I mentioned in the earlier post about Amazon Prime that we dropped DirecTV last year, and a couple of you have asked how it’s going and what we do for current programming. So here’s an update, one year later!
When did we cancel?
We canceled our monthly DirecTV subscription on September 10, 2011. Here’s last September’s post detailing the process and purchases, step-by-step. We did buy a DVR last year, as well as an outdoor antenna and a Blu-Ray player to replace our old DVD player. It’s been a year now, so the exact models of what we bought might be out of date, but the principle is the same.
- Here’s MashupDad’s step-by-step Flickr photo set from last fall about how he installed the outdoor antenna.
What over-the-air channels do we receive?
We get all the basic broadcast networks, something like 3 PBS stations, and a total of about 50 over-the-air stations (some of which I’d never heard of before, but there you go! ).
If you’d like to see an estimate of the channels you might be able to receive over the air in your location, check AntennaWeb here. Note that this is a conservative estimate — it currently shows 27 available stations for my address, but we actually get about 50 with a roof-mounted antenna. The closer you are to a major city, and the more direct line-of-sight you have, the more channels you should be able to receive.
When did it pay itself back?
For the antenna, Blu-Ray, and nice DVR box, we paid about $560 total. Your costs may be a bit less, since this was a year ago and prices on hardware tend to drop, or if you already have a Blu-Ray or choose TiVo or a different, cheaper DVR method. (We went with the DVR rather than TiVo, because TiVo is cheaper up front but requires a monthly subscription fee, so we figured it would pay for itself in the long run.)
We were paying $62.11 per month after all taxes for our fairly basic DirecTV subscription, so this whole setup paid for itself after 9 months, or three months ago — now we’re just saving $62.11 every month!
What else do we watch?
We do have a $7.99/month Netflix streaming subscription — I didn’t count that in the above costs, since we already had it before we dumped DirecTV. We use this extensively for kid’s shows, TV series, and more. (Right now we’re doing a nightly episode of Star Trek: Voyager with Mr. 9 before bed, which is pretty fun — and commercial-free!)
MashupDad and I also are both signed up to receive a free Redbox rental each month via text, and we watch DVDs from the library. If you like watching a lot of new releases, what you can do is start putting holds on them at your local library as soon as they order them, and you’ll eventually start getting a pretty good stream of entertainment in.
Where else can I get shows?
You have a number of other options available to you:
- A number of popular shows are available on their network’s own website — check your favorites to see what’s there.
- If you watch a lot of TV, you’ll also want to look into Hulu Plus — if you’re a heavy TV watcher and your shows aren’t available over the air, do their one week free trial and see if it will work for you at $7.99/month. Also see what is freely available at Hulu.com.
- If you just have a couple of favorite shows, you can purchase individual episodes at iTunes or Amazon Instant Video. This will save you money, especially during the summer and other programming hiatuses — why pay daily for shows you only watch occasionally?
- iTunes also has some free TV episodes..
- Also look into what’s available on Amazon Prime vs. Netflix, especially in light of today’s announcement that they added a lot more content.
- If you’re a sports person, check out what’s available for your favorite sport.
- Xbox LIVE 12 Gold streams ESPN 3.
- You can subscribe to baseball via MLB TV
- NFL Replays available here. And NFL Game Rewind subscriptions from the NFL site here.
- Lots available over the air — and we didn’t miss out on the Olympics this year, since that was all broadcast!
You do need high speed internet access for all of the above. We dumped DirecTV, but we still have Comcast internet service.
How’s it working out?
LOVE it! We don’t miss DirecTV at all. The two minor annoyances we encounter:
- When we get storms or a lot of rain, sometimes we encounter intermittent problems with channel two cutting in and out.
- Our DVR records by time and day, not by show. (Although when you look things up to schedule, you look up shows, don’t worry — but when it stores the info, it just stores a specific time and date.) So when a show switches nights, we have to delete the old setting and add a new time/date to the schedule, it isn’t smart enough to automatically switch the recording settings. So sometimes we get random stuff in there that we never set to record, lol.
We do not, ever, run out of of things to watch. We also now get some HD channels, and we didn’t have an HD package through DirecTV — so some of our TV actually looks better over the air!
Other hardware options
We went with the antenna/DVR box/Blu-Ray (with built in Netflix support) combo.
What do you guys use?
Keep those recommendations coming! We love not paying the monthly DirecTV bill, and there are so many alternatives out there now that you should be able to put together something that will work for your own family.
PS — we dumped AT&T, too!
We picked up an Ooma Telo for free home phone service a couple of months ago, and it is wicked cool. Look for a post on that coming soon 🙂