My Journey on Cutting The Cord

cable
satellite
cutting_the_cord

#1

So over the past few weeks i have been preparing my family on cutting the cord. Something I have been looking at for a while but just could not see the possibility of keeping my kids and the Mrs. happy with want they want, until now.

See the end for the TL; DR version

What my setup was:

  • Directv service: 120/mth ( basic plus Cinemax) - Cinemax was free but just ended bumping my bill up. Part of what stir me to act now.
  • TWC Internet: 80/mth (Extreme with the Ultimate 200 plan) really 115/10Mbps avg. Not currently on a package deal, but not planning on changing this right now.

The main goals:

  • Lower my monthly expenses
  • Ability to watch our favorite shows, when we want (DVR and or ONDemmand Functionality)
  • Live TV (OTA)
  • as little impact as possible

So I started looking at where I could receive my kids and wife’s favorite shows without having a cable/Sat services. Internet is planned to stay as it is.

Cable Substitution

With the introduction of streaming cable services Sling and Vue I decided to give them each a shot as they are significantly cheaper than even the basic plans and have no contract. Each provide a 1 week trial. Both provide a very similar line up. Both offered add-on of premium channels and sport packages like NFL Red zone.

In the end I ended up going PS Vue’s base package. They had the right channels (ESPN, USA, Nick, Disney, ETC…) I wanted on the base package for 30/mth plus PS Vue offers a sort of DVR capability for 30 days. i.e you add shows to “my shows” and you can watch past episodes for 30 for up to 30 days. This is outside the normal on demand stuff as i understand it. Did not see a similar function with Sling.

Locals are provided on both services but only in an on demand fashion. No live TV.

Cost added: PS VUE service $30/mth for base package 55 channels

Hardware:

Now i needed something to use PSvue on since I don’t have a PlayStation. PS Vue support apps on FireTV, Roku and android. Sling did have a larger selection in this area such has Win10 and Xbox. But the channel lineup was just better with Vue. Plus the app sucked on the Xbox and Win10. I already have a Roku 3 which i used to test the two services and that is currently attached to the TV in the basement for the kids. But i needed something for the Main TV in the living room and the one in the bedroom. I looked at adding more Roku, but i am not too keen on their UI. It was too outdated. So I looked at Android TV/KODI boxes and FireTV. And although the Tech Geek side said KODI I ended up going with FireTV in the living room and Fire Stick in the bedroom. The UI is simple to use. Something I need for the Wife and kids.

Cost added: FireTV and Firestick $140. (I got the stick with the voice remote)

Locals:

So this is pretty much a no brainer but in order to get local sports / local channels I added a HD Antenna to my setup on my main TV. So I picked up a decent indoor antenna for my main TV to see what i can get. I also did a report on TVfool.com to see what channels where in my area. Highly recommend to check this out so you know what kind of antenna you will need. My Report: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3De2cb8dc6944631

Cost Added: 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna - 50 Mile Range $30. I am not even using the amplifier and am picking up over 20+ channels. Actually it works better without the Amp.

Other Notes:

  • I currently have Netflix and Prime so i am not going to factor their cost into this as i am already paying for them.
  • Future i am looking at HDHomeRun to use as a DVR for my OTA and Stream through Plex which can also be used as a DVR with Plex Pass

Summary and TL;DR

So i have moved off DirecTV and onto Amazon FireTV with PSvue service and the family is taking it well. Knew i would not have an issue with the kids as all they watch is Netflix, and YT these days. But still needed NICK and Disney shows. The wife was the bigger question and is doing fine with it so far. Amazon UI is easy to use and once i setup the favorite apps to show up on top (Netflix, PSvue and Plex) we are good to go. No OTA in the bedroom just yet but will probably pick up another antenna to for it.

Cost Rundown:

Hardware Cost: $170 ( FireTv, Fire Stick, and HD antenna)
Monthly Service cost reduction: $120 - $30 = $90
Time to cover cost of hardware: 2 months ROI.

Update: 11/3/16

So it’s been about a month from officially dumping DirecTV and my family is acting like nothing happened. Kids adapted fast, but I had no reason to think otherwise. Wife is doing fine as well. Picked up a Logitech Harmony universal for the bedroom to control TV, FireStick and DVD player.

