channels to come to our home via the internet.  It coverts the signals so we can watch them on our television.  This was about $100.

There are other devices besides this but at the time, we knew we wanted to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime and Youtube.  This was the only device that allowed us to watch all three…and from the box you can see many other channels.

There is no subscription fee with the actual Roku.

We do have some subscriptions though….
Netflix for us is around $13 a month.
PBS- Free
Youtube-  Free
Acorn Television- $5 a month
Amazon Prime- $100-ish a year but that also gives us free shipping and other Amazon perks.
Disney Plus- $7 a month

I don’t use the Roku to its fullest extent.  I am sure there are many other free channels and that I could add but I’m very content with what I have.  There are lots of other channels that are available for a subscription fee as well.  In the past I have subscribed to:

Brit Box

With this I made the decision to get rid of all the movies and DVDs we had here.  There is always something for the kids to watch between PBS, Prime, Netflix and Disney.

There is always something I can find to watch.

So after the initial investment of:
Antenna $100
Amplifier  $45

$145 has allowed us to watch basic+ television for five years…That is for the 30ish channels we get for free including regular PBS, ABC, CBS and NBC programming and the enhanced stations like Me TV.  I’m sure it will last longer but we’ve only lived in this house for five year so I can only base the investment on the five years.  So to date if it all dies today, we will have only spent $2.26 per month.  Every month it lasts, we will have paid less and and less.  That’s cheap entertainment.

To watch the other channels we had the initial Roku investment of $100.

We have subscriptions totalling
Netflix $13
DisneyPlus $7
Acorn $5

So I pay $25 a month for that.  What I love is that we get to pick.  We aren’t sports fans so we don’t have to scroll through all the sports channels.  We aren’t travel people.  We don’t have to scroll through travel channels.

I also like that I can add or subtract channels as I please.  If want to watch a particular series, we can add it.  We can take a different channel away for a bit.  I’ve done that with BritBox and Acorn.  Both offer British shows but often not the same series or episodes. So I will add and subtract the channels each month to meet my viewing preferences.  I should have done it sooner but I should drop DisneyPlus for a couple months as I only keep it for childcare and grandkids and I’ve seen neither now for over and month.

Personally my belief is that this all is much cheaper than cable.  If you are on top of things, you can get HBO for a month for free..or Starz or many other channels.  Me, I’m not on top of it.  I know there are many other programs and channels Roku offers for free but again, I don’t spend a lot of time checking into that.  If you have someone into sports, there are sport subscriptions as well.

One perk I love about the Roku is being able to watch Youtube videos on a large screen.  I have a second Roku on my television in the sewing room.  I’ve watched many Youtube videos on my television while sewing.  I especially like to watch videos on longarm quilting from APQS.  I can watch the video and practice it right away.

For the Kramer house, we’re more than content with not paying huge cable bills and not having a dish or satellite hanging off the house.  Of course everyone can choose what they like, but this has and likely will continue to work for us.

These are the items we used
Antenna-for basic television Plus
Amplifier– might not be needed
Roku-There are cheaper versions.  This was recommended to us as it had a stronger signal.  If you are in an apartment or small house, the stick version would likely do.

So Brenda…I hope that helps you understand how we here at the Kramer house aren’t paying ridiculous cable bills and are getting to watch shows that we actually want to see.  Nowadays there are so many different ways to watch television.  I’m so happy we found a way that works for us and our budget.

20 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Cable Television-Not Here”

  1. We cut the cable years ago and are using Amazon Fire and an antenna…my husband actually built the antenna. We manage to find plenty to watch. I miss some things, but don’t watch much TV anyway.

  2. It’s awesome you can receive so many channels through an antennae. We tried several different brands but could only pull 2-3 channels so we have resorted to Dish for now. We will cut the cord when our contract expires and will solely rely on Roku. If you are a Verizon cell phone user you can get one free year of Disney Plus. Here are the details:
    If you can’t use it maybe your readers can! I hope your internet modem gets replaced soon. Customer service with the internet providers has been lacking in our area lately.

