Bit the Bullet and Cut the Cord

Yeah, it’s not about fitness. In fact, it’s probably about as close to anti-fitness as you can get–but it is geeky so what the heck.

I finally decided to see if I could save a few bucks by dropping my Verizon television account and become a Cord Cutter.

I started by subscribing to Youtube TV as the primary replacement of the basic Verizon package I was currently using. Contrary to popular advice, I decided to make a clean break and once Youtube TV was successfully set up on all of my televisions, I called Verizon and scheduled the termination of the TV service. Surprisingly, there wasn’t really any attempt to try to keep me by lowering the price.

Next up: pulling out the Tivo Roamio and 3 Tivo Mini’s that were currently in use. Hopefully I’ll get them up on eBay while they still have at least a little bit of value.

Most of my TV’s already had a Roku installed so there was no need for any additional hardware. Or so I thought. I didn’t realize how much I missed having access to our local PBS stations and at the time I subscribed to Youtube TV, there had been no announcement of them coming by year-end. So, I wound up picking up a refurbed Tablo DUAL 64GB and an inexpensive HD antenna. I mounted the antenna on a window on the 3rd floor loft and since the Tablo is wireless, it just sits nearby. Easy enough installation and configuration and added a couple dozen channels in my area–most of which I probably won’t watch now that Youtube TV has added PBS. Oh well. It’s nice to have an option if the Internet is temporarily down.

Streaming Services

Cord cutting is all about choosing the streaming services that provide the content you want to watch, so here’s what I wound up with.

Youtube TV

As I described above, Youtube TV is the core of my cord cutting services. I’ve had no issues to speak of but, like all applications, there’s some room for improvement–mostly in the management of content that’s in your Library. It does, however, seem as if the application is getting fairly frequent updates so I’d expect it to improve nicely over the coming year.

Netflix

I’ve had a Netflix account for quite a while but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep it. We’ll see.

PBS Passport

Even though I got PBS via the Tablo and Youtube TV added them in mid-December, that didn’t provide access to full series like Downton Abbey. Seemed like the best approach was to simply become a PBS supporter and get access to PBS Passport. The PBS app on Roku is pretty good

Hulu (Basic)

I had Hulu earlier when I qualified for a student discount. Once that expired I dropped it. When the offered a Black Friday deal of $1.99/month for new subscribers, I figured it would be worth it even if I just binge watch a few series. I’m currently watching Star Gate: Universe and might finish up The Handmaid’s Tale at some point.

CBS All Access

I subscribed to CBS All Access back when Star Trek: Discovery was released and will probably keep it as long as it and the upcoming Star Trek: Picard maintain my interest. There are a couple of other CBS shows that I wound up watch via CBS All Access instead of DVR’ing them with the Tivo.

Disney+

Being a Verizon Wireless customer, I was eligible for a free year of Disney+. That’s a deal that’s hard to turn down so why not. Other than The Mandalorian and one Marvel movie, I’m not sure there will be much reason to re-new after 12 months. Like CBS All Access, it’s hard to justify for just one series.

CuriosityStream

Another Black Friday deal where I picked up a year of CuriosityStream for $11.99. There’s a lot of interesting content but I’m not sure I’ll renew.

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a free service with a crapton of “channels”. None of them are actually live content but if you’d like to watch 24×7 American Gladiators, there’s a channel. The biggest problem the Pluto TV is that there’s no way to customize the guide to only show the channels you care to see. Their mobile app allows you to pick favorites and hide channels but that feature, according to their FAQ, has been disabled on most platforms while they revamp their service. Apparently that’s been on the agenda for quite a while. Until then, navigating through hundreds of channels makes the service practically unusable.

Conclusions

Even with the streaming subscriptions, I’m still coming out a bit cheaper than my Verizon service (although that probably wouldn’t be the case without the Black Friday deals and the free Disney+). And I’m certainly in no risk of running out of content to watch anytime soon. My biggest complaint about cord cutting is two-fold. First, having to navigate a handful of different apps with their slightly different interfaces is just annoying. I’ll just chalk that up as the price you pay for choice. Secondly, unless you have an unlimited budget, you simply can’t afford to subscribe to every possible service. But, as it turns out, there’s probably at least one thing on each of them that might appeal to you. The good news is that there’s generally no commitment and they usually offer a trial period so you can sometimes binge watch for a month or two and then bail. The trick is to make sure you get out before you get billed for an unused month.

What are your experiences with cord cutting? Feel free to post your comments below!

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