Are You Ready to Cut the Cord?

By: Chris Putman | Category: Computers, Multimedia | Issue: January 2020

There’s no more need to wait for the cable guy to arrive and clomp around the house with booty-covered shoes. Instead, a viewer can subscribe and start watching in minutes.

There’s no more need to wait for the cable guy to arrive and clomp around the house with booty-covered shoes. Instead, a viewer can subscribe and start watching in minutes.

The most expensive bills in a monthly budget are usually rent, a house payment or maybe even a car installment.  One bill that should not be on that top-three list is the cable bill, now an average of about $99 per month per household.  Subscribers are fed up with paying outrageous prices for hundreds of channels when most viewers use only about five.  As a result, many cable watchers are cutting the cord.  Now that does not mean subscribers are giving up TV; that just means consumers are doing a little homework for the best free or low-cost option to meet a household’s specific needs.

TechJury.net says there are 33 million cord-cutters in the United States, and it’s the Gen Z’s and Millennial consumers that are leading the pack. They prefer to access TV through the internet. Perhaps they know something other subscribers don’t know.  Observably, there are other options to be considered.

Lauren, the MoneyPantry.com author, says there are some ways to watch for free by simply buying an HD antenna.  Now, don’t back up at the thought of those snowy screens of old.  It’s a whole new ballgame with antennas nowadays.  They can produce a clearer image than received with a cable subscription because the signal picked up through the air does not have to be compressed to feed through the coaxial cables.  Viewers can receive 70-100 local channels at no cost.  The antenna will come with a purchase price, but it’s not hefty, $50 tops on Amazon or at an electronics store.  Watchers can use an indoor antenna and even improve the signal with a booster, or they can install an antenna outside for optimum signal strength. 

Another way of cutting cable is by watching programming on the networks’ websites for free. All that is needed is a device to watch them on, such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop. All major networks have apps as well. They can be downloaded and viewers can watch full episodes. Internet access is required.

Sling TV is becoming a popular tool among former cable subscribers.  Consumer Reports boasts there is no equipment to rent or costly installation prices.  Offered are local stations as well as live network shows.  It costs about $25 per month, and like cable packages, special channels and extra features can be added for a few dollars more.  There is a trial period that can be utilized before making a commitment. Internet access is required for this option as well.

Then there are other options like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. According to MoneyCrashers.com, all three cost about $8 a month, but Amazon Prime requires a yearlong commitment, and each offers a free trial period. Only Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a commercial-free option. Internet access is required.

There’s no more need to wait for the cable guy to arrive and clomp around the house with booty-covered shoes.  Instead, a viewer can subscribe and start watching in minutes with a subscription to YouTube TV. Now, this is not to be confused with free YouTube.  It is cable-free live TV with over 70 channels and local sports and news. There is no necessity for a cable box or installation and runs about $49.99 per month.  It too has a free trial period, and subscribers can record with unlimited DVR storage space to boot. Internet access is required for connectivity.

Retired Oklahoma State University-Institute of Technology Business Instructor Brenda Lewis is meticulous and explored several options to find what best suited her needs. She had DIRECTV and DISH but found her household only watched a few of the channels and that didn’t include the movie channels. It cost her whopping $150. She was especially irritated by the dozens of shopping channels that came with the package. She went with an antenna for a year, with only about 15 local channels. She missed the DVR feature. Then she tried Philo streaming, like basic cable, but lacked local channels, TCM and CNN, which she missed, so she switched again. The final stop on the subscription journey was YouTube TV streaming, and she pays about $50 per month.

“We are very pleased,” Lewis said. “The streaming services do have the DVR feature. There are no contracts with streaming. It all came down to cost and desired channels, which can be viewed and compared online.”

With 36 years of teaching under her belt, retired OSU-IT Business Instructor Lynell Peterson is savvy about finding a good deal but found herself with limited options when she was living in a rural area that did not offer cable.  She was inconvenienced in many ways.  She was on DISH, the only option in small-town Weleetka, Oklahoma. She had to have an upgraded box installed and sign a new contract just before selling her house and moving to Tulsa.  Now she is still locked in the contract for an extended time after she and her husband have long settled into their new home. 

“I never want another contract since so many services today don’t require one,” Peterson said.

Clearly, selecting TV provider services is a customized decision with many options or combination of options from which to choose.  Before scrapping the cable box, each household should review the choices and pick smorgasbord-style what best fits their needs.


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