Tag Archives: cable tv

Cutting the Cord – Two Years On

cutting-cableTwo years ago I was finally ticked off enough with the continually rising cost of cable TV and cut the cord.

I missed Formula 1, and watching Wimbledon and the US Open was problematic, but overall life was good.

Last week I finally (long overdue) decided to cancel the home phone because the only people using that were telemarketers.

The person I dealt with was (for once) knowledgeable and didn’t try to talk me out of it. Instead he put me on to a deal that included high speed internet (60mbps) AND basic TV channels.  All for a monthly price of just $54!

So, two years after cutting the cord the TV is now back…but now I pay just $54 a month instead of $200.  My wife has been happily watching Wimbledon, I watched F1 practice last night for the first time in 2 years, and we haven’t had a telemarketer call in a week!

What did we learn in the past two years?

Pick the right device.

roku-chromecast-vs-lead

We started by using a Chromecast because they were cheap ($35) and I believed that Google would be able to expand quickly.  To use the Chromecast you need to use an app on a phone or tablet and this caused a lot of frustration.

Want to back up 30 seconds to catch the line you missed in your soap?  Grab your phone…unlock it…open the app (which probably closed)…if it’s an IOS device wait 30 seconds while it reconnects to the chromecast…then press backup…wait while it goes through…now keep pressing because by now you are 2 minutes further than you were when you started.  Arrgh!

It’s not all bad news.  It generally works pretty well if you play things from beginning to end, has a lot of services, and I can redirect the screen from my PC browser or Android tablet on to the big TV screen.

Ultimately though we came across a Groupon to buy a Roku device and now have a much more normal viewing experience.  Easier to navigate, no apps needed, and a normal remote control that reacts instantly.  My advice? go straight for the Roku unless you want to drive your family crazy.

What did we miss?

Some shows were simply too difficult to watch and we stopped.  Big Bang Theory was playable but only after jumping through hoops.  Tennis (US Open and Wimbledon) likewise required much hoop jumping.  And Formula 1 was impossible to watch.  F1 was the biggest thing that I personally missed.

homephoneGet rid of the home phone ASAP!

The home phone cost almost as much as the high speed internet…and no-one used it.  About 6 times a day we would get calls telling us our credit card interest rate could be lower or we had won a cruise.  Why was I paying nearly $40 a month for that? 

As soon as everyone had a cell phone we should have ditched the landline but, instead, we held on to this relic far too long.

Finally there?

Overall, the current setup looks like a good deal.  It took a while for the cable companies to catch up but it looks as though we are now almost at the point I wanted to be 2 years ago and my cable bill is 1/4 of what it was.

I’m off now to watch F1 qualifying for the first time in 2 years 🙂

 

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Cutting Cable : A Week Without TV

cutting-cableA week-long experiment without cable TV resulted in some real cost savings, and some interesting family observations.

Normally the annual rate increase from Cablevision results in a call to Optimum threatening to switch to FIOS.  This inevitably leads to them placing me on a one year-long promotion, after which the cycle starts again.

This time was different .  I had wondered whether cable TV was worth the money, particularly with all the streaming options available today, and this was just what I needed to look at it seriously.   This idea was based on the following thoughts:

  1. Cable TV costs have gone up significantly
  2. We don’t actually watch that much TV
  3. We almost never watch live TV and don’t have premium channels such as HBO
  4. Cutting cable would save at least $900 per year, ever after factoring in other services needed

I didn’t want to just blindly make the leap so I signed up for a one week free trial of Hulu Plus and hid the cable TV remote controls. At the end of the week I polled the family to see what their reaction was to being without TV and the results were quite startling.

  • My Daughter (the big TV watcher) hands-down prefers Hulu.  There are shows on Hulu that she likes that are not on Cable and she can choose which episode to watch.
  • My two boys literally said “We didn’t have TV this week?”  With YouTube and the Xbox available the TV is something they just don’t use.
  • Joanne and I found most of our favorite shows, plus a whole bunch of things that couldn’t be found on cable

Aside from confirming how little TV we watch as a family there were a few other items of note.

Streaming TV is an active instead of passive activity. Instead of channel surfing until you find something that you can accept you actively have to choose.  This meant less time idly watching whatever crap happened to come along and more time watching things we cared about.

Streaming changes how you think about content providers.  Hulu Plus is a good option that fills most needs but there are many more options.  Shows that Hulu doesn’t have can often be found through other channels.  e.g.

  • Big Bang Theory is not on Hulu but is on CBS.com and with the Chromecast I can send it from a PC or laptop to any of the TVs.
  • I found lots of my childhood Sci-Fi shows on YouTube and, after nearly 40 years, managed to catch up on some of the shows that I missed!  Yes…I finally found how Blake’s 7 crew was formed!  🙂

Streaming changes where you watch TV.  I spend two hours per day commuting by bus. Now I can watch sci-fi without the commentary from Joanne about why something really doesn’t seem very likely.

It’s not all roses though.

  • There’s a lot of mature content on Hulu and yet they have no parental controls.  Since the kids can now watch anywhere in the house this is something we need to keep an eye on
  • Everyone watching different things in different rooms can cause ‘fracturing’.  I need to turn the wi-fi off every so often
  • If you are a big sports fan this might not be for you.  The only sport I watch with any regularity is Formula One and I haven’t found a suitable option for this yet
  • This could considerably cut my nap time on the bus

Despite the few negatives I called Optimum yesterday, cancelled the TV and returned the two cable boxes without giving it a second thought.

Note:  Hulu Plus will give me a bonus if other people sign up, so if you think that might be something you want to try can you please use this button to sign up.  Thanks!!

 

 

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