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johncolucci

Can you really cut the cord?

We've been living in a streaming world for quite some time. Be it Netflix, Amazon Video, or any number of new media providers, entertainment can be found in a multitude of ways across a myriad of devices, such as Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV. This week, NimbleTV also announced its launch in New York City, finally offering an almost full cable experience without needing a subscription to a cable or satellite provider.

But can you really cut the tightly connected coaxial cable from your wall? Personally, I've tried to go without cable TV service, but I lasted all of two days before I realized I needed Real Housewives of New Jersey and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, neither of which were available for streaming. I also recognized if I bought those shows on iTunes or Amazon Video, it would end up costing more in the end than a monthly cable fee. Finally, for local TV, no matter what, I couldn't get a good signal over antenna. I quickly had to call up the local cable provider to get service back.

The NimbleTV concept intrigues me, much as Aereo did - though the latter comes without the critical Bravo and E! networks. My current cable provider has a decent channel selection, but what irks me personally is the almost $20/mo cost just for the DVR unit. But then again, there's the "stability" of cable TV to some degree. And of course lots of brilliant local access channels. But also, it's not as if programs on Netflix and Amazon replace mainstream cable TV, I've fallen in love with Orange Is The New Black and even Betas, but it can't replace Teresa Giudice's table flipping.

I don't think cutting the cord entirely is in the cards for me, but what about you? Have you had a similar go at it and returned back to the land of 1,000 channels and nothing on, or have you been successful?

Related links
www.engadget.com­/2013­/12­/10­/nimbletv­-launches­-in­-n...
www.engadget.com­/2013­/09­/24­/aereo­-columbus­-cincinn...
www.engadget.com­/2013­/10­/21­/netflix­-q3­-40­-million­-...

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35 replies
kris

My boyfriend is a sports fan, so cutting the cord was already hard. But it's impossible if you're a cooking show fan like he is—unless it's a FOX show like Hell's Kitchen, they don't usually make their way online (legally).

I also admit, I love the moral superiority of having a paid cable subscription—including premium cable like Showtime and HBO. I'm basically subsidizing your Game of Thrones, you naughty, naughty pirates!
3 like dislike
ttringle

If the companies that own HBO and showtime did not have such an incestous tie to the cable companies, (NBC is owned by one for Pete's sake) they could make a ton more money by unshackling HBO Go from the Cable subscription requirement. I for one would pay for access to HBO and Cinemax GO )when they create parity with an App.

Region Locking and Cable subscriptions are now completely superfluous. Netflix has already put the nail in the coffin of Blockbuster, and TV Season DVD purchases (only BluRay's of your favorite shows are worth owning on physical discs). How much longer till their eventual eclipse of terrestrial and Cable reaches critical mass where the channels begin to lose their bargaining power and Cable becomes even more of a dumb pipe. If HBO opened up to internet only subs then they would make more money then ever.
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frankspin

After extensive research into this the major hang up is still sports. For anyone who wants live access to major sports it's not a fool proof solution, yet. You can access the major streams (MLB, NHL, etc) but you're blacked out from the local teams (you can perform some wizardry to make it work, though). After the major players things get really tough, especially with auto-racing. So I think for die-hard fans who need live sports there is still some work to be done, and they should wait.

Aside from sports it's totally doable. The initial investment upfront may be a bit high but as long as you have a computer hooked up to your TV you can make it work since so many shows are available online in some means. Add onto that Netflix's growing library of original content, and that you can do season pass with Amazon or iTunes. This is even more easy if you go with Aereo since they give you DVR features with the service.

