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Todd Erwin

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Todd Erwin submitted a new blog post

Cord Cutting 101
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Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
 

EricSchulz

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I'll be interested in seeing everyone's ideas/experiences. Personally, when I moved to Chicago I went with xfinity/Comcast as that was what the apartment building was wired for. I ended up dropping everything except the internet. I hadn't been as much of a TV watcher for several reasons: I was moving in with my partner, I was LIVING IN CHICAGO (so much more to do here than in Racine, WI!) and the growing streaming services. Other than being tired to watching Judge Judy OTA on occasion (rather than Tivo-ing it) I really am satisfied with most of my options. The Chicago Public Library's 80+ branches and Redbox usually take care of my DVD watching. And I don't miss anything really!
 

John Dirk

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I haven't paid for television for well over a decade. I do have Netflix and that currently costs me about $12.99/month. These days the mega companies want to get you into one of their "bundled" options [preferably with E-Billing, etc] because they know you'll likely get comfortable with it and eventually forget about the monthly expense as it [after the introductory period] starts it's never-ending trend of creeping upward.

Bundles consist of 3 typical services, Phone Internet and TV. I get my TV via a centrally connected outdoor Over The Air [OTA ] antenna, my phone through Basic Talk [for less than $15.00/month] and my Internet through Comcast. In my case the latter is free as part of my company benefits package.

I use a HTPC for my dedicated room which gives me free DVR service for OTA TV along with a host of other great features such as easy Windowed multi-tasking, access to my entire music library, easy access to hundreds of my favorite films which I've ripped to disc over the years and also everything else the Internet has to offer. I do miss live sports when ESPN or the like chooses to hold them hostage but, so far, I've been willing to live with that.

In the end it's simply a matter of what specific content you feel you must have [and are willing to pay for] and how much time and effort you're willing to spend setting it all up. If you're willing to explore, there is a ton of completely free content out there in all genres. While I don't think we're quite at the cord cutting stage just yet, there is a much better "cord" and it is called the Internet.
 

Foxman

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Great topic and with the escalating costs of services, it is an important one. The landscape of consuming television has shifted as much as anything we experience on a daily basis over the past 20 years or so. We cut the cord a few years ago, canceled our landline and have internet. We have not gone quite as far as you have, but it is a conversation that needs to take place. We pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime primarily to cover the cost of shipping the mountain of books I purchase.

I cannot tell you how often people come to me for help with a utility bill while they have a cable bill well over $100. There is an increasing lack of sustainability for much of the population in financial terms, which is increasing the need for assistance from others, while they continue to utilize the things the culture deems as a necessity, which increasingly costs more and more. Those things being cable, cell phones, internet, etc. It is a concern that so many people with discretionary income are limiting themselves in terms of television viewing options such as cable and Satelite tv, while others with limited income do not. We are living in the upside-down in many aspects of our culture.
 

Josh Steinberg

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We just cut the cord last month. Haven’t had a landline in years, just ditched cable, keeping internet, not even bothering with a digital antenna and DVR.

Over the late summer and fall my wife was away from the house for nearly two months. This ended up being the eye opener I needed to finally let cable go. Without her in the house, I turned on the cable box/DVR exactly zero times. And while she was away from home, she didn’t miss a single show that she kept up with, because they were all included in things we already had subscriptions for, Hulu being one example. We had been using Hulu more and more earlier this year; we’d record shows we liked on the DVR and then ended up streaming them on ad-free Hulu anyway so that we didn’t even have to bother with fast forwarding through commercials.

So that was the eye opener. That we were paying over $100 a month for a service that had simply outlasted its usefulness to us. It was suddenly very easy to cancel.

Even buying a digital antenna and DVR setup seems like more trouble than its worth nowadays for us. The majority of new shows we watch are streaming originals (or on premium channels that have standalone app versions, like HBO). For the rare broadcast show we do watch, why go to the trouble of buying and installing an antenna and DVR system when those shows will appear on the Hulu subscription we already have, commercial free, the next day?

