Nix the Cable Bill- Use the Roku Digital Video Player as an Alternative to Cable




UPDATE: I have written a detailed report here on how I use Roku as an Alternative to Cable.  Click on the link and then right click on the pdf to save it. These detailed step by step instructions should help you save money on your monthly cable bill.

It was a little harder than I anticipated, but I finally got rid of my Dish Network subscription. And when I say harder, I don’t mean because I had a hard time cancelling. I had a hard time because it was hard for me to let go of paying that bill each month! I know it sounds crazy but I kept having these thoughts in my head that I would be lost with out having “regular” t.v. each month.

Boy was I wrong! I love my new set up! I originally had the idea from Peter at Bible Money Matters. His set up was a little bit more than I wanted since I don’t have a wii or other gaming console. So here’s how I did it.

Sidenote: I’m not all high tech with the t.v. These are just the steps I took and there may be better options for those a little more “technically” inclined.

Step 1

Assuming you have an HDTV, and depending on whether your tv has a built in antenna (mine did but I couldn’t get it to work) purchase an indoor antenna for your tv. Depending on where you live, this should allow you to at least get local channels in your area for free. I’m able to get 16 channels with this antenna.Take a look at antenna web if you want to check out what channels you get using an indoor antenna. Immediately after installing this antenna (which is easy) you should at least now have access to local channels for free.

Total out of pocket – roughly $27 shipped (I had a $10 amazon gc)

Step 2

If you want access to more channels than just your local channels, take a look at this option. I didn’t really care to have all the new shows but I wanted a few things to pick from if I was laying around on a Sunday afternoon.

After tons of reserach, I opted for the Roku Digital Video Playerwhich is basically a little black box that allows you to stream netflix (with a $7.99 a month subscription). You can also add other paid channels like Hulu Plus and others. There are 3 options to pick from for your Roku Digital Video Player. I chose the Roku HD (middle of the road) player. At the time when I chose it, there was a $10 credit but I see that is no longer active. :(

Total out of pocket – $79 shipped

Step 3

Decide which subscription you want to use. I opted for Netflix because you can get TONS of shows and movies available instantly to watch through your Roku for $7.99 a month. You get the first 30 days free!

Total out of pocket $0.

What does that mean over a year?

My annual agreement with Dish Network was up this month and the only reason I was paying $35 a month was because they royally messed things up when I moved so they gave me tons of freebies and reduced my rate to keep me as a customer. The bill was going up to $47 a month for the rest of the year which I just could not stomach. So here is how the numbers look for the rest of the year:

Total up front costs:
$27 for Antenna
$79 for Roku player

Total annual costs:
$7.99/mo Netflix subscription (March-December 2011)

Total yearly cost:

If I would have stayed with Dish network at $47.12 a month, the total for the year would be $471.20.

Total first year savings: $285.30 or $28.53 a month.

Considering the first year, I had to buy the antenna and Roku box, after that, my annual bill for Netflix will be $95.88 compared to the $565.44 it would be with cable.

I’ve had this now for a few weeks and I really love my new set up. The problem I have now is deciding what to watch on Netflix. I have over 100 movies and t.v. shows in my Netflix queue and usually spend my time trying to decide what to watch!!!!

Have you gotten rid of your cable bill? If so, what do you use to still watch t.v.?

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  1. Jenny,

    An alternative to your alternative would have been to simply use your computer as a media player. If your t.v. was built in the last six years, chances are it has a PC input. If so, a RGB cable to hook up your monitor would have cost about $20 online. In this set up, you can have your network shows AND netflix streaming. And I’ll just assume that your PC has a DVD player :)

    Great review.

  2. I have been researching different internet TV boxes, and have found so many to choose from. The big deal breaker for Roku would have to be the lack of a full web browser. I will most likely go with the Logitech Review w/ Google TV and its seamless integration with my DISH Network employee account. The UI of the Review is amazing!

  3. Dave Brown says:

    I currently have Dishnetwork, internet and phone service (land line only) through Frontier. I am planning on dropping Dishnetwork as soon as my contract is up in November. I understand my Frontier internet light is not fast enough to use Netflix streaming (at least not in my college rural town area). That will force me to use Charter as my internet provider, and I cannot get any television using an antenna. The phone is a non-issue. I have several DVD players, and lots of DVDs. If it wasn’t for my love of football (which I won’t give up) I could really go without TV. Any suggestions would be helpful.

  4. Hi Dave
    Here is another article that has some suggestions that may be helpful
    What is your ultimate goal, to get rid of the cable bill entirely? I can tell you I have Charter for my internet and have never had any problems. If you are with frontier and don’t have enough bandwith to stream with netflix on your plan now, do they have options where you can increase that? I am not familiar with frontiers plans so I don’t know what options there are.
    As far as sports, I really don’t know what suggestion to offer there since I’m not a sports fan! But why can’t you get any t.v. using the antenna? Are you in an area where there is little antenna service?
    The article I mentioned above has some more solutions so I hope one of those will help you out. Let me know if I can help anymore!

  5. Dorothy – you set everything up through the Roku, including the channels. The Roku picks up your wireless signal and then you are able to set up everything from there. It’s a great product, I hope you like it as much as I do!


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