I’m thinking about cutting the cord in addition to writing about people cutting the cord. It seems I’m always thinking about it, but this time, I think I will do it. I need your advice, your encouragement, your warnings.
First of all, though I work out of Manhattan a lot, my wife and I now live full time in semi-rural Bucks County Pa, (fresh air!) roughly equal in commuting time between New York (Times Square!) and Philadelphia (Pretzels!) but part of the Philadelphia TV market.
With a good, flat indoor antenna, I can pull in most Philadelphia stations plus all those mostly useless digital channels offered by the networks. It can be spotty.
But I’m an old TV critic. I have to admit, I get some perverse pleasure out of watching local TV newscasts, because, really, they do seem so hopeless and really news-less, and so earnest about it.
Ways to economize are filled with hidden missing ingredients. But they are ample, from Sling TV to if Bloomberg is correct, is a new effort by to Amazon to offer more on-demand platforms. Comcast is also beginning to offer a device-only package, called Stream, that packages authenticated TV channels, a DVR and its own VOD package, but it may be far less than meets the eye. There are lots of alternatives, all with little flaws.
So it’s tough to keep all this in your head.
At the moment, we get the Comcast triple play--a house/office phone, fairly okay Internet service and the big kahuna cable package on hundreds of channels, ilcuding dozens in Spanish, dozens of badly done Music Choice channels and for some pointless reason, the same channels in SD that I get in HD.
Most people watch 16 cable channels with some regularity. I’d say for us, that whittles down to about 10, and possbily fewer. Without Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, we're not watching Comedy Central as much as we once were. But that DVR is a big draw.
When I threaten to quit, Comcast usually offers a better rate. Right now I pay $200-and-something a month for the triple play. Comcast seems to make up the last two digits monthly. $230? $220? Whatever. Its bills and its packages might as well be written in Russian. But for the Triple Play package it is roundly $2,800 year. That’s a lot.
We subscribe to Netflix, and I can get it through my subscription to Amazon Prime TV, and I have a Chromecast stick we rarely use.
We get authenticated HBO Go and Showtime services. We also subscribed, with redundancy, to HBO Now, for $14.99 a month, in a large part because I write this blog and wanted to watch how it worked. And we subscribe to CBS All Access for $6 a month and Hulu (with limited commercials), for $8 a month.
I wish I had a Roku box, because I kind of root for the little guy and in the online content delivery biz, that’s them. Plus, from what I read and hear, it’s good, and plenty. I would be interested in Apple TV now because in its newest iteration its Siri-like thing finds what’s offered online by everybody, not just themselves. Amazon Prime TV’s voice ID will tell you what it has (“Birdman” is a recent example, for a fee) but not that HBO Now/Go also has”Birdman,” for free with an HBO Now subscription.
I don’t care enough about sports to want to pay for it, except Major League Baseball, so I subscribe to MLB.tv.
For the last few years, I haven’t paid much attention to CNN, MSNBC, and (especially) Fox, except at times of real breaking news. Their hyperventilating reporting seems to distort what’s really important.
Their excesses--which are often newsworthy because they get exposure-- are easily discovered online from Media Matters, or outraged Twitter and Facebook posts. I used to think you could “tell” a newspaper reader from a non-reader. Now I think that about heavy cable-news watchers. But to me, just by avoiding Fox, I am the assassin in my personal version of “Killing Bill O’Reilly.” There's value in that.
CBSN, CNNGo, BBC, Vice, AP, Reuters and some others offer ample video online, and I can get most of those via Amazon.
Totalling up I spend $99 a year for Amazon Prime Video, $130 a year for MLB.tv, $180 a year for HBO Now and $96 a year for Hulu and Netflix each. That’s rounded off, $600 a year, and I think I am comfortable with what I get for that.
I think the advice I would give myself is to cut the cord and be prepared to pay a lot more for Internet stand-alone service from Verizon or Comcast.
There are some other variables, but nothing big I can think of. But surely, readers out there have weighed the same issues. What do you say?