How to cut the cable cord (and how much you will save)

In anticipation of our move to a new house, my husband blurted out something quite shocking.

"I think we should just drop cable."

Well, since I assumed cable television was necessary for his sports-watching hobby, and he assumed that I was beholden to "The Real Housewives" series, we had dutifully paid hundreds of dollars a month for something neither one of us really cared about.

(There's a lesson about marital communication in there, somewhere).

So we moved and left cable television behind.

Oh, sure, our neighbors and friends are a bit confused. We have received more than a few blank stares at the mention of an antenna. And, to be fair, we haven't yet lived through a football season without ESPN.

But for us, dropping cable (renegotiating a cell phone contract and eliminating our phone's landline) meant decreasing our bill from $490 to about $90 a month, which pays for high-speed Internet and one prepaid feature cell phone.

With three televisions in our home, which meant three high-definition boxes, and our premium package of channels, dropping cable alone netted a savings of at least $200 a month, without factoring in taxes.

And we're not the only ones cutting the cable cord.

Antennas Direct, an online antenna sales company, has seen sales double each of the last two years, a spokesman says.

In the first six months of 2012, Reuters reported that 400,000 American homes cut cable services. That number is a small percentage of cable subscribers, but it is a growing number.

Here's how we did it, and what you need to know before taking the leap yourself.

Equipment costs

The high-definition antenna we purchased cost $39.99 at Walmart.

You can check the signal strength of free-access stations at, a project sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Broadcasters that allows viewers to research the signal strength at their house and determine which type of antenna would work best.

Homes near the Daily Press building on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News can receive up to 37 channels from 21 stations through an antenna, according to, including the ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and FOX networks and The CW and ION Television.

A small, multidirectional antenna would work well for those homes.

It is worth noting that television antennas would not be a reliable source of television for some less populated areas, like Gloucester County. According to, Gloucester residents in the ZIP code 23061 would not be able to receive a strong signal from any local stations. In this case, Internet streaming would be your only option, although it is possible an outside-mounted antenna could work.

For homes with multiple televisions, one antenna can be spliced to provide a signal for all of the TVs. This method will work best for homes within strong signal range.

Equipment to splice the antenna cable will cost about $10. A high-definition cable will cost about $5 on Most technology experts agree that more expensive HDMI cables do not yield better results.