Skip Cable Television & Save Money

27 August 2013

According to a recent article by CBC, about 1 in 6 Canadians do not have cable. Around 16% of Canadians stated that they do not watch any conventional television, and stream shows and movies directly online.  The people that most likely do still have cable television were of the demographic 45 years of age and older.

This makes sense to me.  People who are 45 years of age or older (aka baby boomers) are most likely to be able to afford cable television (yes, that's approximately an extra $100 a month) and not be technologically savvy enough to navigate streaming television shows and movies from the Internet.  Yahoo Finance states that the average cost of cable for an average Canadian is $71 per month.  Over a year, that is $852 a year, which is equivalent to a digital SLR camera, a flight from Vancouver to Halifax, or even a flight to Asia or Europe if you find a good deal.  Funny how a flight to Asia or Europe and a flight across Canada roughly cost the same, but that's a rant for another time.

Here are some alternatives to cable television to save you money:


Netflix is akin to an "all you can eat" buffet.  For $7.99 a month, you can get unlimited access to the television shows and movies available on Netflix.  This is by far the most popular alternative to cable television.  Some of the pros include a free trial for a month and also no contract, so that you can cancel anytime.  Another great aspect of Netflix is that you can watch your shows and movies anywhere, as it's streaming from the Internet.  The iPad, iPhone, Android, tablet, and television are all fair game.

To watch it on your television, you will need an HDMI cable to connect your computer to your television (the cheapest but most cumbersome option - you can get an HDMI cable from for under $10), or a DVD player that is wifi-enabled (approximately $70-$100), or if you have a console like the Xbox or the PlayStation that's even better. Finally, you are able to watch Netflix through the Apple TV too.

The downside is that it is rumoured that Netflix U.S. is much better than Netflix Canada, though this has come a long way because when I first watched Netflix a few years ago, the only movies that existed were terrible B list movies that I wouldn't even watch for free.  There is a way to offset this, and it involves tricking the Internet into thinking that your IP address originates from the United States.  I have not tried this myself.

The Library

This is obviously the cheapest option, but if you're not very good at returning things on time, this might not be a wise choice.

Apple TV

Apple TV is a great option if you have a large storage of movies already on your computer.  You can also rent movies and watch shows a la cart.  There are some free shows available, but for the most part, renting a movie costs the same as it would have cost when you rented it from Rogers or Blockbuster, about $4-$6.  The Apple TV costs $109, and it is small and inconspicuous so it doesn't add too much bulk to your TV viewing area.


This is the other cheapest option, though it has its limitations.  If you are happy watching small, short clips (I know I am), then YouTube is your friend.  I find a lot of YouTube videos entertaining and some of them are even 20-30 minutes long.

Cutting the Cord...

To be honest, I have not had cable for almost a year, and even when I did have it I didn't watch it very much.  I don't miss cable because I often can't get organized enough to PVR something or to schedule time to watch it.  Sometimes I feel a bit left out when people are talking about the latest episode of Breaking Bad or Mad Men, but I feel that I can use my time so much better without spending a few hours watching television.

I do plan on getting Netflix soon so that when I have friends over there is something to watch, but I'm in no hurry.  I know that once I get hooked onto a show, it might become a deep dark abyss of time sucking!

Bargainmoosers, did you cut the cable recently?  Which alternative did you switch to?

(banner image credit: Ho John Lee)


  • Bluenoser
    Great tip! I haven't had cable in over a decade. I couldn't afford it as a student, and got out of the habit of watching tv. Now I just wait for the DVDs if I hear a show is good.
  • Avigayil M.
    We cut cable a week ago! It just was so not worth the price. Now we watch what shows we want via internet and are starting in on our substantial movie/tv collections that have been neglected. I love being without cable and until I got married I lived for many years without a TV. I was SO much more productive during that time.
  • katrina
    you forgot the antenna option! free hd channels.... how many depends on where you live though...
    • Clare
      @Katrina- Thanks for sharing!! :)
  • Chantel I.
    I just started using UnBlockUs so I can get the American Netflix in Canada. It costs $4.99 a month, but it was easy enough to set-up and I'm already reaping the benefits of having a wider range of viewing options. You can also use Hulu if you have a VPN like this, but I didn't like the selection on Hulu enough to pay extra for it.
    • Clare
      @Chantel- Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely look into this if I decide I'm not satisfied with Canadian Netflix!
  • joy
    We are in the process of cutting the cable! Way too much money and most of the programs are not worth watching. We have invested about $200 in a digital antenna set-up and get 27 HD channels. I do miss Food Network and hubby misses Discovery & History channels but most of the shows we can watch online so why pay when you can get it free!!!
  • srj
    We just cancelled cable a few weeks ago, and bought a digital antenna. We get about a dozen channels, including CBC, CTV, CityTV, etc. We've figured out that we get most of the primetime TV shows between these channels. If we miss it, we can watch it the next day online for free. We also have Netflix (set up through the xBox) and borrow from the library. Surprisingly we really haven't missed cable - I thought we would miss the DVR most of all but it's been a great change.
    • Clare
      @srj- Excellent to hear!

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