Ask Stacy: How Can I Watch TV Without Cable?

Photo (cc) by tnarik

Buying a house is the biggest investment you’ll probably ever make, and a car is likely the second biggest. So that’s why journalists like me write so much about those topics. But the fact is, once we’re out of our cars and into our house, we’re probably sitting in front of our TVs.

That’s why letters like this always interest me…

Stacy:

I have a brand new Sony VAIO HD television. I gave up cable because I kept hearing that you can get free TV just like when I was a kid – plus the price of cable kept going up, and up, and up!!! I bought a flat antennae (no rabbit ears) but I only get about four channels, and only one of them is a major network. Someone on my job said to get the flat antennae with the rabbit ears – if I still only get 4 channels, they said, then that’s all my residential area can get. Help! I just want the three networks and public television.

Thanks
Angela

I feel your frustration, Angela. TV is much more complicated – and expensive – than when we were kids. In fact, I remember this music video, which was the first to air on MTV exactly 31 years ago tomorrow!

OK, let’s break down Angela’s question…

Cutting the price before you cut the cable

Angela has given up on cable TV because of the cost. But she might want to make one last-ditch effort. If she calls back her provider, she might be able to score a deal. That’s what I did a few years ago.

I scanned the Internet for a deal offered by a satellite TV provider. (If you have satellite, do the same thing for a cable provider.) Then I called my company and told them I found a great deal with a competitor.

My cable company promptly offered me a $10-a-month credit for six months – then upped it to $15 when I asked to speak with a supervisor.

(Always ask to speak with a supervisor. Be polite, and thank the service rep who’s on the phone with you, but those couple of minutes speaking with a supervisor can reap big rewards.)

My call took about five minutes and saved $90.

While you’re on the phone, ask about eliminating some of those premium channels you might no longer watch. That can also save you a bundle.

Getting the right antennae

If Angela does want to drop cable, however, she’s going to need the right antennae. She first needs to check out AntennaWeb, a site developed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). It lets you see what channels are available at your address, as well as the best place to put an antenna.

And she has to have the right antennae. If the one she has isn’t suitable for receiving digital signals, she can go online or to a place like Radio Shack or Best Buy and find one that is.

Watching online

Angela doesn’t mention which network programs she wants to watch, but she can see many of them at network websites…

…and she can stream them to her brand-new TV if she’s willing to spend a few more dollars and a few more minutes. There are now many options for showing computer content on HDTVs. They range from Apple TV to Roku to Boxee. Each has its pros and cons, from price to complexity to programming limitations. But if Angela is serious about staying away from satellites and cable companies, she might be motivated to check them out.

And if those free options aren’t good enough, Angela can subscribe to Hulu Plus for $8 a month. That will give her access to more network shows she can put on her TV through Roku or game consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360.

You can learn more at You Don’t Have to Pay for Cable TV. But the bottom line, Angela: TV isn’t free like when we were kids, but the technology is finally getting to a point where you don’t have to pay outrageous cable prices to watch what you want.

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reduce the amount of dust in your home to improve your productivity.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down
The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down

The good news: It’s possible to avoid potentially devastating falls.

New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind
New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind

Tech startups are making it easy to find the best rates for all kinds of insurance policies — and get covered fast.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate
10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate

Clever shoppers can save money without sacrificing quality. Here is how to do it.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.