Is having an Apple TV enough to cancel cable or satellite TV?

Over the past few years now there has been an ongoing rumor that Apple may be looking into getting into the TV business and with that there's been the obvious rumors of dealings with content companies and cable providers. That said though, there has been an increasing amount of cord cutting happening as well these days wherein people are killing off their cable and satellite packages and just simply going with broadband-only connections and getting all of their content online.

It's a trend that if Apple is really thinking about getting into TV's they're sure to watching. But here's the thing. For some cord cutters, Apple is already in the TV business by way of their AppleTV and iTunes offerings. To their credit, Apple keeps adding more content to the mix as well. Channels such as iTunes Radio, PBS, Yahoo! Screen and more have recently been added and arguably Apple has turned their 'hobby' into something pretty compelling.

I don't think it's enough yet, it is however enough to get by with a basic cable plan.rayz336, iMore Forums Member

But has it reached the point yet where having an Apple TV enough to cancel cable or satellite TV? It's a question that was asked in the iMore Forums recently and much to my surprise, plenty of folks in the iMore Forums have already moved to broadband-only and are making use of Apple's offerings combined with a few other services. It's something I've been thinking about doing for a while now considering that I don't really watch a lot of TV in general but the things I do want to watch are pretty readily available on iTunes, Netflix or various other services.

A lot of the networks are requiring you to have a cable subscription anyways to use the on demand streaming functions.jclisenby, iMore Forums Member

Sadly, some of what Apple does offer through AppleTV still has to be coupled with a subscription through cable or satellite providers so for some folks, it's really not enough. Especially if you're into a lot of sports or a lot of network TV shows, so that's clearly a bummer and something I'm not so sure will go away because that means more people might end up cutting the cord.

Thus far, from what I gather in the forums, it all comes down to what your needs and watching habits are. It's not hard to imagine a person who watches a lot of TV shows ending up spending more on the different service subscriptions and purchases than they would for cable, in which case, that would defeat the purpose. But if you're not all that into TV shows or sports, you could save yourself some money by cutting the cable off and just making due with an AppleTV along with its other offerings. Have your say though in the forums and in the comments. 

