So, you’ve done a pro/con list and decided you’re not a cord-shaver, you’re a cord-cutter. We have some very good news for you: it’s very easy to join the 3 million Canadian households without cable or satellite TV packages. Here’s how:
Step 1: Get a Streaming Device
You may be able to skip this step if you have either a) an expensive smart TV or b) a newer generation game console, provided that they are hooked up to your Internet service.
A streaming device is a small console that connects to your Internet service and to your TV through an HDMI port. It lets you watch TV, sports, movies, and more through your streaming service of choice. Examples of streaming devices include the Roku 4, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. Expect to spend between $35 and $200; you can comparison shop here.
Step 2: Upgrade Your Internet Service
Now that you’ll be getting all your TV over the Internet, you may need to think about upgrading just how much data you get per month. Expect to use about 1 GB of data per hour of video streaming set to standard definition. If you watch everything in high definition, then expect to use about 3 GB of data per hour. These estimates come courtesy of Netflix, by the way.
So, all you need to do is figure out how much time each member of your family spends per month watching TV, add it up, and that’s how much data you’ll need per month. Keep in mind: you should look for an Internet provider with unlimited usage plans. Streaming video can really add up.
Step 3: Choose Your Streaming Services
Your streaming service will be offering you your content. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more than Netflix out there—although starting at $9 a month, Netflix is pretty great. Other options for general streaming include CraveTV and Crackle, and sports nuts are covered by streaming services offered by the NHL, MLB, NFL, and NBA. And keep in mind, with your TV hooked up to the Internet, you’ll be able to watch anything posted online.
Step 4: Check Out the Digital Market
Sometimes you’ll still have to rent or buy movies and TV shows, but you can do all this online. Apple iTunes offers a wide library of programing, and it’s also possible to rent or buy content from YouTube, Vimeo, Best Buy, Steam, Cineplex, and more.
Step 5: Cancel Your Cable
Now that you’re all set up, you’re ready to finally cut the cord. Keep in mind that you no longer have to provide 30 days notice of cancellation—when you say cancel, your soon-to-be-former provider must cancel.
Be polite but firm. And remember that you’ll get some kind of last-minute “retention” offer that will undoubtedly involve a new contract.
And finally: the last way your cable company might get you is over their equipment. Make sure you follow their instructions because they will charge you if their equipment is damaged or not returned in a specific timeframe. If you can, try and return their equipment to a retail location just to be sure. And remember, get a receipt when you return the equipment.
Bonus Tip: Get an HD Antenna
With a digital HD antenna, you can get a bunch of FREE TV stations. For example, someone in Toronto with an HD antenna will get CBC, ABC, NBC, PBS, Global, FOX, and more, up to a total of 67 channels in some locations. You might even notice that the picture quality is better as the signal is uncompressed unlike your cable or satellite service. Again, after your initial investment in an HD antenna, these channels are free.
Cable is expensive. We all know this. However, TV doesn’t have to be, and cable sure doesn’t have a monopoly on TV. With the right combination of streaming, high-speed internet, and digital buying options, you can watch what you want at a fraction of the cost.