Want to cut the cord of the cable? Here is what you need to know |
If you frown when you see the cable TV bill, you’ve probably considered cutting the cord and throwing those set-top boxes on the sidewalk. But you might dismiss the idea because it sounds complicated, plus you don’t want to miss a single Eagles game, the “Outlander” episode, or the local evening news.
But it’s easier than you might think to cut that cord, says Ian Conklin, whose company, Conklin Home Theater, entertains owners in the Lancaster area. And you don’t have to worry about your favorite shows, he adds. Streaming offers an endless variety of live or on-demand TV shows, movies, news and sporting events.
Norm Yunginger agrees. He cut the cord several years ago, in large part because he found cable TV bills unacceptable. He opted for streaming, a particularly easy choice since he lives in the Woodcrest Villa community of Lancaster where Wi-Fi, the dominant component of streaming, is free to residents. With 35 years of computer programming and design behind him, he’s now retired but known to his friends as their go-to guru when they decide to cut cable from cable TV.
For example, he helped Nancy Miller of Mount Joy quit the ever-growing cable bills. She now streams from four TVs across three floors of her house and says she loves the setup.
âI bought a modem from Best Buy,â she says. âIt costs around $ 100, but it will pay off in no time since its rental would cost around $ 15 per month. My Wi-Fi router box is on the second floor and a Roku stick is plugged into each TV to stream my content. I’m not much of a tech, so I hired Best Buy’s Geek Squad to set it up.
She subscribes to Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime for Movies, TV Shows, PBS, and local news.
“I miss the Hallmark movie chain,” she says. âBut it’s going to be there somewhere in the lineup. I’ll figure it out.”
How to make the change
All you need to cut the cord is a good internet connection and the apps built into a smart TV, says Conklin. Or you can use an inexpensive streamer like a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV.
âPeople like to cut the cord on cable TV,â he says. âThey like being able to stream thousands of movies and TV shows on demand, but that’s really just the beginning. Direct cable replacement services like Sling TV and YouTube TV start at $ 25 per month and can stream most of the live channels, sports, and news you are used to having through cable TV, but there is no contract to sign. You can cancel at any time. And there are actually plenty of services that stream free TV shows, free movies, and even live news.
Some people hate to start something new. For them, Conklin recommends lining up all the streaming ducks before firing the cable company. Install everything on your main TV, he says, unplug the cable box and get used to streaming instead. You may encounter bumps along the way. Clicking on an app rather than turning on the decoder may take a little getting used to. For example, the menu systems on some streaming services are different, as are the remote controls. Also, the search function and lack of channel numbers can be a bit confusing at first. However, with a little time and patience, you will be fine.
Many people get their internet as part of a cable TV package, maybe even with phone service included. So you will have to find out how much your Wi-Fi will cost on its own. Suppose your plan costs $ 150 per month, and now you need to pay $ 50 for internet only. This means a monthly savings of $ 100. You can pocket everything or use some of it to buy new streaming services.
Of course, it makes a difference if you are under contract with the cable company. You will either have to wait, accept an early termination fee, or renegotiate a new Internet-only contract.
Get a plan with unlimited data. This can be more expensive than the limited data plans, but keep in mind that video streaming can add up very quickly.
Any new TV can be converted to streaming with a Roku stick or similar device plugged into a port on the back of your TV. These Roku devices sell for around $ 30 and come with a portable remote. Streaming services start from $ 5 per month.
It’s not unusual for premium cable TV to cost around $ 200 per month, but cutting it might not be for everyone, Conklin acknowledges.
âNo device or service has as many channels as a premium cable package,â he says. âAnd while it’s true that the right combination of services will work as well or better, juggling them to find that combination may take more effort than some people are willing to undertake.
âBut speaking of costs, it’s certainly understandable that so many people want to ditch cable. And the great thing about streaming, besides the variety of the many services offered, is that you can cancel and restart any service at any time. No contracts or penalties. For example, you can sign up to subscribe to a particular show and then cancel after the finale.
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