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I cut the cord today but this may or may not end up making a lot of financial sense.

What I watch on television:

  • The Good Wife
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Downton Abbey
  • News
  • True Blood
  • Girls

Cable bill:

  • $49.99 Internet
  • $9.50 Basic TV
  • $12.95 DVR
  • $6.82 Equipment charges
  • $1.80 taxes, fees, surcharges
  • Total: $81.06

I was paying $31.07 a month, or $372.84 a year, for a basic television package I rarely watched.  Half of my bill was for a DVR service I rarely used. Time Warner would not let me cancel DVR unless I turned in my digital cable box. But if I turned in my digital cable box, I would not longer get high-definition broadcast channels. You can see where this is going…

With No Cable, How Would I Watch My Shows?

I was already downloading shows onto my iPad when NFL games pushed back The Good Wife and the DVR didn’t record.

Depending on when you choose to download to your viewing device, a season can cost anywhere from $20 to $60. Some episodes are available on network websites for free. I’m saving money and have the added convenience of mobility by watching shows on my iPad.

As for HBO, it would have cost me $13 a month in a cable package. Actually, it would have cost me more, considering the added costs of having cable. Unfortunately, HBO does not offer standalone Internet subscriptions, though it acknowledges the demand. In the meantime, I’m sharing an HBO Go password with a family member, which HBO sort of allows right now.

I also plan on getting a digital antennae for my television, which cannot get over-the-air channels right now. That will satisfy any need I have to watch TV news, especially if there’s breaking news. I get the vast majority of my news, however, online.

The Trip to Time Warner

There were 22 people ahead of me in line when I sat down in the waiting room, toting my cable box and remote in a Wegmans bag. Ironically, the waiting room of a broadband company doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, forcing me to use my phone’s AT&T connection as a hotspot.

The line moved fast and the cashier was very pleasant. She repeatedly asked me if she could make a deal to get me to keep my TV service. Even after I said no, an equally-pleasant manager came over and offered to keep my current package at $73 a month, taxes and fees included, for the next two years.

I was paying $81.07, so that didn’t strike me as such a great deal. But, they pointed out my Internet costs without the TV service would climb to $54.99 a month. Under the $73 scenario, TV would cost me $18 a month versus $31.07.

Determined to make all of this make sense, I opted for slower $37.99 a month Internet, which I believe is about the same speed as my 4G phone. If I can’t stand it, I’ll switch back to fast Internet or call up Frontier.


Essentially, I cut my bill in half, but I’m giving up all TV and getting slower Internet. Did I really win? Or did I cut off my nose to spite my face?

I was driven by a desire to PAY FOR ONLY WHAT I CONSUME. I don’t watch much TV and I resented paying $31.07 a month for something I rarely use.

I was also driven by my resentment at paying two bills for the Internet – through Time Warner and AT&T. Mobility and speed are important, but companies haven’t found the right product to fill both of these needs at the right price.

In summary, cord cutting is great in theory. In practice, it may not be super practical for everyone.

Update: This ended up being a great decision for me. I’ve never looked back. I enjoy my low broadband bill every month and I’ve never noticed a difference in Internet speed. – RB 2/13/14

23 Responses to Snip

  1. A no-go for me, if only because I need the faster Internet connection. Joys of being a web developer, I guess. I get along with my Roku box and don’t miss a whole lot of live television, but that might have been different during the upcoming Olympics.

  2. I cut the cord in January and am very happy with my SONY Google TV, standard Road Runner internet, and a NETFLIX account for $8. The SONY TV works fine on standard speed internet – I have not found a buffering problem at all. The conveniece of switching back and forth from internet t TV is something I now appreciate (picture in a picture option is great) and would find going back to a full cable TV a step backward.

  3. July 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm carole responds:

    We use Time Warner’s cheapest internet service and watch “tv” on pbs, hulu and netflix. So it buffers sometimes – oh well! $40/month still seems like a lot to me for internet, considering that my husband and I each have cell phones to pay for as well, and currently no land line. We are nervous about missing a lot of the Olympics, though, since we can’t watch much of anything online without a cable subscription.

  4. I am pretty sure that you can keep HD channels without the DVR box; you just need to ask for a cable box that does not have a DVR. I had one of these at one point and I do not think I paid for it. Also, I recommend you don’t ditch TWC for internet service if you’re dissatisfied with the speed. Calling Frontier would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. DSL will make you want to cry, their max speed is 10mbps – on a good day.

  5. Yeah, telecom companies are pieces of work for sure. Stuff like this make me want to move to Kansas to get Google Fiber, haha.

