Money Saving Tips: Cable vs. Hulu

by Scott on February 22, 2009

Early 1950s Television Set
photo credit: gbaku

I’ve been reading more and more about people canceling or scaling back on cable services in favor of Hulu. Now if you are a frugal family, you might not even have basic cable but instead rent an occasional movie. What about those that want access to new and old television programs, but don’t want to pay for expensive cable upgrades? If you are using Hulu for your television media I would love to hear your feedback. Currently we pay $50 a month for At&t Uverse cable and am interested in saving even more money.

Here are some ideas I’ve been considering for lowering our At&t cable bill:

1. Cancel cable and go cold turkey for 3 months. One month would be easy, 3 months would be a challenge without cable. Total savings $150

2. Remove HD programming. We received HD programming as part of a trial 1 year package. Total savings $25

3. Switch cable providers. I could change to Comcast, Direct TV or Dish Network. Total savings $5-7

Of the three options, I would like to try #2 utilizing Hulu to offset our HD programming. We have two laptops and could easily watch Hulu anywhere in our house where we have internet access. Since we have wifi this could even be done in the garage. Not that I plan on watching tv there, but it’s possible.

The savings could add up quickly over the course of a year. At $50 a month, we would save $600 a month if we canceled At&t uverse and utilized Hulu exclusively for tv. Have you been able to cancel your cable and utilize an alternative for television broadcasting?

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Becoming Debt Free » Weekly Update - February 22 (2009)
February 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fabulously Broke February 22, 2009 at 7:46 am

You’d be surprised to find out that you really CAN live without TV :)

I haven’t watched or paid for cable in about 3 years, and whatever shows I need to watch, I watch online or you can actually download them from Apple iTunes… Or wait for the DVD and buy the season when it comes out

And in 3 years, I have never missed a single moment of TV.

2 Steph February 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

We’ve been both with cable and without – right now we could pretty much do away with cable and be fine with just an antenna for broadcast programs.

When we were without cable, we used Netflix to get complete seasons of shows we wanted to see, like Battlestar Galatica. But if Hulu has the shows you like, you could just use them. We actually tried hooking the tv up to the computer as an extra monitor, and that works pretty well. Just make sure to change the power save settings!

3 frugalCPA February 22, 2009 at 1:52 pm

We don’t have cable because it costs too much for the use we’d get out of it. Instead, we borrow DVD’s from the library of shows like House, Lost, Heroes, 24, etc. We also watch some things online. I’ve used Hulu for one movie – Liar, Liar – and quite a few episodes of The Office. I have no complaints.

Good luck!

4 Miranda February 23, 2009 at 8:22 am

If my husband didn’t *need* sports, we’d be mostly TV-free. Ah, well. I like the Hulu idea. We actually do this for TV series that come on the premium channels. We have a wireless connection through the PlayStation 3, which makes it relatively easy to watch this programming on the TV. Now, if the NFL would offer something like, we might actually be able to get rid of our DirecTV…

5 Craig February 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I love watching TV so for me I wouldn’t give it up. I bought HDTV specifically for the programming, especially for sports and movies. It really does make a difference. I like hulu and if miss an episode can catch up, but don’t think I’m at the point where I could use it full time to satisfy my TV watching.

6 Leah Ingram February 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Giving up cable isn’t an option for us, because we need it for our high-speed internet connection. However, I like this option of using to watch shows I might have missed. Do you know if Hulu shows all shows or just the ones on NBC? (Doesn’t NBC Universal own Hulu?)

In this post on my Suddenly Frugal blog, I talk about how we made a compromise of giving up some of our cable to save money but not all of it, because of the aforementioned broadband connection.

Good post. Thanks.


7 headknocker February 28, 2009 at 10:55 am

Back in 1991, my wife and I built a house in a very rural area where there was no cable option. We tried the dish thing, but because of the large number of trees, the installation guy couldn’t guarantee good service all of the time, but wouldn’t give me a break on the cost. So we decided to forego television.

Today we live in a subdivision where not only is cable available, but so is dish, directTV, and a couple of other options. We have a Netflix account, but that is it. I estimate that we have easily saved over $15,000 and haven’t missed it much at all.

We do visit my sister-in-law during football season, but we are proof that you can live without sitting in front of the TV for hours each night.

8 Tom October 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I hate Hulu! I do not like the word free. Everything should have a price. No one is going to want to pay a subscription fee to my cable service if Hulu is giving away all the content for free. Subscription fees and commercials barely make me enough money. How am I suppose to pay for my $75 million dollar yacht? In the cable industry there is a saying “If you charge someone and that person still has money then you are not charging enough.” I recommend cable companies that control internet access start charging people a fee to access Hulu. I think a $90 a month Hulu access fee is beyond reasonable. Hopefully that will kill of this horrible thing called free internet video that is eating into my profits.

9 Drennen February 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I recently experimented with swithing to Internet for TV use. Found an amazing piece of software called PlayOn that will stream Hulu, CBS, and hundreds of other channels to a uPNP device (such as Xbox 360 or PS3 and others) so you can get this content on your big screen.

The bottom line for me was that the quality just isn’t there. Hulu is in 480p max, and Im hooked on that 1080 or at least 720p that I’ve been watching LOST in.

I don’t think I am at the point where saving the $70/mo is worth losing that super high quality.

Do check out the PlayOn if you have a uPNP device hooked up to your TV already and want to have that kind of service.

10 Ruth March 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

There wasn’t much on cable over the holidays so I took the leap. I was paying Cox about $180 a month for a bundle with internet, phone with free long distance, cable (premium but not HBO, etc, an extra cable box for the roommate and DVR. I loved that DVR. I bought a PlayStation 3, $250 and signed up for Netflix with DVD mailings $10 a month and HULU Plus $8 a month. I kept basic cable (local channels) for $20 a month and pay $45 for internet. Don’t need the phone. So, doing the math, I’m saving about $100 a month, paying for the PS3 in 10 weeks.
HULU Plus is a little disappointing. I miss reality shows and HGTV. And I miss MADMEN, the MENTALIST & WHITE COLLAR. My old laptop isn’t up to streaming video. But maybe I’ll use the money I save in the next 6 months to buy a new one.
No complaints about Netflix.

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