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bucketo 2011-01-17 11:28 PM

Cutting Cable TV Experiment
My wife and I are running a bit of an experiment. In light of the PVR issues and the price hikes Rogers has announced we've decided to cut the cable tv out cold turkey.

To replace it we're running Netflix USA and Hulu Plus. If you search around the forums you'll find good info on how to get at em from our side of the border.

We've been watching some good series on Netflix that has kept our attention and Hulu covers about 80% of what my wife watches on the main networks. For CBS and CW she has to go to the sites directly.

I pretty much only watch soccer so I'll replace my setanta channel with either setanta-i or which is a collaboration between Sportsnet and Setanta to stream all EPL games except for the ones that TSN2 picks up. Unfortunately which ever one I choose rogers still gets some of my money as they are in on both... :)

So. Our cable tv bill was about $125 (VIP, hdtv specialty pack, movies, setanta, Goltv). Now our costs will be:

netflix usa $8
hulu plus $8
vpn service ~$10 (there are various options out there)
$15 or $17 for my soccer depending on what site I choose.

Running both netflix and hulu on the ps3. Note there are differences in what Hulu can stream to the web (or desktop app) vs the ps3. We found about 25% of the shows she likes they don't have the rights to stream to the ps3, even with a hulu plus account. That was a bit of a bummer. If this experiment works out we'll likely put a mac mini or something in place of the ps3 that gives us hulu desktop access as well as any website streaming @ the major network websites (or with boxee etc)

We currently have the Extreme Internet package, the 95 Gb limit one. No doubt we're gonna hit that and pay some overage fees. We could move up a tier but my current modem isn't compatible and we don't like to rent equipment and they are charging way too much to purchase the cable modem. TekSavvy may be in our area soon from what their helpdesk tells me so we'll keep an eye on em... This part of the experiment should be interesting...

While we won't be able to replace all cable channels 1:1 we are certainly gonna give this a try. I don't watch much tv besides soccer and my wife spends most of the time on the major shows from the major networks.

I'll post an update after a month. Our cable runs out about Feb 17th. We're gonna start tomorrow like we don't have cable...

Anyone else cutting loose?


Bob_Mtl 2011-01-18 02:19 AM

Is there an antenna in your project of cutting the cable service? OTA could probably give you access to some HD channel from Ottawa and US. That will allow you to save on your internet usage.
See the OTA forum you will find all the information and what is best for your area. Good luck with your experiment!

bucketo 2011-01-18 07:59 AM

I've only looked at the OTA section at a high level. While I'm somewhat technical, seeing some of the terms kinda scared me away. Maybe I'll make this a spring project to investigate.

jayoldschool 2011-01-18 09:09 AM

Even with just a small indoor antenna, you will be able to get CBC and CityTV.

tvlurker 2011-01-18 09:19 AM

And OMNI1, OMNI2, SunTV, and CBC French.

becks 2011-01-18 09:42 AM

I'm really thinking about doing this too but would also like to cut the Rogers Internet so hopefully TekSavvy is in my area soon. If OTA was good in the Ottawa area I would of done this years ago. I think the only bump in the road will be the wife as she likes watching shows on HGTV and the Food Network.

Bob_Mtl 2011-01-18 10:04 AM

Start with this thread
Read other threads in the main forum.

Do you have a tv with ATSC tuner? like a flat screen.
You can make a test with a rabbit ears antenna. Connect an antenna, set the tv to antenna and autoscan; you will be amazed by the picture quality of digital station (superior to cable!). After that you will probably want a better installation, a couple of tuners in your computer... and so on.

fahr451 2011-01-18 12:03 PM

I'm another Ottawan (Kanatan?) who would like to dump Rogers. As I see it, there are still some issues:

1) Unlike the GTA, Ottawa is currently lacking in OTA digital stations. I just took a look at the scheduled recordings on my PVR (we rarely watch live TV) and found that most of our viewing is from the following channels:

TVO - available by August 31
PBS - available now (but requires external antenna, which is not allowed in our subdivision)
Global - available by August 31?
CTV - available by August 31
CBC - available now (with simple antenna)
Showcase - some content available online in SD resolution
HDCH - available by August 31?
City - supposedly available now (but currently unable to pick up with simple antenna)
SPACE - some content available online in SD resolution
TCM - much of this content is available from the public library,, or

All in all, most of what I'm interested in should be available by August 31, without requiring an external antenna. (PBS would be the main station I would miss.)