There is one thing that everyone needs to look out for, and that is amount of data you are now going to pull per month by going with an all streaming service. So for those of you that have the unfortunate situation of living in an area with Data Caps this is important. Below is a chart of my usage of the past few months and as you can tell you can see exactly when I went to full streaming.

https://www.diigo.com/file/image/reosqeczddpqeobqozcoedqroo/Internet+Service+for+My+Account+|+Time+Warner+Cable.jpg

Now, I would consider my family heavy users for a couple of reasons.

  • I work out of my home
  • My kids watch mostly stuff onDemand with Netflix, YT and others
  • We also download quite a bit of movies and TV shows. (I always pick the higher res when available)
  • etc…

So if you live in a capped area take a look at your usage today and I would at least double it to see what you would end up using.


#2

Very well put together topic. I’d love to do something similar but like you, am skeptical that the wife and kids will be as willing. Definitely something to think about, especially since you’ve done most of the hard work for me.


#3

NFL isn’t as much of an issue for me anymore with Red Zone being the Wentz of football channels. I receive free basic cable for my place on campus but still pay a bunch for cable at the house. Looked at streaming options but I currently use a cable card with a Tivo Roamio and a Tivo mini. I need to investigate if I can stream PS Vue or Sling through them or they would become pretty much worthless. Considering the upfront cost for the Tivo units I need to be sure I could still use them.

To add for my location in the Litchfield Hills and almost an equal distance away from NYC and Hartford, I would need a roof antenna for OTA.


#4

Thank you for sharing. In time I am curious if you will feel it was worth the work to save $30 a month.


#5

Outside of PS4 and PS3, you can watch Vue on Amazon Fire TV/Stick, Roku, and Chromecast. There’s a mobile version for iOS and Android devices as well.


#6

I read this as he’s saving $90/month.

That darn Cleveland math, gets people every time


#7

Yeah if i strip out the Cinemax uplift its more like $75 per month. Which is pricing off contract package and discounted deals.


#8

Who is your internet provider? We thought about this but have Uverse and if we get rid of cable they cap us at 500 gig. We go over we get $100 charge for it.


#9

I have TWC for internet.


#10

Great write up. We cut the cord when we were still in FL, and if we were in a different place in WA (with nightlines that can get OTA) we would think about it again. One thing, you don’t need another antenna for the bedroom, I’m assuming that all the cable is run to a single demark point in the house. You can split the antenna, and pick up stations in both spaces. Just make sure you get a legit digital DA (distribution amplifier) for that or do your research to make sure it’s compatible. You can’t just go down to the local hardware store anymore and pick up a RF splitter. Some of them can’t be used with the newer digital signals.


#11

I still want to know how you got around the wife factor. There is no way my wife is jumping through that many hoops to watch “Housewives of some shitty county”. She just learned Netflix, hasn’t even touched Amazon Prime.

Also, can you get HGTV? That’s a big channel for my house. Same for MLS games

My kids could give a shit if I dumped cable. The oldest never watches broadcast TV (other than football and basketball). The younger one is in the boat, he may watch a show or 2 but would be easy to convert. He actually watches YouTube shit more than anything.


#12

I know Vue has HGTV, because that was a channel I checked on for my wife, before deciding on this myself. We currently have 30/2, so when the next bump comes to take us to more fiber based internet and gets the copper out of here, I’ll definitely make this jump. As is, a dedicated 2nd line with PS Vue would run what I normally pay.


#13

just recently got rid of Directv myself paid $55 a month for one tv w DVR but it was going up by $25 this month which is insane. I already have a Fire TV and am looking at getting ps vue, the $45 package, which has all the channels I had and some that are only available on the higher Directv packages(DiY, Sprout, FXX, FXM, Discovery Kids, NFL network). I already have an OTA antenna though reception at my apt is horrible due to a fire alarm antenna outside the house. I too have Prime and Netflix for now.


#14

Yeah fish. That is sort of phase two. Was thinking of getting a decent attic antenna and feeding down to my distribution block in the basement. But antennas are cheap as I am so close, don’t even need it amplified.


#15

Would love to do this myself but data caps with the only decent provider in my area won’t allow me.


#16

“That’s not good”


#17

I think data caps are such BS. Way to hold back Progress


#18

A way to lock out streaming. That’s all they’re are there for. Cable companies and broadcast TV didn’t learn from the Music industry and adapt to MP3s and Streaming Audio. They just didn’t learn.


#19

Exactly. They know if you can stream easily, Cable becomes worthless. So…make it impossible.


#20

Bump, added update after a month of the service.