After years of careful consideration (and the inevitable but slow upward creep of monthly bills for 100+ channels he rarely watched), on a clear recent Saturday morning, my significant other and I made the 15-mile journey to the nearest cable storefront to return his equipment.
He’d finally done it. He’d cut the cord. It was a momentous occasion.
If the demographics in the store that morning were a representative sample of business in industry, we extend condolences to cable providers. Every other person (not exaggerating) was doing the same thing, and there wasn’t a soul under 50 in the place.
The silver tsunami of cable-cutting seems to have begun.
One man, behind us in line, leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “How are you guys gonna get TV from now on?” We let him in on the secret.
The cable-cutting tool kit
No less an authority than Consumer Reports validated our experience when it published a comprehensive guide to services that let you cut the cable in July 2019. With an internet connection, a way to connect your television to a streaming service, there are endless ways to get only what you want without all that stuff you don’t.
And yes, the major stumbling block to widespread adoption of streaming rather than cable is finally gone: You can now get live “cable” news and sports without cable on services like Hulu with LiveTV or SlingTV. (That’s what finally got my significant other over the hump.)
The process itself is well documented across the internet. But the truly exciting thing about cutting cable is the possibilities it opens up.
What will I do with all this extra time and money?
While the initial motivation to cut cable is usually monetary, the benefits may be more than financial. It may be possible to use cord-cutting into a step that supports healthier aging.
First, run the numbers. I went cable-free in 2014. That took my monthly provider bill from more than $250/month to $55/month, for just internet. I then added Netflix and a Hulu subscription (upgraded to the fancy premium version, without commercials) at $10 apiece (at the time—it’s since gone up to $15 for Netflix). The net annual savings: more than $2,100 per year.
It’s been five years now, so it adds up. By now I could have purchased a respectable used car with those savings; I’ve been socking it away for the inevitable day a replacement is needed. Similarly, seniors who are looking for ways to add resources to the budget for other needs, such as a personal emergency response system or cell phone, might examine this option as a way to fund them.
Another benefit of cutting cable: It forces intentional television watching behavior, which is a significant benefit for the aging brain. Research published in February 2019 suggests that watching more than 3.5 hours of television per day in middle-aged people might be associated with a decline in verbal memory—a measurable decrease in brain performance. Even worse, that performance decline appears to steadily worsen as more hours of TV are watched.
Streaming (rather than leaving a TV on all the time in the background) is a more selective process than cable-watching. You have to stop and think, “Do I really want to watch this?” Netflix is even notorious for asking, “Are you still watching?” These prompts offer opportunities to affirmatively select information and stimulation, rather than becoming a passive recipient of sensory input. In fact, researchers know that TV can cause stress—which is another potential source of damage to neurons in the aging brain.
The television and brain aging study prompted Rebecca Edelmeyer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association, to suggest replacing TV with other activities, in fact. “You’re spending more time not engaging with your family, your friends and having social conversations, because they’re specifically reporting a decrease in verbal recall…We know engagement with others in conversation is something that supports and protects verbal recall,” she said.
Have you cut cable? Are you thinking about it?
What could you do with a few extra hours per day of intentional time if you turned off the television? Would you read? Listen to audiobooks? Draw? Do puzzles? Text or talk with your family who live far away? Take a class? Get together with friends for game night more often?
Organize the family photo albums and annotate them with notes about who’s who and what they were doing, so future generations don’t lose their history?
How much could you save on cable by switching to streaming?
Have you considered it?
Is it time?
85 thoughts on “Save Money, Watch Smarter: Cable-Cutting Basics for Seniors”
How do you get preferred football games
Can you record and play later
Can you get TMC movies and play later
Test reply to Aleta.
On youtube there is a video about locast tv and explained how it works. I get ABC, NBC, CBS and others. All are live. I live in a small town in Maryland. This works on any phone,tablet,tv. Just need internet. No buffering at all.
Haven’t watched professional sports in over 40 years.
The question was, “how do I get football games”?
If you don’t know the answer perhaps it’s better you just not say anything.
That was useful to the conversation.
I am a big sports fan. What can I get and from whom.
Get an over the air antenna from Walmart or similar store. We get about 30 different channels including major networks. ..some we have no interest in. We included Roku and Xbox. We watch all of our favorite teams on local networks and other games on espn on Xbox live. We pay for WiFi and that’s all after buying the antenna (prices vary…$20 and up) If you live in town, my husband says you don’t need as much antenna.
Dude, I don’t no where are you live. I have tried four different types of these so called High definition antennas and I got absolutely no signal. Please advise of a brand that actually works I have a south pointed window facing some trees unfortunately but it’s close to my TV.
