Cutting the Cord
Single Girlfriends' Guide to Canceling Cable TV
Yes, apparently that’s the term for canceling cable and watching TV programming over the “air”, over the net, or some combination of the two with emphasis on the online sources. So, there is a lot being written about this in terms of “the truth” about cord cutting….either it is true that hundreds of thousands of people are doing it or it’s not true, a myth. Or not only is it not true, the opposite is true….more people are signing up for cable. And if those truths don’t work, there is always, it’s true but those who cut the cord are in for an unpleasant surprise and will soon re-attach the cord.
Girlfriends, I am here to tell you none of that truth matters….what matters is, does cutting the cord make sense for you? And how can you figure that out quickly and simply because if you can’t figure it out quickly and simply, then based on that alone you probably are not going to want to cut the cord any time soon. Or even want to think about it.
I cut the cord in December 2010 and we are still in beta. When I say, “we” I mean myself and my 18 year old son. And frankly, Sam is not in beta…he hates it. Sam loves sports and if your day begins and ends with Sports Center and the seasons of your year are baseball, basketball, football and hockey then you will probably not like being without cable. For me, however, it’s definitely still an experiment that’s working. I haven’t decided whether it’s better…it probably isn’t. But then again, it’s not worse. It’s just different.
I would like to note that when I searched for “cutting the cord” with this post in mind I found a post titled 5 Steps to Cutting the Cord: A Guide to Canceling Cable by Janko Roettgers written today that outlines the essential steps of cutting the cord. So, here is my two cents…
The thought process has been ongoing for years….clicking though the dozens of cable stations and finding “nothing” to watch, trying to make sense of the “bundles” from the cable companies that didn’t really seem to make sense, calling the cable companies trying to understand the bundles and eventually deciding that they didn’t make any sense on purpose. And then there was Netflix. No, the dvd in the mail thing never made much sense for us…movie watching was more of an impulse purchase than a planned activity; however, with the advent of streaming, instant content, sense began to be made.
Also, going on over the past few years has been that annoying, endless digital tv transition campaign which really didn’t seem to have anything to do with me but in fact did. Because, through all of that I came to understand that we could actually get what the cable companies call local programming over the air for free, in HD, and with better reception than we were getting courtesy of Charter or ATT by connecting an innocuous $29 antenna to our existing TVs. The antenna purchases were less than one months cable cost.
Now the cable bundling made even more sense…..for the cable companies that is. Their pricing, as best as I understand it, includes charging you for a lower quality version of something that is actually delivered over the air for free, bundled with a lot of stations that you never watch and maybe 1 or 2 that you actually care about watching. So, I decided we were paying $70 per month to watch the Food Network, ESPN and Fox News…oh, and the Daily Show.
OK, that’s the background….Roettger’s post pretty much outlines the steps I took. His 5 steps are: #1 Get an Antenna, #2 Find Content Online, #3 Connect Your TV, #4 Learn from Others, and #5 Make the Call (To your cable company). I would order it a little differently…or should I say, my order was a little different. I found content first which meant I thought about the fact that much of the “real” TV content I was watching was on the networks, i.e. free and clear HD. And yes, I used the DVR frequently for when I missed SNL or Brothers and Sisters but there they were the next day anyway, free from NBC.com or ABC.com or Hulu. And of course there is Netflix for everything else. Missed the first 5 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy? Have your own private Netflix marathon!
My son has a PS3 and that meant I already had a way to connect the TV to Netflix and HuluPlus. Of course, it wasn’t always that easy to get PS3 time so I eventually bought an Apple.tv. Simple, really simple to connect. Then I ordered the antennas from Amazon and that also was a no-brainer to connect to the TV. Calling the cable company was last….they wanted to keep my business and could reduce my bill by $5 per month. I thought I could reduce my bill by $50 per month (factoring in the subscriptions to Netflix and HuluPlus) and see if I thought I was missing anything. I don’t. In fact, it’s just the opposite. And I am just a little bit concerned that maybe I am watching more TV…instead of flipping through the cable channels wondering if I am going to find anything to watch, I keep adding to my Netflix Instant Queue.
Sam, on the other hand, never misses an opportunity to remind me of what he is missing though like most kids when faced with the choice of spending their own money on something or not having it, he has not taken me up on the suggestion that he is welcome to his very own cable subscription available with his very own money.
So, for me, “discovering” that I didn’t have to pay for network TV was the big moment of insight. It was a downhill decision from there.