  6. Interested to see how this turns out for you, Rachel. I’m considering the same.

  7. We kept basic cable, have no box, and get HD channels for ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox/PBS. We decided to keep basic cable mainly because at the time it was the only way to keep getting our only local TV newscast in Jamestown (Time Warner Cable 8 News), but now that we’ve been moved to the Buffalo-centric YNN track, we’re debating whether to ditch basic all together.

    Our monthly costs run down like this:

    Time Warner Basic Cable with Roadrunner = $68.00
    Netflix Streaming + 1 DVD = $17.00
    PlayOn Channel Subscription (annual $29) = $2.41

    Total = $87.41 compared with $159 prior to cord snipping

    Current Annual Costs = $1,049 ($860 savings annually)

  8. I got the triple package, internet, phone and cable with Showtime for 123 a month. I have no cell phone so it’s not that bad a deal

  9. I recently moved to a location that doesn’t have cable available, and DSL wasn’t available for internet. I ended up choosing to use my phone as an unlimited mobile hot spot because I get Verizon’s 4G at my house, – i’m stil able to use the internet with my laptop, and also stream netflix though my 4G connection.

    I still got Satellite TV though.

  10. July 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm lellingw responds:

    I pay a lot for my shows and internet but I won’t watch broadcast TV and shows with commercials. I’d rather pay for quality TV rather than the junk on network television. I do watch the news and Jimmy Kimmel regularly but other than that it is HBO and Showtime. I guess I’d rather pay. HBO GO has been a boon too. I guess I have to pay.

  11. July 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm Sue G responds:

    That’s when you hook up the cable line to your TV and use it for over-the-air HD channels. There are a lot of them. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, 3 PBS stations, CW, and more. For free. That’s what we did — got rid of our cable box and only get RR with turbo and the next step up. More than we need, and its so much lower in price.

  12. Do I understand that you can’t get a digital box without a DVR? I have a box from TW that get HD but I have no DVR.

  13. We have one television with an antenna and a digital converter box. We do have trouble with pixilating and cut-outs with the audio, but we cope. The digital converter box gives us ABC, NBC, CBS, three PBS stations, Bounce, the WB, a dedicated weather station, MeTV and a bunch of religious stations. That, and buying cheap DVDs in Record Archive, keeps us entertained. TV = $0

    When our son moved out, we called Road Runner and moved down to Road Runner Lite. We never noticed a change in speed. Cable = $30/month

    We bought two flip phones from Wal-mart and use the AT&T Pay As You Go plan. = average $20/month

    Somehow, we still can’t make ends meet!

  14. We cut the cord 2 years ago this week. http://roctherun.com/2012/07/24/we-cut-the-cord-2-years-ago/ never looked back

  15. In January, I went from 131/month for TW digital cable and roadrunner service and switched to Direct for one year at 24.99 and a second year at 46.99, and went to RR basic for 37.99. For the first year, I am saving $70/month. I really haven’t felt much of an impact with RR and a slower speed for web browsing. For downloads of software there is a difference.

  16. July 28, 2012 at 8:08 am Jim Webster responds:

    Isn’t it amazing the variety of pricing TW will offer when you threaten to quit. I’m now paying $147 for the same service a previous commenter is getting for $130.
    Does anyone know a good way to get the sports packages and basic TV only?

  17. July 28, 2012 at 9:51 am Bob Roberts responds:

    I worry that internet providers are rumored to be planning to limit bandwidth and/or charge by consumption, which would eliminate the advantage,

  18. July 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm Gary Bogue responds:

    Thanks for sharing. Other countries pay a fraction of what we do to keep in touch, including cell charges only for calls they originate. My DSL charges have escalated dramatically, including many services I don’t use or want. I would like to change, but am unsure where I’ll be exploited the least.

  19. August 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm sflesch responds:

    FWIW, I dropped down to basic, then completely dropped it and went to just internet. I called Time Warner and asked for their customer retention department. I then told them I didn’t want to switch, but Earthlink had a better price for just a few dollars less. They promptly offered me the package price of $39.99 for 10Meg internet. I have Netflix and download and/or watch shows from places like hulu. We manage pretty good.

  20. Screw ’em. Download a bittorrent program, go to http://www.torrentbit.net/ or http://kat.ph/ and download whatever you want. Once a show is downloaded quit the program, rename and transfer the file to another folder. if you stay on too long and become a seeder HBO may find you and instruct Time Warner to send you a menacing letter. About EVERYTHING on tv is available for dl.
    Consumers need to protest the monopoly. We should all be free to buy ala carte. Ask your senator why they don’t act!

  21. You should try moving out into the country where none of the stuff you just dropped (or still have), is even an option to buy. No cable, no 4G (barely even 3G), too far away from any tower to receive over the air digital broadcasting… I would gladly, be willing to pay the $82 just for the internet alone!! As Einstein said, it’s all relative (to ones perspective) 🙂

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