How I got rid of cable and saved money by using Chromecast

Chromecast-Featured-ready-to-cast

When Google launched Chromecast last Summer, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and ordered one for each of my televisions. Until recently, Chromecast and it’s applications were just an addition to my living room needs, making being a couch potato that much easier. As Chromecast added more and more applications under it’s belt, the little $35 dongle became more and more useful, even to the point dare I say that I could cut the cord and no longer be a slave Comcast.

For the past decade, I’ve happily paid my bill and when I watched TV, I watched what was previously recorded on my DVR. I never watched live TV. Everything I watched was always an hour after it aired or the next day or so. My wife was the same way. We recorded what we wanted to watch and watched it when it suited our lives. We only watched a dozen TV shows across a dozen channels. Why did we need to pay for over one hundred channels when we only wanted to watch a few shows? South Park does a pretty good job explaining this situation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=678VQM1L4b4

Being tired of the above happening over and over again, we decided to use Chromecast to cut the cord and get rid of Comcast’s archaic take on television. For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been happily TV cable subscription free, but still relying on Comcast for my Internet access and still saving a ton of money.

I was paying Comcast $140 a month for high speed internet, a cable TV subscription, and 1 HD DVR box. I would have added more HD boxes but Cocmast wants to charge you $10 a month to watch HD TV on your already HD capable TV.

Now, I’m paying Comcast $70 a month, cutting my bill to them in half. I have a Hulu Plus subscription that runs $7.99 a month and a Netflix subscription that runs $7.99 a month as well. When it comes down to it, I’m saving over $50 a month by subscribing to these services and getting rid of Comcast’s traditional take on television. Even if you factor in spending $30-$35 a Chromecast for multiple TVs, in the long run it’s still much cheaper.

Why use Hulu Plus and Netflix?
Hulu and Netflix are similar services, yet offer vastly different types of content. Hulu tends to focus on new shows, allowing you to watch most of your favorite episodes from cable a day after they air. Having to wait a day to watch your favorite show when you’re used to watching it on DVR the next day is no different here. Hulu Plus does have commercials on most shows, but the ads don’t run for very long and to be honest, I haven’t been bothered by them thus far.

hulu

I was worried I would forget when a new episode is available as I can’t just pull up the DVR anymore to see what I haven’t watched yet. Thankfully, Hulu Plus has a queue, automatically adding your favorites. You’ll need to watch your favorite episodes soon though, they only stick around for a few weeks.

netflix-logo1Netflix is more of an archive service, having entire series ready to stream at the click of a button. Netflix doesn’t get the latest episodes of the latest shows as fast as Hulu Plus does, but will generally have a much larger library of TV shows and movies at your disposal.

Using both services in conjunction together seems to be a near winning combination, especially now that both are offering an every growing arsenal of original series. I use Netflix to find something to watch when my Hulu Plus queue is emptied. When it’s move night, I check out Netflix, or Plex, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Netflix and Hulu Plus can’t cover it all.
Sadly, not all of your favorite shows are available on Netflix or Hulu. Take The Walking Dead for example. This show is archived on Netflix, but if you want recent shows, neither Netflix nor Hulu Plus has them available. You’ll need to head on over to AMC’s website to view the latest episodes. This goes for many of my wife’s favorite shows on CBS too such as Two Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother, or NCIS.

All is not lost though. Thanks to Google’s trusty Google Cast extension for the Chrome web browser, you can easily watch content not found on Netflix or Hulu Plus. Just head on over to AMC.com or CBS.com and visit your shows full episode section. Then, hit the Google Cast button to Cast that tab to Chromecast. Hit the full screen button and you’re set. I’ve been Casting tabs from a 4 year old computer with ease. I have zero buffering or syncing issues. Heck, I was even able to Cast some shows from my Samsung Chromebook.

Spur of the moment live broadcasts can work too. A few days ago on New Year’s Eve, I was even able to find ABC’s livestream of the NYC event and everyone at our New Year’s Eve party was able to watch the ball drop at midnight. It worked out perfectly.

Plex-for-Chromecast

As mentioned, Netflix and Hulu Plus can’t do it all and neither can tab casting. If you happen to have a large personal library of movies, a great addition to Netflix and Hulu Plus can be Plex. I personally use Plex just as much as I use Netflix or Hulu Plus. Your mileage may vary depending on your own personal library. I also make use of Google Play Music whenever possible, streaming music to a room in my house and from time to time find something useful on YouTube to c

What about kids? Can this be kid friendly?
Netflix and Hulu Plus both offer a wide variety of content for kids, from original series, to old school cartoons, to plenty of new cartoons too. My kids are able to pick up their tablet and find the shows they want, and then send them directly to the TV of their choice. You have to remember, kids today are very tech savy. Just think what they do already on your phone or tablet. They’ll pick this up in no time at all.

