My Story: Cable TV Costs Too Much

by | Last updated Nov 16, 2023

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com

I was a loyal cable TV customer all of my adult life, paying just $34/month in 2009 for cable TV. That sounds ridiculously low now, but that’s how much cable TV cost back then, and it seemed reasonable to me.

In 2010, I moved to Providence, RI, where the cost was $52/month for basic cable. I paid it and figured, “well, that’s just the cost of getting TV”. More and more, however, I realized that I wasn’t getting good TV. I was surfing through the channels over and over looking for good TV.

Then, my 6-month “introductory cable rate” went up to $57/month. Sure, it was only a few dollars more, but it ticked me off; it was almost a 10% increase in six months! After a few months of putting up with the higher cost and lack of good shows, I decided to “Disable My Cable”!

Of course, now, $57/month seems cheap; many people pay over $100/month for cable or even $200/month – crazy!!

My Rabbit-Ear Antenna

Rabbit ear antenna
Rabbit ear antenna

The first thing I did was try an old rabbit-ear antenna that I had from the pre-digital TV days. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to get about sixteen channels, many of which were HD, with picture quality better than cable TV! At that point, I was sold. I canceled cable that weekend. It felt great!!

Next, I played with the antenna position. It turns out that the original place where I had put the antenna was the optimal position. That’s great, except for one thing: it was right in front of my TV screen. In other words, it was the one place in my living room that blocked my view of the TV!!

I played with the location some more and tried some homemade wire antennas with varying results. The best spot was still right in front of my TV. So, I ended up putting it there and just bending the antennas out of the way of the screen

After my antenna tweaking, I was able to bring in one more channel for a grand total of 19 unique channels! I was happy with this. Here is a list of the channels I got using this cheap rabbit-ear antenna:

My TV Stations in Providence, RI

DescriptionResolutionStrength
PBS HDHi-Def (1080i)Weak
CBSHi-Def (1080i)Medium
ABCHi-Def (720p)Strong
NBCHi-Def (1080i)Strong
LocalStandard (480i)Strong
NBC (duplicate)Hi-Def (1080i)Strong
LocalStandard (480i)Medium
FOXHi-Def (720p)Strong
PBS LocalHi-Def (1080i)Medium
PBS Local 2Standard (480i)Medium
LocalHi-Def (1080i)Weak
PBS SDStandard (480i)Weak
PBS WorldStandard (480i)Weak
PBS CreateStandard (480i)Medium
Kids ChannelStandard (480i)Medium
CWHi-Def (1080i)Strong
Country MusicStandard (480i)Strong
IonHi-Def (720p)Medium
Qubo (kids)Standard (480i)Weak
Ion LifeStandard (480i)Medium

Providence, RI is a city of fewer than 200,000 people, to give you an idea. Using the FCC’s Station Finder, I determined which channels were available in my area. The stations labeled “strong” came in pretty much wherever I put my antenna. The ones labeled “weak” required very specific tweaking… sometimes inches mattered.

Providence, RI
Providence, RI

Now that I have lived without cable for a while, do I miss cable? Absolutely not! In the modern era of streaming channels, you can get plenty of free content, along with a lot of low-cost paid content for much less than the cost of cable TV.

And, I find that I’m channel surfing less since there are fewer channels to surf. It takes me less time to find out when there’s nothing good on TV. I am also watching a lot less trash TV – stuff with no redeeming value – like mindless reality shows. I have banished these forever and feel better!! I now spend more time going out and meeting with friends and family. And I’m saving a ton of money by spending ZERO dollars for TV most months.

I’ll continue to post my findings and research on DisableMyCable. I hope it is helpful to you. – Brian


My Antenna Experiments and the Mohu Leaf

My old rabbit-ear antenna got a good number of channels, but there were more that were flaky or that didn’t come in at all.  So, I went out and purchased a big metal antenna, the Antennas Direct DB-4 from Solid Signal.

DB4 Antenna
DB4 Antenna

This got me more channels, but I still wasn’t satisfied. Around that time, there was a lot of hoopla about a new flat antenna, the Mohu Leaf. So, I ordered one.

DB4 and Mohu Leaf antennas
The DB4 and original Mohu Leaf antennas

When I tested it, I was totally blown away that this small flat antenna could get better TV reception than a bulky more expensive metal antenna!

My Setup Today

Since then, I’ve moved back to Santa Monica and continued testing antennas. But, the Mohu Leaf has remained the best indoor antenna I’ve tested.

I have all of the major streaming boxes, but I use Roku most often, especially now that it has AirPlay, allowing me to stream from my iPhone or iPad to my TV. For recording broadcast TV, I use the Tablo.

I spend little to nothing on streaming TV services. I watch over-the-air broadcast TV, free video services like YouTube, and some pay services on a temporary basis to binge-watch certain shows, then I cancel them.

Read more about my current antenna setup in my blog.