I live where there is one TV station. Using a ROOF TOP antenna they broadcast 3 channels. Because you have trees, you might have to put up a taller pole. ALso I had a local guy who did all the work : bought the antenna, installed it & ran the line from the antenna to the tv. $300 bucks. That was 4 years ago. It is angled to pick up 2 different/unrelated channels. There are ways, but being out in the boonies or in the middle of the woods is the worst, It messes up your reception. There is always the 60 foot tower with the rotating antenna like we used before Cable.
As with most anything, the BRAND is not as important as the TYPE. If you want to haul hay bales, you want a truck, not debate over whether a Toyota Prius is better than a Chevy Bolt.
Now, first you need to find out if an antenna will even work. Go to https://antennaweb.org and enter your address. That will tell you what TV stations are in your area and what directions they are from you, and what type of antenna will be needed. If some stations are of no interest to you and are farther away, you don’t need an antenna capable of receiving them.
Where I am, located in a valley surrounded by mountains, I can only get two stations carrying 15 subchannels. These are mostly Chinese and Spanish, with one Armenian and one that airs nothing but old cowboy movies. So I am stuck with cable until I can find something that allows me to watch the few programs I actually do care about.
But, when people ask, “What channels can I get with an antenna?” the answer is, there is no answer for everyone. Even trees around your home will affect the signal, and you can move the antenna a few yards and get different results. The thing to do is start with antennaweb.org or tvfool.com to see what is available.
We did that and we found that on the main tv we would get some of the local channels, but not all. Other tv’s in the house would get different local channels that the main tv didn’t get.
My guess is cheap antenna. Any recommendations? (Helpful ones)
TV station transmitters are never in town. If you live in the prairie, there will be towers up to 2000 feet high out in the countryside to get the antennas in the air. Where there are mountains, the transmitters will be located on those. For example, the stations for Denver, Colorado, are on Lookout Mountain west of town. To find out what channels you can receive at your location, log on to https://antennaweb.org or https://tvfool.com and enter your address. Just entering your ZIP code is not enough, because even a mile or two difference in location can make all the difference in what you can get.
Can I get local news . Tv stations like OWN and ID and ESPN ?
I have YouTube tv with showtime. You will get ID, ESPN, and many other channels. Even sports and locals. Competitive pricing. Suites me better than Hulu tv. Also added DAZN and ESPN +, Disney +, apple +, fxnow, HBOnow, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Now have more than enough access to good programing. The Disney can be bundled to ESPN and Hulu for cost saving? Share most sites with son helping to control expenses. Since retired looking at a lot more tv and under Comcast was at the 1tb data cap with threat of surcharge so went to CenturyLink using my purchased modem. Total cost per month with internet is less than what Directv wanted and wouldn’t discount enough. Using Apple TV and very happy with it. The Roku for some reason kept getting blank blue screen required rebooting. I am in the mountains but have blocked line of sight to over the air stations and thus very poor reception. HOA covenants discourage rooftop antenna which would be required. Attic placement would not work out.
Do what we did before tv…listen to the radio & work your brain to imagine. Might even alert you from brain degeneration. Plus it’s way cheaper on the pocketbook. Or get an IPad & get Hulu, Netflex & CBS for news & sports. Netflex has no commercials & all episodes of many old shows. Just get the internet with the substitutions.
With internet and a smart TV you have free TV with Pluto and others.
Hulu with Live TV at about $45 per month carries your local channels.
My son likes local news and sports. If I get rid of dish cable can I get? My internet is thru Verizon.
There’s so much amazing content on the web, that it’s become almost impossible to keep up. For those thinking about cutting the cord, the prospect of stumbling through YouTube trying to find something entertaining to watch is daunting. That’s why we build Shuffl TV. -> https://shuffl.tv
Shuffl TV is a free, curated platform to easily discover the latest & greatest video you should be watching from around the web. You pick from a handful of topic-based channels, just like cable, and you’re instantly on your way. Shuffl TV is the easiest way to watch Internet video.
Check it out today at https://shuffl.tv
SLINGTV has an add-on cloud DVR, an add-on packages that include TCM Turner Classic Movies, the Hallmark channels, and others. For what that would cost, so far, I’m close to what I pay for ‘cable’. I’ve not found a package or add-on for the Ovation channel.
