Cutting the Cord – Living without Cable TV

According to the Parks Associates, over 900,000 U.S. homes didn’t pay for TV and relied solely on Web TV last year. Additional projections show this number to continue to grow.  8% of adults now view television shows online at least once a week, up from 6% who did so in 2008, according to a survey by the Leichtman Research Group. The same survey found that 8% of adults who watch video online now watch TV less often.

Studies show, the average TV cable bill in the US is $71, or $852 a year. For 2008, average billing increased by 7.5%. For me, I have basic enhanced subscription service  through my provider (who will remain nameless) for $89 per month.

At over 1000 bucks a year, I have difficulty recognizing the value. Many years ago, cable TV had limited advertising and you could enjoy a movie or a show uncut without interruption. Today, cable TV looks about like non-subscription TV. They might start out with limited commercials in a 2 hour show and by the end of it, there is a commercial about every 5 minutes. Granted, you have many more choices today, but it’s can be difficult to enjoy it.

I have to admit there are certain things I like to watch that are all subscription based. Additionally, I have gotten hooked on the DVR that comes with the service. Allowing me to dictate my viewing schedule adds to my viewing pleasures. Even though, calling the provider and having it turned off is fairly simple, I wanted to try to duplicate or mimic most of my viewing profile. To do this, I have to be willing to spend some money. As a cost target, I am willing to accept a payback of 1 year. So for a budget, I have approximately $1068. Admittedly, I may still end up with paying some monthly fees (more on that later).   Before we review our options we need to evaluate our location and viewing habits to see what may work.

Lets look first to see if you are geographically challenged.

  1. Do you live in or near a medium to large (150K population or better) metropolitan area?   This will impact the amount of stations you can receive. The further you are away from major Broadcast Antenna’s, the more money you will have to spend to receive the signals. Based on antenna standards, if you are “about 60 miles or less” from a major metropolitan center, you should be good using an antenna mast that protrudes 4-6 feet above the peak of the house. However, any mountains, hills or major obstructions can reduce this value.
  2. Do you have access to high-speed internet service, (aka; DSL) using a land line or cable TV line? This would be a dedicated connection to your computer that does not require dial tone.
  3. If you subscribe to cable TV, does the service provider offer Internet Service? Again, I am trying to mimic my current services. So I still need some form of Internet Service Provider (ISP).

If you answered NO to any of these questions, you may find it difficult or too expensive  to duplicate the services you currently subscribe to.   Our intended solution will include services from an antenna (free air) as well as high-speed internet. Not having  both of these services will make it difficult to reaching the goal.

Now lets look at our viewing habits. Leave the good/bad, rot your brain type factors out of the equation and lifestyle changes that might be associated with that decision and just take a non-emotional snap shot of your current viewing habits

  1. How many hours a day do you watch programmed TV?  (Tell the truth)
  2. Of those hours, what % is spent watching network TV (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, etc.)?
  3. Do you currently subscribe to any premium services (aka HBO, Showtime, etc)?
  4. How many hours a day do you spend watching YouTube type videos and video services?
  5. Is watching live sports a very important part of your viewing habits?
  6. How often do you rent movies? This would include PPV, rental boxes or subscription services.
  7. Do you regularly use a DVR or TVio type box.

  Ponder on these items until next time when we will look at selecting a TV Antenna, the use of secondary ethernet connection devices, DVR”s, internet television and other subscription services.




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