What is the best way to cut the cord? There is not one actual answer to that question. Find a Facebook group on the subject, find a bulletin board on the subject and ask the question. You will get so many half responses from the names of programs that you don’t recognize to hardware that might be vaguely familiar and of course the suggestion of Netflix etc. As many people as there are there are that many suggestions. It’s like saying “How can I get rid of this cold”. The Perfect Cord Cutting Solution Does Not Exist.
Lots of questions
The truth of it is that dropping cable is a complicated thing depending on just what your needs are as a consumer. Can you replace what you actually watch with an antenna? Do you depend on DVR and catching up all at once? Do you love sports? Do you have a team that you follow that is outside of your general area? Do you live in a place where using an antenna is impossible? Do you live in a place where all of the major networks are locally owned or part of conglomerates? Do you have a dependable high-speed internet service capable of 30-50 Mbps? Does your home Internet have data caps? Do you own a computer? Do you have an HDTV? Does the construction of your house make wireless Internet next to impossible to utilize? All of those questions factor into how to approach a cable-TV-free solution and in reality depending on how you can answer those questions may even lead you to realize that you realistically can’t drop it.
I have been watching the TV world change over the last 5 years. The industry has gone from taking a stance that the only good way to deliver television was through a traditional bundle and denying that anyone was cutting cable to multiple companies offering “skinny bundles” to hold on to customers and attract those who have come up in the past 10 years and chosen not to get a service at all. In the streaming world, we have gone from the “Roku Netflix Player” to a landscape with four mainstream streaming products and dozens of Android and Linux-based streaming solutions. We have seen the rise of Netflix, HBO, Starz, Showtime and Cinemax without cable, NFL Sunday Ticket without Direct TV, free 24-hour streaming news and weather apps and of course the ability to digitally purchase entire series and watch them through smart TV’s and streaming Players.
So can you cut the cord? Yes! Will you find a solution that you feel is workable for you and or your family? I don’t know it really depends on your needs. Lets talk a bit about what cord cutting really is and what it is not.
If you say you want to engage in cord cutting I imagine you mean that you do not pay for TV services from one of the legacy type providers like a cable or satellite company or even then new solutions like fiber TV, Fios or U-Verse. The reasons for dropping pay TV are usually that you don’t really watch much TV anymore, frustrated with really bad customer service or that it has just gotten too expensive. There are other reasons people quit but those are typically they main ones. A lot of people say well I haven’t really cut the cord bc I get my internet from a cable company. Don’t worry you can proudly where the cord cutter badge if you stopped getting TV service. Once people reach this conclusion the first thing they do is google it or find a facebook group about it. They ask a question and like I said earlier they get 50 incomprehensible replies. Before you get confused by contradictory posts online somewhere there are some things that you need to think of when crafting a solution.
Important question Do I even like TV?
Is watching TV really important to you outside of a little local news or occasional ballgame? It may not be. Was it something you had because of kids who no longer live at home? If TV is essentially a news source and background noise you can walk away and not miss it much. A simple free music streaming service may fit the bill for you while you work from home or read. If you want to replace it then there are a number of ways to do so.
Think about what you watch and find out if you can do it legally without pay services
Yeah, you can drop cable, but will you be able to see your favorite news channel? The least cord cutter friendly network out there is easily Fox. Not only does Fox not provide a free option for viewers to find network programming or its industry leading Fox News Channel outside
of a pay TV bundle, its apps all require users to sign in with a provider. Fox news does not offer a service where by a consumer can pay monthly for it, though based on its rabid base I think it should. People often turn to sources that are rather unreliable. The most common solutions are using IPTV options. They pop up all over the place and are very popular with those who do not want to pay for content. In some cases, they work very well, right up until they collapse under the strain of usage or the rights holder finally cracks down on them. Another super common way that cord cutters keep themselves connected to pay TV channels without paying for them is what is referred to as password borrowing. This is when someone uses a cable login from a friend or family member to access “TV Everywhere” apps essentially getting cable TV channels for free on the back of others. Many people don’t mind doing this because they see it as no skin off their back. But in reality, you have not cut the cord at all. You have decided that someone else can give it to you without compensation. You can hardly call yourself a cord cutter if you are watching Watch ESPN, HBO Go etc. If you choose to go with one of those not so above the board options be ready to be disappointed when companies finally crack down on password sharing by tracking IP addresses and such. The IPTV solutions have proven to be very unreliable.