Chris Parsons

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

  • It's not nearly enough...yet. Too many edge cases of shows I might want to watch. And not enough major TV networks have apps on the Apple TV yet. And here in Alaska, we get 200GB/month for broadband. Not even close to enough data allotment to justify cutting the cord.
  • If Apple buys Aereo and brings us live terrestrial channels (or does it on its own), I'm done with cable service. Sent from the iMore App
  • Why are you waiting for apple? Just get aereo and cut the cord. I don't see why apple needs to buy them for you to do that.
  • Yep, works great. The combo of iTunes content, Netflix and Hulu covers all bases. The recent addition of PBS looks promising as well. Have been free of cable since April, no regrets.
  • So do i still have to have hula sub or netflix subsriptions hiw about the apple jaail break everyones talkin about 300. do u know about it and does that mean i get everything and dont need to subcribe to all apps or should i say pay for
  • Nowhere near enough. I dropped to basic cable a while back & supplement with Netflix. I have local channels & movies some shows, but the scary thing is, if there are many provider subscriptions to take on, especially at $7 a month, it could quickly negate the point if trying to save some bread over bloated cable subscriptions... On top of paying an ISP. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a chromecast which works amazingly :-D so easy even from the apps on my iphone Sent from the iMore App
  • As you pointed out in your article, the networks are all starting to fight back by requiring you to verify that you have paid tv service. As a result, a lot if the apps become useless without cable. Plus, if you want to watch college football, you are out of luck. I see the industry migrating towards a la carte tv subscriptions, but I fear the consumer will just get nickel and dimed till any savings over cable are lost. On the other hand, a la carte subscriptions could finally do away with the disparity between new and existing customer pricing (I'm sick of having to call AT&T every twelve months to get my bill lowered to within striking distance of what new U-verse customers are paying). Sent from the iMore App
  • I use an Apple Tv with Netflix and Hulu subscriptions and Jailbroke my Apple Tv so I can use XBMC so that I have every movie ever made on demand. No need for cable.
  • ATV2 jail broken with XBMC I agree is enough to cancel Cable Sent from the iMore App
  • completely agree, xbmc, hulu & netflix and I haven't touched my cable remote for a long long time. If only I could cancel it. Works out cheaper to keep it with my internet package with all the deals etc... go figure...
  • We r lookin to egt the apple 2 its jailbroke does anyone know will a normal housewife be able to use this it loks very confusin I am a lil computer savy so how hard is it if say I want to watch a movie what do I have to do
  • No not enough for the average person, but if all you want to do is watch movies and tv shows that have been out for a while already it's a great content selection between Netflix and iTunes. But most people like to watch live tv all the new episodes of tv shows when they first play at that moment on tv, so by canceling your cable your not going to get that fresh content and might not get it until a couple of months after the season of that show is done playing and the content gets pushed to iTunes. And what about the football and basketball seasons and news people would be forgetting all about that and speaking for the majority of people Apple TV is not ready for them to cancel they're cable subscription. But for the people who don't care about sports and fresh content on tv and are ok with the content on iTunes and Netflix Apple TV alone will suffice. Sent from the iMore App
  • Obviously you haven't tried Hulu. That's where the "fresh" TV shows can be found. They're not live, but most of them are in your queue by the next day. Netflix only has what has been released to DVD. It's actually very liberating to drop the "I have to watch it live" way of life. I watch TV on my own time, when I'm ready. I miss football. Well, I did last year when I first cut the cord. This year, I miss it a little less. If they don't start streaming it by next season, I might just lose interest in it for good.
  • Love apple products but if this is the way you want to go, you're better off buying a roku. We cut the cord a year ago and planned to buy an Apple TV eventually. So far we haven't needed to with the roku. Plenty of channels and apps to keep you occupied
  • If it's jailbroken, Cable/Satellite isn't necessary.
    I have a jailbroken ATV2 with my own media server + Netflix. My family has been running this way for a couple of years. The best part? The kids don't know what they want for Christmas because they haven't been blasted with commercials telling what to get. We get to see what they really want, and not what they've been told they need.
  • I cut the cord over 3 years ago and haven't looked back. I put a broadcast receive antenna in my attic (local network TV issue solved) and bought AppleTV and Roku. Since Netflix came to AppleTV the Roku has been collecting dust. I am not a big sports fan though I can see how that might be a deal breaker for some. I do miss the ability to watch some cable specific programming and it sucked a little to have to wait until the next day to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad or Walking Dead. There was the occasional urge to call the local cable conglomerate (I hate them with the burning passion of a thousand white hot suns) but I just tell myself to wait a little longer to see what Apple is going to do to transform this industry that is desperate for change.
