By Chris Brass
There is a lot of reporting on cord cutting these days. A lot of it comes from people who are not cord cutters and the results are very easy to spot. It’s not uncommon for me to read various online articles from local and national news organizations asking if it really saves you money to be a cord cutter. Then we’ll often get the typical:
You gotta pay for your internet, that varies but plan on spending at least $60. Then factor in the cost for the content.
CBS All Access 10.99
PlayStation Vue 40.00
Where’s the savings? Or some variant of this argument. There are so many flaws in this kind of argument that if it were a boat out in the ocean and each hole was a flaw, the water coming in would be faster than it could be bailed out.
Flaw #1: Oversubscribing
Few people actually have Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime all together and there’s actually a reason for that. Early
on when these services first got off the ground most individuals learned that once you had any two of the three you ended up with about 90% of the available content. If Netflix didn’t have one of the movies you wanted to watch then either Hulu or Amazon did. If Amazon didn’t have one of the movies than either Netflix or Hulu did. Common sense dictated that those movies you really wanted access too badly enough you could purchase on Vudu or buy on DVD/Bluray much cheaper than it would cost just to subscribe on the one service that did have it. The same held true with TV. Hulu has always been the place to go for TV programs, mostly due to it being owned by three of the five largest TV networks in the USA. TV content is king on Hulu and it’s only growing more since the networks have awarded much of the TV content to Hulu recently. Still, Amazon and Netflix both have lots of TV shows that are very popular to watch creating some crossover between the three.
Flaw #2: Pricing
They always seem to include the highest price for each of these services when they list them and many people won’t get the highest price. Amazon Prime has a monthly and a yearly subscription, most pay for a year due to getting free shipping, then again, many pay Amazon for the free shipping and figures that getting Amazon Prime as a perk. Always double check the pricing. All streaming services have several price points, Hulu and CBS All Access will offer material at a lower price but comes with advertising that you can’t fast forward through. Netflix will offer different price points giving you access to more streams or higher quality video.
Flaw #3: No Accounting for sharing
That’s right… sharing. This is a hot-button topic with some of these services. Netflix has been rather forward about it, if you want to share your access with Netflix, by all means, go ahead. Netflix hasn’t been shy about why they say it’s okay. If I share my subscription with family members not living in my home I’m less likely to cancel if I think that those family members are using it. Netflix has different price tiers, their cheapest service will only give you video in SD and one device at a time. Its top tier will allow up to four devices to stream at the same time and gives you
video in 4K. Vudu, for example, will only allow you to be logged in on up to five different devices at the same time with each of them able to play at the same time. PlayStation will only work at one IP address, but you can change it a limited number of times. “House sitting at your Grandmothers? No problem, we’ll set you up, let us know when you return home so we can get it right again!” But with most providers you can easily have multiple people watch at the same time and in different locations.
Flaw #4: Free Services
All of the streaming devices have free services available. No, I don’t mean piracy, some actual free lawful services to watch. The set-top streaming platform, Roku, has by far the biggest selection of free on-demand services that I’ve seen. It even has its own channel aptly named “The Roku Channel” which just recently became available to most of the devices in the Roku family. Crackle, a service owned by Sony gives you access to many of the TV shows and movies that Sony has in its library without charging a dime to watch them. Of course, that means you haf to watch advertising but you do that on TV too (including on cable). It is available on all major streaming devices as well as several smart TV sets and Bluray players. One of my favorites Tubi TV. It has access to Paramount and MGM titles. Shout Factory TV has several popular Classic TV shows such as “Father Knows Best”, “Dennis the Menace” and “Route 66” as well as many movies. It also has a huge selection of the origional Mystery Science Theater 3000.
I could be here all day listing free services and channels available on Roku and other devices. Needless to say that they will vary, but if you like Horror, Science Fiction, Western or any other genre, you’ll find something for free that will scratch that itch. Yes, quality varies, but after owning a Roku and being an avid user for close to 10 years now I can say this, quality of the free material is always improving.
Flaw #5: Network Access to Material
CBS is the only major network that charges to give you access to its programming. FoxNow will give you access to the FOX primetime lineup without a cable subscription via apps, but you will be required to wait a week before it comes available to non-cable subscribers. The content’s availability is time limited for non-cable customers but you can keep up with your shows if you don’t put them off too long. NBC provides access to its current programs for a
limited time and ABC will not only give you access to prime-time programs but many of it’s library of long canceled programs free of charge.
CW makes its primetime programming available less than 24 hours after the broadcast and CW Seed, a sepperate Channel will give you access to many archived programs that laid down the foundation for its present market. Each of these free services available also means that you can’t fast-forward through advertising but it’s actually a small price to pay for the quality that it provides. One of the motivating factors for me to cancel my Hulu subscription was that I could watch most of my primetime programs on the host networks Roku channel, waiting a week was never really a big concern for me in the cases when that was an issue. These will not be available forever so you do need to somewhat keep up but it’s the same way on Hulu as well.
Flaw #6 Over the top MVPD (Multichannel video programming distributors)
These are the services that bring you the cable networks, but this category has so many options and price points that it’s mind-boggling. Prices starting off as low as $20 and upwards to over $100 if you get really active. If you have specific channels that you consider “must have’s” take a look at all the services that are available. My brother recently got Sling and signed up for a package that he felt would serve his needs pretty good but doing some research I revealed to him that with another service he could have paid the same amount but gotten several more channels that he knew he would have watched. I foresee more services becoming available in the near future.
While cord-cutting isn’t the best choice for everyone it is something worth looking into with the growth of streaming. You may even have the ability to check out some of the more popular services already. Nearly every Bluray player and smart TV has the ability to provide the most popular services I’ve listed above and with no requirement to sign a contract. Some have month or even a free week-long trial to see if it is something you like. Amazon and Roku both have devices for under $50 and they both give you access to free material, you are not obligated to get a paid subscription for anything to use these devices,