Do not pay for illegitimately provided content
For most people dropping cable is a matter of cost. Some bills are getting to be outright highway robbery and consumers have a right to feel duped and or outraged with $150.00 bills for TV alone or not being able to get the same rate as new customers. But if you are looking
for an inexpensive solution don’t turn to some sort of “service” that promises cable channels without the right to distribute them. As of the writing of this article, there are a few options outside of the traditional cable route that offer live TV packages. PlayStation Vue and Sling TV. If reporting and rumors are correct there are a number of other options on the way including a service from YouTube and a service from Hulu (outside of its current on-demand service). How do you know if a service you find is legitimate? First of all, if you are in the US you should look into the location of the company that is promising the service and how to contact them. If the service can not be contacted by phone at a US based number then it is not a legitimate service. Using it does not necessarily mean you are breaking the law, but it does mean that the company offering the service likely is. Just because someone on a Facebook group says it works for them and that it is ok does not mean that it is or that it does. If in order to sign up you have to provide a credit card and wait for some sort of code to be emailed to you that should be a major red flag. You have to think about what would happen if you are overcharged and what could happen to your financial information if a company from outside the US has it. Not to say that you can always trust US corporations but there is a court system, The Better Business Bureau, The consumer protection act and other mechanisms for resolving disputes with US based companies. If someone overseas starts playing games good luck getting it resolved. Rewarding those that profit from somehow pirating streams from HBO, ESPN, Fox News, NBC, MSNBC and so on is counter productive and simply making someone else money that they have no right to collect. Remember this programming costs money to produce and people just like you work every day to film, edit and broadcast it. Would you want someone to get paid for whatever work you do? How do you feel when someone at work gets paid as much or more than you do when you feel like you work harder?
Is there a way to get my favorite channels legally then?
In many cases yes. If what you want is a cable package at a reduced cost PlayStation Vue and Sling TV offer a lot of content for considerably less than traditional cable companies charge for it. Another option is to take advantage of a number of the skinny bundles that cable and satellite companies are offering these days in response to outright cord cutting. You may find that there is an option that works for you. More will be on the way as companies are realizing that an entire generation has become disenchanted with 200 channels when they only watch 15. In response more and more are offering broadcast networks and a collection of cable channels at a far more competitive price
than were willing to 5-10 years ago.
Can you be satisfied with on-demand streaming services?
Some of us live for the “water cooler conversation” Did you see The Walking Dead? Who do you thinkNegan Killed? Can you believe what happened on GOT last night? How about them Cowboys? If that is not you then you might very well be able to drop cable TV pretty easily without even signing up for a skinny bundle. If you want to be able to come home and watch something on TV there are so many good choices. Major networks have developed apps that provide programming daily, many local news stations have apps that provide full newscasts in the evening something like Hulu may be just what the doctor ordered. For a low cost, Hulu is a great way to keep up with shows from Fox, NBC and ABC. The CW is set to release its own free app and will likely have debuted it by the time you read this. PBS has an excellent app available across almost every single platform. Hulu also provides a great deal of first-run content from cable channels, a large library of shows from past seasons of CBS programming and a pretty expansive movie selection. It also features a
collection of original shows that of which some are beginning to get a lot of buzz.
Netflix is the most well-known of all streaming services and was the first to the market. It has a universe of original shows, original movies, past seasons of mega hit shows and Hollywood movies. Want to kill a night or even a week catching up on a show you have ignored or never got around to watching? Netflix is absolutely great for that. There are hundreds of various streaming services, most of them free featuring everything from independent movies to old TV shows. If you have a smart TV or streaming box you can find them with a simple search.
