Hello My Imaginary Friends,
Since I first moved out on my own I have had a form of cable tv. That’s roughtly 15 years now. I did the Canadian Big 3 Dance every couple of years. (That’s where you call and complain to get a better deal, threaten to leave, cancel, and finally get another okay deal.)
In February this year, our TV, Internet, and home phone went from $98 a month to $195. I started the dance, but after 5 phone calls, I got frustrated. There had to be a better way. Right?
So I did a bunch of research, found alternatives and told Rogers/Bell/Telus that I didn’t need them.
We cancelled this and now just use our cellphones like normal Millennials.
Unfortunately, I was stuck staying with Bell for the next 2 years with our cells. We’ll see what happens in 2021.
Total monthly cost: $0
It feels like everyone and their elderly relatives is selling internet plans. From Koodo, to Cogeco, and Teksavvy.
I’d heard good things about Teksavvy, but they are built like the big three and frankly I’m sick of it all.
So I found and subscribed to Start.ca. They have no deals, not packages, no bullshit. For $60 a month we have 100mbs downloads and that’s great for us. Their customer service is quite possibly the fastest and the nicest I’ve ever dealt with.
Total monthly cost: $60
This was the part that worried me the most. I love television. I watch a lot of it. We decided to go with a 2 pronged alternative. Streaming and Over the Air.
For hardware we settled on an Nvidia Shield TV. It is fantastic. Runs extremely well and is officially updated with Google TV. My second option would have been a Roku.
The Shield also has apps for everything we wanted. You can get newer ones for $199-300. We bought ours used for $200 on Amazon.
This is a tricky one because there are a lot of streaming services and you can easily find yourself paying too much.
We went with a lot more than we should but after a year we’ll decide what we use and what to get rid of. We’re saving some money by sharing the accounts with family.
- Crave: 8.32 a month (99.90 a year)
- Netflix: 5.66 a month (16.99 shared)
- Disney+: 2.75 a month (89 a year shared)
- CBC Gem: Free
- Hoopla: Free attached to your library card
- Amazon Prime: 6.66 a month (80 a year)
We used Prime for our diaper subscription where it saves us almost 10 a month in diaper costs so we’d have it no matter what.
Total monthly cost: $24.39
Over the Air
Depending on where you live, you can get dozens of channels in HD over the air. You just need an antenna. Most TVs have tuners in them.
I wanted to go one step further. We have 2 kids and watching live tv is awesome but not easy. We needed a video recorder.
I discovered Tablo makes some impressive video recorders for over the air. We bought a refurbished one and it cost us $90. Now the thing about this and all other OTA recorders is that they make their money by selling you a subscription to their TV guide. You can have 1 day free but it’s 69.90 a year for a full guide with 14 days of data.
The great thing about this is that you don’t hook it up to your TV; instead you connect through an app and watch from there. You can have multiple people watching TV or recordings and even enable watching away from home.
The company is based in Ottawa which is great.
Quick story… My daughter accidentally put a blanket on the first one and it died a horrible heat death. The company replaced it and I had a great experience with the customer support.
Antenna and installation
I bought a cheap, well reviewed antenna for $50 on sale. It’s an outdoor antenna. At first we got 8 channels with it mounted in our garage. I was greedy and wanted more.
I contacted Pinnacle Engineering Services and Doug patiently walked me through all my questions. In the end, the antenna was mounted on the roof and cost us $285 for installation.
Doug installed everything and was a really nice guy. Highly recommend their services.
I now get 14 crystal clear HD channels. I’m told if you’re closer to the US you can get some of their networks too.
We now have a plethora of streaming and can watch almost any network TV show and it costs us roughly $90 a month ($24 for streaming, $6 for Tablo guide, and $60 for internet.)
I do miss HGTV, the Food network, and watching the Weather Network live but that’s pretty small. I’ve also considered getting Stack TV ($12.99) through prime that gives access to Showcase, HGTV, Food, History, and a few other networks.
Now the monthly cost is darn great, but there were a lot of start up costs for a total of $624 ($200 for Shield, $50 for Antenna, $89 for Tablo, and $285 for installation.)
The way I look at it, we’re saving $50-$100 dollars a month, so the $624 will be worth it in within a year.
If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments.
Enjoy your TV,