On the rise: 'Zero TV' households

Sam Chada
Jul 17, 2013


Cutting the cable cord

I am proud to say that I have not subscribed to cable in over two years. I’m a streamer; I rely solely on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime’s Instant Video and Internet TV for my television and movie viewing. In total, I’ve probably saved over $2500 from cutting the cable cord two years ago.

But I’m not the only one. According to a recent Nielsen study there is a shift towards “Zero TV” households. A “Zero TV” household is defined by Nielsen as a group who has “bucked tradition by opting to get the information they need and want from non-traditional TV devices and services” or folks who get their content on other devices like a computer, internet, smartphone or tablet.

You may be wondering how one cuts the cable cord, but still has access to premium content. It’s actually pretty simple, and I’ll walk you through the process on how to get started.


I stream content directly to my TV using a TV-top box; you can stream to a computer, game console, tablet, or smartphone, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll focus specifically on TV streaming.

Before we get started, see if you already have a streaming device in your home. Some televisions, Blu-ray players, and game consoles will also connect to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

If you don’t already have something, there are a couple of options that are pretty cost effective:

Apple TV: If you’re an Apple fan, you may really enjoy the Apple TV. It offers iTunes integration and AirPlay. AirPlay lets you wirelessly stream what’s on your iOS device to your HDTV and speakers via Apple TV. The Apple TV is priced at $100.

Roku: If you’re looking for content, Roku offers the most channels and is easy to set-up. The Roku box connects to your TV using coaxial or HDMI hook-ups (just like a DVD player) and comes with its own remote. Once connected to your TV and the power turned on, you’ll have to connect it to your WiFi network and off you go. Roku utilizes a pseudo-app store which allows you to download channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. You can also download free channels for more access to content such as Crackle, PBS, and the Smithsonian channel. The latest Roku will cost around $100, but older models are still available and retail for about $50.

There have been whispers that Amazon is working to develop their own TV set-top box for streaming, but Amazon has yet to confirm this rumor.

Streaming Digital Content

There is a difference between the content available watching cable or satellite television, and streaming. When streaming content, the selection is limited and you don’t have access to every cable show that you may be addicted to. However, there are multiple online options that provide on-demand access to some of your favorite television shows and movies.

Netflix: In my opinion, Netflix has the most robust online movie catalog, as well as television shows and kids entertainment. Netflix has also developed original shows like the shockingly huge hit House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Netflix also revived Arrested Development which was surprisingly canceled by Fox after four seasons. Netflix can also be accessed using a Roku box, computer, Smart TV or mobile device. The monthly subscription is $7.99 per month.

Hulu: While Netflix shines when it comes to movies, Hulu takes the prize for the best access to TV shows. Hulu does a great job of offering most shows online the day after they air for free. Some of their stand out shows include, but not limited to, Family Guy, Hell’s Kitchen, Law & Order, Nashville, The Office, Master Chef and Scandal. For $7.99 per month, you can subscribe to Hulu Plus which provides better access to content, as well as the ability to stream to TV or mobile devices.

Amazon Prime: Amazon Prime is an annual subscription of $79 which provides access to Prime Instant Video and also free, two-day shipping on items, as well as other benefits. Amazon Prime has a nice selection of movies and television for streaming, but you can also rent new movie releases for 24 hours and buy access to premium cable shows for roughly $1.99 per episode.

At the end of the day, my monthly streaming bill averages $35 a month (which is still $100 [or more!] cheaper than what I was previously paying). I will admit that I budget an extra $20 per month for guilty pleasure premium cable shows like Housewives of New Jersey or The Wire.

To help bridge the gap in content, I also borrow a ton of DVDs from the library. Any movie lover or television show enthusiast would be proud of the library’s collection. And if the library’s copy of a certain title is checked out, I order the movie or TV show from another CLEVNET library.

So, are you ready to cut the cord and try streaming? Do you have any reservations? If so, let me know in the comments.


google me

What about a Sunday Browns game or the playoff games? How can you watch live sports?


What if...there was news and nobody listened?
What if...we had to actually talk with our neighbors?
What if...the Internet stopped working...forever?

Horseshoes anyone?

Dude i Roc

Has anyone experimented with using one if those small external antennas that you can attach to a tv or an existing cable line to the outside of your home? I am thinking about trying it to see just how many local/regional channels I could receive before I cut my cable bill out. I already use Netflix but it doesn't have everything that I want to view. I am considering adding Hulu also. Has anyone tried a combo of all of these alternatives and been happy with getting enough desired content?

Eph 2 8-10

To get Cleveland and Toledo digital tv signals, you will need a good high gain antenna and rotor at about 40 feet...living in the Sandusky area. I'll stick with cable. Many channels I watch are cable only.


