Is Your Family Ready to Cut the Cord?
Cutting the cord, or giving up your cable or satellite subscription, has been a hot topic among television subscribers for several years now. Thanks to an increasing number of people deciding to cut the cord, pay TV companies actually saw a decline in subscribers in 2014; and that decline could continue in 2015 and beyond. But before you decide to take the plunge, you should ask yourself if your family is ready to cut the cord. Here are some things that you should consider before you make your decision.
Does Your Current Service Have a Contract?
If you subscribe to a satellite provider, chances are they locked you into a two-year contract when you signed up. What you might not know is that if you moved, upgraded equipment, or added receivers to your account, the company could have restarted that contract. Before you cancel your TV service, make sure that you are completely out of your contract period; otherwise you could end up paying several hundred dollars.
What do You Like to Watch?
There are a lot of excellent streaming options available for everyone in your family.
· Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu all have a lot of children’s and family-friendly programming;
· Newer companies like Feeln let you watch family movies online;
· Networks like The CW and NBC let you watch full episodes directly from their websites;
· Spiritual channels like TBN also have options for streaming content online; and,
· You can always watch broadcast TV for free over the air with a digital antenna.
However, where most of these services come up short is with sports and premium channels like HBO and Showtime. You can find some games broadcast over the air, but if you want to watch games in other cities, or keep up with the shows on HBO, then a cable, satellite, or fiber optic subscription is still your best option.
The good news is that MLB, HBO, and Showtime are all planning to offer stand-alone streaming services in 2015, but no actual dates or prices have been set for when these services will go live. However, if you are willing to wait to have access to that content, cutting the cord could be a good idea.
How do You Like to Watch TV?
Do you like to keep the television playing in the background, even if you’re not watching anything; or, do you like to flip through the channels, until something catches your eye? If so, then streaming could take some getting used to. While most streaming services allow you to browse their catalogues, you still need to have a basic idea of what you want to watch. Also, because most of the content is on-demand, there is no set broadcast schedule. However, the lack of set schedule can also be an advantage because you can arrange viewing around your family’s schedule instead of the other way around.
Also, many streaming options let you watch content through a set-top box, a streaming stick, or a computer connected to your television; and you can also watch on a tablet or similar mobile device. Some of these services also allow you to set parental controls, so that you can restrict what your children watch – even when they are watching from a mobile device.
What is Your Main Motivation for Cutting the Cord?
The reasons people have for cutting the cord are as varied as the people who do it. Some motivations for cutting the cord include:
· Wanting to save money;
· Becoming disillusioned with the business practices of the pay TV companies;
· Trying to wean themselves and their families off of TV; and,
· Wanting more control over the type of content they watch.
Having a clear idea of why you want to cut the cord can help you determine if it’s the right option for you and your family.
For example, if you are trying to save money, cutting the cord might not offer you much in the way of savings if you have to pay contract termination fees, or if you have a bundle and your rates for the other services go up once you eliminate TV – especially if you then subscribe to several streaming services to get all of the TV content you want.
Also, many pay TV services are also in the internet business; so even if you get rid of the TV, you are still on the hook to them for the internet service that you need to access streaming.
However, for many who have already taken the leap, cutting the cord is worth it because it gives them more control over what they watch, as well as flexibility in terms of which services they subscribe to. Additionally, for those who don’t watch TV often, it means they aren’t paying upwards of $100 a month for services that they rarely use.
Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/van Oostrom
Eliminating cable was one of the first things I did in the frugality-without-sacrifice drive that reduced my basic living expenses by 42%. Dumping the cable TV saved me $60 a month. Netflix, at $8 a month, plus the installation of a $50 long distance TV antenna has made for a very nice substitute.
I did not do without; I did instead. And THAT is the secret to frugality without sacrifice.