Cutting the Cord

One of the benefits of my job was a HUGELY discounted cable/TV/internet package. We’re talking $20/month for everything, including premium channels.

Now that I’ve been laid off, we’re getting ready to keep the internet but drop the rest. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, so I think we’re covered there, and Ivylad and I both have cell phones.

I just need help in adjusting my TV viewing habits. I’m used to turning on the TV, browsing until I find something that looks good (SVU marathon, Harry Potter movies, some murder mysteries on ID) and keeping it on while I do my chores. Rarely do I plonk down to binge. I also have some appointment television but I can catch that On Demand.

I understand Hulu offers live streaming. Does that work like cable TV, in that I scroll through the guide until something piques my interest? And how do I discover new shows, since network promos will be a thing of the past? Ivylad needs his college football too.

You should also get a good antenna so you can watch over the air channels.

I thought most new TVs only needed a converter?

How DVR oriented are you? We are big time DVR users and couldn’t imagine life without them.

There are a number of options for DVRs and OTA, ranging from pricey but simple to setup to fairly cheap but requiring a lot of time and effort to setup and maintain.

It’s a lot easier to find something good to watch when it’s already sitting on your DVR.

I have an Android Box - it means I have a day or so delay to watch my favourites, but it saves me some cash :slight_smile:

If you’re talking about an analog-to-digital converter, TVs have them built in, unless you’re rocking a 50lb. vintage telly from the 80s.

But you need an antenna to get over-the-air signals. Each of your local stations have added multiple digital stations*, and there’s so much to choose from, that’s what we watch 90% of the time (we only use Netflix or Hulu a couple of times a week).

Oh, the other thing I needed to “cut the cable” was… a local tavern.

To watch sports at… there’s no cheap way to keep up with college and pro sports (my B-I-L is going broke with his premium cable package, which he “needs” for the sports).

*F’rinstance, our CBS station is Channel 3. So now that’s 3-1, and there’s Channel 3-2, which is Me TV, showing 60s shows (from Beverly Hillbillies to Andy Griffith). 3-3 is COMET, a lot of Sci-Fi movies, 3-4 is The CW, where I get my Flash/Arrow/Supergirl fix.

I counted, and we get 24 channels with just an antenna from Best Buy.

Thanks! I’ll look for the antenna.

Good OP…I too am interested in cutting the cable cord. My son worked for Charter and we had the same benefits as the OP. He has since found other employment and my cable/internet bill went to $160 a month. ouch!

In my personal experience, cutting the cable is easy as long you can change your viewing expectations somewhat.

We had Dish Network satellite for several years. When we moved, our housing expenses went up and satellite wasn’t in the budget so we had to abandon it. Instead, we have Netflix, both streaming and their DVD service, and Amazon Prime. It’s rare that we want to watch something and it’s not available on one of the three services we utilize.

However, the catch is that 1) we have absolutely no use for sports and thus have no need or desire to watch games. If we did then we’d pretty much be screwed. 2) Ditto for new TV shows. We don’t watch Game of Thrones or The Good Place or Survivor or similar vintage TV shows and have no interest in doing so. We’ve utilized Netflix DVD’s for old shows like Home Improvement and early seasons of The Simpsons. 3) Related, we don’t watch “tv shows” much at all, instead we almost exclusively watch movies. There’s a few movies that Netflix doesn’t have, for those I utilize a local movie rental store (which I’m aware is something of a vanishing breed). If push comes to shove I’ve not yet found a movie that cannot be found on DVD used on Amazon or eBay for a couple of bucks. The few shows that I do miss (like PBS programming) I could get if I ponied up for an antenna, which have become laughably cheap—my dad got one for his HDTV for $10 at Harbor Freight and it works great.

Now we have a “smart” TV with built-in apps, including Pandora. If I want background noise while I’m home alone I just turn on the TV and bring up Pandora. I’ve never been one to have a TV show on just for background noise.

Ultimately, your viewing habits will decide how painful cutting the cord will be. If someone (like digs’ BIL) is addicted to sports, AFAIK there’s no (legal) way to get the plethora of sports programming available through satellite and cable providers without paying for it. For us, we simply don’t watch enough TV to make even the $10 for an antenna worth it.

Look at Philo for your live TV fix if you don’t want sports. They even have a DVR function. The cost is $16/month. IIRC there is another service in this price range, I think it’s from ATT, but not their Directv Now service.

Actually, the current (3rd) season of The Good Place is on over-the-air network TV, and the 1st & 2nd seasons are on Netflix.

Wish I could say that. Okay, I’m going to take this as a dare. I’m going to find some analog interests.

Do you have ANY idea how much I could get done if I turn off the TV? Or, more realistically, watch single episodes of “whatever’s on” instead of binging or even getting addicted to a show…

(and unplug from The Dope; there’s 40 hrs/wk right there…)
Let’s see, stuff I can do without a TV… I s’pose I could crack open a book. Oh, I know! I could make things, that’s it! Okay, gotta go…

So what are the OTA DVR options? I have a DTV pal which was great but is failing. I don’t want to pay a monthly fee. I want at least two tuners (record one show watch another or record two shows)

Who only had cable when local reception was horrible

Surely a major advantage of TV nowadays is not having to do this, like we did decades ago…

I don’t watch ANYTHING unless I know it’s well received, I have a complete season on tap, and can watch it on my schedule (which doesn’t necessarily mean “binging”), without commercials.

There’s more good stuff out there now than anyone can possibly watch - the problem is not finding new shows, but narrowing the selection down.

In terms of the mythical “no monthy fees”, one of the simplest ways is to get a TiVo Roamio OTA DVR which comes with lifetime schedule service for $300+.

You can “roll your own” PVR without any monthly fees. I did this with a tuner card but now with an HDHomerun 2-tuner box. I use NextPVR for the software and an EPG update program. But it barely works at best. I got what I paid for.

One option for the HDHomerun is pay Silicon Dust a monthly fee and they do the PVR stuff for you. Their service also includes several cable channels.

But the new 600 pound gorilla in the field is Amazon and their Amazon Fire TV Recast. Decentish price, service included.

But …, you watch on a FireTV device or TV. They downgrade the 1080 mpeg2 to 720 mp4 to save space and reduce network load while watching.

Also, it’s still sort of a beta product. Standard DVR features are still being added/upgraded.

(Let me tell you, 1080p OTA is amazing to watch. As long as no one moves.)

Live streaming TV is exploding. I at count least seven current options with more on the horizon - likely Apple & Disney will get in the game. Basic packages seem to run $40/month and have a ‘virtual’ DVR. Premium channels like HBO and Showtime are also available.

All are ‘App based’ and require a streaming box lile Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV. Most have apps for phones and tablets too. I would avoid relying on a smart TV - the apps are often poor and get infrequent updates. TV Mfrs would rather sell you a new TV than spend lots on keeping Apps updated.

Comparisons abound, here are a few: