Tips for ditching cable TV

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More and more consumers are choosing to stop paying increasing cable TV fees. Your options, as well as the requisite gadgets, have expanded in the past few years.

Many TV watchers haven’t cut the cord on cable because it would mean ditching their local stations, especially news and weather. However, network shows have been digital for several years now, and with a digital or HD antenna; you may be able to pull in many of your local stations, such as ABC, CBS and NBC. How many you get will depend where you are in relation to most of the local stations.

Let antennaweb.org help you pick an antenna type based on your ZIP code. It shows signal strength in your area and advises, for example, if you’ll need a small multi-directional or a medium directional with a pre-amp, or any other type. The type of antenna you need might run only $30 to $40, a one-time cost. Check Consumer Reports for reviews of HDTV antennas. Check Amazon for reviews by others who’ve made the purchases.

To stream movies, you’ll need a gadget (unless you have a streaming-ready TV set) such as a Roku, Xbox, Wii or PlayStation. If you have an old first-generation Roku that isn’t satisfactory enough to make you cut the cable cord, investigate the newer Rokus. You’ll be surprised at the new on-screen software as well as the device itself.

If you’re a movie buff, look to Netflix for streaming (around $7 per month) to your television or computer.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, don’t forget about your free instant video streaming of shows and movies (they’ve started showing HBO). The cost is approximately the same as Netflix. Prime has raised its rate to $99, compared to Netflix at $96 per year. Their selections of movies and TV shows vary. Scout the sites to see which you prefer. If you buy merchandise from Amazon Prime, the free postage alone might be a deal maker. (Beware clicking around too quickly on Amazon. Sometimes a free movie changes overnight to a fee movie.) At an average of $16 per month, it might be worth having both of them.

If you have bundled services through an Internet provider (phone, cable, Internet), get the costs of the extra services, such as phone and Internet, to see what those will cost by themselves.

David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to columnreply3@gmail.com. © 2014 King Features Synd. Inc.