  • I hope Apple will innovate. I had high hopes for iTunes Radio but I'm back at Pandora! Maybe TV will be different.
  • Apple TV has turned out to be a waste of money for me as I find I almost never use it.
  • Hell, an iPad is enough. The iPads are doing for shows what the iPods did for tunes.
  • Apple TV 2 jailbroken with XBMC is cable tv if watched in heaven. Cable cut.
  • I cut the cable cord 3 yrs ago and haven't looked back. The combination of iTunes, Netflix, Hulu Plus and sport passes - along with an antennae for local stations - are more than enough to keep content fresh. I would rather pay a la carte for programming that I want rather than for a bunch of stations I will never watch. Add in ESPN3 content from Xbox Gold and college sports are also covered. On occasion there is some show I may miss out on but it's certainly the exception. Sent from the iMore App
  • Still has a ways to go. It's vetting better each year, but can't give up cable just yet. I can't wait. Sent from the iMore App
  • Short answer, it is for me. I watch more programs that are substantive and less crap.
  • I haven't had satellite TV service since 2008. All I need is an MLB.TV subscription and Hulu for the handful of network shows I watch.
  • With the Apple TV I had last year, no way. With the pair of Roku 2's I got this year, yes!!! We gave DirecTV the finger in september and haven't looked back. Honestly, we are just fine with Netflix (Free until January), Hulu+ (Free almost every month thanks to FreeMyApps), Crunchyroll, Anime Network, and Redbox instant (Which I am considering canceling after the free trial). For the parents, the Local channels are fine for them.
  • I have basic cable an I'm a happy camper with Apple TV using the netflix subscription. But to watch espn or Disney it ask for my cable login information. I would be happy to just Apple TV if they some of the same channels as my cable. Sent from the iMore App
  • Off topic: Why not mention or post an article about how has Nelson Mandela on the home page? A small tribute to an amazing person that fought for social justice for all. A person that left this world better than he found it. Yes this is a tech website but an honorable mention would suffice. Sent from the iMore App
  • I cut the cord after trying an indoor antenna and getting all the main networks in HD. With that I have a Samsung Smart TV that streams its tuner to my iOS devices with an app called Smart View. My Apple TV is mainly for two things: video podcasts like iMore and Twit TV, and for iTunes Radio. For other content there's usenet. I do wish the Apple TV had a browser like Safari so I could go to the network websites to stream their content even with commercials but I get by without that. I try to avoid refular bills so I don't use things like Netflix. The PBS and Smithsonian channels have some really good stuff.
  • The current combo I'm using is cheaper than a cable/sat subscription for me and I can watch only the shows I actually want to watch with no extra 200 channels of BS I don't. iTunes to purchase the current 1080p shows I deem worthy of buying like The Walking Dead and several others, plus a Netflix sub is all I really need. One huge problem that could bite me fairly soon is the broadband cap of 250GB/month.
  • For me it is a great supplement and getting closer to replacement. It has allowed me to watch many series that I missed from the past. I also like the fact that I have been able to digitize all my DVDs and put them on a separate system that is acting as a media server and I can access them across the network. I do wish though that Apple would lower the cost of movie and series rentals through iTunes and that Netflix streaming would get back to the business of content and get over the their feud with STARZ and get more content and better movies. As for Hulu+ it's ok but it is totally a tertiary supplement at this point. Will it replace cable? Not for me in the near future.
  • Living in Asia, an Apple TV won't offer me any of the content I can access through cable anyways. Heck, I can't even get Netflix unless I use VPN to trick the Apple TV into thinking I am registered in the US. That said, there are apps on the iPad which let users stream their favourite Chinese, Korean or Hong Kong drama serials. In theory, you could just airplay them to your TV screen using the Apple TV, thereby simulating some sort of pay-per-view scheme. I am not 100% sure of their legality though (some sites are basically youtube-variants like Dailymotion), so this may not be something you can count on in the long term.
  • Not for me YouTube app sucks and half of the apps need cable to work I really want to hide the. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes, since 2009 Apple TV, NetFlix, and the good old Internet has been enough to provide for my news & entertainment needs. The most surprising realization in making the switch is a visceral understand of how massive our exposure to advertising actually is. When I go to a friends house and watch a TVshow it is shocking to see how much and what type of advertising there actually is. Am I really suppose to mention to my doctor a medication I saw during an episode of Mad Men, and ask him if I should take it?
