Learn More about Cutting the Cord and Decide if Ditching Cable is Right for You
Your friends are doing it. Your family is doing it. Everyone on the news is talking about it. But, is ditching your cable plan right for you?
Viewers that have decided to opt out of cable TV are affectionately called cord cutters by the media as they have cut their ties with major cable companies like Time Warner Cable. Just about all of these cord cutters have internet plans, which are increasingly being used to stream TV shows and movies.
Cost tends to be the largest factor in the decision to cut the cord, but some people find that their TV-watching habits have changed, making a large cable package unnecessary.
Using Time Warner Cable as an example, the top tier cable plan starts at $79.99 for the first 12 months. The top tier plan bundled with internet service starts at $129.99 for the first 12 months.
Similarly, Comcast, which operates in limited parts of North Carolina, charges $89.99 a month for its bundled plan that includes internet and cable TV.
Internet streaming provider Hulu Plus on the other hand, costs about $8 a month, which is why cord cutting may look appealing.
But cord-cutting isn't for everyone and is determined mostly by your TV-watching habits. Let's explore this a little more.
Subscription services like the popular Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime charge a monthly or yearly fee and what you get from those services varies greatly.
Netflix, for example, carries movies, full seasons of TV shows and original content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. A basic Netflix plan costs $7.99 per month. Netflix might not be for you though if you want to watch shows immediately after they air. Most TV shows won't be added to the service until after a full season has aired and how quickly that season is added depends on the show. But, when you do binge watch the latest season of White Collar, you can do so without commercials.
Hulu Plus on the other hand offers content more quickly, sometimes as fast as the next day. It costs the same as a basic Netflix subscription, but includes commercials. These short breaks, however, are far less often than watching on cable. Hulu Plus also provides viewers with full seasons, but how far they go back depends on the show. While some shows may have an entire series, others may only have the last one or two seasons. This is where a subscription to both Hulu Plus and Netflix can come in handy. You can get caught up on Netflix and catch the current season on Hulu.
Hulu does offer quite a bit of free content that can be viewed as early as the next day. You can catch Comedy Central Shows like the Daily Show the next day without a subscription.
At $99 a year, Amazon Prime offers more than TV and movies. You can take advantage of free shipping on select items, download free ebooks for your Kindle and stream music. Prime could be a good option if you already do a lot of shopping online and could make use of the free two-day shipping.
What about Sports?
Ahh, sports. Sports used to be the trickiest thing about cutting the cord. If you aren't an avid sports-watcher the decision is relatively easy. If you live for football, basketball or hockey, it was a lot more difficult. That has gotten a little bit easier now that Dish Network's SlingTV is available. SlingTV isn't a true a la carte service, but it does offer ESPN and ESPN2 for your sports-watching pleasure.
You can also purchase a subscription service for a particular sport if you don't need everything ESPN has to offer. NHL Game Center lets you watch games live, but only if you aren't a fan of the home team. Home team games are aired well after you heard about it at the office.
Unless you want to watch TV on a computer, smart phone or tablet, you'll need some sort of equipment that allows you to access your subscription services on your TV. This could be done a number of ways.
It's possible that your existing devices already offer these features. Newer video game consoles and Blu-Ray players come preloaded with many streaming services and all that's required is a subscription to access the content.
One of the cheaper options includes Google's Chromcast, which mirrors to your TV anything that is on your computer screen. On the expensive end, you could purchase a smart TV that is internet ready and has all the streaming services preloaded. between are other options that include the Ruku or AppleTV for Mac devotees. Since you have a variety of options, it's easy to control how much you spend on equipment, which is typically a one-time expense.
If you want to go back to the days of the antenna to catch over-the-air TV, you can still do that by purchasing a digital antenna, but unless you want to hook up a VCR, you'll need a DVR-type service to record your favorite shows for later watching.