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Get Rid of Your Cable TV Package Now!

I was afraid, too. Then I cut the cord, saved a ton and can still watch whatever I want. Here's how to do it.

Photo Credit: Reinholds


For those of you sick of paying  ever-higher cable bills, two huge pieces of news in the last week should encourage you to take action.

First came  news that two previously cable-only channels, TBS and TNT, “are about to become the first national entertainment networks in the industry to stream on-air content live across multiple platforms,” likely positioning the stations to eventually (though not yet) sell their content direct to consumers on an à la carte online basis, rather than only through traditional cable TV packages. Then yesterday came word that  CNN and BuzzFeed are partnering to create a YouTube channel, allowing anyone with an Internet connection — but not necessarily a costly cable subscription — to view the new content.

The action this (and other similar news in the television world) should prompt, of course, is cutting your cable TV cord — or at least considering it.

Now, sure, your initial reaction to that idea might be apprehension or sheer fright. I get it. That was my first reaction, too. Cable TV became so common and seemingly mandatory in the pre-Internet age that it started to seem less like a luxury than a necessary utility you paid for along with water and electricity. But after decades of living in cable TV households, we finally decided to become one of the 3 to 5 million Americans who have cut the cord. Though we kept our Internet connection with our service provider, we terminated cable service — and I have no regrets. Not even close.

Two big factors — one of them related to this week’s news — finally pushed us to end our cable subscription.

First and foremost, there was the cost savings of about $100 a month. That’s a lot of money in our annual family budget and a boatload of cash over a lifetime. Indeed, one estimate found that when you factor in inflation, the monthly ongoing expenditure on cable and what you could additionally be earning off that expenditure if you were investing it, cable TV over your lifetime could cost  between $634,000 and $4.2 million.

But cost wasn’t the only consideration. There was also our simultaneous hate and love of cable television content.

On the hate side, I can’t stand most of today’s cable TV news programming. It is loud, grating, infuriatingly vapid and, at times, unnecessarily terrifying. I’ve become particularly aware of — and disgusted by — the latter quality as more and more “news” content is now just a bunch of talking heads opining while ever more horrifying disaster porn fills the screen.

Getting basic information about disasters is certainly important, but being exposed to the disaster porn imagery that dominates cable television simply isn’t healthy. Just as  scientific research suggested that seeing images of the World Trade Center collapsing a zillion times created a kind of virtual PTSD for everyone glued to their TV a decade ago, so too do many  experts believe that being televisually force-fed repeated images of a bombing or a fertilizer plant explosion or a dude with a bloody meat cleaver can have serious psychological consequences.

Yet, even though I was coming to deeply despise cable news programming, when it was easily available on my television, I often found myself uncontrollably drawn to it. That meant time unnecessarily wasted and, worse, me finding myself in a bad or angry mood. So cutting the cord thankfully removed the frictionless availability of the unwanted noise and terror, while the Internet still, for the most part, lets me find the clips and video content I truly want.