Cut the Cable - Resources and Links


It’s not even so much as watching 2-3 hours of tv a day but what you like to watch that seems to be the deciding point. If you like movies and tv series, cutting cable seems easy enough to do. If you like live sports, reality TV (and I include the Food Network and HGTV here), it’s harder to get by without cable. You might be able to, but at some point just paying for it and not worrying about scraping websites, etc., seems like a reasonable approach.

Going to a bar to watch the NFL every weekend would cost me more than a cable subscription. At least during football season it makes sense for me to have cable.


It won’t work for everyone, but I still watch my local NFL games without cable, I just got an antenna. The picture is actually better than cable provides because there’s no compression on the signal.


If you’re going with antenna, the consensus seems to be that TabloTV is the best DVR. They just announced a new product with integrated antenna at CES. It’s $250, and you will need to pay an additional $150 for a lifetime subscription to guide data (or $50/yr) and pick up a 2TB USB drive for storage. You also need some sort of device to actually play video; the Tablo has apps for roku, firetv, googletv, androidtv, ios, android, and chromecast.

TiVo also offers an OTA-only DVR for $50 plus $15/month subscription (with 1 year contract) which works great. They don’t offer the lifetime subscription option with this device, so ultimately you’ll pay more after a couple years. The initial investment is much lower, and the TiVo experience remains excellent, but you lose the whole-house streaming and sexiness from Tablo.


We went almost a month with no cable service and just as we added Comcast Netflix added the Food Network. During that month with a cheap radio shack antenna, hulu and netflix I was able to watch almost everything. When my daughter eventually moves out we will probably drop all cable, and I think the only thing I will really miss is the golfchannel.

One question though, and I don’t know if anyone here can answer it, but I activated the ESPN app on netflix prior to dropping cable, and was able to keep watching it without a cable subscription. Is there a timeline when that would come to an end?


It’s nuts that the FCC doesn’t make the networks broadcast guide data in the OTA signal now it’s gone digital.


Guide data doesn’t actually cost much to provide, MS gives it out for free and MS isn’t doing anything out of the benevolence of their flinty hearts. It’s just a convenient way for these companies to charge you more money.


Well exactly. Which is why it should be a licence condition so consumers don’t get fleeced (and from the FCC’s point of view, to reduce the anti-competitive power of the cable companies).


They would still charge subscription fees, that would just remove the polite fiction that the fee is for guide data.


Who would charge? Nobody does in the UK for OTA (or even for free satellite). You just buy a box, or use the EPG in your TV if you don’t want a PVR, and that’s it.


TiVo, Tablo, etc, charge subscriptions because it allows them to sell the base hardware cheaper, often under cost. Many consumers don’t take subscriptions into account; they look at the TiVo OTA and say “$50? what the hell, why not?” and forget that the $15/month subscription is an additional $180/year indefinitely.


If you’re sufficiently tech-minded, you can set up MythTV as a DVR for over-the-air broadcast recording (or cable too) on whatever hardware you have lying around. I run it on a very low powered ASUS eeebox, connected to a HD Homerun tuner. $25/year for schedule data from Playback on the same Kodi install that I use for watching everything else.


Woo, look at this I just ran across.

They said it would never happen, but it’s here: Soon, you’ll be able to subscribe to a streaming version of ESPN (along with a few other channels) for $20 a month, no cable subscription required.
This particular service, dubbed Sling TV and announced at CES today, comes from Dish. At launch, it will include TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2. In the future, they say, they’ll add other channels in the form off add-on packages for $5 each.

Still vaporware at this point, but if it actually happens…I’m likely a day 1 customer.


iTunes has Food Network shows on it. I don’t see HGTV listed though.

Personally I watch small enough amounts of television that I’ve found it far cheaper to buy shows on iTunes at the same time they are currently running on network/cable and still come out well ahead in comparison to paying for cable TV. Unfortunately that doesn’t work for HBO or Showtime, which don’t release their shows on iTunes for almost a year after broadcast.


