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How We Watch TV Without Cable Service

A number of you have written asking about our TV-watching setup, and I’m finally getting around to writing about it today.

You probably know that here at Chez Frugal Girl, we don’t like to spend a lot of time glued to the TV screen (Honestly, the computer screen is much more tempting to me!)

However, we do like to watch TV sometimes and as you might guess, we’re not big fans of paying a cable TV bill.

So, we use a few alternative services. Mr. FG is solely responsible for researching, purchasing, and installing all of this stuff*, and I’m having him fact-check this post so I get it all right for you!

*I don’t do techie stuff around here except for blog-related things. I’m blissfully content to let him handle it all. 😉


Ok. So, one of the main tools we use to get content to our TV is our Roku Box.

Roku is a leetle box that allows you to stream content straight to your TV. If you’ve been streaming content to your small-screened laptop, this will open up whole new vistas for you!

You can buy a Roku Box, for between $49.99 and $99.99 and there’s no subscription fees or any other ongoing expenses.   This is obviously a huge advantage over cable TV, which sucks money from your bank account every month.

The Roku interface has a bunch of channels that are completely free, so if you’re not subscribed to a service like Netflix, you can still access a lot of streaming content like news channels, Pandora, Chow, Flixster,, and local stations. Mr. FG recommends thenowhereman channel and there’s a great list on Wikipedia.


We do have a Netflix streaming account though, and I’d highly recommend it. For $7.99 a month, you get unlimited Netflix streaming movies, TV shows, children’s show, documentaries, and more.

Now, the Netflix streaming library isn’t nearly as extensive as their DVD rental library…if you want a newly-released movie, you’re probably going to be out of luck if you want to stream it. But if you don’t mind watching things that have been out for a while, there’s lots to choose from.

Our kids use this service way more than Mr. FG and I do, actually…they love to watch Fat Albert, Cake Boss, MythBusters, and Shaun the Sheep (Shaun is awesome, you have to admit!)

Mr. FG and I have really enjoyed the documentaries offered on Netflix streaming. We’ve watched documentaries on nature, adventurous living (like the one about people who bike from Banff, CA, to Mexico), the educational system, and the food system. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available.

If you’re worried about the selection on Netflix streaming, never fear! You can sign up for a free one month trial and you’ll have plenty of time to browse around and see if there’s enough to keep you happy.

If you want more content than what’s offered on Netflix’s streaming services, for an additional $7.99/month, you can get access to their DVD library, and once you’ve got that, the sky is the limit…pretty much anything you could want is available, including things that have been recently released.

Even if you pay for both services each month, your bill will only be $15.98 a month, a sight lower than any great cable package. And that $15.98/month will allow you to watch just about everything you could watch on cable TV.

Amazon Streaming/Prime

Another option is to stream content from Amazon. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get some streaming content free, or you can pay a few dollars to download shows and movies. If you don’t watch a lot of TV, this could be a better option for you than Netflix, but if you watch more than a few shows a week, Netflix is definitely going to save you money.

You can try a free Amazon Prime 30-Day Trial to see if this would be worth it for you.   We LOVE our prime membership…the convenience of free shipping, plus the streaming are fabulous and well worth the $99/year.

Broadcast TV

We do still get regular broadcast TV as well…this is free in the U.S. All you need is an antenna, and possibly a digital converter box, depending on the sort of TV you have. I’m not very technically inclined, so I’ll just refer you to this post that explains the process very well. Once again, though, it’s the sort of thing where you buy a little equipment and then you’re set for the foreseeable future. So much better than a monthly bill.

One thing I really like about having Roku and Netflix instead of cable is that you have to be a little more intentional about your TV watching than you’d be otherwise. With a 180-channel cable lineup, it’s really easy to sit down and mindlessly channel surf, and that’s a big time suck.

With the streaming service, though, you have to browse and select what you want to watch, so it’s not nearly as tempting to bounce around between a bunch of shows. This helps make sure you don’t waste your leisure time.

I also appreciate that there are no commercials…when you watch an episode of, say, Myth Busters, it’s 100% Myth Busters. This saves time and reduces our exposure to advertising, both of which are great things in my book.

So! We use:

  • Netflix streaming and DVD services
  • an antenna and digital converter for broadcast TV

I know this setup wouldn’t work for everyone, but it definitely meets our needs.

I hope I explained everything in an understandable manner here. If I didn’t, ask away in the comments, and I’ll get Mr. FG to answer your questions! 😉

And if any of you have additional frugal TV-watching tips, do share by leaving a comment.

Oh, and this article has a lot of other helpful information about the Roku.


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Harv Kaye

Friday 29th of September 2017

we are staying in a cabin in the woods for 5 weeks, no internet or cable or phone could we watch tv or pick up wi-fi in a secluded area ( for 5 weeks only ) ?


Friday 29th of September 2017

Boy, I just don't think that's possible!

snowfox walkingshaw

Sunday 30th of August 2015

So if I was to get all this equipment my internet service would I need to do all the movies or do I just need the box's antanas plus what I am on disability and movie to oregon oct 9 2015 .my daughter and her husband bought a 2bdrm cottage for me and my son both of us are physical disabled we would want this to be legal please help us cut our bill in half I love the news will I be able to get it . thank you from snowfox.


Sunday 30th of August 2015

You'll need high speed internet to make this work, for sure. And you'll need the Roku box.

Cable-type news is difficult to get without cable, but you should be able to get regular broadcast news without a problem.

We get movies through Amazon, Redbox, and Roku.


Friday 7th of August 2015

We have an older tv, not HDTV.. We have ROKU and like it very much. The only thing we would like to be able to get is some LIVE news broadcasts . Seems nothing on ROKU is live. We tried an antenna to pick up stations over the air, but without HDTV, we cant pick up any news stations. Would a converter box work, or are we destined to purchase an HDTV?

Sherry/Prescott AZ elevation 6000ft.

Bonnie Locklear

Friday 3rd of July 2015

Just wanted to say I really would love to use Netflix and Roku but Hughesnet charges after you you use 10 GB a month with 10 GB extra from 2Am to 8AM when we sure wouldn't be watching Tv so it really doesn't come out cheap for us. We dropped directv as mmy husband and I am only getting SS so need things much cheaper, Only if I could pay for Netflix and Hughesnet not charge me foe using more GB!!!!


Monday 16th of March 2015

We just cancelled our cable subscription last week. I admit, I have been the obstacle to this not happening sooner. Sigh. Everytime we cancelled, I couldn't stand the lack of options on free TV, it was terrible. So I went most of this weekend without cable and was in some serious pain. Luckily, I signed up for netflix last night, it streams via our blu ray player, and I love it.

I have watched 3 of 10 episodes of "WW2 in HD" and just can't get enough. I really like the lack of commercials. I see many more documentaries in my future. No more boob tube, just interesting stuff from now on. Yeah netflix, it's SO cheap compared to the $733 last year I spent on cable, which includes tons of extra taxes too.

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