My living room
My living room with nondescript indoor antenna on the inside of the door

Expanding to Cover Internet and Cellular Services

As people have shifted away from traditional cable TV, the cost of Internet access has gone up. So, I’m now covering ways to lower the cost of Internet access (as well as cell phone service).

I personally switched from cable Internet to Verizon 5G Home Internet, saving $30 per month! Interestingly, the phrase “Disable My Cable” fits in this context as well!

For my mobile phone service, I switched to Mint Mobile, saving $40 per month!


About Me

I love tinkering with technology and sharing tips on how to spend less money on TV content, Internet access, and cellular plans!

I have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. I worked as an electrical engineer for over twenty years designing industrial and consumer products. Now, I’m a freelance web developer and blogger. I currently live in Santa Monica, CA.

If you liked this site, another one of my sites you might enjoy is TheFrugalNoodle.com.  I write about money-saving tips, how-to topics, and career advice there. If you ever visit Los Angeles, check out LADateIdeas.com!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment so everyone can benefit from the answer.

I hope this site has been helpful to you! – Brian

My Product Review Policy

I don’t accept payment for writing product reviews. All of my reviews express my personal opinion after evaluating and/or researching the product or service myself.

If You’d Like to Help

I’ve had some awesome readers email me wondering if they can donate to the DisableMyCable cause. I really appreciate the offers, but I want this site to be totally FREE to you, my readers, so I do not accept donations.

However, there are many ways you can help without spending a dime! If you’ve enjoyed this site, please consider doing one or more of the following:

  • Tell your friends and family about this site.
  • Share this site on your Facebook page.
  • Like my Facebook Page.
  • Tweet about it on Twitter.
  • Follow me on Twitter.
  • The next time you want to buy anything from Amazon, click on one of the product links on this site to get to Amazon. I’ll get a small percentage of the cost of what you purchase, but it won’t cost any more for you.

Thank you!


Press

DisableMyCable.com has been featured in many news publications and websites including these:

The Washington Post
AARP
WFMY CBS 2
WikiHow
KIDY Fox West Texas
Vox
WCNC NBC
WATN ABC 24

Keep in Touch – Subscribe to My Posts

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com

I'm an electrical engineer (BSEE Caltech) with twenty years of experience designing industrial and consumer products, and now a web developer who loves to share ways to save money on TV content, Internet access, and cell phone plans! Read more about me here.

If you liked this article, please sign up for email updates. I'll send you a note when I publish a new article, no more than once a month. Unsubscribe any time. You can also watch my videos on YouTube. - Brian

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David Johnson
David Johnson
2 months ago

Dear Brian, I was saddened to hear that there is no more TiVo edge for antenna since the cable company here doesn’t support TiVo anymore and I can no longer use a TiVo stream box with my roamio. I though about Tablo (4 tuner) and wondered if that would let me stream recorded shows while I am away or let me schedule recordings also while away?

Kevin Calkins
Kevin Calkins
2 months ago

Hi Brian, I really appreciate your articles. I currently live in a fairly rural area of Washington state (no cable or fiber internet available) and pay $80/month for broadband (25mb.) Verizon just started showing as 5G on my phone at home and I was also informed that the 5G home internet was now available. It would be locked at $45 for five years (saving ~$2000 over that term.) I have 2 concerns on which I’d love to have your opinion before trying Verizon home: 1. Has the geo location problem been solved for things like YouTubeTV? and 2. I want to use my own router and wired repeater since our shop is 30yards out in the back of the house (buried cable from the router to the shop router/repeater.) Has this been a problem?
Thanks,
Kevin

Kevin Calkins
Kevin Calkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Thanks… so you’d recommend giving it a try?

Kevin Calkins
Kevin Calkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Thanks… just ordered and it will be here Monday!

Kevin Calkins
Kevin Calkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Ok… seems great so far. I originally set it up using the built in wifi. The numbers on my laptop were screaming in the same room (300+). On the other side of the house (modest 2100sqft) the signal was weak but still checked in at about 50. I then turned off the built in wifi and connected to my router which includes an extender and the long wire to the repeater in the shop. It just now returned a 90 in the living room and impressively, a 90 out in the shop. It does appear to be slower through my router but the speeds on my old broadband were 22 in the living room and 11 out in the shop. This is only night one, but it appears I have cut my bill nearly in half and increased my speeds five to tenfold. Thanks Brian

Edward Clay
Edward Clay
3 months ago

You recommend the homeworx digital converter box as a dvr capable device that doesn’t require internet access. I have a question about recordings. If I schedule a recording but want to start watching it before the end of the scheduled recording end time. Is it possible?

Edward Clay
Edward Clay
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

I went ahead an purchased a HW250STB to test this out. Looks like if the recording starts, it will be showing the live show when you change your TVs source to the converter box (becuase its a single tunner box). If I hit the play button it starts the show from the beginning.

Garry Townsend
Garry Townsend
4 months ago

You recommend using the Mohu Leaf 30. If I buy the Tablo with their antenna is it the same or one like it?

