Last year, I finally cut the cord and canceled my longtime cable package. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made — and it's saved me a lot of money.
In June 2021, I first wrote about cutting the cord after receiving an astronomical bill from Spectrum. The monthly cost had risen to nearly $200 (though that figure included home internet). It felt ridiculous to be paying so much for something that I was using less and less.
Yet, I still wanted access to cable networks like FX and AMC, as well as all the local broadcast channels. I also wanted to be able to record shows on a DVR to watch later. And I wanted to access everything in one location, without having to hopscotch through several different apps.
So, I turned to our list of the best cable TV alternatives, which stream live TV and offer cloud DVRs. I ended up choosing Sling, as it fulfilled all my requirements at great value. After a few weeks, I felt good about that decision, despite the occasional bugs and blips.
Now, a full year later, I'm still happy about my cable replacement strategy.
How much I've saved by cutting the cord
As I noted in the first part of my cord-cutting saga last year, the Spectrum bill that instigated it was $185.08. If I had continued paying for cable, I would've spent around $2,220 for the year.
Instead, by opting for Sling TV, I spent much, much less over the last year: $699.
I signed up for the service's Orange & Blue plan, which costs $50 per month and comes with all 47 channels they offer and 50 hours of cloud DVR.
Sling doesn't carry all of the local broadcast networks, however, which was a hard requirement of mine. But their AirTV Anywhere device hooks up to an antenna, so you can pull in local channels, record programs and watch them at any time on the Sling app. The AirTV Anywhere costs $99 (a one-time fee).
So, when you add 12 months of Sling Orange & Blue to the AirTV Anywhere, my final bill (as I said above) comes out to $699. Which means I saved over $1,500 by cutting the cord on cable TV!
And since I plan to keep this set-up, that AirTV Anywhere fee amortizes into even bigger savings. Over two years, I'll pay $1,300, when cable would've cost $4,440 (or even more). That's over $3,100 saved!
What I've learned by cutting the cord
Like I said, cutting the cord has truly been one of the best decisions I've ever made. And I'm happy with Sling, though the service can be glitchy at times. I can't say I've never rethought that choice and been tempted to go with YouTube TV, but Sling's value is really hard to beat.
The first thing I learned is that new tech isn't always the best. A fancy HD antenna wasn't really doing a good job of pulling in local channels, so I replaced it with an old-school, rabbit-ears cheap antenna for just $12. While the signal can get fuzzy or disrupted by storms, it works well most of the time.
The other thing I learned is how flexible live TV streaming services are. When I finally canceled Spectrum, it required two long phone conversations with customer service reps, who each doggedly attempted to persuade me to stick around. Meanwhile, if I ever cancel Sling, I know I can do it quickly and easily, with the click of a few buttons. [Editor's note: not all live TV streaming services are so great about this. DirecTV Stream made me have an online chat where they tried to woo me back]
Additionally, it's a breeze to add premium channels or extras for a month or two. For instance, if I want to watch Yellowstone season 5 this fall, I can sign up for Sling's Comedy Extra package to get the Paramount Network (plus MTV and several other channels). Then, when the season is over, I can simply cancel it. I can do the same thing with Showtime and Starz.
Outlook: I'm never going back to cable
That kind of flexibility is unthinkable with a cable package. Sure, you can get HBO and Showtime through your cable provider, but when you want to cancel? Pffft. A headache-inducing phone call is the heavy mental toll.
And though it's not exclusive to Sling, I can watch TV from anywhere. I can access live TV, my recordings and on-demand content on my television, phone, tablet, computer and any streaming device. No need to wait until I'm home to see the latest episode of Top Chef or What We Do in the Shadows.
Cutting the cord has been incredibly freeing, in addition to being much more economical. I want this for everyone!
Next: You can also read about how my colleague cut the cord with Sling TV and almost switched to YouTube TV.
Now for those of you without the ability to use an antenna, there is still hope. You can get all the Broadcast shows the next day or a few days late from each channel's website.
But since I have been able to get Hulu basic each year of the last few years on Black Friday for one or two dollars a month, I use Hulu to get my broadcast channels the next day except CBS and CW and their other programing which include a lot of cable networks that most people don't know about like Fx for example.
That is why I filled in some of the details about what Spectrum charges for the internet. I also check with someone that has had cable and internet with Spectrum for several years and that person is paying $212 a month with the lowest level of cable called Select.