It was once only a small niche in the technology field but it has become the next trend in mainstream home entertainment. I’m talking about the “cutting the cord” phenomenon and it is growing exponentially. In the past few years, the number of “cord cutters” have continued to rise each year. Since 2011, it is estimated that over five million cable and satellite customers have dropped their pay television services. Now YOU can “cut the cord”.
Why Cut the Cord?
People will give all kinds of reasons to cut the cord. Some say they did it for better selection. Some say it is a matter of “convenience.” They said they liked the flexibility and convenience that OTT services, such as Netflix, gave them. Some leave cable in order to watch certain shows not available on cable, such as Orange Is the New Black on Netflix or 11.22.63 on Hulu. But the number one reason people cut the cord is simple – they want to save money.
How to Cut the Cord?
So the question now is… HOW?!?! Well, it’s actually incredibly easier than you think. This being said, there is some necessary equipment you still need to purchase. In addition, don’t forget that you will still need internet, so you will still have to pay for that service, probably from the company you are currently paying for television. In addition, you may want to get a higher tier internet speed. Streaming is best over faster internet.
What Else Do I Need?
The first equipment you should buy has nothing to do with streaming at all. It has to do with getting you access to the numerous local over-the-air (OTA) high definition television (HDTV) stations broadcasting in your area. It’s amazing to me that many people has no idea that you can catch your local television stations in HD without a cable or satellite provider, usually with better quality since the broadcasters don’t “smash” the signal like the at TV companies do.
And there is a host of free channels over the air. Since the 2009 digital television transition, local television stations have been able to not only offer higher definition video and better sound quality than before, but also offer multiple digital subchannels on their frequency. This is known as multicasting, and has allowed a crop of entertainment-based specialty networks (also known as “diginets”) to be created specifically for subchannels, most commonly those airing reruns of classic television series, movies, and other specialty programming. You can see a full list of the available OTA broadcast channels in your area using tools at Tablo (which also makes a great DVR for OTA stations).
PROTIP: I use the indoor GE Pro Crystal HD Amplified Antenna to catch local stations in my metropolitan area. If you are in a rural area, you may want to consider an outdoor antenna.
So now that we got the OTA stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the streaming services and the equipment you need for those services. Most Smart TVs have the essentials – Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon – already installed and ready to connect, but if you have an older model or “dumb” TV, there are still ways to get to the stream services you need. These include Roku boxes, Apple TV boxes, Chromecast devises, Amazon Fire sticks, X-Box and PlayStation consoles, and Android TV boxes. You can even use some Blu-Ray/DVD players and even your PC. Tom’s Guide offers a great article on the Best Streaming Devices 2017, but I’m going to tell you about the two devices I personally use.
Dencazt Nexbox: The Dencazt Nexbox Android TV box is ready for the future. It is 4K UltraHD ready and comes with my very own custom Kodi build, allowing you to stream on-demand television and movies, as well as listen to live internet radio. It is a “must-have” for any cord-cutter and also comes installed with other important streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now. Contact CompuGeaux for more info on the Dencazt Nexbox.
Microsoft Xbox One: The Xbox One isn’t geared to cord-cutters, but if you are a gamer looking to cut the cord, the Xbox One is the way to go. Seriously, there are an amazing assortment of apps. Everything from American television networks to Rosetta Stone can be found. I personally use the Sling TV app (more on Sling TV later) on my Xbox One. You can see a list of Xbox apps here.
Streaming Services and Cable Replacements
When it comes to streaming services, there are numerous options out there, but there is also the Big Three. Netflix, which is best for binge television viewing. At a cost of about $8/month, it is the most popular streaming service out there, and 27.1 million Americans are currently regular monthly customers of Netflix. In my opinion, this is the most necessary streaming service to have. Then there is Hulu Plus. This service costs around $8/month as well. It differs from Netflix considerably, as Hulu focuses more on recently-aired TV show, with network and cable shows often showing up on the service the day after airing on TV. Amazon Prime Video, much like Netflix, is better for general viewing.
But how will you watch the latest episodes of Doctor Who? Not every show currently on TV is on Hulu. This is where the fun begins… picking your customized viewing packages from the streaming and cable-replacements services available. Currently, you can go ahead and look at each network individually, but that’s a lot of work and some network streams will not give you complete functionality without you signing in to your provider. Luckily, services like DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV now exist to give us a clear alternative to traditional cable and satellite services.
I personally use Sling TV. It’s a great service, but it does have it’s shortcomings. For example, the service does NOT have a DVR services, although you can pause a few shows on some of the channels. I have the $40/month plan that includes all of their basic cable television offerings. This does not include any premium networks such as HBO or Showtime. Since I use my Dencazt Nexbox for movies, there really is no need for me to spend that extra money.
Cut the Cord
So go ahead and do it! I spend a total of $70 each month to watch whatever I want whenever I want. You can do the same! Call CompuGeaux now and schedule an appointment and we will work with you to build you a cost effective cord cutting alternative to your cable or satellite television provider.