  • I live in canada and trick my ATV to think I'm in America and watch hulu and Netflix but I still have basic cable for local news. I rarely use my satellite since I convinced my parents to get basic cable and just stream. We'll move on when it gets Apple TV gets a good news channel. Btw the portability and airplay function are also important and should be mentioned in this article
  • Sure, it depends on what you watch though. My household has been a cord cutter house for over a year now and we love it. We use an indoor antennae to get all the local broadcast channels in HD, which lets me watch most of my local football games of The Bears. We use Netflix to watch movies and full tv show seasons. We use Hulu Plus for all the current episodes of network tv shows. Honestly, there isn't anything else that we need. We don't even watch tv enough to keep up with all the video content we have! Cable channels aren't needed and we don't miss them at all. Sent from the iMore App
  • In our house we've found a lot of good uses for Apple TV but almost all of them rely on having another device with Airplay or having a cable subscription. Apple TV is a lot like having a good radio in my car. It's pretty worthless without some other source of content or paid service being sent to it or plugged into it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ha! I already did that. I'm living fine off iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu plus. Saves me a ton of money.
  • I cut the cord a while back to save money as I have debt. If I was debt free I would have cable.
  • My Apple TV is beyond more than enough for me to have canceled cable. I have netflix, YouTube, and every on demand program that works on Apple TV or on ios. I just use a friend of mines cable email and verify and voila!! He has one of the top packages with hbo and all the premium channels so hbo go works for me. I watch more tv now then when I did have cable Sent from the iMore App
  • Not yet for me ! Close. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish I could stop cable. But like others have said, certain programs, and apps are tied to your cable account. If you only have one cable service in your are, you are paying through the nose, and if you have phone service, and internet, not worth the cost. The average cable cost is $150.00, or more a month with two TV's and two cable boxes. I believe if Apple does better, cable companies will loose more customers. They are a rip off in the first place. Even basic cable is too much. Satellite, and Direct TV is no better than cable. Sounds good at first, but sooner than you think, you are paying too much for what you really use. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a wife and two children. We dropped DirecTV more than 18 months ago in favor of Over-the-air HD and an AppleTV (with Netflix subscription), and not once have we regretted the decision. The only issue has been sports, but it has never been a do-or-die when it comes to that. That being said, my parents still have cable, and will not be getting an ATV any time soon. So they let us verify our ESPN app using their subscription. The result is 100% of our TV needs are met thanks to AppleTV. If we didn't have ESPN, then I would say it would be more like 90%. I know that we are the exception thanks to the disinterest in most sports, but honestly, sporting events are a good time to come together with friends and family, and we would (and still do) end up watching most games at someone else's house. Us not having sports just allowed us to have an excuse not have to host people at our house (which my wife is always grateful for).
  • I think it depends on your TV habits/requirements. As we see in the comments for some it's fine, some it's not "there" yet, and there could be others who don't care about TV at all. For me it's not there yet but the cable companies are making it more appealing with the rates they charge. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've cut the cable with a ATV2 which was sold for a healthy profit and now have an ATV3. There is so much content available on Netflix, more than I can watch. I watch very little TV now as it is so the Apple TV is an ideal solution. Also Airplay is amazing and something I can't live without. Home music streaming is fantastic. There are much better things I can do than watch TV but the Apple TV lets me get my (small) fix. Sent from the iMore App
  • OTA in a high rise building right in downtown Toronto .... getting about 17+ HD channels. ATV3 x 2 --> One in used for my own multimedia from iTunes, Netflix and Canadian stuff ... and the 2nd one configured for Netflix, Hulu Plus and etc worldwide ;) It's been over 12+ years since I stopped paying a dime to these Canadian providers .... See how much I've been saving? Oh yep.
  • The current price of individual tv shows makes this unrealistic option for most people. If you watch more then a couple of shows a week, a basic cable package would still be a better deal. Unless of course you're willing to wait the year (or whatever the current time frame is) for the episodes to hit netflix. For me, most of those shows will have been spoiled by that time.
