bye bye DirecTV… hello Roku for now

Sometime last month, I started to get really angry every time I saw a DirecTV advertisement, be it in the paper or on TV. You know… the ones that promise you the moon and stars for negative money. I was angry because, as a loyal customer for 4 years, we don’t qualify. If we wanted new boxes so we could have a whole home DVR, it would cost us $600 to upgrade our system. If we wanted a new dish that wouldn’t freeze up our broadcasts, it would cost us $250 plus the hourly house call costs. And a lower monthly payment? Ha! You silly silly loyal customer, you. We’re going to keep raising your costs and giving you less, so that we can offer insane deals to the newbies.

So I launched a devious plan (encouraged by all the lovely folks who seem to do these things daily over on FatWallet and other deal forums), to cancel our service that was in Mr. M’s name and then resubscribe under MY name for all of the goodies and promotions and deals. But then something happened. Mr. M called DirecTV to cancel and, well, he didn’t exactly have the loveliest of conversations with their customer service representatives. And at that point he decided that we should purge our home of anything DirecTV related. And that’s what we’ve done.

But what are TV junkies to do when you want to still consume the media but loathe the people that deliver it to you? Well, I can tell you what we did: we cut out the middle man and bought ourselves one of these guys.

Meet Roku 2 XS.

He fits in the palm of my hand, eats up barely any electricity, gives us 1080p HD viewing and so far provides us with pretty much everything we want to consume on TV via HULU Plus and instant NetFlix.

As people who rarely channel surf, and instead eat up most of our time watching our DVR, HuluPlus ($7.99/month) is pretty much way better than any other option for us. You can subscribe to shows, so that they pop in your “queue” when they’re ready to watch. The only disadvantage is that you won’t get them until a day later, but it’s rare that we ever got to them the day of anyhow. It’s also great because you get to watch shows that you may have missed back from Episode 1 of this season. Like Revenge. We (well… Mr. M mostly) watched all 19 episodes in a week’s time to catch up with the season. I have a feeling this will come in handy when summer arrives and we will still have “so much to watch” on TV.

If you’re a baseball or soccer or NBA fan, you can subscribe to watch those games live through the deluxe sports plans. And if they decide not to add NFL Sunday Ticket to Roku in the fall, then we’ll probably just subscribe through PlayStation Network and get it live that way. Same price – and we don’t have to pay for having DirecTV too!

We’ve subscribed to instant NetFlix for awhile now, and it’s handy to have it both upstairs and down (on Playstation/XBox 360) now. And if we decide to hop on the AmazonPlus bandwagon, we’ve got that too! As for network TV… we’ll be researching our antennae options shortly, because this lady seriously can’t go without her Olympics this summer. (any antennae tips are greatly welcome!!!)

So our monthly costs for April’s TV watching: $7.99 for Hulu Plus + $7.99 for instant NetFlix = $15.98.  That’s $100 less than our DirecTV bill from March, so I’m pretty much happy with that for now!

Now… will we stick to our “no cable/satellite” plan for the long haul?  I guess this is all an experiment to find out. And I’m sure the fall football calendar will dictate some of the answers to that question. But for now, this little system works quite well for us and absorbing our TV.


  • Meagan

    We’ve been cable-free since last July and we don’t miss it at all. We use Hulu Plus and Netflix (we have Amazon Prime as well, but don’t really use it) via a laptop that’s connected to our TV by HDMI. No complaints at all!

  • A Long Far View

    So what we’ve done is actually gotten a desktop and use that with our tv and then use Windows Media Player. We have an antenna (pretty sure it was just a cheapo one from Amazon) that gets us our local channels, and with windows media player we can record shows just like a dvr (we only have one tuner so if we’re recording a show we can’t watch anything else live, but that generally doesn’t bother me). Most things we end up watching either on hulu or netflix. We haven’t even found it necessary to pay for hulu plus right now (though at some point we might). If there’s a show I want to watch that’s not on there, the lovely internet is at my fingers to find them.