Are you an Amazon Prime Customer?
This is an important question. Amazon prime customers have access to the companies tv and movie streaming service. Many who signed up for Prime over time in order to save money and time for shipping or get more books to read on their kindles may have never taken advantage of the video services, which are also expansive and have begun to produce Emmy-winning content. In order to really enjoy watching the stuff from Amazon, you will need a streaming media player either a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV. For more information on those two products see this article.
There are no such thing as year long Hulu Cards
Remember Hulu? The service has a monthly fee. $7.99 for a version of the service featuring commercials and $11.99 for a commercial free option. But some people who are trying to save money might get intrigued by offers for year long Hulu cards for say $30.00 from vendors online. Here is the problem with this. Hulu offers no such program. If it did it would be on its website. How do these things exist then? Because identity thieves steal credit cards and use them to purchase subscriptions to Hulu and then give out access to the account to bargain hunters. By jumping on services like that you are not just rewarding someone who has no right to offer the service in the first place but you are contributing to the financial ruin of a fellow human being. If you want Hulu, pay for it monthly. Don’t let someone else get their credit ruined so that you can save money.
What About Premium Channels?
Do you love HBO and other premium channels and keep cable so that you can get them? You don’t have to. HBO, Showtime, STARZ and Cinemax all offer a way to watch all of their content through streaming options. The most expensive of the lot is HBO at $15.00 per month. The best thing about these services is that they are contract free solutions. If you only want HBO bc you love Game of Thrones you can pay for it for it for the 10 weeks that it is on or at least during the overlapping months then cancel. The same goes for the other networks. Apps for the services are available on both wireless devices and connected TV set-top boxes.
Do you have a computer?
If you can be satisfied watching programming on a computer screen instead of a TV screen then accessing programming via websites may fit your needs. A number of the major services mentioned above also have computer based apps with easy interfaces. For those who are truly technically competent a solution like PlayOn, which allows users to access Internet-based programming via an intuitive UI on Roku and Fire TV and Windows PC’s may be worth an investment, but it is not for technophobic or tech illiterate types. Admit it if you fall under one of those categories before you go about downloading a server to a host. Clue for you If you don’t know what a server or a host is you should not bother till you understand what those terms mean. Another solution for those who can embrace server based options is Plex. The program offers users the ability to add channels that interact with official websites in a TV-friendly environment as well as on wireless devices. But again the program can be really confusing for new users. And understand that most of the time support is via forums or even worse, unofficially through Facebook groups. Ironically Plex is often the first thing sighted as an option for cord cutters because those who do use it can’t understand how confounding it is for new users to understand.
Can you use an Antenna?
Maybe you can use an antenna to get the bulk of your favorite programming. There are a number of factors that have got to be addressed to understand whether it will work for you though as well as what kind of antenna you will need. Most people prefer to use an indoor antenna and the most cost conscious will run straight to some discount rabbit ears model. Unless they live in the shadow of a broadcast tower they will quickly find that this is not a workable solution. There are a number of companies that offer strong amplified indoor antennas like Winegard. Amplified antennas work immensely better than those that are not. In cases where an indoor amplified antenna does not work users may need to have an outdoor antenna. Sometimes home construction or geography just does not lend itself to use of indoor antennas. Problems with antennas though will include issues during poor weather, problems receiving a signal for those living in valleys as well as the cost of having one professionally mounted in the case of outdoor models. Before investing in any sort of antenna go to Antenna Web and find out if it is a real option for your area.
So can you cancel cable? Yes. But before you bring that bulky box back to the crowded cable office you should think about what you want, what you are willing to pay and what you are willing to put up with and consider what your time and energy are worth. For those who can understand their options cord cutting can prove to be a major economic boost. For those who don’t understand ahead of time, it can be a very frustrating experience that ends with signing right back up after a few months.