I've seen a few blog posts and news stories written about people who cut their cable TV, and while it seems intriguing, it's honestly not something I've really thought about. But, I've started giving it more and more thought, and I decided that 2014 will be the year that I'll at least look into it to see if it's a possibility.
Our Cable TV Equipment
We have cable through Wide Open West (aka WOW). They've been my carrier for over ten years, and provide cable and internet. By and large, I've been pretty satisfied with their offerings and they have had customer service that I would rate way above average.
We currently have a whole house DVR system. There is one box, called the gateway, which has six tuners so that we can record or watch up to six shows at a time. There are three media players which connect to each TV, and communicate back to the gateway for programming.
As mentioned, the system has a DVR system, so we use the system to record shows that we can play back later.
Is This Replaceable? I understand that there are a number of devices, from TiVo or otherwise, that can be purchased to act as DVRs.
The big thing that I would have to do significant research is to see if we could replicate the programming that we are used to having today.
My wife and I watch a number of shows, live or recorded or watched later.
- Broadcast – I know that we could receive most of the network content via an over-the-air antenna, so anything from CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CW, or PBS could be captured and watched as we have today.
- Cable specific programming – My wife and I watch and record various shows on cable networks. Looking at our DVR, this includes networks such as FX, Bravo, AMC, MTV, Lifetime, TNT, and HGTV
- Random stuff – Shows on networks like USA or TBS sometimes provide entertaining content
- Sports – I watch some sports. Much of it is on the broadcast networks (football and such), but there's enough that's on ESPN or our local Fox Sports affiliate, that I'd have to see what would be available or if there are other means.
- Kids programming – The kids enjoy watching Disney Jr or Sprout sometimes.
- Premium content – We've always gotten Starz and Encore as part of our package for being a digital content subscriber. WOW notified us that they'll be removing that, and we would have to pay $12 extra per month. While we didn't use this all that much, it was just enough to prompt this post. It simply points to the ongoing trend that prices will go up and access to content will go down. So, this isn't a big deal.
- Anything else – I need to look through our recording history and talk to my wife to find out if there's anything else we use regularly.
Now, I'd have to think that a good chunk of the non-broadcast stuff could be made up via items like Netflix or Hulu, both of which can provide some of the content above, as well as a great deal of other content. I know that devices such as Chromecast or Roku can provide access to some of the functionality above, as well as other content.
Right now we're paying $105 per month for our internet and TV. If I stayed with the same provider, I could get internet only for half or less than that price. That would be around $600 per year. Some of that would be offset by subscriptions to any of the sources above, maybe more than one. There would also be equipment costs for any devices that would allow us to access that content.
Our price noted above is locked in for this year, after which it will probably go up at least $20 per month.
Ease of Use
Right now, all content is pretty much right where we want it. If you are getting content from multiple sources, is this simply a learning curve or would it add a bunch of extra steps, to the point where the frustration might not be worth it? Or even there are a few extra steps, it seems like we might be getting access to more content with some of the Internet streaming services, and after all, we have a four year old and two year old who will soon be able to teach us how to use it all 🙂
I like the service we have, I just don't like the price we're paying. I know I've seen people that have successfully cut the cord, but I would have to look at all of the factors above to see if it's something we could consider. If you've ‘cut the cord' or know others who have done so, I'd love to hear success stories as well as any things to watch out for.