I recently read an interview with an economics professor who argued that the most valuable thing we as individuals have is time, and that the ad-supported model of sitting through commercials to see something for free extracts a higher price than you’d save from paying for commercial-free access by eating precious time from your life that you can’t get back. He argued that ad-supported viewing was a tax on time that is paid primarily by the poor (who can’t afford the equipment to stream or have the credit needed for a credit cart to open streaming accounts) and the technologically illiterate (who can’t or willfully refuse to learn about new technologies and options and just pay whatever the cable company asks for). I had never heard it phrased that way but I thought it was an interesting perspective. I mean, in the year 2020, with the exception of sports and breaking news, it simply doesn’t make sense to watch television in a linear fashion anymore. And as nice as a DVR box is for recording, time shifting and skipping commercials, an app where the program you want to watch just lives, commercial free, always ready at the touch of a button is even nicer.
 

John Dirk

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Congrats on getting rid of cable, Josh! That extra cash will add up fast!

I mean, in the year 2020, with the exception of sports and breaking news, it simply doesn’t make sense to watch television in a linear fashion anymore.

Yep. Live sports events are about the only use I personally have for broadcast TV but my wife isn't as tech savvy as yours appears to be. She prefers the antiquated linear model [because it's what she's familiar with] which is primarily why I have a centralized OTA setup for our televisions.
 

Todd Erwin

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I mean, in the year 2020, with the exception of sports and breaking news, it simply doesn’t make sense to watch television in a linear fashion anymore.
And many of the breaking national and international news stories are carried on the free news apps, even on some of the news channels on Pluto TV.
 

Sam Favate

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After two years of not watching cable, we cut the cord last month. The reduction in my bill will be about $85/month, plus another $13 for the two cable boxes I sent back, so about $100 a month.

When I called to cancel, they asked if I wanted a faster internet speed. I said no, since all of our devices were working well as it was, plus I remember the Wall Street Journal article from last summer which said, after a long study, that faster speeds weren't worth it.

https://www.wsj.com/graphics/faster-internet-not-worth-it/

Anyway, they turned around and offered me a faster internet speed for $10 less per month. So I took it.

Now, we primarily use our Apple TV box, with our meager streaming subscriptions, but we have more content than we can keep up with. I enjoyed cable for nearly 40 years, but it's time for something new.
 

John Dirk

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After two years of not watching cable, we cut the cord last month. The reduction in my bill will be about $85/month, plus another $13 for the two cable boxes I sent back, so about $100 a month.

When I called to cancel, they asked if I wanted a faster internet speed. I said no, since all of our devices were working well as it was, plus I remember the Wall Street Journal article from last summer which said, after a long study, that faster speeds weren't worth it.

https://www.wsj.com/graphics/faster-internet-not-worth-it/

Anyway, they turned around and offered me a faster internet speed for $10 less per month. So I took it.

Now, we primarily use our Apple TV box, with our meager streaming subscriptions, but we have more content than we can keep up with. I enjoyed cable for nearly 40 years, but it's time for something new.

Can't read the article without a subscription to WSJ but I suspect I already know [more or less] what it says.

  1. Unless you have several people in your home streaming 4K content simultaneously you're unlikely to exceed the limits of even a basic broadband plan which will usually give you around 8 - 10 Mbps.
  2. Advertised speeds are NEVER guaranteed with ANY ISP. You have to read the small print which gives them complete immunity when actual speeds are not as advertised or promised.
  3. Net Neutrality - Given the precarious state of this issue [in the US anyway] ISP's are currently free to throttle [lower] your speeds based on their respective relationships with the [typically streaming] sites we here at HTF frequently visit. ISP's have incentive to throttle our speeds when connecting to sites such as Netflix, Disney + etc because they may already have or be planning competing services in most cases.
In short, why pay for something that you may not even need and the provider won't even guarantee to deliver if you actually do?
 
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qbharold

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Harold here. Hi! (Lurker since 1998/1999 and future lurker.)

Just in a mood to share our experiences with cord cutting.

We cut the cord a few years ago after I finally convincing my mother, who lives with my wife and I, that she would save around 60-65% just by purchasing her current shows from iTunes instead of paying for Dish (what we had at the time was about 130.00/month). However, there were a couple of shows that were not available for purchase. For repeated shows, she could find some on some of the OTA sub-channels or get the DVD.

We never had a problem with the Dish service so we considered SlingTV for some cable shows. For broadcast network shows, I had already switch to OTA years ago with using my Mac, an EyeTV One USB tuner, EyeTV software and shared via iTunes and AppleTV.

