Cord Cutting Update

Back in August I wrote about my experience as a reluctant cord cutter. Here’s an update.

What I didn’t mention is that to avoid the high pressure sales pitch from DirecTV, I didn’t outright cancel; I suspended my service. When asked for details I said I was leaving the country (I was – but on vacation in Italy a few months later) and wouldn’t need the service. No problem. Service suspended and my  $103 bill dropped to $0.

I subscribe to the following streaming services: Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Acorn Media (for UK shows), and HBO Now (for Game Of Thrones). Even adding up all these services, some of which I subscribed to for a long time before I stopped my DirecTV service, is $38 a month. Doing the math over the 6 months of this experiment I have saved $390.

Subtract from that figure about $90 in pay-per-episode charges for Walking Dead and a few other shows and I’m still up $300.

But a fairer assessment should look at the total of what I spent on TV prior to cutting the cable. For instance before cutting the cable I subscribed to all those services except for HBO Now (which only became available in September) and Hulu. So if I add the cost of Netfilx, Acorn, and Amazon Prime (considered free because I buy just about everything through Amazon) I’ve saved an additional $78. Plus the HBO Now will allow me access to the new Game of Thrones season included in the $15 monthly price (I ended up watching the entire series through Amazon Prime paying extra) and I figure the HBO Now will pretty much pay for itself starting in April.

After cutting the cable I missed a lot of the “junk TV” shows I used to watch like Fast N Loud and Gold Rush on the Discovery Channel. Discovery guards its content carefully and only allows episodes that are several years old to stream for free, charging $3 a pop for everything else. I have no problem paying $3 for a Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy episode. I’d sooner set 3 Washingtons on fire then hand them to Discovery to watch Misfit Garage.

Then I started watching Hulu, and amazingly enough I found plenty of junk TV there. I found Difficult People entertaining in an annoying sort of way, and am now hooked on RocketJump (although its PC self-awareness is a pain).

Since my suspension was running out in a few days, I made the call I avoided back in June. “Cancel service,” I told the automated attendant and soon found myself in Shaniqa’s headset. She asked why I wanted to cancel, and I gave her a summary. She then asked if I was aware of DirecTV’s streaming options. I thought for a second; had DirecTV begun offering something like Dish Network’s Sling TV? If so, I was interested. She gave me the spiel on DirecTV’s offering, and it’s not what I consider streaming: it’s really being able to watch DirecTV content on multiple devices in your home. It has nothing to do with Dish Network’s over-the-web service.

I politely thanked Shaniqa for explaining what DirecTV offered, but refused. She said if I had an issue with the cost, and I admitted I did. I said that it was hard to justify spending $103 a month on channels that I didn’t watch. I said that I would consider keeping the service if she could get the cost down to say, $20 a month. She put me on hold several times then came back with a $70 figure. I said thanks but no thanks; send me the box for the DVR. So she got my details, read some legalese about closing the account, and I was done. I had subscribed to DirecTV for  years and spent about $7,500 with them (about $1000 of that specifically for NFL Sunday ticket). Doing the math I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I spent so much on TV, but that’s the insidious nature of monthly bills: they add up.

So 6 months on the only regret I have is that I waited as long as I did to cut the cable. DirecTV’s picture was the best, and it’s true that with streaming one does have to put up with less than perfect, occasionally pixelated video, but is putting up with the occasional issue worth the savings? It is for me. More importantly I feel that while I feel I watch less TV, the TV I do watch is better quality. Plus we have complete control over when we watch, so no worries about DVRs. And there’s always purchasing an antenna for local stations if I felt the need.

My recommendation is that if you are thinking about cutting the cord, do what I did and suspend service for a few months just to see. If it’s too difficult, negotiate a lower rate before rejoining, but if you are like me and learned to live without spend the money on something better – like a present for your significant other or a new AR-15, or better yet, a new AR-15 for your significant other.

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  1. Puma by Design:

    My husband chose the “gold” package – Optimum. We have three tvs, three cable boxes and as of Christmas morning three laptops. My son has ROKU, I don’t rarely watch tv and when I do, I use the app on my laptop.

    After reading your post, I simply cannot bring myself to tell you how much we’re paying for the cable package of which we use less than 20% but in some places, it’s one month of car insurance (just not in NYC where we live.

    Excellent post which I will print out and hand to my husband. Maybe he’ll listen to you.

  2. Chad:

    Check out sling tv. Might make up for some of what you’re missing still.

  3. Mark Reardon:

    I cut the cord at least a decade ago. NFL is on broadcast tv and even then I rarely watch. After just plain not watching tv for a couple of years it’s painful to watch and realize what a moron the advertisers think you are. Pro Tip : library cards are free.

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  11. Rob Miller:

    I cut the cord when my kids were very small, and even then I wasn’t watching much. Where I live, I needed to get cable to get anything at all and my wife and I decided to just get rid of it until they were old enough to have some defenses against the relentless targeting kids get to ‘brand them’ and turn them into good little consumers with the TV habit. And sometimes the subtle politics and culturegeist they get shoved at them is even worse.

    Even after they got old enough to be more savvy, we still kept TV out of the house. Oh,they got to watch videos (which we could vet and control as far as viewing time went) and a bit at grandma and grandpas and their friend’s houses, but nothing like the average kid’s consumption.

    The results were astonishingly good. Along with getting them out of the public school system, it’s one of the best things I ever did for them and I highly recommend it.

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