I’ve tried Air antennas and have ROKU. I’m with you. The only reason I haven’t dropped TV 100% is that what I want to watch has to be bundled in ‘somewhere’ and that gets the rate back to where I am now. Very frustrating. I can’t watch LIVE tv on Air channels. The stations out of Jacksonville FL air another channel where they only play shows I grew up with! This gets them by the FAA or whatever Law the Feds put up that ALL people should be able to watch tv for free. And 1 station doesn’t air anything at all. I don’t know how they’re getting away with this. There’s no perfect package out there. Sad
I don’t know I love sports
We are a older couple and do not know all this technology.so we need a lot of help .were does one go for answers.Kathyteti
I recently cut the cable cord. All I have now is the internet. First I bought a 43 inch Roku tv HDTV. I paid around 300.00. I bought a 10.00 tv antenna from Walmart and get several local channels. When you hit the home button for the first time it will direct you to setting it up. There are many free channels you can subscribe to that are completely free. Some give you 2 weeks to a month free trial then charge you what they tell you it will be after your free trial. Im also not a techy person but I didn’t have much problems setting it all up. It saves me so much money. Good Luck.and HAPPY streaming.
We bought a Roku from Walmart and the directions were simple to follow. Lots of free choices and others with a minimal fee.
I don’t have e-mail
You will only get email if you have an internet connection or a phone. If you don’t have both , then good luck. You also have to set it up if you have the internet.
My question is the same as kathyteti. SHIRLEY C
I don’t have cable any longer, therefore I don’t have WiFi. If I buy what you are suggesting, will I have access to WiFi? I use an iPhone and iPad. Many sites I try to access want the name of my WiFi network. I’m 78 years old and not very tech savvy.
Need to know what to do, rarely watch TV use my I pad ATT is my wi Fi and phone is Verizon… pay Att which is $90.00 a month and cable is $26.00, Verizon is paid by son, what can I cut the cord on.
What if you only have Dish available in your area?
How about getting out of the house?
I couldn’t open any of the replies so not very helpful
Can you get the local TV news stations
Hulu with Live TV—yes!
Replies won’t open. Not helpful
Roku is the answer. You can buy a simple Roku receiver for $35 from Amazon (includes remote control) and it allows you to view almost all of the streaming services by choosing one from a menu when you turn it on. It even turns on your TV screen automatically. Many of the shows, news programs, etc. are free including PBS, and others. But you can also subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Sling Amazon Prime, Britbox, Acorn (British TV), all the old Westerns, etc. etc. for a monthly or yearly fee or pay per view. Even Great Courses lectures are now available. The Roku unit also has controls for stopping, reversing, fast-forward, volume, and visually reproduced dialog at bottom of screen for hard-of-hearing or viewing strange British dialects.
The main drawback is that you have to make your own decisions about programming and scheduling instead of passively having this done for you by the cable channel programmers so you will have to spend some time becoming familiar with the techniques involved and setting up repeat choices. Also you can start a show at any time and if you stop it when the phone or doorbell rings you can start up again later where you left off without missing anything. There are no time constraints.
Another plus is that all past episodes of a particular show are usually available including TV series, movies, documentaries, etc.
Both Amazon and Apple now have competing devices, but Roku leads the pack and many of the new TV sets now come with Roku built-in (be sure to ask).
By the way Roku stock has been climbing the charts rapidly and shows no sign of stopping.
Your main drawback was my primary plus regarding programing. I had Direct TV for several years and as soon as WiFi and Roku entered the picture I canceled cable. Confess to having Jeopardy withdrawal for a few weeks, but I was able to subscribe to the great Criterion Channel, BritBox, Acorn, Netflix, PBS Passport, and Amazon Prime. Netflix and Amazon Prime also offer a lot of BBC/PBS Masterpiece, Ken Burns, and science and nature programs. In short, it is programming that suits my taste and interests rather than reality shows, sports, and shopping for junk.
Very well said about the roku device that allows streaming from the internet. In addition to roku consider installing an over-the-air antenna to get free additional channels, especially local news channels. These antennas are readily available at Walmart and Best Buy.
You still need an Internet and wifi srevice. I have Roku and it does require both. 🙂
I live in a small town with poor internet speed so streaming anything is sloooooooow.
Wish we knew all the answers to the above questions plus a few more like can we get our local news- all the major networks – and college football BTN ?
We just switched to Hulu with Live TV. Checked on their website to confirm available local channels plus all the others they carry before we signed up.
Can’t open any replies. Not very helpful. Where can you get more information.
Don’t you need Internet?
You will need an internet modem from you cable provider(comcast, spectrum, time warner,etc..) The get an Amazon fire stick and plug it into the back of your tv and then stream it. YouTube has dozens of videos on cutting the cord of cable tv.
It’s not necessary to get your WiFi from the same provider as TV. Probably it’s better not to do so. They know why you are not doing it. You have to find a Direct TV company store to get the phone number to actually talk to them. Call and cancel your Direct TV. Don’t back down until you get what you want. This is just a temporary fix.