I think from a service only standpoint, the costs can start to look pretty even if you end up subscribing to a lot of services. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Aereo can all add up to 30ish a month and then if you subscribe to any sports services (MLB, NHL, NFL) you're looking at some months of $20+ extra. Where the cost is really made up though is by not paying for a DVR or set-top-box, which can easily add up to $50+ a month depending on your household.
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johncolucci

Oh yes, sports... Very good point.
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theboi

On Netflix right now would do hulu but the commercials is a deal breaker
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ttringle

Punctuation is nice, can't tell if you were asking a question or making a statement. Hulu should drop the price of the Ad model App, or make it free, cause I cancelled when they started approaching Cable amounts of commercial breaks. If they wan't people to pay they need to make an HBO style channel that makes it worth paying for. The days of DVD sales of TV are very nearly over and they are gonna need to change with the times.
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lilangel8932

I cut the cord over a month ago. I honestly thought I would miss it. I already had Hulu and Netflix subs. I don't miss it at all. There are plenty of sites that stream regular tv and I've got my PC hooked up to my tv anyways. So I uped my net speed a bit and I've saved a TON of money. Now I'm actually thinking of getting a Rolu box. I didn't realize how much tv I actaully DON'T watch after cutting the cord. I guess which is why I don't miss it. I love sports too but watch it online. Luckily for me my dad has time warner so I can get espn on the go as well as hbo! And of course watch te love tv channels they allow off ur grid anyways. So I'm good lol
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dave

I feel like we're almost there for people who are serious television watchers (but non-sports interested). With things like Netflix, Hulu, and all the various web / mobile apps that networks are providing, it's easy enough to catch up on most shows you've missed.

We recently started receiving HBO as part of a promotional package -- and it's the first time I've been able to use HBOGO. Holy cow, is it nice! (Too bad you have to actually pay for HBO through your cable provider to watch it.)

I think it's interesting to see the various networks start embracing the web and providing multiple ways to view their content. (But then you see what they're doing to companies like Aereo and it's super frustrating.)
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frankspin

On the subject of sports, something I found interesting was that if you have the Sunday Ticket you still see the commercials being show to local watchers. This came as a bit of a shock to me because the whole argument against blackout free services -- and to some degree how the NFL handles things -- is that they lose out on commercial revenue. I was assuming it was like MLB where if you watch online you get the same 3 commercials every break or if you watch via a dedicated box you just get silence.
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ttringle

It;s pretty insulting that you pay for a Special Package on top of what used to be called (Pay TV) and yet you still have to put up with ads at all. I recently watched a video file from the late 70's that had the commercials intact and was Floored to discover/remember (I was alive and watched the special when it first aired) that commercial breaks USED to contain only TWO commercials. Ands this was during a holiday special that today would have a huge marketing blitz.
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frankspin

I would much prefer US sports games to take the route of international soccer matches where the adds just rotate in a static box above the time ticker.
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jfriend33

The bad part is there is actually a law mandating that commercials cannot be louder than the program that is playing. I find hulu plus wonderful because 75% of the commercials play at a lower volume than the program and 25% at the same volume. Comcast has so many channels that have LOUD annoying commercials. Luckily I was able to program a 30 second skip into the comcast remote. This helps somewhat.
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groovechicken

I never even had the cord, so I can't say I cut it, but I do have an antenna connected to my TV for occasional sports. I am a big fan of NFL, though, so I get the yearly subscription to Game Rewind and watch the 3 or 4 games I care about each week. I actually prefer this to watching live because I can watch the "Condensed" version in 30 - 40 minutes. So, I get to watch all the games I care about in about the same amount of time or less than I would have spent watching just one.

The only show I watch is Person of Interest and I had to wait for the DVDs to watch the 2nd half of Season 1 and all of Season 2. Thankfully, I am able to watch Season 3 on the CBS app now. The only bummer is that I saw a major spoiler on Twitter which would have been a much bigger deal if I had not expected it. Oh well, not the end of the world.

Everything we watch as a family comes from our DVD collection or Amazon Prime at this point. We sometimes rent something through Amazon if that is the only way for us to get it.

I still scratch my head and wonder how people have time to watch all these shows they follow. For me, it's difficult finding time just for the above mentioned.
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frankspin

Amazon appears to have Person of Interest available with their season pass option if you want it quicker.
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luketim

Don't think I've watched broadcast television with any kind of consistency (I watch it when I am at my parents house, because it is sometimes the only thing there is to do) for at least 7 years.

Really don't see the appeal. Everything I need/want to watch is available online or through streaming services. As far as I am concerned, Cable, Terrestrial and Satellite television is dying.

