The good news is, there are several alternatives to the traditional cable plan that can offer you and your family a better value. Steve Kovach, an editor at Business Insider who covers gadgets, apps and consumer technology, suggests the following cable substitutes. (A couple strategies, in fact, could save close to $900 a year):
If all you watch is the news and Dancing With the Stars, then Digital TV may be your best bet. It's free with the small purchase of a pair of HD antennas. "You won't get the premium channels but your basic broadcast networks -- about 10 or so channels -- is still free," says Kovach. Figure the basic HD antenna costs about $25 - and deleting that $75+ per month cable bill -- and you're looking at savings of close to $900 a year.
If you're a big cable junkie and glued to your 100+ channels of content, consider ditching cable for a Boxee, which provides a plethora of programming you pay for "a la carte." It costs about $150 and lets you watch nearly anything, at any time. You can pull content from nearly anywhere on the Internet and get it up on your TV. It will even use all the apps and media you're already using such as podcasts, music from services like Pandora, Music MOG, etc. "If you own this box, you own the capabilities," says Kovach. "[Boxee] provides incredible flexibility and control over what you watch, and when you watch it." Just keep in mind, if you're a fan of shows on HBO, Showtime and other premium channels, you'll need to subscribe and pay for it through your cable provider. Kovach's advice? Wait for that programming to become available a few seasons down the road on other platforms like Netflix. "Besides, by then, you'll be able to watch the whole season at once!" Savings: $750 a year.
Roku, which is another alternative to cable, offers similar services, but at a better price point. A Roku box is $50 or $99 for the HD version. The other added benefit of Roku is that it offers access to Hulu (Boxee does not). One caveat: Roku doesn't have quite as many premium apps, and some people find that limiting. Savings: $850 a year.
For Apple junkies, Apple TV may also be worth consideration. The unit costs about $99, but like most apple products, it's proprietary. "The disadvantage is that Apple wants you to exclusively use iTunes to get content." If you're already accustomed to buying your media through iTunes, then this could be a good fit. Savings: $800 a year.
If you're in the market for a new television, you may want to look into the growing market for smart TVs, which come equipped with Internet capabilities. Like smart phones, smart TVs have apps and software already included, which means you don't need a Roku or a Boxee to access various channels and programming. "Samsung, in particular, is a great brand to look for in Smart TVs, and believe it or not they don't cost any more than other LCD, plasmas or flat screens these days," says Kovach.
In sum, the real advantage to "cutting the cord" is having more control over what you watch, while paying a whole lot less. It's a win-win. Savings: At least $900 a year.