2) Since I watch most of my TV time-shifted, I would need something equivalent to my Rogers HD-PVR. I'd probably put a couple of HD tuner cards in a dedicated PC, running Windows 7 Media Center or MythTV. However I've no experience with these types of boxes and have no idea how easy they are to configure or keep running. (I don't want to locked out of viewing by a blue-screen-of-death or a virus.)

3) It's not clear whether Teksavvy (or other third-party ISPs) will be able to provide reasonable amounts of internet data at a reasonable cost. I fear that Rogers and Bell will succeed with their UBB plans and essentially kill off the competition (both ISPs and streaming video providers).

I suspect that I won't be able to make the decision about dropping Rogers until this fall. By that time it should be clear what OTA digital content is available and whether internet video streaming is cost-effective.


audacity 2011-01-18 03:29 PM

I've done the same thing and I was a Shaw cable subscriber since ~2000.

In 2003 I put together a HTPC using Beyond TV and some Hauppauge TV tuner cards, which I eventually built up to a 5-tuner system which recorded analog cable TV channels. It was great!

Then HDTV came. I tried all sorts of hacks to get HD channels recorded via Beyond TV (with the absence of OTA HD broadcast channels). I did the Firewire thing to a Motorola 6416 STB, I did the Hauppauge HD PVR thing. I felt frustrated that Shaw charged quite a bit of money for the cable TV signal, but even after buying their STB, they did their best to prevent me from using a best-of-breed user interface (i.e. HTPC software) in conjunction with their "TV signal service". This past September my girlfriend and I moved in together (well, I moved into her house - at Spurce Grove, AB) and she had already cancelled cable TV after asking Shaw if she could get a promotional price to which they said no.

So, after reading the OTA forums here, I selected and installed a OTA antenna on the roof of the house, subscribed to Netflix, configured the Windows-7 HTPC to make it very easy to connect to VPN endpoints in the USA or the U.K (depending on what content we want to watch). There is only one OTA HD signal that we can receive, but that number will soon grow.

Oh, and if there anything that we "must see" that is currently unavailable on Netflix, Hulu, and via OTA signals, NNTP and Bittorrent quickly solve that problem.

We now have more content than we have time to watch, and we don't pay for cable TV anymore.

Interestingly, a couple months after my girlfriend cancelled cable TV, Shaw called and offered cable TV for $10/mo during a promotional period (6 months, I believe) and she declined. A month or so later they called her back again and offered cable TV for $0/mo, and she declined that too. The reason to decline that $0 offer is that the effort required to "jailbreak" the content on Shaw's service is substantially more than the effort required to just get the content through other means (OTA, streaming services, etc).

What would bring me back to a cable TV service? Well, Shaw impeding my ability to use a HTPC is a deal-breaker as their STBs are horrible. Fix that and I'm interested again. Oh, and keep the price below $50/mo. Anything more than that for TV is just ridiculous.

bucketo 2011-01-18 05:37 PM

Boys this is all great info. Much thanks.

Today is Day 1. And although we do still have cable until mid February technically we are going as if we don't have it.

So, instead of sparking up TSN this morning for Sportscentre I checked out my morning sports news on the ipad! The bonus? No damn commercials every 6 minutes.

So, so far so good. :)

slyboy 2011-01-19 09:26 AM

Agreed - great info on this thread so far.
Dances with Lysol - can you describe more of what you did with the Windows 7 HTPC to use it for your TV viewing purposes? Alternatively is there specific information or threads on here you followed for instructions?

ScaryBob 2011-01-19 09:35 AM

We watch a few network shows and can't get any US stations so I am waiting until May to cancel Bell. Then we will see how the digital transition pans out. It still looks shaky here as far as Global and the CBC are concerned.

Dalek Prime 2011-01-19 10:21 AM

The BDUs basically own many of the transmitters now, so I think they'll do their best to shut them down, or under-power them, so you have to get their service. I hope I'm wrong, but that's the free market.

ScaryBob 2011-01-19 10:25 AM

It's not a free market. It's a highly regulated market. That's the problem.

Dalek Prime 2011-01-19 01:07 PM

Regulated in favour of the PRIVATE BDUs who bought the networks. That's the REAL problem.

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