As soon as an online company with streaming capability gets rights to live sports, broadcast TV will come toppling down like the decrepit old monolith that it is.
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NoahK

I've tried "cutting the cord" on at least 3 different occasions the past 2 years. Everything else in my life is pretty much web-based and/or DIY, so it only makes sense that I do it with TV as well.

The 2 main hurdles I'm finding that makes it impossible (at least for the way we watch TV), is the fact that the workflow to watch all our different shows is too tedious. I shouldn't have to turn a TV, pick an "app/channel", then pick the show. When it comes to watching TV, an extra layer or two really ruins the experience.

Secondly, we're big channel surfers. In fact, I'd say MOST of the shows (outside of scripted dramas) I watch, I stumbled upon while channel surfing. If it wasn't for channel surfing, I never would even bother to watch great shows like "How it's made", "Bizarre Foods", *every Anthony Bourdain show* and other more fringe shows. Web-based TV forces you to KNOW what you want to watch, before you watch it. There is no discovery system in place as efficient as simply surfing. Even if there was, you'd have to deal with buffering every time you change a show.

If some 3rd party comes up with an interface that consolidates every streaming service into 1 GUI, and can also somehow buffer at least 20-30 seconds of programming that is available instantly for virtualized "channel surfing", then... I will cut the cord.
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Cynic13

I cut the cord in October, ending seventeen years of cable or satellite TV.
I put together a homebrew MythBuntu box with a SiliconDust HDHomeRun tuner and a couple of rooftop antennas that pick up 80 local channels, 32 of which have useful content. I get all the networks in excellent HD.
I now have more choices than ever before with Amazon Prime (in a browser) and Netflix (on laptops and Roku, not on Ubuntu). All I miss is BBC America and the current season of Top Gear. I'm not a sports fan, but watching the World Series via over-the-air HD rather than DirecTV standard def was the cord-cutting clincher.
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RRich

I have Clearstream antennas (1 for uhf, 1 for vhf) going to an HDhomerun which sends tv signals to computers around the house via Ethernet. I have a computer on the living room tv running Windows Media Center with a WMC remote. WMC provides a free program guide and free dvr. Can also watch Netflix and dvd/blu rays all using the WMC remote. For other stuff, there is an Iogrear combo wireless keyboard/mouse which can minimize WMC and run any other pc app or webpage to stream videos; this includes many video sites not available on specialty devices like Rokus. It really comes down to being patient. Some cable stuff, like Walking Dead, I can purchase on Amazon VOD the next day. Other stuff, like True Blood (all HBO stuff), I wait for the dvd through Netflix. Do I want to wait? No. But it's a choice, don't pay cable prices and make a statement, or bow to pressure and get cable. You can complain all you want, but if you keep paying, why would cable change?


I'm not a big sports fan, so that's not really a problem for me. But I'm told Directv offers sports only packages.
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remixedcat

Roku 3 for me! I love it!
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jfriend33

I know isn't it great! And soon it will have miracast support so you can mirror everything from your tablet or phone! Until then twonky works just fine! (may have to convert the file format)
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MattSki

I've been looking into cutting the cord quite a bit recently and the one conclusion I'm coming to is that if you're a live sports fan and you live in the same market as your favourite teams that cutting the cord almost isn't worth is. To get a decent enough internet connection plus all your content and sports services it seems to nearly even out or exceed what you would pay for your standard tv+internet service. I really want to cut the cord and especially like the idea of cutting the cord but I'm honestly not sure if it's better in terms of money or not.
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CuttingCord

Hi, I'm a cordcutter. Not being a sports fan this was an easy choice for my family and I. I use an HD antenna for local live stuff, an Apple TV, mobile devices that can airplay to the Apple TV. A good selection of apps and bookmarked website and Netflix. Between all of these we have plenty of tv programming.

The one thing I miss is pausing, fast forwarding and rewinding live content. I'm looking at a new product (TabloTV) at the moment that may resolve that.. I've also started a blog (cuttingcord.com) to share my experiences with folks interested in taking the same leap.

Cutting the cord is not for everyone, especially sports fans. In our case it was a small adjustment and a celebration the first month that $100+ Bill didn't come in from the cable company.

I look forward to seeing other people's feedback on here.

