Rethinking Our TV Programming

We’ve been a loyal subscriber to DirecTV since 2001, but I think we may be defecting soon.

We were once paying over $80 a month for a bunch of channels we never watched, and only a handful we did. We also had Netflix which was another $20 a month. So by 2008 we were paying over $100 a month to watch TV. And didn’t even blink twice about the bill.

When I got laid off in early 2009 we reduced our programming down to the most basic package (about 30 channels) and have been supplementing the lack of channels with our Netflix account (both DVDs and streaming) since then. It is a rare occasion now that I see something about a TV show I can’t watch and wish I had more channels. And usually I forget about the show in question and don’t miss not seeing it (how’s that for your daily double negative?).

Since that time, our bill has been the following:

  • $79 Amazon Prime annual membership (which gives us access to over 10,000 programs). This equals $6.58 a month.
  • $21.38 Netflix account
  • $56.23 DirecTV account
  • That totals $84.19 each month we’re paying for the privilege of watching TV. That’s certainly better than the $100+ we were paying a few years ago JUST for DirecTV alone. But for that $84 and change, Denis is not able to watch ANY of his beloved Jets or Mets games – he either watches them at a bar in town, or online in our home office.

    Yes, we’ve been with DirecTV for over 11 years, but I’m not one to think I have to stick with them. Yes, I have programming saved on our DVRs, but the one recording that really matters – the one that features the 2005 CNN feature about Cootiehog and KateSpot – is one we own outright and wouldn’t have to give up if we ended our relationship with DirecTV.

    As an experiment, Denis and I recently bought a Roku which we put in our bedroom. We didn’t really need it – we have DirecTV in our bedroom already – but I thought getting it would help us decide what we wanted to do with our monthly cable bill.

    If we were to get rid of DirecTV and just go with peripherals for our programming, here’s what we’d be paying:

  • $79 Amazon Prime annual membership (again, only $6.58 a month)
  • $21.38 Netflix account
  • $7.99 Hulu+ account
  • $29.99 MLB.TV for Denis (or $2.50/month annually)
  • New monthly total for basically the same program AND all of the 2012 season baseball games for Denis: $38.45.

    That’s amazing! Especially since that’s less than we pay JUST for DirecTV right now!

    I don’t know when we’ll make the switch, but it’s looking more and more likely that we will leave DirecTV and go to peripherals only. For local channels (purely for local news, weather and traffic), we’d just buy a couple digital antennas (we already have one for our home office TV) which are only a one time expense of $20-30 each.

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    10 comments

    1. Interesting. Amazon Prime always sounded so expensive but I guess when you break it down monthly it’s not bad at all. Same for Hulu+. It was just me, I’d be fine with just Netflix and Hulu+ but Scott really loves Fox News. Do you know of any of them besides DirecTV that carries taht?

    2. Amy – one more note on Amazon Prime – it’s a BARGAIN because you get free shipping on almost everything you purchase there. And given how much I shop at Amazon, the $79 I’m paying annually is definitely less than I’d pay for shipping throughout the year if I didn’t have it. And then there’s the bonus of free streaming on top if it – in my mind, it more than pays for itself for our household! Not only that, but you can share Amazon Prime – both Denis and I share our Amazon Prime membership, so we BOTH get free shipping for the $79 price.

    3. Amy,

      FoxNews is the primary reason we still have FIOS. That and On Demand for the kids shows that we can’t get from Netflix or Amazon (like anything Disney). But we’re getting close to ditching cable or at least scaling it way back, too.

      I echo Jane’s endorsement of Amazon Prime. And you can get free Kindle books by being on Prime, too (the lending thing).

    4. Is it worth my while to even conteplate changing your outlook towards the delicious, wonderful, superbly functioning, sleek, speedy, wonders of Apple?!

    5. Nope. My dad, sister and mom have all been trying to do as much for the past several years, to no avail. I shall not EVER own an Apple product (I barely tolerate the fact I use iTunes to download music).

    6. I was wondering, how do you recieve internet access. We have a bundle thru comcast, so between our channels, internet and phone we are at $185. I am trying to scale back just not sure where to make the cuts. Thanks!!

    7. Our internet is through a local company called Comporium. We bundle our services with them as well – we have a local land line (which is for our home alarm system, which is not compatible with VOIP), my cell phone and internet. That bill comes to $120 or so a month. And it’s going to go up once I change out my old Blackberry phone for a smartphone, which will require a data plan. We do NOT do TV through Comporium – we have DirecTV right now (but in this post we outline our plan to remove that service). If you want to count in DirecTV with our Comporium, then we’re paying about the same as you ($56 + $120). But then I also have my cell phone as part of that cost.

      As for cuts, if you have a cell phone with long distance, considering reducing your land line to local calls only – we shaved that bill by half. And we cut down channels from the large package to only 30 basic channels, which reduced it again. You can’t really reduce Internet unless you have been with them for a while and can call and try to negotiate a discount for being a loyal customer. If they get a sense that you’ll walk if they won’t deal, they’ll deal.

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