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Can you cut out cable without cutting out TV?

Have any interest in cutting the cord? That’s the term for people who decide to rid themselves of cable and satellite TV, opting instead for streaming television options like Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast. To date, you are not likely to get everything you get now with cable, but you might be able to get enough to make the money you save worth the programming you will miss.

It makes sense that people would be migrating away from cable and satellite TV. Most viewers are watching shows and news on their own schedules. Subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus make that possible, and some programs are offered online for free.

One reporter for The Oregonian shared his experience “cutting the cord” and estimated he and his family would save about $600 a year. He has done it by using an antenna to pick up local stations and buying seasons of other shows they like to stream through a TiVo device.

Cable news junkies might struggle because those networks are spotty about posting entire episodes of some programs. And sports fans might have the most trouble cutting the cord. Although you will still be able to see anything that’s on the local channels, games aired on cable will be tough. You can buy season packages for pro baseball and basketball, but they will black out the local teams.

If you can find a way around those challenges, or you are not interested in those stations, then switching to a streaming option becomes more attractive, especially given the potential cost savings. It might take a little bit of technical know-how, so be prepared to spend some time setting up the system.

Once you make the decision, assuming you watch much television at all, you will want to pick the subscription options best suited for the shows you like. Most of them will become available after they air first on their regular channels, but since fewer television shows generate water-cooler conversations anymore, you won’t be worrying as much about inadvertently hearing spoilers.

Do your own research to determine which streaming options will work for you. Talk to friends and, if possible, visit their homes to witness firsthand how they are connected.Once you make the decision, you will want to pick the subscription options best suited for the shows you like. 

One of the possible broader benefits is that if enough people go with this option, cable and satellite television companies might feel pressure to expedite their long-rumored transition to a la carte service. That would give you the convenience of cable, but allow you to pick the channels you want and not pay for the ones you never watch. Companies haven’t done this, in some part, because they haven’t had to.

The primary benefit for you will be the cost savings. There is a convenience price in making the switch, but you might be surprised how much you will get for so much less.

Published Jan 8, 2014.