How I cut out cable (or satellite) TV from my life

Two years ago I cut the cord that tethered me to cable tv (well, in the UK this is actually satellite and Sky is the dominant player). Even though I’ve done this (and am saving over £300 a year, I’m still able to continue to watch all the tv shows and movies that I want to.

Shortly after we moved into the apartment in Hackney (London), BT began offering their Infinity broadband service in this area. Infinity broadband is fibre-to-the-cabinet but the “last mile” (~100 meters in my case) is VDSL2. I pay for the “up to 76Mbits/second service”. I don’t see speeds anywhere near that, but it is fast enough to allow me to cut the cord by using legal streaming services and Freeview.

I get a decent selection of traditional TV channels to Freeview, the UK’s digital terrestrial television service. For the pleasure of this service and to fund the BBC, I have to pay the annual TV license fee which is currently £145.5/year (or just over £12/month). I get all the BBC channels in HD, BBC News, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News, and a bunch of other channels that I never watch.

All my other entertainment is consumed via three different devices – Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast. I use these in conjunction with Unblock-US, a “VPN service”. I put that in quotes because its not really a VPN service, but some sort of DNS redirect. I have it configured on my home router, so any device connected to the wifi gets the benefit. This service costs me CAD$ 50/year or ~£25/year

In addition to this, I pay for Netflix and Hulu in US (which I can access thanks to Unblock-Us) and Amazon Prime in the UK. Together, these three services offer a nearly unending stream of entertainment. Netflix and Hulu each cost US$ 7.99/month or a total of ~£125 a year. Amazon Prime, which costs £79/year gives me access to Prime Instant Video.

Finally, thanks to a friend who is wedded to Comcast, I’m able to access a number of other services including HBO Go, WatchESPN, and Showtime. I do use these occasionally, but certainly not enough to justify paying for their services that do not require a cable tv subscription (HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, etc).

Two years ago, the cheapest Sky TV package that was worth getting was costing me in excess of £60 a month (after promotional periods). This meant I was forking over more than £720 a year to Sky. Having cut the cord, I now pay roughly half (~£375 a year) and I get to choose the entertainment I want. I can use just a fraction of the savings to actually buy movies on iTunes, music on streaming services, and the sports I actually care about.