Cutting your cable dependency and going only with streaming services for your television has been the topic of many conversations lately causing me to really look into this topic because its not an easy decision to make and one that I caution you on the downside to this maneuver. Personally, I wouldn’t do it. As much as I like the streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV, etc., I won’t cut the cable. It’s too important.
1. There isn’t one perfect alternative.
One of the biggest problems with traditional cable subscriptions is bundling — you have no choice but to pay for dozens of channels you never watch just to get the few you want. The ideal alternative would allow you to pick and choose just the channels you want. Really? Yes, but …
The reality is that cutting cable does not eliminate bundling. Whether you switch to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV or any other option, you’ll still pay for shows that go unwatched. I use my wife as a Guinnea Pig all the time and I ask her what she likes about watching TV. Her answer is always. “I just want to watch what I want to watch and it should be easy.” Perfect!
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find one streaming service that covers all the shows and networks you watch. But most people will end up subscribing to a few different bundles to cover all their needs. And don’t be surprised if one of your favorite shows has different seasons distributed on different streaming channels.
2. It may not be cable but you will pay just as much … If not more
$10 per month for Netflix here, a $50-per-month PlayStation Vue subscription there, and suddenly you’re not saving so much by cutting the cord. You’re actually going to end up spending more. Not only that, you feel as though you want to watch more TV because you have all these alternatives that you’re paying for. I don’t want to do that.
My co-worker cut the cord a few years ago only to discover that she was saving $35 per month. If you have an Apple TV and download movies and then add your new DVR and various streaming subscriptions, cutting the cord just wasn’t worth it.
3. You’ll need a strategy for live events — especially sports.
Yike! You can say goodbye to all your friends coming over this saturday to watch the Badgers in the final four because everyone is looking for the best viewing action in town and it won’t be you. We have a stunningly awesome Pioneer plasma TV and when we watch sports or movies we don’t want to settle for less. Our house is where everyone wants to watch the big game.
For instance, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, the two live TV alternatives to cable, don’t include a lot of the major sports networks. ESPN (and its sibling networks) are only on Sling right now, while MLB TV, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, MSG,* SNY,* and most other regional sports networks aren’t available through either service.
If you like teams outside of your area, you’ll get a lot of value from signing up for apps like MLB TV (baseball), NHL Center Ice (hockey), NBA League Pass (basketball) and other such services that offer live out-of-area games. But to watch nearly any local team, you’ll need either an antenna (for NFL football) — or a friend who’s still paying for cable.
In this case, outline your sports needs and determine whether or not a single streaming service (or combination of services) will meet your needs.
4. What about your DVR.
In our house we have on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, so we don’t need a don’t need a DVR. Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, which stream live TV, include some DVR-like features. But if you’re using an antenna, you might want a way to record fleeting shows and events.
You have options. ChannelnMaster, Tablo, and TiVo Roamio are among the more popular products, letting you record and store shows through an antenna. The TiVo Roamio, for example, also acts as a streaming hub, giving you access to a content guide and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. I love Amazon and Amazon Prime is wonderful.
But without one of these DVRs, your over-the-air antenna will be limited to live TV only.
5. You’ll need a strong (and generous) Internet connection.
I love my internet speed and Charter is the best option bar none. Once you ditch cable, your Internet connection will become the lifeblood of your media consumption, so you’ll need a very reliable Internet connection.
Rule #1. Make sure your ISP supports super-high-speed bandwidth necessary for streaming high-def (and super-high-def) video. Have you ever run a YouTube video and it drags and stops? That’s because your bandwidth is too slow. In some cases, you might need to upgrade your subscription (which means you will pay more) to get a high bandwidth. And finally, your ISP should be unmetered — without cable, you’ll be using more data than ever before. I have a home office that uses tons of bandwidth and I discovered this problem the hard way.
6. How many concurrent streams do you need?
This is an important point … ! Cable subscriptions make multiroom viewing easy. Yes, its more expensive, but your mileage will vary with streaming options. If you have a household with varying viewing interests, things could get messy.
For instance, Netflix’s pricing tiers are partially based on multistreaming allowances. While $7.99 per month gets you a single stream, the $8.99-per-month option allows you to stream to two screens at once. My wife likes to watch TV in bed and I’ll have a program on in the basement. We have an Internet TV that runs YouTube and a small TV in the kitchen that’s used all the time. You have a more streaming going on then you think.
Sling TV, on the other hand, will stop the current stream if it detects that another one has started. This may change in the future, but for now, Sling and other streaming options have limitations.
7. You might be taking ‘background TV’ for granted.
How many times have you heard someone say, ” I don’t watch TV. I only have the TV on in the background …” Hmmmm! How often do you come home and immediately switch on the TV? Maybe you like background TV when you’re cooking, working from home or having friends over. Yes, it’s doable without cable, but it’s not nearly as easy.
I’m spoiled and my wife is even worse. I want it when I want it and when we want it it had better be easy and with cable it’s pretty easy. Achieving that same ambience will require you to turn on your streaming box, select a source (like Amazon or Netflix), search for a show and, finally, play it. Doable? Yes. Streamlined? Not quite.