    So far, I’ve loved it. We’ve done it this way for a couple years now and there’s no way that I’ll ever go back to paying for cable. We might look into doing something different for football season this year, but the last couple years we were fine with the local channels, and just went to a bar if there was something on one of the cable channels that we wanted to watch. It’s been a bit harder finding my Ducks games, but espn3 generally works (yay for them doing well and getting some national coverage!).

  • Michelle P.

    I agree with the whole DirecTV customer service for old customers- we’ve been with them 9 years. THEY SUCK!!!! Though I can’t get Jeremy on the bandwagon of ditching it all together. He likes to surf the channels way too much. Maybe when our contract is up I can convince him to cancel and try it through the inet.

  • Cindy

    The massive amount of sports we watch – meaning UCLA football and basketball, and also MMA – keep us from cutting the cord! Plus our apt doesn’t face in the correct direction for us to pick up all the TV signals OTA. Sigh.

  • Emery

    Wow! $600 to upgrade? That’s a huge chunk of change, so I don’t blame you for wanting to look for other options. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Roku, but I actually enjoy everything I have, including the price with my Dish subscription. I just upgraded to the new Hopper whole-home DVR for a reasonable price too and am happily recording everything my heart desires with the 2 terabyte hard drive, lol. It sounds like you are and Roku will be together for a long time, but I did hear from one of my coworkers at Dish the Hopper is free for new customers, so just an idea if you plan on going back to a provider in the future. :)

  • Heidi

    Ugh, if we weren’t sports junkies (MLB, NHL, NFL, soccer, etc) we could cut the cord in a heartbeat! I’m definitely interested to hear how this works for you long-term.

  • Jen

    We do the same thing with our XBox 360. The only reason we have cable tv at all (very very basic), is that it was actually cheaper than getting cable internet alone because of a special Comcast was running. This is nice, because we also have access to their online broadcasts via the 360 xfinity app, which are in HD.

    My only complaint is regarding sports. We live in a place where antennae (even digital ones) just plain don’t work, so we don’t have any sports broadcasts except for the ones available through the ESPN 360 app or basic cable (which we didn’t even have before this year), and even then, it’s not much.

    Kudos to you for getting rid of direct TV!

  • Kira

    I tried to convince my bf that we should ditch DirecTV but he didn’t think there were ways to get the sports he wanted. Does Roku have NHL games?

    • Kim

      Yes… but only through NHL GameCenter LIVE. So if you super love hockey and can’t get your games locally any way, it’s a total win-win. But if you casually watch, it’s a pain.

  • Mike

    Looking for some information on ditching my Directv also as I have had a Roku for over a year now, and I find myself watching my Roku more than Directv. I have the Amazon prime and Hulu plus, and I may become a Netflix user again. That would pretty button up all the shows I watch anyway. The only thing holding me back is my slow 2 mbps DSL service through Verizon. Looking into getting the Comcast super fast 50 mbps internet cable and dump my directv and just use my Roku in it’s place. While I’m at it drop my land line phone with verizon and get the Ooma to make phone calls over the internet. This would effectively drop my bundled phone/internet/directv through Verizon at $185.00 a month down to maybe $40.00 a month give or take. That’s a heck of a savings.

  • Jim Glendenning

    To use Roku you still need access to an internet provider which is at least DSL or
    better. Does the internet provider have you pay for a data plan ? I know data plans
    for movie watching would require over 15 GB which is very expensive ($200 – $300
    per month). I know people who watch movies from Hulu and Netflix over cable where
    they get unlimited viewing for a monthly charge. Are you saying that you don’t go through a provider or that you have some way of achieving unlimited movie viewing
    for the per month cost of a Hulu or Netflix membership ? I think there’s something I
    am missing. If there is a way of getting unlimited Hulu movie viewing without the huge
    per month cost, I would like to know how to do it.

    • Kim

      We pay $40/month for our Internet provider and receive 50 MB/download speed with 300 GB transfer allocation. We’ve never exceeded our data allocation, and we also use a lot of bandwidth on our computers. I didn’t calculate this into our costs, as we consider Internet access to be a standard utility. We then subscribe to Hulu & Netflix ON TOP of that Internet subscription. You can also subscribe IN ADDITION to cable, but you’d be paying for cable & Internet. We just cut out the cable part.