I’m almost 80 years old and am a Widow, have no children that could help me. So how do I get a step by step info to cut the cable and still have TV ? I’m paying around $ 235.00 and this is the only entertainment I have.
Karen, Where do you live?.. I can help you if you’re close by.Contact me at my e-mail address and we can talk.
Magic man/is coming to save your day come on down ,leave the light on .
Contact your local senior center to find people who have been vetted. Don’t just let anyone in!
I cut my cable in about 6 months ago. I was paying about $168.00, so I cut it. I get all of the local news, football, soccer, baseball, basketball. If you are into sports. I will scan the channels on my tv, to see what I can pickup. What I am saying is I get all the tv that I am interested in. Cet public TV have alot of channels that I can pickup. I live in the cinti. Ohio area. If you are thinking about cutting the cable. You will need a antenna so you could start with one you put on your window. That is all you will have to have. That is what I started out with. I picked up about 40 to 60 channels. Now I have graduated to an outside antenna and I can direct it meaning that I can move it to get better reception. Now you can get these antennas on Amazon under HDTV Antennas. They have a large selection. I hope this will help you to get out from under that large bill for cable.
Hi Karin, I am Ken and I am 82. I live in a gated community with my wife and there are many widow ladies living around us. If I were 20 years younger I thing I would start a small business to help older people cut the cord.
I live in Oklahoma City and get good OTA signals. I put a antenna ($69.00) in my attic and receive around 35 clear local free channels. Then a bought a Roku ultra ($39.00) I dropped Cox except for the internet which cost me $40.00 a month. Then I subscripted to Youtube Tv, Not (youtube). This give you all the local sports, movies and tv series that you could ever want. Plus you can share Youtube TV 5 or 6 other family members living close by. Cost for Youtube TV is $50.00 a month.
Equipment cost is approx. $110.00. After that you pay approx. $90.00 a month.
To see all the channels you get from YouTube TV go to http://www.youtubetv.com..
Wish I could help! Good Luck..
If your phone has google you can google – how to …….. just about anything. Some of the choices will have a step-by-step video. That’s what I do when I need to figure something out.
We like vintage, movies and tv shows. We have Comcast setup and pay them to get these items. The quality of these shows are non-quality and very limited, yet we pay a lot of money just to get bottom of the barrel selections.
I get more local news,old movies,newer movies,cartoons and a better picture because the signal is not compressed like it was on the satellite dish. I get this on am over the air antenna and its absolutely FREE !!!
Why won`t the reply open up? My wife says it is all a bunch of crap.
September 29, 2019 at 11:34 am
Why won`t the reply open up? My wife says it is all a bunch of crap.
The reply doesn’t open if no one has replied.
I cut out my cable, the price kept going up but the thing that really got to me was paying thru the teeth for the 5-10-and 18 commercials in between movies, who wants to pay to watch mostly commercials, I don’t and won’t !!!
I have 2 residents one seasonal what would I need to get Hulu at both places fire sticks at each place and what would my monthly charges be for that??
I purchased an antenna and get all the local stations and about 34 channels for my area. There is a web sight you can enter your address and it will tell you how many stations you would get in your area and where to point your antenna and I just pay for Hulu and Netflix or you can look into Vue or some of the other ones like Sling.
the above all sounds great. being I”M 80 YRS. OLD AND WOULD NEED HELP SETTING UP ,IS THERE A COMPANY THAT WOULD COME TO MY HOUSE AND HELP EXPLAIN AND DO THE ABOVE SERVICES TO ELIMINATE MY CABLE COMPANY AND ASSURE ME I’LL GET THE PROGRAMS I WANT? (WI FI, INTERNET,PHONE, AND SETTING UP STREAMING ON MY T.V.) PLEASE ADVISE. THANKS, HERMAN STAVIS
Hi Herman, to answer your question, the ambiguous answer is “it depends”: On how far you are from a TV source if you want off the air. If close enough an indoor antenna could be adequate. If you purchase high speed internet now and have a wifi router set up, that wouldn’t change. If you want to stream off the internet as well, the set up is not too difficult, if wifi is set up in your home. As I stated in my comment, streaming subscriptions can add up. I’d suggest you do the math before cutting the cord.
Ask a young neighbor or a church member to help you if you have no kids or grandkids close.
I cut cable a year ago and have not missed it a bit! I do have Netflix and Amazon Prime which I usually watch on weekends – through an Amazon Firestick or just on my iPad. My local NBC affiliate live-streams its news broadcasts, so local news is no issue…..and so much national and global news is all over the internet. I also have rediscovered my love of reading and listening to music. Life is good, quieter and definitely more peaceful!
