Cord Cutting, Making An Informed Decision (2020 Edition)
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
There are more issues with cutting your TV service than most people realize, and the landscape is ever changing too, but that is normally working in your favor. But, you need to ask yourself and other members of your household a few questions before making the leap... otherwise you could be missing out on some programming.
WHAT ARE YOUR GENERAL TV NEEDS?
Here is a run down of the content types out there and the simplest way to get them, pick the one that best meets your general TV watching needs.
General Broadcasts If you don't need local channels then try a free internet TV app that offers entertainment and news (Pluto, Roku TV, Haystack, etc).
Local Broadcast If you want local then you can go to an OTA antenna, or you may be able to go to a basic TV App (Sling, Hulu TV)
Locals + Expanded Content Get an OTA antenna and a DVR and/or subscribe to basic TV app (Pluto, Sling, Fubu, Hulu TV)
Locals + Premium Content No Antenna needed, just Subscribe to one or two of the major TV apps (Sling, Hulu TV)
Locals + Sports OTA Antenna will get you some local games, a Premium TV app sports pack will however get you most all games (Fubu, Sling)
Locals + Sports + Expanded/Premium Content Skip the antenna, and just subscribe to one or two of the major TV apps (Sling, Hulu TV)
General Movies Subscribe to a general monthly movie service like Netflix or Hulu, or for more content look to Amazon or Vudu for high-quality movie rentals
Specific Content If your looking for more specific content you can checkout out services like Disney+, Shudder, HBO Max, ESPN +, AppleTV+, Britbox, etc.
Most of the paid apps that offer Live TV service will allow you to add Coud DVR for an additional fee. If you going to go with an OTA antenna, then we recommend the Channel Master Tuners (you'll need one for each TV) they all include DVR capabilities built-in. Or you can use a Tivo as your OTA tuner. Both of these devices also have some smart TV apps built-in, which makes things very convenient.
INTERNET SERVICE SPEEDS
We are going to keep this simple... If your doing streaming to more than one TV, then you need fast internet and lots of it. So if your subscribing to that economy internet deal, it’s probably time to upgrade. We do not recommend streaming over Wi-Fi if possible, run a wire if you can. But if you need go Wi-Fi then you will want to make sure you have a newer wifi router or access points to handle the extra bandwidth. On average we are seeing 25 or more devices on home networks these days, and most of it is wireless.
As mentioned above, you can absolutely get most of your local channels without paying a dime for the service, simply invest in the equipment and installation of an OTA antenna system. But your only going to get about 10-20 decent channels in most areas, you could easily get up to 100 channels by antenna in some areas, but many of those channels will be in languages other than English, or simply redundant channels. So if you want more, or you want premium channels you will need to add or completely go to streaming services. If you are moving to streaming as your sole access to Live TV you will most likely need a full subscription to one of the major services, and at least a basic subscription to another, if you want to cover all possible tv content that's available.
Let's be clear now, if you like tons of channels and have a wide interest in types of content, you are probably not going to see much savings switching from cable to streaming. But, you will be able to easily change services at anytime using the streaming apps, versus cable packages.
The (base) packages for each service are:
Sling TV: Orange ($20/month)
Sling TV: Blue ($25/month)
DirecTV Now: Live a Little ($35/month)
PlayStation Vue: Access ($40/month)
YouTube TV: Base ($35/month)
Hulu TV: Base ($40/month)
You will need to check out each services channel offerings and options on their website, as these tend to change often as they make and break deals with different studios. Also, all of these generally include some type of on-demand service.
Some will certainly have an easier time than others making the switch, some like me can just cut and run to streaming. If you have reservations about losing access to content, pricing, losing your DVR recordings, quality of service, etc. They are all very valid questions and concerns, but they are mostly with out merit... For example, I was worried about all the TV shows I had recorded but not watched yet, returning my cable box meant I would lose them. But as I quickly realized, almost every show that was recorded was now on-demand... meaning I really didn't need those recordings after all.
As for access to content, once you turn off the 800 channels you never watch, you won't miss them... you'll just find something new, it really wasn't an issue for me - but I was initially worried.
Quality of service is a big question, and to be perfectly honest, if your happy with the quality of content from Netflix, then you should be happy with most of the streaming TV. Streaming is pretty good - it's not without issues though, usually this is due to network congestion more than the app service, but hiccups are something you'll have to get used to if everything in your home is running over your network/internet connection.
If you can afford a month or two of double bills, then do what I did, and go ahead and subscribe to all the App services while keeping cable. Use those free trial periods to see which service you like from a usability view point, which add-on packages from each service are best suited for you, and then after your trials keep the service and packages that you like most. Then use these new services and your cable tv (if you find you need to) for about a month or so.
I think you'll find that for most people, the streaming service will be more than adequate and about the same price as most discount cable packs.
Consult with a local professional like Iron Hill AV to get your systems up to date for your needs