What can’t you stream that’s normally found on cable?
If you’re into local news, Chromecast probably won’t be able to fill that void, unless your local news station also livestream’s their broadcast. Live news seems to be the big one. If you’re like me, this isn’t that big of a deal, because you get all of your news from the Internet anyways, and haven’t watched TV based news in years.

Sports is another big one. It’s a rarity that you’ll be able to find a livestreamed sports event. There are some dark corners of the Internet that may be able to help you out though. Personally, I don’t watch sports anymore, so this isn’t a big deal for me either.

Saving money is great, but this isn’t for everyone.
Cutting the cord to exclusively use Internet streaming services is great if you don’t mind waiting a day to watch some of your favorite shows. Nor is it horrible if you don’t mind dealing with some minor issues such as not all content is available on Netflix and Hulu Plus and you’ll have to start some shows on another computer, then cast the tab to Chromecast. Of course, this is all based on the TV shows you watch and your watching habits. If you can adjust and don’t mind doing things a little different, it’s nice to save $50 a month.

I’m planning on giving it a try for 6 months before making a final decision. After 3 weeks down, I couldn’t be happier. Wish me luck!



  • Mattia Campagnano

    I got rid of cable, too. In your opinion, did your user experience with services such as Netflix get better by using Chromecast? The video is hilarious but that’s what happens. They asked me to pay double for the same channels I had before and I sent them packing.

  • fishfeet

    You mention missing out on local content, such as news. An Over-the-Air antenna will pick up your local HDTV broadcasts. You have to watch it live but everything on regular network TV is available, including all the shows you mention on CBS (but again, it would have to be watched live or recorded by some other means)

  • That’s great advice for those that want to still get local content and channels. I have a question though as I’m not foo familiar. How long will that work? Will the FCC eventually yank back that spectrum like they did with the 700mhz block?

  • I don’t mind Netflix with Chromecast. I definitely use it more now than I had in the past because it’s one of the few services I have. Profiles really help too. I have profile setup for the kids, one for me, and one for my wife. I would say that the Netflix experience as a whole as gotten better as the Android app has evolved with the most recent major update.

  • Robert Beier

    Been thinking about cutting the cord myself within the next few months and have been thinking of getting the Chromecast to work around some of the shows on Hulu that can only be streamed on a PC. We also have Aereo service now in Houston which can help with a lot of the local content including live sports. Of course I will have to keep an eye on their legal battles, but I have been using it personally for over a month and it works great for watching football on my tablet. This article definitely has me convinced. Now I just need to convince my wife!

  • Chromebook user

    Did this years ago with a Roku and HDTV antenna.

  • I think it would be pretty controversial if they “yanked back” that spectrum. They just basically did that for standard-def TV for the HDTV transition. I’d be willing to bet over-the-air TV is here for quite awhile longer.

    Either way, it’s free minus $20-50 for a decent antenna – it’s cheaper, the closer you are to a major city. Enjoy it while it lasts, even if you have some doubt over longevity. Pair that with a TiVo, and you’d be surprised what all you can find on the airwaves. In fact, the number of channels expanded with the digital transition, as many singular standard def channels have split into 3-5 sub-channels. (eg. your local NBC affiliate that was channel 4 now runs channels 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5 with crazy retro syndicated programming)

  • good post!

  • rcrow490

    I connected my PC to my TV years ago and haven’t looked back. I’m not a sports fan, so that wasn’t a problem. I’ve been looking into a broadcast antenna recently to get some local news. I also have an OG Google TV, but it’s becoming difficult to use.

    FYI: I don’t know if you’ve discovered this. Plex lets you watch network tv sites like CBS and CW commercial free.

  • Ryan

    Why not pick up a HDTV antenna so you can at least get all the local channels (abc, nbc, fox, etc…) live. It would be nice at the very minimum to see live breaking news regarding weather in your area.

  • Shane

    How can anyone trust a guy that doesn’t watch sports? Almost everyone could cut the cord if they don’t care about sports. That should be your lead off.

  • Michelle

    Just to let you know amc and abc now require either cable or dish subscription to watch shows from their websites. No cable, no dish? No being able to watch from there.

  • Lasher820

    Go to the bar and watch them like everyone else

  • There are a ton of options better than able/satellite. I decided to get rid of cable and cut the cord 4+ years ago… I still watch all the same stuff if not more and I save a pile of money. I started a blog/website to help people keep up with all the newest options. Check it out and let me know what you think. http://getridofcable.net

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