I was a loyal cable TV customer all of my adult life, paying $34/month for basic cable back in 2009. That sounds insanely 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!!
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 that 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 where blocked my view of the TV!!
I played with the location some more, and tried some home-made 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:
|PBS HD||Hi-Def (1080i)||Weak|
|NBC (duplicate)||Hi-Def (1080i)||Strong|
|PBS Local||Hi-Def (1080i)||Medium|
|PBS Local 2||Standard (480i)||Medium|
|PBS SD||Standard (480i)||Weak|
|PBS World||Standard (480i)||Weak|
|PBS Create||Standard (480i)||Medium|
|Kids Channel||Standard (480i)||Medium|
|Country Music||Standard (480i)||Strong|
|Qubo (kids)||Standard (480i)||Weak|
|Ion Life||Standard (480i)||Medium|
Providence, RI is a city of less than 200,000 people, to give you an idea. The stations labelled “strong” came in pretty much wherever I put my antenna. The ones labelled “weak” required very specific tweaking… sometimes inches mattered.
Now that I have lived with this for a while, do I miss cable? There are channels that I do miss like the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Travel Channel, AMC, and stuff like that. Instead of Samantha Brown, I watch Rick Steves. Instead of History Channel, I watch Ken Burns. Instead of Discovery, I watch Nova. You get the idea. But when I think about how much I’m saving, I don’t mind. I still get the shows that I like on the networks, plus I seem to get even more PBS channels than with cable, interestingly enough.
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.
I am not anti-cable. For some people, cable is the only option (if you live far from TV transmitters, or love to watch live sports). I just want to show people that there are alternatives that they might not have thought about. I don’t think people know how good broadcast TV is now that it has gone digital.
I’ll continue to post my findings and research on DisableMyCable. I hope it is helpful to you. – Brian
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.
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.
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!
Since then, I’ve moved back to Santa Monica and continued testing antennas. But, the Mohu Leaf has remained one of the best ones I’ve tested. I currently use it upstairs and I use the Cable Cutter Aerowave downstairs.
I have all of the major streaming boxes, but I use the Roku most often. I occasionally use my Apple TV if I want to stream content from a website on my MacBook Pro to my TV. For recording, I use the Tablo.
I spend less than ten dollars per month on TV. 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.
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When I write a full review of a product, I purchase the product myself. I don’t accept free samples for review.
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I am from Los Angeles, CA. I have a degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 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 have any questions, please leave a comment so everyone can benefit from the answer.
I hope this site has been helpful to you! – Brian
Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.
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