  3. I was going through fabric last night and found a piece that might possibly match some that a lady needed…it had X’s on it… can’t find the post. Can you send me the picture and contact information please.

  4. Last year we cancelled cable which was costing us about $250/mo. Ridiculous esp since we are retired folks. We have Acorn, Amazon Prime, Netflix. We enjoy it all but trying to remember which show is where is a little hard occas. We don’t watch sports. I don’t miss cable tv at all. A problem is “binge-watching” into the early morning hours sometimes!

  5. We have never had cable. We have the antenna tv with all the extra channels like you mentioned and Roku.
    Dropped Netflix and have Acorn and PBS Passport. Always something to watch.

  6. Rhonda Russell

    I cut the cord over 5 years ago and don’t miss cable at all. I have the smaller version antenna that you have and I get about 30 stations as well. I love MeTV, too–especially Perry Mason every morning! I’ve thought about getting a Roku but wasn’t sure if it would be something that would be useful for me–I may have to check it out now. I switch around between Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and PlutoTV. PlutoTV is something that I’ve recently found–it’s free TV that can be watched through your internet browser. It has both scheduled programs and on-demand. I use it when I don’t feel like searching trough my watch lists and just want to chill.

  7. We have antenna and roku. You tube is very nice to have in my sewing room. I love Mytv also and the western channel.

  8. I’m curious. Cable packages often include phone service. Do you have a separate house phone or only your cell phone?

    1. for me phone and internet are bundled. There might be a cable option but I’ve never paid attention. I didn’t want it.

  9. We cut cable at least 10 years ago. I don’t miss it. We now have an apple box and pay for Netflix, Acorn and prime. My favorite is Acorn and PBS programming. Local news programming is free. We only watch the local news.

  10. My cable TV is part of my internet package. My house phone is provided by a different company. One thing I love is being able to record the shows and watch them later when it’s convenient for me. I would be happy to drop TV if I could record it some other way. And I found when I travel and they have some other system trying to find something to watch is nearly impossible and very frustrating and usually a waste of time and I end up reading.

  11. We cut our cable and have had no issues. Did somewhat similar to what you did. Finally found an antenna that got us some local channels, got an Amazon Fire stick for the subscription channels, and have Amazon Prime. The nice thing about subscriptions is that they are month by month. We might pick up Acorn for a month, then Hulu for a month, then BritBox, etc. So month by month we only pay for what we watch. I am actually loving Youtube more than any of them.

  12. Lisa B., I live in an apartment in Fort Worth, Texas and I have a Mohu Leaf antenna (indoor, hung on my wall with pushpins) and I have a TiVo Bolt to record shows. I pay $7.45/month for the guide from TiVo for easy recording. I also watch YouTube and listen to Pandora as it has those apps loaded on it and several others. My antenna was around $45 and the TiVo was $250.

  13. Hi Jo, we have the exact same set up at our house as you do and we live in town. We don’t have an Acorn subscription but we have the same extras that you do and we’re perfectly happy with it as well. Some of my grown kids pays for cable and when they tell me the cost of it I just cringe!

  14. Hi Jo, thanks for the TV update. I tried following the links, but they didn’t work for me. It’s important for us here in MS to be able to get local channels when DISH and power go out due to our many storms. We are fortunate to have a decent generator, but our antenna for local channels is not a good one. I can look that up, but not the amplifier. Thanks.

  15. Carolyn Sullivan

    We too don’t have cable. NEVER had. we have an antenna on the roof, replaced once in 50 years! I do have an apple TV device that I hardly use and we watch amazon. I opted bt pay for Starz too

  16. Susan the Farm Quilter

    What does that do for your gig usage with your internet with the Roku box? We pay for internet by the gig – the joys of being rural – so I don’t know that this will really lower our bill.

  17. Thank you Lori Darley. I looked up the antenna and read about TiVo Bolt. Currently I live on a remote island and my son said that idea won’t work here but suggested I Pin this for future reference when I retire south. Done! Looking forward to cutting the cable bill a bit when I retire. Thanks again!

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