This ‘n That

My Cord Cutting Experience

I had checked out television streaming services in the past but they never seemed to measure up to the cable connection from my Internet Service Provider – until recently. My monthly bill for cable TV was over $100. Amazing, since we used to get TV for free – the cost was covered by the ads we watched. Now we pay for TV and still get the ads. The $100+ bill gave us a mid-level subscription and included equipment rental charges. It always irked me that we could not buy the cable boxes; the $13.50 monthly charge was too attractive to the cable companies. Last year it looked like the FCC would mandate that the subscriber could purchase the boxes, but then the FCC backed away.
I had a Roku in place which I used to access Netflix. It can also be used to access Internet streaming services such as DirecTV and PlayStation Vue. I checked the channel lineup of both services and found that all of our favorites were listed, with the exception of PBS. Today antennas are available which send a high definition signal direct to your HDTV. I chose the Mohu Sky 60 outdoor unit for $130 since we are in a mountainous area. Many people can do just fine with a lower priced indoor unit. This gave us PBS live. By the way, I should also mentions that in some areas (depending upon reception) the HDTV antenna also provides all of the major local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX). If that satisfies your needs then you don’t need cable or Internet for these five “over-the-air” channels.
We first started with DirecTV. The monthly subscription for our plan was half the cost of the cable plan. There are no contracts to sign. We were pretty happy with the service except for one thing: the on-demand channels were spotty. If we wanted to watch a show which aired the previous day, it was often offered with a pay for view charge.
We switched to PlayStation Vue which also offered the channels we wanted, at about the same price, and provided on-demand at no charge. We have had it for three months and are totally satisfied. No contract is required.
Two of our TVs use Roku boxes for streaming and a third uses a FireStick. The FireStick was free when we subscribed to DirecTV. The Roku 3 and the FireStick have a voice search feature. In addition to the channel lineup on PlayStation Vue, the Roku box also offers an amazing number of channels which can be streamed directly from the Internet.
Streaming works best if you have a good router, especially if you want to watch different shows on two televisions. We have watched different shows on three televisions at once with no problem.
My Internet Service Provider recently announced a data usage limit, which if exceeded can quickly consume any cord cutting savings. I monitored our data usage for a while and it looked like we would exceed the limit. Then I realized that when we turned the television off, the Internet streaming to the Roku or FireStick would continue, racking up data usage with no one watching. Now when we finish watching we simply go to the home page first and then turn off the television. Our data usage is now well within the allowance.
It will take a few months to offset the purchase price of the Roku boxes and the antenna, but we now have more channels, excellent reception, and the monthly cost is half.

I should note that YouTubeTV is another option which at this writing is coming along. The cost is lower and the channel selection more limited, but we can expect it to become competitive before too long.