Several years ago, a co-worker walked into my office grinning. I asked why he was so happy and he told me he had finally dropped cable. I didn’t know much about streaming, so I asked him if he quit watching TV. He said no; he had Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and a couple of other services I’d never heard of.
“Wow, sounds complicated,” I said. He told me it wasn’t and then went into a very complicated explanation about how he simple it was to watch what he wanted. I asked him how much all that cost and he gave me a number that was a little less than what I was paying Comcast. “Seems like a lot of work for so little savings, I said, and then something occurred to me.
“You still need the Internet, right?”
“Yeah, but I’m just paying them for the Internet only.”
So, after much discussion, I discovered he was paying more and getting less.
But at least it’s not cable.
I passed on that approach and went on my way.
But a couple of recent events have had me rethinking and I looked into the cost of ‘cutting the cable,’ and getting my video content by other means. I base this purely on what I want to watch and costs in my area. If you have other suggestions, by all means, leave a comment.
First, I’d like to say that I like the product Comcast offers. Or Xfinity. Whatever their name is, I’ll keep calling them Comcast. For me, the service is nearly flawless; I am familiar with how everything works, and I can usually negotiate a deal off of full retail.
So for me to do something else, I’ll still want to be able to watch what I want without a lot of trouble. I have no interest in binge-watching Monster Truck or old reruns of B.J. and the Bear. I also need to be able to watch everything on-demand, or record shows to watch later.
So, to begin with, I needed to start with my current bill. Without going into details over fees and taxes, I am paying $165 a month with no premium channels. I have a bundle so I can’t see separate pricing for Internet vs TV, but knowing I will need the Internet regardless, I will start with services comparable to what I have now, which is 200Mbps downstream.
Comcast’s current deal with a 12-month contract is $50 a month. After the deal, it is $73. It took me way too long to get that info, so I didn’t price taxes and fees, so let’s call it $75 for a two-year average. AT&T’s website is no better, but the prices seem comparable. That leaves me $90 a month to play with.
Even though I don’t have them now, if I’m going to try to go streaming full time, I would most likely get Amazon Prime and Netflix. This adds Prime at $13 and Netflix for $9, for $97. Now I have $68 to spend on other streaming services.
It looks like the streaming version of the big three networks costs between $5 and $10 dollars depending on the level of service. Some offer ad-free at a premium. Throw in Hulu for $6 more for some of the other channels, brings those add-ons up to about $25.
I don’t know if I have every base covered, but it’s a pretty comprehensive list for $40 less a month than I am paying now.
This leaves two elements out of the equation. For me, one of the biggest is convenience. I am sure once I did this for a while that all the streaming apps and learning where to go to watch what would come easier to me, but is that worth $40? Am I getting more value from the extra services to help offset the convenience?
The other factor is a recording device. If, and this is a big if, I can watch anything I want whenever I want via an On-Demand scenario, then recording may be a moot point. But going back to the historic days of VCRs, recording is such an ingrained part of my TV watching process it may be tough to get beyond.
If I want a recorder, it looks like the best all-around choice is a Tivo at around $250 upfront and another $7 a month. Depreciate the Tivo over three years and you have another $14 a month for recording, bringing the savings down to about $25.
I know I left out a lot of services that people use such as Fire, Sling, Roku, and others. Maybe some of those are better or would replace more services for less money. I also didn’t explore over-the-air options. I would love to hear comments from everyone who has cut the cable and the routes they have taken.
If nothing else, research for this article has shown me that I could cancel cable today and be in business by tonight. There would be a learning curve, but perhaps it would be worth it.
And who knows, it may be the future. Our collective voting with our wallets will determine that.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to set up my new Betamax.