More and more people are “cutting the cord” these days. You may be asking, what is “cutting the cord”? “Cutting the cord” or “cord cutting” refers to ditching your home phone and TV service and going with a mobile phone and an internet only service for your home. This is something that I have been considering the last few months and until recently my wife has jumped on the wagon wth me.
Making your decision
What content do I absolutely need? What Internet service provider should I go with? Is it worth cutting the cord financially?
For me these questions were easy to answer.
I don't need any of the content I watch. There are shows that I enjoy but it won't kill me to miss them. Most of the shows I watch are available without a cable subscription, Hulu, Netflix, iOS apps or broadcast TV. I chose Comcast (Xfinity) because it's only $30.00 a month for 1 year with no contract or 2 years with a contract. You also gain access to their WiFi hot spots for free. You can rent a modem which is only an additonal $7.00/month. I chose to buy a modem, because after 7 months it pays for itself!
I’m currently a Verizon's Fios customer but their internet only plan is $70.00/month and they don't have nearly as many hot spots available as Comcast. The services available in your area may vary, so ask your family, friends, or neighbors to see what kind of experiences they have had with their provider(s).
The final question is the biggest one … cost. Most providers offer a “triple play” for around $100.00/month. Some could be more or less depending on which package you choose, but if you do the math, that's over $1200.00 per year. “Cutting the cord” could average anywhere between $360.00 to $550.00 (Internet with Hulu & Netflix) a year, which is a potential savings of $700.00 or more a year. If you choose to add more paid streaming services, the yearly cost will be higher. So if you do the math, “cutting the cord” is worth it financially!
Getting your content
So you’ve decided to ditch cable TV and go the streaming route; now all you have to do is choose your "Media Box" to get your content. This is probably the easiest part about “cutting the cord”. I live in the iTunes ecosystem and a have an Apple TV at home. So in addition to any movies or shows I purchased in iTunes there are also streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go*, ABC*, YouTube, ESPN*, multiple Disney channels* and more built in – also over the last few months, Apple has been adding new channels, so the options seem endless. Broadcast TV - ABC, NBC, FOX, WB and others are available for free with a digital antenna, so you can still catch some shows and news casts live. Another plus to the streaming services on Apple TV is they are available on your iOS device. This makes it perfect for watching things on the go (expect for when you’re driving!). Apple TV also has the Airplay option, which means you can stream content from your iOS device to your big screen TV.
*A paid cable subscription is required. Maybe you have a family member that will help you out in this area.
A downside to “cutting the cord” is getting your content on multiple TV's. For example, say your home has 4 televisions … each TV requires their own Apple TV device ($100/each or $400/total) which is an extra $300 that you may not be willing to spend. On the other hand, most cable providers charge anywhere from $5 - $20 per box per month, and if you choose to go with the lower level package (no DVR, no HD, no channel guide) that's $180/year for 3 additional boxes.
There are other ways to get content delivered to you. There are items similar to Apple TV, such as Roku streaming media box, Chromecast, Smart TV's and Sling Box. The Roku is extremely similar to the Apple TV with streaming stations you can log into. Chromecast is new from Google, and it allows you to stream some content. Smart TV's have options like, Hulu, Netflix and other services built into them and all you have to do is connect to the internet. Slingbox is an interesting option - it connects to a TV off site (like an un-utilized cable box at a family members house), and streams the content to your iOS device through their app. The biggest difference with Sling Box is that you’re actually streaming live TV! Whichever channels stream through that box you have access to. If it’s a DVR cable box, you can even utilize the DVRs record and watch later features.
Comcast is coming to my house this weekend and I have my modem ready and waiting for their arrival. I will continue using my time capsule for home WiFi, but I have to rearrange my living room so I can plug my Apple TV directly into the router (for a better connection). I started my 2 week free trial of Hulu Plus and have started adding shows to my “favorites” list. Thanks to my parents (who have Fios), I will have access to the apps that require subscriptions. I’m so ready to ditch cable and save some extra money!! What I’ll miss the most is livebaseball, particularly the Yankees broadcasts, and their games on YES network. Apple TV does have the MLB TV app but local games are subject to black out. So, I might not be able to watch every Yankees game but at least I’ll have saved up to $700!
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