HDTV Cord Cutting

I cutoff my cable about two years ago, and have gone through the trials and tribulations to figure out if cord cutting was worth all the hype. I'm here to report that it is.

Before I start, I want to say that cord cutting is not free. You still need an internet connection, and I recommend increasing your Internet speed, but your paying a separate charge for that with your cable company right now anyway. Your cost reduction comes from not having constantly esculating equipment rental costs from your cable provider, not paying taxes on media, and not paying for artificially bundled grouping of TV channels designed to get you to upgrade packages.

Bundling services is the cable providers way to get more money from you. By cord cutting and streaming all your content over the Internet, you are completely unbundling everything.

With the bundled services from your media company, you get land line phones, and an easy to use menu system of your channels and the shows. Getting to the shows you want to watch is simple. You turn on the TV, bring up your menu of shows from your cable company provided remote control, click, and your show is there. You also get better reception of your shows. A streamed show will occassionally loose sync and go blank, this is a minor problem. It does not happen often, and you can return to the spot you got disconnected from easily.

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Now to cord cutting, with cord cutting the biggest drawback is finding what you want to watch. That's finding, not watching. There is no unified menu system. You have to know what channel your show may be on, and then search through that channels menu system, or search box, to find your show. This takes time.

However, there is much more content to watch by streaming then your cable provider offers you. There is about 10 times the content out there on the Internet, then on the cable provided menu system. Any movie you watched as a kid, you can find and watch. You can find movies that are still in the theaters and watch them. You can watch all the episodes of your favorite TV shows as well as the present versions. All your sporting events and over seas sports is available. There is so much content to watch, that, as I said, the problem is finding it. If you know what your looking for you can find it fairly quickly, but if your not sure what you want to watch, scanning through menus to find a movie can take time. On the other hand, you can choose any movie to watch, unlike with cable where your movie is on a 8PM and that's it.

The cost of streaming depends on what channels you want to sign up for to watch. The biggest streaming channels with the most content charge a monthly fee. If you subscribe to a bunch of channels your monthly fee could start adding up, but it will still be less then the cable company fee. However, there are many channels that are free, and there are channels that are free that play ads for revenue.

Let's go through some of the methods of getting your content. Your cable company usually charges you about a $30 a month for what they call their basic package. This package contains all the major network stations. Well, you can get all that for the one time price of a HDTV antenna of about $80 depending on where you live. The FCC requires all stations broadcasting over the air to put out a 1080p signal. A simple flat TV antenna picks these signals up right out of the air. You hook the antenna cable to your TV and you have crystal clear 1080p local stations for free, plus a lot of other broadcasting channels. The reception is excellent with crystal clear pictures in living color.

The most difficult time I had was getting sports. You will need to subscribe to services to get your sports content. Almost all sports channels charge a fee. Sports channels usually are ESPN, Fox Sports, BTN, NFL, MLB, and a bunch of lesser stations. If your sporting event comes over a local station you can get that over the air for free, but that's not the case with the other channels.

The two major subscriptions that provide sports is Sling TV and DirectTV Now. SlingTV has packages that start at $25 a month with $5 extra for sports channels, but does not carry BTN. DirectTV Now has BTN and runs $45 a month. Both channels provide all the other channels you normally get from your cable provider, like kids stations, HGTV, the food network, etc. The difference between the two is DirecTV Now is considered a major cable provider, while Sling TV is not.

I live in BigTen country, and am a basketball nut. The best way to get that content is with the BTN network, which you'll need to subscribe to BTN Plus for $10 a month. There is a catch and that is you have to subscribe to a major cable provider to subscribe to BTN, so for me that means signing up for DirecTV Now to get all my sports.

There are many Movie and TV channels out there to stream. The Biggest are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon which charge a fee, but there are many free channels out there where you can get content by watching ads, like You Tube, or are just plain free.

The reception streaming is excellent. If you can run "You Tube" on your computer, you can stream "You Tube" on your HDTV over the Internet.

To get all this content you need one more device, if you don't have a smart TV. That is a device that connects your WiFi to your TV. There are several out there, like Chromecast, Roku, FireStick, and Nvidea Shield. The most popular, and the one I use is Roku, which I highly recommend. These devices are all available for a one time fee.

The draw back for streaming is finding your content. There are streaming channel guides to show you shows that are currently playing, but not a unified menu system for all channels. You'll have to get use to each channel's menu system. Hopefully, this will be solved in the future as streaming becomes the norm, which it will. The cable providers are losing a lot of customers every month to streaming.

How much can you save by streaming. I was paying $300 a month from Verizon FIOS for four cable boxes and their premium services. Right now, I'm paying for Netflix $8, Hulu $8, DirecTV Now $45, BTN $10 and the annual fee for Amazon of $99 with two day shipping, or about $8 a month. Then my Internet with increased speed is costing me $69. Adding all that up and we're at $148 a month. When the basketball season is over, I can drop DirecTV Now and BTN and my bill drops to $93 a month. There are no two year contracts with streaming, you can drop a subscription at anytime.