Published on November 10, 2008, by

Do people really pay $100 monthly cable bills? We love TV as much as most folks do, but we’ve hit on some ways to save while still feeding our TV addictions.

How do we keep the bills small? First, we don’t subscribe to cable or satellite service. Instead, we pay about $12 per month for TiVo service and $9 per month for the lowest level of Netflix service that includes Instant Viewing, which is like unlimited Pay-Per-View with thousands of movies and TV shows to choose from. Taking advantage of these services required a $250 one-time outlay for the amazing TiVo HD box and $100 for the excellent Roku Digital Video Player, but both are a great value.

Update: The TivoHD and later models now include Netflix Watch Instantly support, so you can skip the Roku box, do it all from your TiVo, and save another $100.

The TiVo works silently queuing up our favorite shows from the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WB, UPN, PBS, etc.) in perfect HD for free over a regular antenna. For movies there’s Netflix DVDs (just one at a time to keep the monthly fee low) and the steadily growing library of movies available via Netflix Watch Instantly.

Finally, there are still some shows from cable networks that The Missus can’t do without. In that case, there’s an automated BitTorrent downloading system I’ve set up using Torrent Episode Downloader, a free Windows application which lets you subscribe to shows almost as you do with TiVo, combined with uTorrent (also free) to run the actual downloads. Once the shows are on my PC (invariably in AVI format) I transfer them to the TiVo wirelessly using an amazingly powerful free application called pyTivo. You can also use the $30 official TiVo Desktop software to do the same job as pyTivo, but it’s far slower and less capable of handling some video file formats.

There you have it. With a moderate up-front outlay and very low monthly fees you have a great library of TV and movies ready whenever you want them. Give it a try. You may find you can live without cable or satellite too.