Can You “Cut the Cord” and Not Bleed?

Content provided by our partner Tom Bull, Two River Computer ~

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Cutting the cord means cancelling all your cable TV services and only using internet-based programming and old-school antennas to watch traditional TV and movies.

The “cut the cord” movement has been going on for some time now, likely close to 8 years or so, but slowly for existing TV watchers.  Kids out of college are going straight toward this service and not getting cable TV when they get their first apartment. The movement comes as a result of NetFlix and other streaming services like Hulu and Amazon Prime providing TV shows and movies over the internet.  Homes all over the country have been turning in their cable boxes and just watching streaming media instead. They may use the “guts” of their Smart TV or they use a streaming device like Apple TV, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick and others to watch this content. You can also use your smartphone, tablet or computer to stream content, but it’s not the best answer for the den!

To get TV shows and movies over the internet (referred to as “streaming” or “video streaming”), you need a streaming device and decent internet/wifi service.  Many Smart TVs have this feature built in to their internal circuitry. Like a smartphone or tablet, these TVs have apps to deliver the streaming content. Almost all of them have NetFlix, Hulu and Amazon Prime built in and some offer options to download even more streaming apps, like YouTube TV (my favorite), Crackle, Sling, PlayStation Vue and more.  

If you don’t have a Smart TV, or one that’s new enough to support the latest apps, you will need a streaming device.  The most popular are Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast. Most newer Blue Ray and DVD players have streaming service apps embedded, like a Smart TV, so you could use that if you like, but watching DVDs is becoming passé for sure.

Some people have found additional success using an external antenna to acquire OTA (Over The Air) content to keep the cost of monthly service even lower.  Many places sell these antennas that plug directly into your TV and can pickup HD channels within range of the antenna.

So if you decide to cut the cord, TV watching as you know it will change forever.

First, you won’t have a cable box, so no more channel surfing.  You know, you turn the TV on, change the channel to 2 and then start hitting the channel UP or DOWN to see everything that’s on right now.  

Second, the “channels” are different.  Not necessarily the content, but there’s no actual number and you can basically watch whatever you want, whenever you want.  The hard part is adjusting our thinking and trying to figure out exactly what to watch. We are so conditioned that we are used to watching certain programs on certain days or time of day.  Basically this is like a huge DVR of all the shows of a particular series that you can call up anytime you want. As an example, you can open NetFlix and watch every episode of The West Wing, which was 7 seasons long.  If you sit down and watch many episodes in a row, you are officially “binge-watching”. You can also search for the actor Rob Lowe and find West Wing, Parks and Recreation, Friends as well as a bunch of movies he was in.  If you have ever used On Demand from Comcast or Verizon, you’ll grasp the concept easily, but this is more than just movies like you may be used to.

Third, your “collection” of channels will be different.  You will be looking at the actual network to determine your “channel lineup”.  Here’s an example of what I have in my house:

$40/month – YouTube TV – I get the NY channels (CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, WPIX) plus another 45 or so channels like ESPN, USA, SNY, Bravo, CNN, Fox News and more.  There is also a DVR for recording the current season TV shows that you might miss.

$15/month – NetFlix – primarily I use this for movies, certain TV series like Law & Order, Breaking Bad, Friends and more.  Plus, they have original content, like House of Cards and Stranger Things.

$15/month – Hulu – We mostly got this for their original series, Handmaid’s Tale, but it has a different collection of TV shows and movies versus NetFlix, including some duplication.

$15/month – HBO add-on to Hulu

FREE – Amazon Prime – since we’re already members of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping, we also get access to their amazing Prime Video service, which includes an additional cache of movies and TV shows.

The monthly cost is $85/month for all this…a lot less than our previous Verizon FiOS service, which was closer to $200/month.  

I think the OTA antennas have to come a long way before they are a viable option and can’t give you all the content you need or want.  If you focus on streaming you will be happier, but a little lighter in the wallet or pocketbook.

If you do decide to “cut the cord” you will be calling the cable provider and telling them you no longer want the cable TV service or the boxes and DVR.  The cost savings won’t be as much as you hope I’m afraid, but your overall cost will be lower. It would not hurt to ask how much it is to increase the internet speed now that you will be streaming more.  

And finally, you will need fast and powerful internet/wifi to support the streaming devices.  Make sure you have that before you get started or you’ll be unhappy right away.

120 Fair Haven Road    Fair Haven, NJ 07704    (732) 747-0020

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