I cut the cord (cable TV).
I’ve been thinking about this since 2009 when I first wrote about online alternatives and mail order alternatives to TV. I didn’t cut the cord back then because the alternatives for live TV were not compelling enough to replace live sports and didn’t present a strong enough case to get my family away from TV. Then last year we added a Roku stick to a couple of TVs and Netflix. This week I added a subscription to Sling TV and validated a HD antenna could pull local TV stations.
Then the final event that I needed happened. My cable TV company sent me a letter that the “promotional pricing” from last year was ending and that my monthly bill would be $55 higher. They were increasing the price of the cable TV, Internet, and charging an additional monthly fee for a HD converter. (I should note that the HD converter is required to have cable now but they also charge a monthly fee for it above the TV content cost).
The surprising part of all this.
When I called the cable company to cancel the TV service they did not try to retain my business. I’ve done this in the past to see how they could help lower the overall cable bill. That’s when they put me on the promotional plan. But this week I told them I was ready to cancel because the availability of alternatives had reached a point that I could find content to watch easily and that it didn’t make sense to pay over $100/month for cable TV.
That was it. I’ve been paying this company for cable TV for 25 years. It ended with a 3 minute phone call.
The economics of it.
For basic cable TV and three HD converter boxes I would be paying about $110/month for what they call the basic package. In my current setup with Netflix, Sling, and MLB.tv I have a monthly outlay of about $40/month.
To be fair, I still have a few one-time costs to add because I will purchase a few more Roku boxes and do something to make the HD antenna signal available to more TVs. But I like those numbers.
The better win.
The way we watch content on TV has changed. With cable TV, I was confined to a screen in a location of my house. I was limited to watching programmed content that someone else chose for me. I could record a few shows and change the time if I wanted. I paid for hundreds of channels that I never watched.
The new model is streaming the content to a number of devices including PC, tablet, and a traditional television. I choose the stations I want to pay for and for the most part the content I want to see. If I don’t use a service, I can cancel at any time. Additionally, much of the content I watch is streamed commercial free. I can flex add and delete services as needed or as my viewing habits change. CBS and HBO are two examples of content providers offering monthly subscriptions. Expect to see more of that from other providers.
A great example of this new flexibility happened just this week. I am writing this post from a hotel room while on a business trip. I haven’t turned on the TV in my room. Instead, I was able to stream a baseball game for my team through mlb.tv to my computer. I could not watch that game from the TV in my room because it’s not local market. Then I was able watch a movie that I chose on my tablet.
We’ll see how this progresses over the next few months. But I bet, I’m not going back to traditional cable TV.
Onward and upward!