Technology

Cut the Cord, Save a Bundle

As cable prices have skyrocketed you may have decided it’s time to “cut the cord.”  Before you cancel your cable service read this Consumer Reports  article  to help you decide if cord cutting is right for you.

Once you make the decision, you’ll still have to for pay for high speed Internet to get streaming channels like Netflix.  And it’s very tempting to subscribe to more channels if (like me), you absolutely must see the latest trendy movie or series.  If you’re not careful you can wind up with a hefty bill every month.

To save big you must bite the bullet, but that doesn’t mean missing your favorite shows.

How to cut the cord 

  • Buy an inexpensive streaming device. If you need a new TV, buy an inexpensive “smart TV” from Roku, Vizio or Samsung or a smart streaming device such as a Roku stick or Amazon Firestick.
  • Rely on Amazon Prime. Most of us already have Amazon Prime for deliveries, which means you also get Amazon Prime Video with its huge library of free and low cost shows and movies.   Amazon originals are high quality plus popular streaming series often wind up on Amazon Prime Video after they’ve finished on other paid channels.
  • Subscribe to Netflix. It’s not the cheapest for $12.99 but it can’t be beat for content, including originals. PC Magazine rates it #1 out of the top 10. Between Amazon Prime and Netflix, you can binge-watch forever.
  • Take advantage of free trials. If you must watch a particular show on another channel, most have 7-day free trials.  Binge your favorite show during the free trial period. Or sign up and cancel after a month.
  • Watch online.  Many networks stream their shows directly over the internet where you can watch on your tablet or computer.

How to Save on Live TV

Without cable you can’t get live local or national news, sports or talk.  Here’s how to get them cheaply as well.

  • Buy an antenna.   An antenna will work if you live in or near a city.  Today’s antennas are high tech, not the old-fashioned rabbit ears.  Here’s what you need to know before you buy one and here are recommendations for best brands….and go here for advice from the FTC about false claims for these antennas.
  • Consider streaming for live TV.  Here are some live TV alternatives.  They range from  $20 per month up, with Sling TV at $35 being the most highly recommended.  Sling also comes with movies and cable channels.
  • Check out LocastLocast is a is a not-for-profit service which streams broadcast television stations over the internet to select US cities.   If you’re in their coverage area you can get live local TV for as little as $5 a month.

If you need help setting it up and don’t have a techie grandchild, you can call Roku or Amazon for tech support.  If you need on-site help, try calling your Internet provider and pay for a service call.  Or call a local computer consultant –  to find a good one, join NextDoor.com in your area and ask for recommendations.

 

 

COMMENTS

21 responses to “Cut the Cord, Save a Bundle

  1. Thank you for this helpful information. I found I like free services from the public library. You can google Kanopy.com public library to see if your library offers it. You get 10 free movies/month. In addition, there is Hoopla.com. You can check your library’s digital services online for offerings and you may be pleasantly surprised as I was.

  2. Also: get a Voice Over IP box like Basic Talk, Ooma, Voiply, etc. (no endorsement of any particular service intended) and connect it to your router and internal phone service. You can buy the VOIP box online or at stores like Target and Walmart.
    My system gives me all the features, and more, that I was paying Verizon over $100 a month for. This more than saves the cost of upgraded Internet service.
    I have it connected to a wireless phone system with four handsets around the house. The phone also has a call-blocker feature, but the robocallers keep getting new numbers.
    I can take the box to another location that has a good Internet connection (like a vacation home) and anyone dialing my home number will get connected to that other place.
    I also have a tuner installed in a PC that will work with free DVR service (I like Sage TV, but there are others) that, in theory at least lets me record off-the-air TV and watch it later and/or on another computer on my home network, like in the kitchen.

  3. If you have a Samsung Smart TV, you have free access to their streaming service Samsung TV plus. Also, Pluto TV and Crackle are free, once you download their apps.
    But you must have Wifi, which can cost you 44 bucks a month from Spectrum for 12 months and then it doubles after that.
    The over the air antennae gives you the local channels. You might get MyTV channel with that which you a great many tv shows from the 1960s through 1990’s like MASH, Gomer Pyle, and Rawhide.

    1. Ron,
      Saying you like Classic/Vintage TV is great news! You are not trying to get the newest,”shown for the first time today” show. No need for live broadcast TV. There are a number of ROKU channels for old TV, HBO MAX has a sub-channel for Turner Classic Movies, and Amazon may have a “channel” or “series” to subscribe to. My wife wanted one show on a channel I did not receive with my VERY limited Comcast plan but it was cheaper to subscribe to next day viewing by getting a subscription on Amazon. If you have an Android device, you can get a Chromecast device to hook to your TV and watch it there or in most cases the ROKU will meet your needs to watch anything on the “big screen”

    1. One question is if a show is streaming “on-demand” so you can watch it anytime, why are you wanting to record to a DVR? That said, there is an App/Service called PlayOnCloud that lets you record from streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime but also from CSB All Access, ABC, NBC etc. If you have no cable plan, you will have less access to shows and episodes on the free ABC, NBC, CBS, PSB sites but most now have a monthly subscription if you really like a more specific channel. Of course, numerous subscriptions for channels may add up to more than a cable package so “do the math” but there are options.

  4. After 18 years as a Direct TV subscriber I had to kick the service to the curb. When Direct TV was acquired by AT&T my bill sky-rocketed and I did not have the premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc), premium sports channels, or use pay-per-view. I grew up without cable and satellite and now that my children are grown and gone, I am content with the 46 over the air (OTA) channels, Pluto TV, Peacock (basic), and my large DVD collection.

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