I was just coming to post this as well. I’m not as interested in the service yet ($20 is still more than I’m willing to spend when I’ve adapted pretty well to Netflix + Youtube + Plex channels), but I will be keeping an eye on it to see what channels are added in the future, as well as the add-on packs. It’ll also be interesting to see how Time Warner Cable and the like respond. They’ve always claimed ala carte doesn’t work because it’s too expensive, but $20 isn’t that unreasonable for a limited channel set.

I’m actually kind of amazed the included networks agreed to this.

It’ll also be interesting to see if this actually grabs the millenials at all:

“Millennials don’t choose paid TV,” said Roger Lynch, who was named CEO of Sling TV LLC. “So we designed a service based on how millennials consume content, with no contracts. You can come and go as you please.”

If they don’t choose paid TV, and are less and less interested in mainstream television, then I’m not really sure why they’d care about this. There’s also no DVR, but there is on-demand, so I guess it’ll depend on exactly how much content is in the on-demand.


Oh, nice. I wonder if, with a VPN, this will give me a semi-legit way to get Adult Swim.


Use mc2xml with the free MS MCE schedules, save $25.


Looks like XBox Live users get a free month when Sling TV releases.


Yeah, that’s an option, too. I tried it, had some issues, and decided not to spend the time working through them given that mc2xml is of questionable legality…according to some stuff I read while looking into the problems I was having, it violates the terms of service for MS MCE. I’m willing to put up the $25/year to support the legal alternative at Schedules Direct, since it is both reasonably priced and causes minimal hassle.

Which is how I feel about most media, actually. All I ask is reasonable pricing and minimal hassle. My cable TV options don’t fit either of those criteria, or I wouldn’t be in this thread in the first place.


Jab, it may seem crazy to just “watch stuff when it shows up on netflix or Hulu, who cares if it is behind”. But try to imagine the situation were reversed. You have instant access to pretty much everything and you get this sales pitch:

“For only $80 a month (plus tax and service fee), we’ll give you one hundred endless streams of garbage, but interspersed you’ll get to watch a few of your shows before everyone else!”

[I]“Uh, $80 seems like a lot, but ok tell me the details.”[/I]

“Well, these select TV programs will come on at a specific time and date, and you have to watch then or record it.”

[I]“Really, so I can watch Game of Thrones before everyone else? That sounds pretty good!”[/I]

“Well not that show, that one costs an extra $25 a month. But most shows, give me a name.”

[I]“Ok I like Linus Tech Tips on youtube”.[/I]

“No not that one either. I mean give me a name of a real show.”

[I]“Ok ok, Arrested Development”.[/I]

“No not that one, it came out a long time ago. Lets say you want to watch NHL live.”

[I]“You mean like on”[/I]

“Ok not NHL either. Think of Big Brother. Or Big Bang Theory. Or uh, Survivor. [I]These[/I] shows you get to watch earlier than everyone else”.

[I]“Ok that sounds ok, but I have to watch it at exactly the given time and date? Like, uh, what if I’m having dinner?”[/I]

“Oh, most of our customers time their dinner to be completely done before their show comes on. And they time getting home from work before dinner, and time going to work so it’s 9 hours before home time, and time their social lives and kids lives to not miss our programs. But we also offer recorders, for convenience, see?”

[I]“Ok what is this thing called a recorder? What if I forget to record it?”[/I]

“Oh its another device, that’ll be $400. You have to set it to record your shows. But, it will let you store at least thirty of your favorite shows.”

[I]Thirty huh. And how much is this again?[/I]

“I said, $80 a month, but taxes and fees are extra, and you can pay more for HBO, oh, and you can rent the recorder or buy it. And, yes, we also offer 5% discounts if you bundle your telephone line in too for an extra $38 per month!”


What’s crazy about that lineup is its mostly channels Sony hasn’t been able to secure for their announced PlayStation Vue television service. Turner and ESPN were the notable absences, which makes you wonder if it was an exclusivity deal with Sling rather than a disinterest from those networks.