Tony Wong
Tony Wong
4 months ago

Brian,
I am so glad to discover your blog on the disableMyCable.com. I have been a loyal user of the Channel Master CM-7600 DVR. Have you ever used/tested it prior to now. I loved the convenience of it. Since It integrates with the Google Chromecast, I used it to watch Youtube and other streaming services as well. Unfortunately, the EPG from Google discontinued its service providing the free EPG service just recently (4 weeks). The CM-7600 become a dead weight unable to record the ABC World News that I have recorded consistently (to skip the commercials) for over 10 years now. I was trying to identify a CM-7600 replacement and I came across your blog. I have read thru’ your review and I’ll likely purchase one of your recommended model (via your link of course). However, have you come across any OTA DVR work like the CM-7600 and have the built-in Chromecast as well?

Tony Wong
Tony Wong
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Brian,
Thanks for your prompt guidance. It appears that you have used the Channel Master CM-7600 before. It was a great unit when it worked. I have gone back-and-fort with the customer support of Channel Mater trying to resort the past glory of the CM-7600. CM indicated that the problem rested on Google single-handedly discontinued their service providing the free EPG. Knowing Google is into all kinds of community services such as Android, Google Map, etc. Do you have any insight why Google has decided to discontinue the EPG. Also, where do all the OTA DVR such as the Tablo, Air TV getting their EPG from? Is it possible that their EPG will be disabled somedays in the future? I just want to understand some basics about the EPG and why would CM get themselves into this bad situation. Again, many thanks for you sharing your insights.

Tony Wong
Tony Wong
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Hi Brian,

As always, many thanks for your guidance sharing your invaluable experience and insights. I guess that much for the CM-7600. It is sad that CM has given up in the OTA DVR space by just selling the open-box TiVo as the new business model. The TiVo is expensive (lusted at $399) and I am skeptical on the longevity of it.

I have ordered the Tablo Gen4 as your “best choice”. Apparently, there is a backlog of over 3-4 weeks before I can get the unit. That said, I have watched your setup guide in preparation for its arrival. I have installed the Tablo apps on iPhone. However, I am confused if I need to install the Tablo on my old Samsung smart TV model UN55ES6100FXZA? I did not see the availability of the Tablo apps on my old smart TV?

If my old Samsung smart TV (with WiFi connection) proves to be too old for Tablo, what option do i have to use the Tablo Gen4 as the OTA DVR? Many thanks for your clarification.

Regards,
Tony Wong
Dallas, TX.

Tony Wong
Tony Wong
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Hi Brian,

After my further research, I noticed that I could download and install the Tablo TV apps on my CM-760 and I have done it. I am still waiting for my Tablo Gen4 (with ETA of Jan 13) from Amazon. After that, I could verify if I am able to use my non-functional CM-760 as the streaming box as the front end to stream my recorded OTA TV program from the Tablo Gen4 and watch it on my Samsung smart TV.

It is sad that the mighty CM-760 which was a fantastic OTA DVR at a point becomes the front end of yet another DVR because their lack of commitment to resolve the Google Live TV EPG issue.

There has been a few discussions on Reddit trying to solve this issue.
https://www.avsforum.com/threads/channel-master-dvr-guide-is-gone.3284205/

Perhaps, using the CM-760 as the front end for the Tablo Gen4 is the best use of this once mighty OTA DVR by Channel Master? I’ll report my user experience once I receive my Tablo Gen4 box in a few weeks. Until then, cheers.

Keith
Keith
5 months ago

Thanks Brian for your open demo or results from 5GHome Internet Verizon that I’m on the 30 day Tester plan and i knew on the start up I’m keeping it. Today test show 54. And between you and the one other guy’s video-results anyway, got the ball rolling and can minus the current
$89. increased price on other Internet provider. This one’s either way, a Great Deal!

speedtest
Keith
Keith
5 months ago
Reply to  Keith

I said 54 and went to get the saved pic. and’s better : )

Alejandro
Alejandro
10 months ago

Brian….big greetings from Tarja Bolivia……I read your article in the frugal moodle…..Brian I have an Alesis qs 8.2 with problems….the user bank sounds don’t play and their names appear with random symbols…also the “midi in” port does not receive information…I checked the hardware and everything seems to be fine (it’s strange but only the midi in port…it doesn’t have a ground plate… .)….Brian ..please I need you to help me to carry out the restoration procedure of the user bank maybe that is the problem with the midi…thank you in advance

Stan Farrell
Stan Farrell
1 year ago

Hello Brian,

Recently the owners of the apartment block where I live discontinued the TV cable and I now find that if I want more than the very basic channels it will cost me another $70-00+ per month .

I am 84 years old, I live on Vancouver Island and my internet is already costing nearly $60-00 per month.

How much do I need to spend for an antenna to be able to receive more TV channels and if possible to also cut back on my internet costs?

Regards

Stan Farrell

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