Information More News
Millions of consumers have shed their cable subscription in the past ten years. The most often cited reason is saving money, but after years of abusing a virtual monopoly, you might find yourself overjoyed to leave cable behind. If you haven’t pulled the plug yet, here are some compelling reasons to give it a try.
For years, the cable companies took advantage of the lack of competition faced in most markets. Without any constraints, the companies understaffed call centers, parked cancellation callers in a forced hold, missed appointments, and offered pricing schemes and packages that forced subscribers to pay for channels they didn’t watch.
Some markets had other options, but not enough choice to impact the level of customer service. Expecting poor service from the cable company became part of popular culture, with recurring jokes about missed appointments.
Thanks in part to advances in technology, streaming services declare features, services, and pricing on their websites. Consumers can sign up, upgrade their service, and cancel online without having to wait. Installation is instantaneous and doesn’t require an appointment, and there’s no equipment to return if you discontinue service.
For years, the main reason people stated for cutting the cord was cost. The gap between what cordcutters pay vs. cable bills is narrowing as streaming services broaden their content libraries. But an equivalent cable or satellite package is still more expensive than a streaming subscription like PlayStation Vue or Sling TV.
Using the lack of competition as an advantage, most cable companies increased prices at a rate that exceeded reasonable market price, blaming broadcast TV surcharges, taxes, and regional sports fees that in some cases turned out to be illegal. Even as consumers attempt to cut the cord, cable companies are squeezing every last penny of revenue by overcharging for Internet-only subscriptions.
Unlike the price increases from a cable company, the streaming price increases accompany added value. Netflix has only raised prices five times since it began streaming but has dramatically increased the number of titles available. The difference is that when companies like Netflix, YouTube TV, and Hulu increase their prices, it’s connected to new original content, added channels, or fewer ads.
Many people are surprised to learn how much free content is available over-the-air using an antenna. If you live near a major urban television market, you can access local network broadcasts from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and Telemundo for free. You’ll also have the option to watch OTA channels like Bounce, Comet, and Cozi which also broadcast free content to anyone within reach of the signal.
You won’t just receive the major broadcast channels; you’ll also discover better picture and sound quality. That’s right. When you watched broadcast shows on cable, the cable companies compressed over-the-air TV signals and re-broadcast them at a lower resolution.
Once you have an antenna, you’ll never again worry that contract negotiations between your cable provider and local network channel will interrupt your ability to watch sports, news, or favorite show. If the network and the provider can’t agree on a contract, the channel will still be available with an HD antenna. Likewise, antennas also work during bad weather, keeping you connected to important updates in emergency weather situations, because the stronger OTA frequency is less likely to be interrupted than cable or satellite service.
“There are 200 channels, but nothing is on.” If this statement seems familiar, here’s why. The average consumer only watches 17 channels 80% of the time. Cable companies overcharged millions for years with predatory pricing schemes and packages that forced subscribers to pay for channels they weren’t watching.
Streaming packages give you more flexibility to choose which channels you really need and pay for only those. Providers like Sling TV have inexpensive base packages with optional sports, in-language, lifestyle, and other programming. The a la carte selection lets consumers identify and pay for only the must-have channels.
If you don’t know where to start, try a website tool like Suppose. It helps you sort through which channels you need and recommends a service to best match your viewing habits and budget.
Cable subscribers were forced to rent expensive cable boxes rather than choosing their delivery device. With streaming providers, consumers can select a device with the right features and price to manage their entertainment. The most popular consumer choices are Roku, Apple, and Amazon Fire TV products.
Roku has a broad line of products, from a stick to the Roku Ultra. With features like HD, 4K/HDR support, dual-band wireless connectivity, voice remote functionality, and a lost remote finder, the Roku’s value far outweighs the cost. The intuitive interface and a universal search round out the features that make the small device so popular. It works with a variety of over-the-air solutions and serves up as many as 1,800 channels.
The unique thing about the Roku platform is that it’s independent from a major content provider. Other than the free content offered on the Roku Channel, the device manufacturer isn’t part of a streaming ecosystem. In fact, the technology is embedded in televisions from major manufacturers including TCL, Sharp, Philip, Hitachi, and RCA.
If you’re a fan of Apple products or have a big library of content on iTunes, then Apple TV is a great choice. The look and feel are intuitive and easy to navigate like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Familiarity can only go so far before you need functionality. The newly redesigned Apple TV streaming service launch this fall with highly anticipated original content, exclusive channels, and privacy considerations.
Amazon Fire TV delivers broad functionality, an easy to use interface, and prices that are hard to beat. Offering smart home control and voice control, the popular consumer device is already in use by more than 34 million monthly active users. During Prime Day 2019, Fire TV products sold in record amounts. Fire TV technology is also embedded in televisions from Toshiba, Insignia, and other major brands.
Some people choose to cut the cord in an attempt to save money. Others drop cable so they can choose when and how to watch their favorite content.
If you haven’t ditched poor customer service or installed an antenna for a better picture, why not? While it’s true that the sheer amount of choices can be overwhelming, cable isn’t coming back. As Apple, Disney, and Warner join the fray of content creation, the trend toward cordcutting will only accelerate.
Don’t worry, though. There’s a lot for consumers to be excited about when it comes to cutting the cord. The competitive nature of the new entertainment market gives consumers more choice and control over content than ever before.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.