When my mother called Dish to cancel, the agent had her in tears about leaving. We have had Dish service since getting our house in 1999 (15+ years) and that was the only time we had problems with them. It was at that point we decided not to go to SlingTV and that she would just stream certain shows from the cable channel's website.

Shortly after, DirecTV Now was announced. Since we already were on AT&T's unlimited plan, our monthly cost then was 10.00 for the lower tier. It was sweetened later when they added HBO for free, unsweetened a little when there were two(!) price increases within a year of each (Sept 2018 for +5.00 and May 2018 for +10.00). Also, we were able to upgrade my mother's AppleTV from 3 to 4 for free just by pre-paying 3 months.

My mother likes the service but did miss the ability to record her shows (she fell in love with DVRs white with Dish) but was happy she had some cable channels. Me: I did not, and still do not, like the interface and rarely use it. For example, I bought Doctor Who in iTunes rather than go through DirecTV Now's Apple TV app.

In November/December 2017, I picked up an HD Homerun Quatro. I did not have any installation/set up issue but was not a fan of the interface. Thankfully, I found an application called Channels () that worked with the HD Homerun Quatro, could host the recordings on my Mac, and had AppleTV and iOS apps support both local viewing and remote. The DVR service is 8.00 per month and, IMO, very well worth it especially since it now works with TV Anywhere for viewing and recording.

Since there was another price increase to 35.00 from DirecTV Now (now called AT&T TV Now) in November, I complained and got it pushed back a month but we are still on the fence about it. The free HBO makes AT&T TV Now 20.00 which is acceptable at this time.

We currently subscribe to:
AT&T TV Now $35.00
Apple TV+ $ 4.99
Disney+ $ 6.99
Netflix $12.99
Channels DVR $ 8.00
Total $68.00

Storage: Mac Pro 2008 (using 8TB HDD for just the Channels DVR service)
Viewing: AppleTVs, iPads, and iPhones

Antenna: Antennas Direct Clearstream 2Max (paid 54.00 for my second one)
Tuner: HDHomerun Quatro https://www.silicondust.com/ (paid 150.00 at Best Buy)

Thanks for reading and now I shall return to being a lurker.
 

Bob_S.

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Harold, how much are you paying for internet service, though? I'm with Comcast and pay $154 for cable and internet. Internet cost me $90. And of course I had to pay $10 more for TCM since Comcast decided to put it in the higher tiered sports package. Plus I have AT&T for cell phone service and have Direct TV combined (because it would cost more if I just had the phone service). The key thing is getting internet service at a good price. If I dropped cable, adding something like slingtv, by the time I added all the channels I wanted I would be right back up to my Comcast bill. I've thought about cutting the cord but internet service is so expensive.
 

jcroy

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I recently read an interview with an economics professor who argued that the most valuable thing we as individuals have is time, and that the ad-supported model of sitting through commercials to see something for free extracts a higher price than you’d save from paying for commercial-free access by eating precious time from your life that you can’t get back. He argued that ad-supported viewing was a tax on time that is paid primarily by the poor (who can’t afford the equipment to stream or have the credit needed for a credit cart to open streaming accounts) and the technologically illiterate (who can’t or willfully refuse to learn about new technologies and options and just pay whatever the cable company asks for). I had never heard it phrased that way but I thought it was an interesting perspective.

Do you have a link/citation for this article?
 

jcroy

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At an unconscious level, I always suspected "time" was the most valuable thing to me. It is extremely non-renewable.
 

jcroy

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Thinking about this more, I suspect this econ prof's argument is on the mark in the case where one is devoting one's full attention to watching a show/movie.

I'm not entirely sure if this assertion is still true for the case where I am doing two or more things at the same time, where the tv is playing in the background. For example, at this moment I am netsurfing, watching the Chicago franchise shows (live on NBC), and skimming partially through a new book I got in the mail earlier today.
 

jcroy

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In practice, I've found that flat-rate streaming bypasses the "sunk cost fallacy" more easily for me than dvds/blurays.
 

DaveF

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@Todd Erwin Can you elaborate on your DVR choice. You considered TiVo and rejected it for being too expensive. You considered four cheap DVRs and rejected them for being 720p.

And then you picked something completely off your list of options that was only 720p.

Why the DVR you picked? What’s it do that brought it out of nowhere and being purchased after detailed consideration of other options? Why compromise with 720p? Why not the TiVo for the best DVR available?
 

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