History appears to be on your side if you're ready to cancel your traditional paid TV subscription. The Video Advertising Bureau released a report suggesting that the number of households without a cable or satellite service in the United States has just about tripled since 2013. As the report doesn't take cable replacement services into account, the actual number might be even higher.
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You don’t need a cable subscription for everything, but lately I’ve noticed they are blacking out more and more marquee events on ESPN3. I would have cut the cord long ago if it wasn’t for my love of sports. There are illegal streams for most sporting events now, but if you want to go legit you don’t have many options. You could do MLB.tv and things like that, but once you factor in those costs plus going out to bars or friends’ places for NFL games, etc. it’s getting almost as expensive as a cable plan.
The first change is time. TV can suck you in and not let you go. It’s easy to justify killing 15 or 20 minutes when you have a few minutes of down time. But sometimes that 15 or 20 minutes can turn into an hour or two. We are now more intentional with what we watch and when we watch it. Channel surfing is a thing of the past. I find TV much more enjoyable when I plan my viewing time – that way I don’t feel guilty or feel like I could be doing something more productive.
Those who want to see non-British foreign television have ample options, too. In addition to the aforementioned Acorn (which also features programs from Canada and Australia, among other countries), both MHz Choice and Walter Presents have well-curated collections of European series, with a particular emphasis on the many great Scandinavian crime dramas. And the increasingly popular TV coming out of South Korea is available on DramaFever, Viki, and Kocowa.
On the positive side, the new streaming services are giving consumers more alternatives than ever, in an area where choices have been few. As more options come online, the services are competing with each other to provide better lineups of channels. And though the average pay-TV bill is now about $106 (and rising), according to Leichtman, cable-replacement streaming services typically cost just $40 to $50 per month.
PlayStation Vue plans aren’t that much cheaper than traditional cable or satellite, so it’s probably not the best option if you‘re cutting the cord to save money. It does offer a 5-day free trial, so you can test it out (two days shorter than any other streaming service), but make sure to cancel by day five, or you‘ll be charged for the whole month.
Amazon Prime Video: The "other" major streaming service, which is included as part of a $99 annual Prime Membership or $9 a month. The interface isn't as user-friendly as Netflix, but the service often offers shows not on Netflix, including originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Amazon Prime also has the ability to add channels (HBO, Starz and more), making it a potential one-stop shop.
Note: Several premium cable channels offer standalone monthly subscriptions to their original programming for people who don’t subscribe through cable or satellite providers. The most popular of these are HBO Now ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.). These (and others) are also available as add-on channels to Amazon Prime Video; of those three, only Showtime is cheaper as an add-on ($8.99/mo.).
You will instantly get over 100 channels, and there are tons more that you can add along the way. PlayLater is software for your computer or mobile device that records streaming media, saving it to your device for future viewing. If you already have a streaming device or gaming console, you've already got most of the features offered by this software, but for $39.99 for lifetime access, you won't waste a lot of money trying it out.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t 100% committed to cutting ties completely when I dialed those digits. I don’t live in an area with decent over the air reception for the networks, which makes fall weekend football viewing more challenging without paid television. I thought I might try a free month of Sling TV. At least you can get ESPN channels on that, and at least a dozen other decent channels.
K.C. That’s a great way to save money, especially if you aren’t much of a TV watcher. I don’t personally watch much TV, but the shows my wife and I watch tend to be on cable – often the Travel Channel, Food Network, Discover, History, ESPN, and The Disney Channel for our little one. That said, I don’t think we would be heartbroken to cut the cord and go without – just as long as I can keep my fast internet connection! 😉
What!!! You haven’t cut the cord! Ha j/k…Pretty solid savings though, hard not to accept that deal. The new thing out there now is PlayStation Vue, I think it’s $35 or $40 per month depending on the package, but the middle package has all the ESPN channels and …. The Big Ten Network! You can stream it over a Roku if you have one. Something you may want to look into.
Many plans include extra fees in addition to the monthly price of your TV package that are either one-time or recurring. Some, like installation and equipment fees, are pretty standard, while others, like broadcast or HD fees, are a little more unusual. Always check with a sales representative and review the fine print so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Clearly, the current model of inflicting higher prices on a shrinking subscriber base is not sustainable, but it’s hard to see the traditional TV business—including both cable providers and networks—changing their ways until they have nothing left to lose. I can’t say exactly when that’s going to happen. But if history’s any guide, it’ll probably be sooner than they expect.
Because the content you get with any of these cable-replacement services, especially local channels, can vary by region, you should go to each company’s website, plug in your ZIP code, and see which channels are available in your area. These video streaming services have been adding more local broadcast channels, such as ABC and CBS, but they’re not always available in smaller communities.
Many rely on their cable provider for home phone service. Like most of their services, it can be replaced with a much cheaper internet based service. For those who need a little more than a cell phone after they ditch their cable TV subscription, I recommend PhonePower (formerly BroadVoice.) They are an affordable and reliable phone service provider that uses your existing internet connection.
I have been thinking and talking about getting rid of cable for years. Initially the motivation was to have more time, but when I started watching my expenses and saving for retirement, the $50/month bill started to bug me. Every time I try to do it, however, a show that I like to watch starts a new season – Master Chef, Top Chef, Survivor. (Clearly I’m a reality tv fan.) I think I might have finally accepted that I’m just always going to have tv, and that is okay.