  • Excellent point. TV shows and movies are expensive on iTunes and you may end up paying more than a basic cable package, specially after adding Netflix and Hulu Plus. A single season of most TV shows costs $40, so if you follow more than 6 or 7 shows and watch two HD movies per week the costs are going to be comparable to a cable subscription. I think the ATV is a viable option for anyone trying to cut costs and willing to compromise, but let's be clear, there is still a big compromise.
  • Great article Chris. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Apple TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.
  • This question is easily answered by the facts. It *is* enough, at least for some people because people have ben cutting the cord now for over five years. Personally, I stopped getting cable about three years ago when the Apple TV gained enough content to exceed what I was currently watching on cable. The whole question is posed a little stupidly though in that obviously this line is going to be different for every single person. Local News junkies will be the last to switch for example.
  • I guess I could go without cable and only use my Apple TV but when the TV portion of my cable bill is about $50 bucks I don't think I really would come out ahead financially anyway. The cost of iTunes TV episodes/season passes along with something like hulu would add up. I hate to say it but value for the amount of entertainment my cable subscription offers me (along with convenience) is still pretty good. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've gone without cable for 2 years now. I use iTunes and Netflix to provide content. I watch an average of about 17 TV shows per year and after calculating my local cable costs I am saving just under $300 per year by paying for my content through iTunes and Netflix. I don't, however, watch much sports. An NHL Centre Ice package would cost me an extra $160/ year.
  • We cut the cord 2 years ago. I miss it at times.
    Our Apple TV is the tool of choice, but I also have a Roku for Amazon Prime. Wishing Amazo. And Apple would play nice and consolidate their pressure toward a la carte.
  • No independent premium channels = no cord cutting for us :/ Sent from the iMore App
  • I think it depends on location. Licensing in Canada being what it is we have half the content that users in the US have. Don't think it's a viable option here. Sent from the iMore App
  • With a Jailbreak (or App availability) I'd be more inclined to agree. With Plex I can stream almost anything to it,, Daily Show, Colbert, and a bunch of others. I think the content providers not realizing that it's just a difference of convenience to be able to watch it on an AppleTV vs hooking up a PC. I'm in the States, so not sure why they let me watch on my PC but not elsewhere. The ATV also needs a Unified Search, so I can see where something is, like Hulu has it but not Netflix, I shouldn't have to type it twice, in different "Apps". For now, I'm fine with my Roku and just using the ATV for the off time I want to mirror my Mac to my TV (although I can do that with my Chromecast too).
  • I watch sports all the time, so not an option sadly. It's no different since moving back from the US to Canada in that respect since TSN, Sportsnet and RDS are just as locked down as ESPN and NBC Sports to cable subs. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a jail broken Apple TV 2. I think it's all based on your situation. If your single with no kids and occasionally watch television you might be able to get away with it. If not then It doesn't stand a chance to replace it. If you really want to check out Dave1058 on YouTube. He has extensive videos about cutting the cable cord Sent from the iMore App
  • I've had an Apple TV with Netflix, Hulu Plus and an HDTV antenna for over a year. We still have a bill from the cable company for internet, but it easily saves hundreds of dollars a year over bloated cable packages. I enjoy *not* having all the mindless filler programs available (eg. Hard Core Pawn, Storage Wars, and many cooking/home improvement shows).
  • Sports is the only thing keeping me from cutting the cord, but streaming services such as Apple TV can help you stick to the bare minimum cable/satellite package they have to offer. Sent from the iMore App
  • I can't and won't afford $300 deposit for Direct-TV; it's for the equipment...! since I moved into my apartment in February 2014, I cannot watch TV from my antenna/converter box because there are "9" satellite dishes on the roof of my apartment! That also interferes with my mobile phone reception as well! I Have internet service, which allows me to have Netflix, Hulu plus and Amazon Plus! I love that I can come home and watch a movie or TV show when I want....BUT! I would like to be able to watch the local and national news all the way through; not in increments stories. I like having the TV on as background while I cook dinner, you really can't do that with my current situation! I just want to be able to what regular TV , and when I want a movie or series TV on demand. Forgive me but I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s and sometime you just want to TV an Veg.... you really can't do that with the internet/AppleTV. I really want is to have both! But I am NOT going to pay OUTRAGEOUS cable and satellite bills! I have better things to do with my money!
  • We have cancelled Satellite TV and saved money for the past few years. First step is: