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Should you cut the cable TV cord?
If you can't find all the television programming you want and need on the Internet now, just wait.
This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.
Pay television is losing subscribers, but pay-TV executives insist it's not primarily because people are "cutting the cord" -- ditching their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of getting the content they want from the Web.
Maybe not, but it's a certainly a trend that's gaining momentum. Game consoles, Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players make it easy for those with home Wi-Fi or other broadband networks to access Internet content instantly, while others are just watching on their computers.
When I asked my Facebook fans whether they had cut the cord, I got more than 100 responses -- many of them enthusiastic about their decision to do away with high-cost TV.
Some folks who responded had never paid for TV, and a few don’t watch at all (an option my buddy Donna Freedman endorses in "Can your life be richer without TV?"). But many people discovered that they can get most -- if not all -- of the programming they want without buying it from a cable or satellite provider.
Here's just a sample of what they wrote:
"I had 150 channels and never had anything to watch; now I watch anything I want," wrote Kristi VanSickle Osborn of Redwood City, Calif. "I got rid of cable about two-and-a-half years ago. I go to the news websites to get my updates, and stream TV shows on SurfTheChannel or Netflix. I love it!"
"I cut the cord about six months ago. The few shows I watch are available online and I use Tether (an application that allows users to tap their smart phone data plans from their laptops) for my Internet access," wrote Jill E. Neunaber of Manchester, N.H. "I use Netflix's 'watch instantly' (option) instead of channel surfing if I'm in the mood for something random, and the $130 a month in my pocket feels better than any made-for-TV romantic comedy."
"I never bought a TV after college and landing my first job, so there was no need to sign up for cable or satellite TV," wrote Kristen Harrison of Cantonment, Fla. "I watch episodes of shows I like on Hulu or network websites such as TNT, CBS, or Syfy when I have time."
"When we sold our house in July we canceled our cable service (DirecTV, liked it, but we just don't watch much TV). At the new house we are using Netflix online and Hulu," wrote Brooke Link Jones of Woodinville, Wash. "Hulu has a ton of (shows). My husband has been watching some sports on ESPN 360 and I think on our Xbox there are some live games as well."
"TV sucks, anyway," declared Joshua Gantt of Atlanta. "The Internet is the new TV and I couldn't be happier about the switch."
You're probably not a good candidate to cut the cord if you watch a lot of sports or want to keep up with the latest episodes of popular shows, since there's usually a delay before they show up on Hulu and other sites.
"I think about giving it up, but sometimes I want to watch the show the week it is released instead of everyone telling me about it and killing it for me," wrote Bryant West of Raleigh, N.C.
Some programming isn't available online at all, although that likely will change as more and more networks see the writing on the wall.
If you're interested in making the switch, you'll have access to the most content on your television if you:
- Have a home broadband network that will reach the TV area, either wireless or through an Ethernet cable.
- Understand that you may want to pony up for a few subscriptions. Right now, access to the Internet on your TV doesn't mean you get the whole Internet -- just selected sites. You can make the most of that access with an $8-a-month Netflix subscription, which gives you access to thousands of older movies and TV shows, while another $8 a month for Hulu Plus allows you to watch the current season of some popular (and not-so-popular) TV shows. Amazon Video, Apple TV and game consoles give you pay-per-view access to recent movies and shows, as well.
- Are ready to do a workaround for local channels. If you want access to local channels, you'll need a TV with a digital tuner and an antenna that receives UHF and VHF signals.
Have you cut the cord? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
Liz Pulliam Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "Your Credit Score: Your Money & What's at Stake." Weston's award-winning columns appear twice weekly, exclusively on MSN Money. She also helps middle-class families cope at Building a Brighter Future.
More from MSN Money:
Dear Liz loved the info about pinching pennies.
And i have also cut the cable tv cord. And Have an extra 100, bucks a month.
Very nice to have a little extra. But while i was checking out SurfTheChannel.com. My internet protection
arrested to Trojan malware intruders attempting to infect my world you may want to
warn you readers. Just FYI
We dumped direct tv almost years ago.Put up a tv antenna.May have spent around 500.00,we still have analog tv yet.It takes a little work to get the stations.In the analog days,it was easier to get the tv station,now the signal is harder to get.We do get around 40 channels.
Never like the idea of the goverment forcing us to make the switch.Now the FCC is planning on chopping some of the t ch's to seel off.
FCC has too much power,someone should clip there wings before all over the air signals are gone
Cut cable almost 2 years ago and use netflix. I am quite happy with the picture quality- seems to be better than cable. Sure I miss "live " sports but the trade off is $ in the bank.