Last spring I finally cut the cord. It’s something I had blogged about before, and while it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, the cost savings has been worth it. If you’ve heard about it and are interested in what’s involved, maybe this will help you decide if it’s worth it for you.
When I saw my cable bill (out of contract) top $165 per month, I knew it was time to really look into cutting back. I talked with the wife and we decided to trial SlingTV and Netflix. In order to do so we needed a device to stream the app, and since we were already Amazon Prime members we picked up a FireTV for $100, figuring even if we ended up keeping cable we’d get some use out of the Amazon device given that I could still install Kodi on it to stream the TV shows and movies I store on our network. Since local network TV still isn’t available to stream online, I also picked up an OTA antenna.
The main reason we got Sling is because of ESPN. While I have my issues with their treatment of a certain sports team, SportCenter is still the best way to catch up on sports each morning while I get ready for work. Other than ESPN our family will watch HGTV and Food Network. Every once in a while there’ll be an issue where I have to exit the app and go back in to get the channel to come back up and while licensing issues restrict you from pausing TV and limit the onDemand library for some channels (I’m looking at you ESPN), overall the service is good. Yes we’re paying $20/mo for 3 channels but it’s worth it to us.
Far better known than Sling, Netflix is (for now) king of online streaming. While I understand their library has shrunk over time, especially when it comes to movies, I still find it has a ton of content, much of which they do a pretty poor job of promoting — most of their original programming is fantastic. Their service is rock solid, I can’t think of a single time we’ve had issues using it. We subscribe to the standard package for $10/mo which allows us to watch in HD and on up to 2 devices at a time.
Over-the-Air Network Television
OTA has been the poorest experience for us. Despite being within 15 miles from the antenna’s of CBS and NBC (the only 2 networks I care about), my reception is hit or miss. In my family room I get CBS, and in my bedroom on the opposite side of the house I get NBC. Even then the signals will go in and out sometimes.
Not being able to pause live TV is a bummer, but luckily there are only a couple things we watch live so it’s not a major problem. While NBC and CBS have their own apps, as of now they don’t offer live streaming of local broadcasts. I’m sure that’s also a licensing problem that will hopefully rectify itself at some point. I ended up buying 2 OTA antennas (1 15-mile version and the other a 50-mile amplified version) for a total of $43, with no ongoing costs each month.
I was not thrilled with the idea of contacting them to give them the bad news, but to my surprise Verizon made it incredibly easy to make the change. It’s possible that my being out of contract had something to do with it. While I pay for a 50/50Mbps connection for $55/mo including taxes for 2 years, my actual speed is a bit faster.
Using my in-contract price of around $150/month for cable I was paying $1,800/year. I now pay $85/month for a total of $1,020/year for the internet, Sling and Netflix. I spent $143 in one-time equipment purchases for the FireTV and the 2 antennas. That means year 1 savings will total $637 ($53/mo) and year 2 savings will total $780 ($65/mo) assuming no pricing changes in services.
While I miss pausing live TV and I miss not being able to catch the Red Sox, Bruins and Terriers on NESN, I’d much rather have the $1,400 sitting in my pocket after 2 years than in someone else’s. Between Prime and Netflix there’s more TV than we’ll likely ever watch and I get my ESPN fix with Sling. All in all our family is very happy with the decision.