To cut or not to cut? That is the question.
- Do you watch television?
- Do you pay for channels you don’t watch?
- Are there too many commercial interruptions?
- Do you record shows so that you can watch them later?
- Is your Internet connection 5 mbps or greater?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then it’s time you consider cutting the cord! And you don’t need to wait until February 3, since Fox Sports will live-stream SuperBowl XLVIII for free to U.S. Internet users.
What is cord cutting?
Cord cutting refers to the process of canceling pay TV services from a cable, satellite or telco provider. It often involves setting up alternate ways of watching the same or similar content without the astronomical fees. Many cord cutters love the experience and vow to never go back, while others are conflicted and don’t rule out returning to the good ‘ol ways. I cut the cord in 2008 and saved over $5,000 so far while watching as much television as before with fewer commercial interruptions. And I’m not alone. Over the last three years, an estimated 5 million pay TV subscribers have been lost to cord-cutting and the coming of age of cord-nevers. And the murmur of people who say they are thinking about cord-cutting is getting louder.
How to cut the cord
Call your service provider to cancel your pay TV service. As simple as it may sound, this phone call may be the hardest part of the ordeal as they will do everything in their power to retain you. Don’t expect them to help you. Be strong and try not to let them lure you into a deeply discounted bundle of channels you won’t watch. For those of you who successfully make it through the phone call, congratulations! You are now free to experience television on your own terms at a fraction of the cost. However, if you succumb to the temptation of a deeply discounted subscription plan, we understand the predicament you are in. There’s something about getting lost in a bottomless list of channels you can’t watch that some find irresistible. Better luck next time.
My first setup
In 2008, my setup of choice was a digital terrestrial antenna and a Roku player. The antenna provided free access to ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC in high-definition via the ATSC tuner in my television. The Roku player included dozens of free on-demand channels. I also splurged and subscribed to Netflix for $7.99 per month, which I watched using the Roku player. The setup costs were nominal:
- Digital terrestrial antennas (or HDTV antennas) range from $5 for a basic indoor antenna to $150 for an extreme range multi-direction outdoor antenna. I bought mine on Amazon.com.
- Roku has several players to choose from starting at $49 for the best streaming value. The fully loaded and lightening fast player goes for $99. Find the right Roku player for you here.
The power of ecosystems
When Apple introduced the second generation Apple TV for $99 in 2010, I couldn’t resist and had to get one, replacing the Roku player that had served me so well. At the time, the Apple TV had a slicker interface and some content I couldn’t get on the Roku, such as YouTube. If you already use other Apple devices such as an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, then the Apple TV is a no-brainer and a welcome addition to your Apple ecosystem. The Apple ecosystem has continued to improve, making cord cutting with an Apple TV that more compelling:
- Using AirPlay between devices lets you wirelessly stream what’s on your iPhone or iPad to your HDTV and speakers via the Apple TV.
- With a subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus you can watch everything from classics to recent Hollywood blockbusters, to original programming, to current and previous seasons of TV shows.
- Free channels are being added to Apple TV regularly. Recent additions include Bloomberg, PBS, Sky News (UK), The Weather Channel and The Wall Street Journal. Some of these channels include live streams.
- Choose from thousands of video podcasts on a variety of subjects – arts, technology, politics, sports, and more. Podcasts sync across your Apple devices so the podcast you started in your car can be finished on your HDTV.
- With iTunes Music, fill your room with the music you love. Just click Music on your Apple TV to play all your songs and albums. If you’re an iTunes Match subscriber, you can access your entire music collection without a computer.
- iTunes Radio is a free streaming radio with a great selection of music. Choose from more than 250 genre-focused and DJ-curated stations. Or build custom stations based on an artist, song, or genre.
- Enjoy access to movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store right on your HDTV. Many movies are available the same day they come out on DVD, and TV shows are available the day after they air.
If everything else fails and you have a MacBook, use AirPlay Mirroring to stream content from the MacBook to the Apple TV. Listed below are URLs I mirror to the Apple TV to watch movies and full-episodes of my favorite TV shows:
The right choice
There are many other options to consider, including:
- In addition to my Apple TV, I recently brought back a Roku player into my living room. The content library is unmatched with over a thousand channels. You can choose from a collection your user interface theme: I picked the Lego theme. And the remote control with a headphone jack for private listening is absolutely brilliant! The players range from $49 to $99. At that price, it’s a no-brainer.
With Aereo, you can watch real, live TV through a tiny remote antenna you control over the Internet — from home or anywhere in your home coverage area.(Aero filed for Chapter 11 on November 21, 2014)
- With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online entertainment on your HDTV—movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play Movies and Music, and Chrome. No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers. Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.
- Plex can help organize all of your personal media, wherever you keep it, so you can enjoy it on any device. Plex is made up of media enthusiasts all working together to make their experience better.
Still can’t make up your mind? Here are a few other articles with some sound advice, both cord-cutting pros and cons:
- 5 Ways To Slash Your Monthly Cable TV Bill
- Enjoy Full Episodes Of Your Favorite TV Shows On The Internet
- Five Keys To Cutting The Cable TV Cord On Your Kids
- Here’s What You’ll Save By Ditching Cable TV
- I Swapped My TV For Netflix, And Here’s What It Taught Me
- I Tried To Cut The Cord – And Failed
- Interactive Cord Cutting Calculator
- Ready To Cut The Cord? Here’s How To Do It
- Why I Cut The Cable Cord And You Probably Shouldn’t
- Your Guide To Cable TV Cutting
$5000 richer and ten pounds lighter
I cut the cord in 2008 as part of a work experiment. The quality of my viewing experience has improved. I can binge-view (a widely misunderstood phenomenon) television series and enjoy movies from anywhere. I only pay for what I watch, saving over $5000 since 2008, with less commercial interruptions. Last but not least, I cut back the amount of live sports I watch on TV and spend that time in the gym. I’m ten pounds lighter than I was six years ago. Isn’t it time you get off the couch and go the gym? Sounds like a 2014 New Year’s resolution!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License by Paul Tocatlian.