Many TV providers only schedule installation appointments on weekdays, and they often can’t guarantee a timeframe for the technician to install your service. This can be frustrating if you work during the week or don’t have time to wait for the technician to arrive. With XFINITY, you can schedule a two-hour window for cable installation, and weekend appointments are available. If the technician is late, you get a $20 credit.
If sports is your primary TV watching concern, FuboTV is a name you’ll want to remember. With FuboTV, you’ll get 90+ live entertainment and sports channels starting at $44.99 a month with access to their niche sports selection and sports local programming. If you choose this cable alternative, you’ll get free Cloud DVR and three-day replay for nearly any game or recently aired movie. Plus, for an additional $6 a month, you can add Family Share so three people can watch different channels at the same time. There are tons of other add-ons available, but these are FuboTV’s most basic packages:
My take is that they are focused on the areas that get NO cable service because they know it’s a slam dunk so they charge rates that are more expensive for what they offer because they can. It’s like this, if they want my business, they have to have the same TV channels for less and they are so far from it. Also, if they do undercut any pricing, it’s marginal because they are trying to maximize their profits exponentially. Take a look at the free trials they all offer. They’re almost all the same: 1 week, or maybe 5 days, and then the monthly rate kicks in. What a joke. They’re greedy.
It is obviously much cheaper than cable or satellite, but don’t expect Netflix to serve up the latest episodes of your favorite shows, or recent release movies. Netflix is best for catching up on the shows you missed. That said, Netflix has started producing its own shows and is the only place you can watch them. You can begin your access to Netflix streaming by first comparing the right broadband internet provider or data plan.
While some services like Hulu live TV provide NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS to many, you may still want to look into getting a TV Antenna. It allows you to watch free broadcast TV, with access to networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and more. The over the air broadcast TV available changes depending on where you live in relation to your closest TV towers. Thankfully, antenna maker Mohu has put together a tool that shows you which TV channels are available in your area. They also show which channels you should expect to receive for each of their antennas.
I’m hesitant to cut the cord with cable tv due to my husband’s sports. He watches ESPN (a couple of different ones), and the Big 10 Network. Other than these sports channels, we mostly only watch the regular network channels. If I had the food network and HGTV I would watch them, but I can do without them just fine too. Hubby does like the DVR feature that our ‘big name’ cable company provides. But the monthly prices keeps climbing! Any suggestions you have for us?
Pete, you can find some free sports on sites like NBC and ESPN3, but it’s not regular enough to catch all your favorites. I enjoy watching a good game now and then, but I’m not a die hard fan who has to catch every game his favorite team plays. So I’m pretty much content to watch whichever shows come on the regular network channels (even if I have to put up with commercials… sigh).
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FilmStruck ($6.99/mo, $10.99/mo., $99/yr.): A cinephile’s paradise, this service offers a range of classic, independent and foreign films from around the world, including (at the higher-tier subscription) most of what’s been released by the boutique home video company the Criterion Collection. (Lower tier subscriptions include a rotating selection.) FilmStruck, which is developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies, has been adding hundreds of classic titles since February from the Warner Archive, which until recently had its own streaming service. Tons of Old Hollywood favorites like “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane” and “Rebel Without a Cause” are now available on FilmStruck as result. What’s more, its home page is one of the best-curated, best-updated of any streaming site.
With the online service, students get most new titles simultaneously with their premiere on the networks; the ability to create a “Watchlist” that keeps track of bookmarked content for later viewing; bonus content including interviews, recaps, and behind-the-scenes extras; and customizable views showing titles in slideshow, grid or list format. In addition, HBO GO® can be personalized through a “Series Pass®” capability which automatically alerts viewers to new episodes of favorite HBO programs when they arrive on the service.
Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are the best-known subscription-based services, and for good reason. They have excellent selections of TV shows and movies, both modern and classic, and the services are quite inexpensive. Each one costs between $8 and $12 per month, depending on what kind of options you need. Even if you subscribe to all three, this will represent a substantial price break over cable.
In second quarter 2011, Comcast lost 238,000 television customers, compared to 265,000 a year earlier, though the company was making up for these losses with increases in other services such as Internet. Moffett said the slowing rate indicated that online sources were not making people drop cable as quickly. On the other hand, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications lost more customers in the quarter than in 2010. Time Warner Cable lost 130,000, while Dish Network lost 135,000; by comparison, DirecTV gained 26,000 subscribers, compared to 100,000 the previous year. Nielsen Media Research estimated that the number of households with at least one television set had decreased from 115.9 million to 114.7 million, while also estimating an increase in program viewing by computer, tablets or smartphones. Services such as U-verse were increasing their subscriber numbers by offering special features: U-verse's "My Multiview" option allowed people to watch four channels at once, while Cablevision's "iO TV Quick Views" allowed the display of up to nine channels at once.
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Television has changed remarkably over the past few years. It might be time for your viewing habits to change as well. Unless you enjoy paying more than $100 a month for a cable or satellite subscription you only half use, you’re probably considering joining the growing ranks of consumers who have “cut the cord” and are now getting their favorite TV shows, movies and even live sports through the internet and streaming services. Making this change requires some preparation, though. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the cord-cutting process. And once you're set up, hop on over to The New York Times's site Watching for personalized TV and movie recommendations.