As high school and college kids settled into summer jobs last July, the unemployment rate among 16-to-24 year-olds was the lowest in several years. Still, some 50% of the age group weren’t working. To be sure, some were in school or doing other things deemed productive. But how many had parents saying quit with the video games and get out of the house?
So, to any of the badgered this summer, there's a job waiting that allows one to become an instant small business owner: cord-cutter. Barely any start-up costs and setting one’s own hours should be enticements. Sure, it would take a lot of knocking on doors and braving the hot sun, but frustration and ignorance regarding pay-TV subscriptions would seem to offer the potential for good money.
business plan would likely get an F at
In any case, forget the ivory tower, the aim for now is simply to make enough money to help with expenses in the coming school year and get mom off one's back.
What to call the venture? It would have to be something that’s easily understandable during a pitch at the door or ad on a telephone pole. Cord-Cutters, Inc. is probably only good as the parent company. TV Gratis? Cable Saviors?
The fundamentals of the business are sound: offer options to drop a pricey pay-TV subscription, then set up the preferred choices for a fee. Cord-cutters would also pay for the needed equipment – whether it be an antenna, Roku box, etc.
What should TV Gratis charge? Considering its solutions would presumably save
thousands of dollars, perhaps a percentage of a yearly cable bill?
Before launch, the TV Gratis staff would probably need to spend an hour or two at Best Buy getting up to speed on cord-cutting options to pitch beyond simply dropping TV altogether. Much like cable packages, tiers can be established. For example, cord-cutters can still have a DVR.
The job is ideal for a tech-savvy engineer – considering the installations needed to be done – but highly doable for others.
The target customers would probably be adults 55-plus who aren’t sports fans and watch a limited number of channels. But the potential customer base could be far wider considering the core of the pitch: do you know you can drop cable and still get all the broadcast channels – probably the channels you watch most – for about a $20 one-time fee? (Customers with older TVs might have to pay more to get a converter box.)
Yes, one time – never pay again. You still get “NCIS,” “Modern Family” and “The Voice” at no cost. If you are a sports fan and can live without ESPN and all 162 games of the local MLB team, there’s still the NFL on Sundays and the World Series.
People may be concerned cutting the cord will bring reception issues. TV Gratis can suggest a more expensive set-up, perhaps a $150 outdoor antenna picking up channels within a 65-mile radius.
For those worried about losing HD? Antennas can still deliver over-the-air programming in high-def
Going the antenna route can allow for severing all ties to a cable company. But of course broadband is now almost a household necessity. Which offers other options for cord-cutters that can enhance their experience, but still bring costs down.
For those scared dropping cable means no DVR, TiVo has a box that can store 75 hours of over-the-air TV. Cost: $149 for the box and $14.99 a month (or a lifetime fee). And, yes, commercials can be skipped.
For those who don't need 200 channels, but could use more choice beyond the broadcast stations, a $100 Roku box offers the chance to watch Netflix and Hulu Plus (each less than $8 a month) on the big screen. Apple TV and Google TV are other over-the-top cord-cutting complements.
Kids in college
and younger notwithstanding, people are hidebound to their pay-TV subscriptions, so TV Gratis won’t have an easy sales job. But perhaps the hardest part of the business will be the closing.
Salespeople will have to convince customers to say no when they call to cancel service and HBO is offered free or other enticements dialed up. TV Gratis may have to provide free hand-holding for that step.