If you want ESPN, Hallmark, lifetime , history channel , Food network, Home Improvement, and such as these , you need to have cable or one of the satellite companies . Even if you get one of the streaming services, you will have to pay extra for those. Find out the channels that you watch regularly. Most people have 3-7 channels that they watch regularly, however every body is different and watches different channels.
Get an nvidia box from amazon and you will have more tv than you could ever have time to watch.
Tom,what channel is nivada? Do you need a smart TV? How do I know if I have a smart tv?Are all the smart these days? Can you make your tv smart by using a fire stick or something?Please and thank you!!
I cut the cord a while back. The big thing for us was a need for high speed internet. We both use the “web” a lot. But most of our programming comes from local channels off the air. Antennas are fairly cheap, and even in a fringe area like ours we get over 30 channels from 3 directions. (using a rotor). Since we have internet, we did buy a Roku, even though our TV was a “smart” tv, we found that the manufacturer (and probably others) didn’t keep the software in the TV up to date, and some streaming was unreliable. The Roku remedied that. All that being said, there still isn’t much “free” out there, and streaming subscriptions add up. Add to that the fact that there are so many reruns on, even on PBS, that if you subscribe to a particular source, you can expect that too. If we didn’t use internet so much for other things I wouldn’t consider the cost of high speed access worth it just for TV streaming. Just my humble opinion.
Hey, guys and gals, what are your living arrangements? I ask because some people can get high speed internet for 10$ a month. This is mainly for seniors who live in subsidized housing, based on your income. I got it through my housing because wifi is provided for all the tenants apts and if you ask management, you can connect for 10$ month. Now there are also signs up in our building to lease wifi for 10$ and its comcast, direct TV, etc. I live in an active senior community and have section 8. I qualify. No equipment to lease, but I did buy a netgears modem router before I could connect. That was several years ago before other cable companies offered wifi to seniors with subsidized rents. Then connect to maybe Netflix for about 15 and there you go. Only 25$ a month. I haven’t watched TV or streamed it for years. I’m an avid reader, but how can you beat a deal like that? I get books over wifi on my tablet, weather bug, etc. I’m in Northern Colorado.
YouTube tv if you have roku.
I recently cut the cable cord, but kept the internet and phone.I went and bought an HDMI cable and been happily choosing what I want to watch with my laptop. A friend, who is also 65 years old, told me that Spectrum,(my internet provider), offers seniors a discount on internet . I’ve been paying 70 dollars a month, this discount would bring it down to 15 dollars a month! BUT! You do not qualify if you ALREADY HAVE THE INTERNET!! The secret is to go without the internet for a month, then reapply! This is wrong!! SPECTRUM!!!
TV Free-Way Gold 2-Pack I have recently ordered this my wife says i am being taken
Our local telco is thinking of dropping cable TV. My concern is the current generation that struggles with even using a smart phone. While I’m encouraged by the comments here from seniors that seem to successfully navigate between Hulu, Netflix, etc., I cannot imagine my elderly folks even beginning to take this on. And not watching TV would be a significant impact on their lifestyle. And not necessarily good – they are pretty much homebound and don’t really get along all that well. And TV has been their life for their whole life. I think the thing they would miss the most is channel surfing – not liking the current news story? then let’s check out what’s going on on the cooking channel. No? then the home channel. then back to the news story and look for the weather forecast.
There is definitely a need for this type of assistance for seniors. They know what they like to watch, they just need assistance in getting things set up to watch their preferred channels for the lowest cost without using cable. Someone knowledgeable in all the options and someone who would set it all up could offer a very valuable service. I know I would pay for the service.
I have an omni directional antenna for local free tv of which I get close to 60 channels. My tv has Roku built in and I added Firestick Prime (plug in). It’s unbelievable how many free tv series and free movies and unlimited apps there is. I read that with this combination there is access to over half a million things to watch. I noticed that you can buy an “add on” ROCU and Firestick at Walmart.
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I work for a cable company and 95% of trouble calls are from elderly people not being able to turn on the tv and the cable box. They have no concept of what ‘no signal’ means on a tv… (your cable box isnt turned on or you changed the input). They are always so quick to blame the cable company and say that their service never works however you can view everything about the cable box online, like how long its been online and the last time it was truly not working. When you try to educate them on why they are having the issue they tell you that you are wrong, the cable doesnt ever work and I laugh at the fact that any of them could even figure out how to stream things to a tv when they dont even know what a modem vs a router is and what a network name even means… GOOD LUCK