You can stream NFL games on the computer and then to the TV. I root for a non-Browns/Steelers/Lions team so have been doin it fer years.

PBS streaming is great, there are a variety of way to get it on your TV. If you get Apple TV you can buy Premium cable shows through ITunes by the season for less than DVDs and you can watch them from the cloud forever.

The problem with Hulu is that it has more commercials than regular TV. Go with Netflix and streaming from the diffrent networks. For news you can stream NPR.

I miss the old analog tv signals, much more reliable than digital.

Go with the basic cable then use all of the above. What we need is cable to provide the same local channels we'd get with over the air for free as a public service and then al a-carte for everything else (2.00$ a month per channel) if you choose not to use one of the packages. That might stimulate channels to compete to put decent stuff on for a change.


Didn't John Glen when he was a senator lobby for alacarte ordering??

The Big Dog's back

How would right wingers get their marching orders without watching faux news?


OMG, you are such a troll!~!!!!


I have my computer hooked up to my tv its sort of like having a 42 inch moniter. couch tuner is a site that lets you watch any episode of any tv show moviesonline.cc shows movies that are still in the theater for 50 cents a movie

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Great topic!

Been cable-(TV)-free for years now and haven't looked back. Don't forget that sites like YouTube have nearly-endless amounts of user-created shows for entertainment, DIY, comedy, travel, and the like. There is also the good-ol' radio for music and talk.

I am personally on the fence about XM since it costs a fair amount each month for many channels to which I will never listen. Pandora, however, has been good.


The free version of pandora is good and the subscription version is awesome !

Sam Chada

Thanks! You're right - YouTube does have great content.

Let's talk about streaming music next week. That'll be a fun topic!


I forgot about youtube the movies I cant find anywhere else are always on youtube


Dropped cable over two months ago and couldn't be happier. Netflix is awesome but Hulu sucks. Saving alit on the monthly bill but cable charges more for Internet when you don't have a bundle package. Frigin thieves get you either way.

Pterocarya frax...

While on the surface this sounds like an appealing idea, in reality it won't work for lots of people, including me. Many of us like to watch our local evening news (and Browns and Indians), and out here in rural Erie county you can't pick up Cleveland or Toledo stations without a 40 foot tower antenna.

We don't even have cable lines down our road, so not only do we not get cable tv, we don't get high speed internet through cable. That leaves us lucky to get a 1.5 Mbps DSL line. Good luck trying to stream Netflix at that speed, especially when someone else in the house is trying to watch Youtube videos.

No thanks...I will stick to my satellite dish, where I can watch what I want, when I want on my DVR, including all the great news shows that are not available anywhere else.

Oh, and how much does cable tv cost nowadays?....$135/month??? I have Dish Network with premium content for $80/month.


Streaming is great. I do it on a pretty regular basis. But what do you do for a high speed Internet connection without cable, eh? Even though bundling does save you a little, the bottom line is that you have to subscribe to the basic cable package in order to get a broadband connection, and by the time all is said and done, you may as well get some of the other channels while you're at it.

Sorry, but I LIKE the high speed Internet connection (and, in fact, NEED it for a variety of work-related reasons as well). Until there are some viable and reliable options, I think some of us are pretty much stuck.

Sam Chada

Hi SamAdams,

I only subscribe to Buckeye Express for internet. I do not have a cable subscription. And if you're in a rural part of town, a patron was just telling me about Verizon's new HomeFusion 4G network. I haven't read much about it, but she loves it and lives in rural Perkins and it works seamlessly. If you want to read more, here's the URL: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b....

Hope this info helps!

Pterocarya frax...

Sam, you better be careful about recommending that kind of wireless service to people for streaming. The top package from Verizon is for 30 gigabytes, and that is $120/month. 30 gigs will get you about 30 hours of netflix streaming, or less than half that on HD. People will be mighty upset when they find they get 1 week of streaming for $120.

Sam Chada

Hi Pterocarya frax,

You make great points. However I was not recommended Verizon's Fusion but simply providing another option to explore if anyone is interested. As mentioned, I have not had much experience with this service so more research is definitely required.

Kottage Kat

No cable, or dish, no internet.
Get along just fine
Movies free from library or borrowed from friends.
Read alot. Also free from library.
Do not miss it at all.


Kat: Just curious, how are you commenting here then?

Sam Chada

After this post went live, I found a cool website - Can I Stream.It? (http://www.canistream.it/). This site allows you to search across the most popular streaming, rental, and purchase services to find where a movie is available. It's really neat if you have a chance to check it out.

Also, has anyone seen the new Netflix original series, Orange & Black? I heard it's really good.

Dude i Roc

I get mailings from AT&T for U Verse packages. Anyone know if this is a viable option for a home in rural Erie Co. ? Do service and savings make it better compared to Buckeye Cablesystem?