Cord cutting is a very libertarian movement. It’s all about the individual choosing what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. It’s about giving your money to targeted companies and not subsidizing those you disagree with. It’s about the end of intrusive commercials. This started off as a younger generation trend, but has been rapidly picking up steam and the cable companies are hemorrhaging subscribers across all age groups. While a few dinosaur CEOs are still holding out, other television companies sense the impending death of the bundled cable model and are trying to develop their own streaming services.
In its purest spirit, cord cutting does not include ‘TV-lite’ streaming packages like Sling. I view these as being similar to methadone for the heroin addict. You still have to abide by the set viewing schedule, have commercials, and have to financially support channels you don’t watch. Just let it go. You won’t even know it’s there after a week. I usually bring a Roku with me when I travel because I can’t even stand to watch cable tv in hotels anymore.
If you still want to watch traditional TV after cutting the cord, you’ll need to buy a package like Sling. I’ve heard PlayStation Vue is the best of these, but again, that’s like saying a can of Boyardee is better than a gas station hotdog. Shift out of that mindset entirely and get yourself a steak. I also know there will be questions about sports packages. I don’t watch sports so don’t really know the details here. I believe MLB, NASCAR, and NHL have their own packages, and ESPN is creating one. They all eventually will.
What you’ll need
High speed internet- At least 8 Mbps. More is better, especially with multiple devices.
Streaming platform device- My opinion is that Roku is the best. They give you access to the greatest number of apps (called channels) within the platform. Both Apple and Amazon used to (and may still) restrict major competitors from their streaming platform. Roku doesn’t have this conflict of interest in their business model. There are also other options that include a Smart TV or gaming console. Make sure that the device is capable of handling 4K and HDR if your tv has this capability.
Subscription Apps or Channel Services- These are what you use to watch content. Content services are usually purchased on a monthly basis. Three different channels provide more content than a person can ever watch. Unlike with traditional Cable companies who drag you through the ringer, it’s extremely easy to cancel and add these channels online with a single mouse click, so some people even cycle through different services as new content is added. Some channels will make every episode in a season available at once to let you binge (Netflix), while others post new episodes as they air on traditional TV (Hulu, HBO Now).
Netflix– This is the staple in most streaming households. There is an incredible amount of programming available for $10/month. Most of the licensed content is so-so, but their original shows are quite good.
Amazon Prime– Meh. Their content is subpar and probably the worst value of all the major streaming channels. Definitely not worth it for $10/month. If you already have this for free-shipping and Prime Music, then it’s worth checking in every now and then.
Hulu– About $10/month for the commercial free version. This one depends on what you like. Hulu is the original joint venture of several traditional TV channels and their programming reflects that. There’s a lot of reality shows, dramas, and sitcoms that have new episodes available the day after they are broadcasted. It’s not something I would keep, but my wife really enjoys it.
Premium Channels HBO Now/ Showtime/ Starz/ Cinemax– It’s worth keeping at least one of these and they are easy to cycle through. Prices range from $8-15/month, though you can get discounts too. We have HBO Now and enjoy the original programming (Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones) and movie selection.
Vudu– Vudu is my favorite and probably most underrated channel. It’s a movie streaming service that lets you keep your own library of movies online to freely access from anywhere in the world. If you have a dvd collection you can actually add these to your streaming library. Adding regular dvds are $1 or upgrade to the high definition version for $2. They also have great deals on movies to purchase and add to your library. You can also rent 4K versions of new releases for a few dollars. Vudu does not have a service fee.
This right here will be the death of the cinema. My family watched Jurassic World last week on our 65’’4k HDR TV with surround sound. It was far superior in quality to anything at the theater, and we could have our food and drinks. I haven’t set foot in a movie theater in over a decade, and it’s very likely my kids never will.
YouTube– There is a lot of free content on YouTube that especially appeals to kids. Mine really like this show type called Surprise Eggs which, is pretty much as it sounds…. strangers open eggs with toys inside. I don’t know, I don’t get it, but it’s like crack to them. YouTube also offers a paid subscription model, but I think this is more of a younger generation thing and don’t know anything about it.
PornHub- Just kidding, this isn’t available as an app. Umm, let me take that back. As I researched this to make sure I was providing accurate information, I learned PornHub does in fact have an app available for Roku. Adult apps are banned from the Roku Channel Store, but it can be added manually using the channel code. Be sure to wipe down the remote after viewing.
Traditional TV Channel Apps- As I mentioned above, the execs at many traditional tv companies have seen the writing on the wall of the future of cable tv. Their response has been to start innovating their own streaming package. These will be similar to Netflix (i.e., commercial-free and on demand) and not at all like Sling, Playstation Vue, etc. Disney is working on one now that has an anticipated release of 2019 or 2020. There is also a streaming service available now for younger kids called NOGGIN that has shows like Backyardigans, Paw Patrol, etc for $8/month. Scrips (Travel Channel, TLC, Food Network) and Discovery have recently merged companies and are creating their own streaming channel that should be available for $5/month in 2019.
Digital antenna– This will let you pick up over the air broadcasts. Enjoy it, Grandpa.
I’ll end this by noting a common criticism of cord cutting is that it becomes as expensive as cable once you start purchasing individual streaming channels. At the cost of Internet plus $30 bucks for Netflix, HBO, and Hulu (plus free Vudu and YouTube), I don’t think this is the case at all. Even if it cost the same amount, so what?! Cord cutting is commercial free and let’s you watch what you want when you want it, so the value is immensely higher even at the same cost. I can’t imagine paying money to watch commercials. You may also hear your friendly Cable Company Rep offer to throw in a TV package for the same price as you’re paying now for just Internet. Don’t believe them. The price will jack up after one year and there will be a large number of add-on fees and taxes applicable immediately.
Cut the Cord! Vive la Révolution!