If you’re not familiar with the term “Cutting the Cord” it generally consists of:
– Canceling your cable/satellite TV service and returning all equipment (Set-top boxes, etc)
– Taking advantage of free OTA (Over The Air) terrestrial local network channels: ABC, CBS, NBS & Fox
– Signing up for online entertainment services like iTunes, Vudu, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, BlockBuster, etc. and/or getting old-school DVD’s from Netflix or Redbox.
The idea is that you can MOSTLY piece together what you would normally watch solely via cable/satellite for free or over the internet…and not have to be a slave to the cable/satellite providers, and their insane prices. The luxury that cable/satellite has over other methods is ease of use, and plain’ old channel surfing. In other words, you’re not constantly switching sources, downloading content, or waiting for the stream to buffer to watch a show, and you’re more likely to “stumble” upon something interesting to watch by just flipping channels, or searching the built-in “TV-Guide” more-so than typing random words in a search box.
So if you’re not sure you can survive cutting the cord completely, here are just a few practical ways to upgrade your online entertainment and downgrade your current cable/satellite viewing habits.
Cut down on the premium channels
Until cable/satellite service is truly a la carte where you can pick and chose exactly what channels you want to subscribe to, you may have no choice but to keep your normal basic subscription package that includes the free local channels and an extra 150-200 stations…just enough so you can channel-surf. But that doesn’t mean you have to get the “premium channels” (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz) and most if not all of the shows that the above stations play can be found after the fact (shortly after they go live) on services like Hulu, iTunes & Netflix. You just may be able to save 20-30 bucks a month or more on your bill if you can handle not watching the shows right as they air. You can take that money and buy season passes of your favorite shows on iTunes, pay for a Hulu subscription, or double-down on a sports package or two.
One DVR per household
Another way the cable/satellite providers nickel and dime you is by convincing you EVERY TV in your house needs an DVR with all the bells and whistles. Since you don’t own any of the equipment, they charge you a fee monthly fee to lease. That can quickly add up if you have 3+ TV’s in your home. An reasonable option would be to designate the best TV in the house where all the movies will be watched, and get one uber 2-4 tuner DVR with the High-Definition capabilities. All the other TV’s in your home can either get the base-model STP (Set-top-box), or make a one-time up front investment in equipment like Slingbox, that will let you hook a receiver up to the main DVR, and stream its content to other devices like the remaining TV’s or to a laptop or mobile device. That way, you cut down on monthly equipment fees, and (heaven-forbid) the family is forced to sit down together and watch TV, like we used to do in the old days of 5 years ago.
Don’t watch so much TV
I’m just saying…I probably don’t have to tell you how much time you’re wasting sitting in front of the TV – It’s called entertainment for a reason. But, if you can’t stand writing a check for that humongous cable/satellite bill every month (I most certainly hope you’re in 2012 with the rest of us and using online bill pay), you could always go cold turkey and ‘cut the cord’ completely and just rely on occasional catching up with the rest of the world via YouTube clips and filling in the pop-culture blanks by watching your Facebook feed, Google+ stream, and Twitter timeline. Most of the news is broke over the web anyway, so i’m pretty sure you won’t be missing much if you dedicated a couple of minutes everyday to surfing the web for entertainment…and doing other things like reading, exercising or (heaven-forbid) spending time with your family.