Fed up with high cable bills? We’ll show you how to cut the cord!

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Once upon a time, TV was free—all three channels of it, maybe four on a good day.

Then along came cable with the promise of dozens of channels for a few more dollars a month then came more channels and more dollars.

And these days, cable may be one of your biggest monthly bills, but it doesn't have to be.

Have you ever really scrolled through your cable TV package?

Chances are you’re paying for Boomerang, the Pentagon Channel, and something called Centric.

The average family receives 189 channels and watches just 17 of them.

Yet the cable company won’t let you pay for just the ones you want to watch.

Liz Bair of Hampton finally got fed up with the ever rising cost of cable TV and decided to cut the cord.

"We figured why pay so much money a month to watch 3 or 4 channels only," says Bair.

The first step was buying a digital antenna. Gone are the days of those huge metal rooftop monstrosities.

This one is only about the size of a piece of paper.

And with it, the Bair family can pick up more than a dozen crystal clear channels for free.

In fact, many broadcasters are providing a second stream of programming on what are called sub-channels.

On WGNT’s sub-channel you can watch classic TV like bewitched and good times on the antenna TV network.

Public broadcaster WHRO provides two sub-channels including PBS kids which is especially popular with Liz’s 4-year-old daughter.

You’ll also find a network aimed at an African-American audience, several shopping channels and a health and lifestyle network called Live Well.

But here’s where Liz ran into her first problem: Live Well doesn’t come in well and neither does the ABC affiliate that broadcasts it.

Their antenna just won’t pick up a good signal.

So rather than return to cable, Liz decided to spend $8 a month for Hulu Plus.

The streaming service lets you watch most of the network’s content -- including the commercials -- not long after they first air.

Hulu Plus also carries shows from Fox, NBC and the CW network.

The Bair family also subscribes to Netflix with its library of movies, TV shows and popular original programs like House of Cards for another $8 a month.

They recently added Amazon Prime, a streaming service which offers more movies and TV plus free shipping on many amazon.com products.

All were told they pay less than $30 a month for TV, a savings of nearly $1,000 a year.

It all sounds good. So what’s the catch? There are a couple.

While the vast majority of TV’s most watched shows like NCIS, The Voice and Scandal are on free TV, the Zombie Apocalypse might have to wait.

It may be a year or more before some of cable’s most buzz worthy shows make it to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

And then there’s sports.

The NBA, NHL and major league baseball all offer apps that will let you watch most of their games without a cable subscription.

Those apps can cost more than $100 a season. It’s not cheap, but still cheaper than cable.

Football isn’t quite as easy.

ESPN owns exclusive rights to Monday Night Football so without cable, you'll have to watch it with a friend, go to a sports bar or just miss out.

Last season, it was the same story with Thursday Night Football on the NFL network.

This year, NewsChannel 3 will carry the first 8 games of the season on Thursday nights.

However, the final seven games will still only air on the NFL network.

For those consumers who do choose to cut the cord, Cox Communications believes it’s critical that they have fast in-home WiFi speeds.   Why?  Because most households operate up to eight handheld devices.  Slower speeds will not deliver the kind of video viewing experience multiple users demand.

Check out the resources below if you're ready to cut the cord:

Netflix Instant vs. Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Instant Video 

Consumer Reports: Indoor HDTV antennas

HBO’s CEO Doesn’t Care That You Are Sharing Your HBO Go Password 

Americans watch only 17 of their 189 cable channels

Maximize your television reception


  • Frances

    I live in a rural area that does not have cable. Was sick of paying for satellite that did not work in the rain, fog, or snow, had poor picture quality and very seldom anything I enjoyed watching. I put in an HD antenna on a pole and I get 33 stations. Yes they are all local, and nothing fancy like the pay networks, but I also don’t have a bill to watch tv any longer and am actually enjoying a great picture and good programs. Paid about $70 for the antenna and about $50 for the pole to put it on. That paid for itself in about 2 months. Put in your zip code on this page http://zap2it.com/tvlistings and click local broadband to see what stations you can get and see if this would suit your viewing needs, who knows it might, and will save you some money if you get an antenna.

    • lisa

      since most cable companies charge you for your service in advance, you shouldn’t have a “cancellation fee”

  • Chris

    Never sign a contract, ever. Term agreements always benefit the seller and you rob yourself of another freedom.

  • Sandy Hill

    I would love to cut my dish network. Summer coming I rarely watch TV. Seem odd today when I recorded the 5:00 news, seems there was a signal problem and it didn’t record. Thank goodness I could see it on my laptop.

  • Dan

    I live in Hampton. I found several websites streaming TV content for free, including all prime-time shows and sports. I said goodbye to Cox cable a year ago and just pay for internet. All you need is the ad-block extension on your browser. No pop ups, no ads. Free cable TV online. I’m serious. I live by Buckroe Beach. Here’s one: http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/internet/index_last_7_days.html. Click what you want, select the stream service, and you’re good.

  • Jo

    I live in the tidewater area and I ditched cable about a year ago. I still pay for internet but I Also have nexflix and YouTube. I do not miss nothing on cable except The Walking Dead and I watch that on my laptop for free with no virus on the AMC website Everyone should ditch cable and see how their bill we get lower. Goodluck

  • Stephen Platt

    If all you’re interested in are the local stations and aren’t limited by contracts or covenants, then yes, cut that cord and install an outside antenna! The flat antennas like the one Ms Bair has can work in a pinch, but is optimized for uhf channels. Having an outside antenna is much preferred. I would bet that if she did have an antenna installed on her roof, she would be able to receive the ABC affiliate without a problem. The problem here is that the ABC affiliate is actually on channel 13. “What’s the problem?” you ask. Digital TV does not propagate well on vhf channels like 13; even worse on the low vhf channels (chs 2-6). Most of the other local stations are actually on uhf (WTKR for instance is actually transmitting on channel 40!). Before the analog cutoff date, the ABC station was transmitting its digital on channel 41. In my opinion, it was a big mistake to change the digital to the old analog channel.

  • No Cable

    Cut the cord about 4 months ago. Have an HD antenna in attic, Roku in LR, Chromecast on all other TV’s, subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus. PS3 in game room which streams as well. Have more than enough show to watch. Saving almost $1200 per year.

  • ME

    I just cancelled my cable service and watched everything I could online. That was years ago when internet service was only about $35. Now it’s $70. COX isn’t stupid, they know people are fed up with crummy programming and are switching to online services for entertainment, so they JACK UP the rates. Good thing for COX they’re basically a monopoly.



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