Beat the Cable Company: How to Save $762 on TV

Christa Baxter
Researcher & Writer
Read More
December 15, 2015
3 min read

Cutting the cord means getting rid of that traditional TV service and replacing it with better, cheaper, options. You can tailor services to your needs, not some company’s bottom line. And we’re going to show you how easy it is to pull it off.

TV service has become bloated, and cable and satellite companies are losing money over it.

Americans in 2014 had an average of 189 channels piped into their home through cable or satellite TV providers. That’s a 47% jump since 2008.¹

There’s a big catch, though. On average, Americans only watch 17 of those channels, a number that has remained unchanged over the same amount of time. Americans aren’t watching more channels, but they’re getting more of them. Since the TV companies pay each network a monthly fee per subscriber, that cost digs into their bottom line.

Because of that, internet service is bloated, too.

Providers started bundling internet and phone service with their TV packages years ago to generate new revenue. (We’ll talk about phone service in another post; suffice it to say, you’re almost certainly not getting out what you’re paying in.)

The bundlers also began trying to make internet service look more attractive by upping the Mbps (megabytes per second) and charging more for it. You pay more, but you don’t use more.

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Savvy cord cutters can tailor their internet speed to their actual usage, rather than paying an inflated price for speeds they don’t need.

Find internet prices for your new home

Moving is the perfect time to cut the cord.

You can cut the cord any time, but a move is a good time to make a fresh start with your TV service. If you’re lucky, you’re moving to an area that isn’t covered by your current TV provider. Why lucky? There’s a good chance they’ll waive your Early Termination Fee (ETF) if you’re moving.

If you’re stuck with your current provider, ask about downgrading your bundle to an internet-only plan. With some polite negotiating, you may be able to downgrade the service without paying that pesky ETF. If you switch providers, the new one may be willing to do a contract buyout (i.e., pay the ETF for you). Heck, it may even be worth it, after you do some math, to just pay the fee to get out of the contract.

Do it right, and cutting the cord will save you a lot of money.

The most-used TV service in the country is Comcast’s XFINITY. So let’s take a look at one of their middle-of-the-road bundles, offering 120 channels on their X1 platform:

  • 2-year contract required
  • $80/month first year, $100/month second year
  • Total 2-year cost: $2,160²

Think your satellite TV provider is better? Here's a comparable bundle from DISH:

  • 2-year contract required
  • $70/month first year, $120/month second year
  • Total 2-year cost: $2,280³

Cord Cutter Savings - TV and Movie Lovers

Comcast and CenturyLink both have internet-only packages that start as low as $29.95 a month. Want TV on top of that? It’s simple, you just buy the content you want. Love movies? Try this example.

Traditional Bundle
Cord Cutters
Internet + TV$80/mo first year
$100/mo second year
Internet onlyN/A$30/mo

Sample à la carte options:

Netflix: $10/mo
Amazon Prime: $8.25/mo
HBO Go: $15/mo
Total 2-Year Cost$2,160$1,518

Total savings over 2 years: $642

Cord Cutter Savings - Sports Lovers

Sports is a stumbling block for many who have thought about cutting the cord. In the past, there weren’t any à la carte options that carried live sports, so many have stuck with their expensive bundles. But ESPN, the mega-giant of the sports world, was recently made available to cord cutters through Sling TV.

Sling is a $20-a-month service that also gives you live access to many of the most popular cable channels like AMC, TNT, and CNN.

Traditional Bundle
Cord Cutters
Internet + TV$80/mo first year
$100/mo second year
Internet onlyN/A$30/mo

Sample à la carte options:

Amazon Prime: $8.25/mo
Sling TV: $20/mo
Total 2-Year Cost$2,160$1,398

Total savings over 2 years: $762

Of course, you can add and remove services from the options you see here and the price will adjust accordingly. But that’s exactly the point. Not only is cutting the cord going to save you money, but it lets you customize your life in a way not possible with the traditional bundle.

Cutting the cord is worth it, but can be tricky.

If you’re taking the leap to internet-only service, providers will try to maintain large profits by offering you more internet speed than you really need.

Traditional TV providers see the writing on the wall. But they’ll hang onto the old model as long as possible, so long as it still makes them money. And they offer incentives to keep customers with them through that change of address. If you’re moving, it may be the perfect time to cut the cord. Even if you’re not, it may be worth taking a hard look at how making some little changes can save you some big bucks.

Resources Mentioned in the Article


1. Nielsen, Americans View Just 17 Channels Despite Record Number to Choose From. May, 6 2014. Accessed December 14, 2015.

2. Xfinity, Cable and Internet Packages. Accessed December 11, 2015.

3. Dish, Dish Bundles. Accessed December 12, 2015.

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than eight years and specialized in moving content for the last three. She leads the content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.) She earned a BA and MA in English with a minor in editing.