Trial of Cutting the Cord: Some Observations

Mr. Geeky and I are now seriously debating whether to cut the cable cord, which would save us close to $100/month.  That’s some serious grocery money for us.  As an experiment, starting this past Sunday, we’ve relied only on Netflix and HuluPlus, which we’ve had subscriptions to for a while.  We’ve used Netflix for years and Mr. Geeky, especially, watches it a ton.  We’re also Amazon Prime members and we own Tivo boxes (one of which is a lifetime subscription, so no fees; the other is $100 something/year).  We’d get rid of the Tivos in our cable cutting extravaganza and probably get Rokus.  But for now, Tivo gives us access to at least Netflix and Hulu while Amazon Prime we can only get on our computers and mobile devices.

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.  I am far too willing to plop myself in front of the TV and watch whatever is on HGTV or TLC.  I’m a sucker for those shows, which suck a lot of time out of my day if I’m not careful.  Just one more “Love it or List it”.  This is usually daytime, usually around lunch or late afternoon when I’m taking a break.  Obviously, during the school year, this isn’t going to happen.  But, another time I’ve devoted to TV is just before bed.  We usually watch All In and/or Rachel Maddow, usually not live, but shifted an hour or two.  I can get both of those online but shifted a whole day.  Not a huge deal, but still.

So, what I’ve done instead is I’ve either spent more time online at these times, often fairly productively, or I’ve watched something completely different.  I’ve watched TED talks on food, Ken Burns’ Prohibition, last week’s episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and I dove into Community, starting with the pilot.

From my perspective, I recognize that some habits will have to change, but I think that’s a good thing.  It also got me to thinking about the stranglehold distribution companies have on TV and Movies (or whoever is in charge).  So I found a couple of shows on Hulu that I wanted to watch, but they were only available on the web for licensing reasons.  How stupid is that.  There isn’t a huge difference between me watching something on my computer and me watching it on my TV, except that I have a remote and the screen is bigger.  Why do it that way.  I think the TV landscape will continue to change.  We got Tivo way back when no one had really heard of it and it changed how we watched TV.  Our habits are beginning to shift once again, and it doesn’t make sense to us to pay $100/month for a couple of shows that we watch regularly.  I’d rather use that money to buy whole seasons when I want or go to the actual theater or buy clothes or whatever. I wonder what cable companies and tv networks will do in the future, if they’ll move to a more Netflix/Hulu/Roku model or if they’ll stick to the time specific format they’re stuck in.


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8 Replies to “Trial of Cutting the Cord: Some Observations”

  1. For what it’s worth, I’ve been without cable for close to 10 years and we rely on netflix, itunes, the library, redbox, etc. (Sucks for sports according to my husband… though for a while he was contented with ESPN-3 since he’s primarily a soccer fan. Recent reorganization made that worse now that fox sports owns the rights to MLS soccer). I find it makes us more intentional about what we watch ~ i.e., we pick a series because we like it and watch it, instead of watching whatever happens to be on when we sit down to watch tv. On the other hand, it’s possible to get sucked in and JUST KEEP WATCHING because the whole season is available. (I’m also more likely to just stop, knowing I can pick up later, if something isn’t super interesting). We’ll see what we do when the world cup rolls around next summer. It does save us some serious money. Even if I tally up netflix + Itunes + redbox = ?? $35-$40/month on a heavy watching month. What we spend more closely matches what we use though than with cable. In the summer we might only spend the $8-16 for netflix.

    I guess I’m saying it’s worth it…. Both financially and time wise.

  2. I cut the cable cord in 1988 and haven’t looked back. Netflix and iTunes are mainstays for me, spouse misses sports, that’s really been the only downside for the family. The kids don’t complain.

  3. I have a question which will reveal my ignorance: how do you get your TV to show shows from on line? There must be some way to hook it up to your on-line provider?

  4. Michelle,

    It’s Mr. Geeky I’m having the most difficulty with. Both the kids are already watching via Hulu, etc. though they really don’t watch much.


    There are internet-capable tvs now. Ours isn’t. But our Tivo box as most boxes that get cable, etc. is connected to the internet; however, you can only pull up things that are in the Hulu or Netflix apps, so if it’s web only, there’s no browser on the box itself. You could connect your computer to the tv using a cable–or if you have a Mac and Apple TV you can do it wirelessly. Basically, I watch on my computer if I have to.

  5. I cut the cord a year or 2 ago. It was that much of a none event, that I don’t remember. Do you have a bandwidth limit? If you do – I suggest cutting the cord for a month or 2 without actually cancelling the cable. Make sure you can stay within the limit.

  6. For me cable is cheaper than the price of the books that would replace it. I will give up ice cream for Premier League soccer.

  7. Two things recently announced are going to make a HUGE difference in cutting the cord:

    1 – Aereo – this is an online service that streams all your local broadcast channels. It also acts as a DVR for those channels – so ANY content (local baseball games, etc…) – not just network shows – is available as long as you tell it to record it. It’s coming soon to Philly and it has the potential to be a game changer.

    2 – The Google Chromecast – this is pretty much a Roku/Boxee/AppleTV killer. Small device – streams almost anything from any website that you send to it.

    We have Tivos also. I think between a Chromecast and Aereo and subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu – we could get along VERY nicely.

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