Cut the Cable? Why would you want to do this? Here’s some reasons:
#1 – You’re paying over $1,000 per year to have garbage pumped in to your living room.
We’ve had DISH for the last 2 years (following 2 years w/ DirecTV). I don’t dislike either company or the services they provide, but the prices keep heading north. Our family is not one who glues itself to the TV every night, and we only watch a few shows regularly, so it did not make sense to renew DISH at the end of our contract, as the proverbial Juice was not worth The Squeeze.
Year 2 of DISH is $93/ month, single set top box w/ DVR. Might be able to get them down to $75/mo with Whole-home DVR.
#2 – Just because you have your favorite channel in your cable channel package does not mean it will be there tomorrow.
Maybe you like to watch Fox News/ESPN/CNN/NBCSports today on your Cable/Satellite package- But that does not mean it will be there tomorrow morning! There are countless disputes every year between the content providers (like ABC-Disney-ESPN or Fox) and the Cable/Satellite companies. This is because the cable TV business model is to take the channel from the network provider and mark the price up up by 6x to the end user (you). So when ESPN wants to change the rates it charges DirecTV from say $6 per subscriber to $10 per subscriber then you can do the math by multiplying by SIX.
Recently in San Diego there was a huge food fight between Channel 8 and the DirecTV (btw Channel 8 is an over the air BROADCAST NETWORK channel, which is already FREE to local residents). It got to the point where the CBS Affiliate blacked out the channel on DirecTV, blacking out CBS (and NFL pre-season football games) for DirecTV customers. As the pay-TV flagship for the NFL, DirecTV could not let any NFL games (even Chargers games) be blacked out for its local customers, as this is a PR nightmare… So in the end DirecTV capitulated with the CBS broadcast channel fee hike, passing the cost on to its customers.
#3 You’re not going to have to ‘do without’.
There’s an ad campaign taking place right now that you’re going to have to ‘Settle’ if you ditch your dish or cable package- Which is not true. As mentioned directly above, you have a better chance of retaining uniterrupted access to your local broadcast networks with an over-the-air antenna than any other means.
And here’s my experience (with specific examples) so far.
|TV Service||Replacement Product||Cost|
|Local Channels + Whole-World DVR||Over-The-Air Antenna + Tablo*||$300 (one-time)|
|24-Hr News (Fox/CNN)||CBSN (CBSNews Online)||Free|
|Navy (College) Football games||(CBS) College Sports Live||$10/mo.|
|Shows on A&E/History Channels||Stream to TV from iPad||Free|
|ESPN (plus Disney stuff)||SlingTV||$20/mo.|
|Movies||Netflix and/or Amazon Prime||$9-$19/mo.|
Put this all together and you can have your own ‘Deluxe’ Pay TV substitute package that will still pay for itself in a few months.
Here’s the details on each of the recommended substitutes above:
Local Broadcast Channels
I will cover the hardware stuff in Part II of this post, but once you buy an OTA TV Antenna and a Tablo DVR, you can watch and record all your local channels and view them anywhere in your home on any internet connected device. You can also watch stuff on your home DVR over the internet away from home wherever you have a decent internet connection.
24-Hour Cable News
This one actually had me worried the most. What if there was an important news event that I wanted to watch live coverage about? Turns out CBSN (CBS News Online) completely fills the void.
CBSN plays a news ‘loop’ during most hours, but kicks over to full live coverage for big news events (including Primary coverage in an election year). I think they do just as good a job (if not better) than Fox and CNN as there are fewer ads, the anchors and regular pundits are enthusiastic, and the ‘graybeards’ (think Bob Schiefer) that they interview during big events seem to get a kick out of providing unscripted coverage with flexible break schedules.
Navy (or College) Football – (CBS) College Sports Live (on Roku) ($10/mo)
You can watch almost all of your favorite college team’s home games (live or ‘time shifted’ to later) via CBS College Sports Live. I join-up in September for the first game and then cancel in December after regular season games are over. Note that there are lots of sports events covered for each school and not just football.
Crap that’s on History or A&E etc.
You can catch most new episodes on these channels on your Computer or iPad and display these on your TV if you want to. In our case my wife just watches some programming via iPad now. No big whoop.
**Baseball – MLB.TV ($25/mo) .
If you’re a die-hard fan of your LOCAL baseball team and MUST see all the games live, then you may be out of luck. Otherwise MLB.TV gives you all the games live, with in-market games delayed 90 minutes. If you are in a market away from your favorite home team MLB.TV will work fine. Otherwise the blackout rules are rather byzantine andTV Cord Cutting for Dummys. Personally I’ve attended more SD Padres games than I have tried to sit through on TV during the past 2 years, so I’m not going to miss paying for a TV service I have not been using.
ESPN – Sling TV $20/mo.
I haven’t watched SportsCenter in quite some time. Haven’t watched an ESPN sports event live in some time either. As for NFL on ESPN (and NFL network) note that NFL games MUST be simulcast on a local broadcast channel (per NFL monopoly rules) so you’ll never miss your local NFL team by having ‘only’ local broadcast channels. But if you absolutely HAVE to have ESPN you get the full package of ESPN + Disney on SlingTV for $20/month.
Netflix + Amazon Prime – $9-$19/mo.
‘Nuff Said. Watch movies, syndicated TV shows, and original shows here.
#4 There’s some really friggin’ cool stuff on your Roku.
If you have Cable/Dish and a Roku device, I highly recommend doing a ‘deep dive’ and truly discovering all the content that Roku has to offer. If you don’t have a Roku, get one. Roku sets up streaming online content just like TV ‘Channels’- My whole family has been able to figure out how to use it proficiently because the Roku user interface is really slick. This is why over 40% of Netflix subscribers access their content via a Roku device (In short, you don’t really have a ‘smart’ TV until you have a Roku box/stick or a RokuTV).
Back to NowhereTV. NowhereTV is a brilliant Roku channel that simulcasts local network broadcast feeds (from all over the country), overseas news channels, and various videos and podcasts. I’m just now scratching the surface on all that is available on NowhereTV, including complete episodes of ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’. What a kick!
That’s it for the ‘what’ that you can enjoy after you cut the TV cord. Part II of this post will cover the hardware and technical details. Stay Tuned!