Nelson
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rwills

I'm a college student (University of Kentucky) and I live with two guys who are big sports fans (like myself). We pay a $90 monthly cable/internet bill through TWC. And the only reason we have the cable is to watch sports. Thats the only reason we can't cut the cord. I'm afraid our basketball and football watching is too important. But we want to cut the cord, badly.
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MattSki

How many of these games aren't streamed through ESPN3 though? I'm a UConn student and I've discovered all UConn basketball and football games are streamed through ESPN3 so as long as you can have access to that through a streaming box, maybe through one of your parents, you could solve that problem. Not sure how the SEC works though.
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rwills

Most of them are, but are blacked out since its shown locally or on ESPN.
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ttringle

Hopefully next year the FCC will drop this Archaic practice that has instead of fulfilling the intended effect of increasing game attendance, allowed the teams to hold their games hostage for higher premiums to cable and paid steaming outfits.
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frankspin

I thought ESPN3/Go/whatever it's called now required a cable subscription, or is juts a supported ISP?
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jfriend33

There are plenty of websites that offer live streaming of sports games. I am not into sports whatsoever but often I find myself with company and a few clicks and the games is up and running.
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gamefreakjtb

With a combination of NHL Gamecenter Live and Netflix, yea, you totally can.
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NuAngel

FrameRate (twit.tv­/fr) is a great podcast about cordcutting and has really helped me get along for the most part. I currently have cable as I moved in with my dad after my mother passed away - but if I didn't have cable, some things I might just have to "acquire" by questionable means - the cost of services like NHL Gamecenter and NFL Gamepass doesn't make sense compared to a full cable bill (not to mention to use NFL Gamepass you need some kind of VPN service, which immediately makes what you're doing quite questionable). I used to get a lot of football "over the air" with a digital antenna, but I now live in a rural area where broadcast signals don't reach. Lots of hurdles... we're not there, yet.
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livebriand

No one in my family is into sports, and most of us don't watch TV much anyway. We mainly use Netflix, Red Box, and Amazon Prime video, with occasional supplements from an OTA antenna. Of course, we only have one TV (and a Roku on it), so I usually watch from my computer. I can't say I've missed cable. (Suck it Comcast - I'm not resubscribing to cable. You already pissed me off before, and I'm only getting your internet service because it's the only good option around here.)
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rimete

I cut the cable cord a long time ago, in part I really don't watch much so I couldn't justify the price. But as of late I've been into on-line service such as Netflix as it gives the choice to watch what I want to watch. It's not that cable is limiting and with DVR's you can schedule etc but besides not being able to justify the price (the areas I like to watch would fall on a premium tier) so on-line or over the air.

Having said that reading about NimbleTV in the post and services like that does sound interesting. I guess I'm to hooked too being on the computer and if the service doesn't deliver it to that address, I guess I don't care to be honest.
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tvjames

What helped us make the switch was a few summers ago someone loaned us DVDs for Firefly, Bones and Vampire Diaries, shows we'd missed the first time around. We got hooked on watching the same thing night after night, we loved the continuity. That translated over into our viewing the next season - we'd let them pile up and then watch a bunch at once (also allowed us to see if a new show was going to make it before we got invested). So when we started to look at how much we were spending, we were finally able to make the switch.

We started by borrowing a friend's VGA-to-RCA adapter and trials of Netflix and Hulu. Eventually we bought two adapters ourselves and a Roku and we already had a Wii. Between Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu Plus and our laptop we're able to stream just about anything we want and it's so much cheaper than DirecTV.

There's only a few downsides...

- We've been using DVRs for more than a decade, it's been tough going back to keeping track of when episodes air and where to find them
- Outside of the superbowl, we hadn't watched commercials in a decade and now with Hulu Plus we find ourselves scrambling for the remote to hit mute
- Because some networks coughcbscough don't put their shows online, we have to look elsewhere to find them online.
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jfriend33

Cable cord cutting is quite simple. My friend who is a police officer coincidentally introduced me to Graboid. It is a great service reminiscent of Kazaa or Napster. But the way it downloads is much much faster. I've been able to download a 15gb file in an hour with only a 20-50mbps connection. Basically every episode is available and sometimes even before it airs in the US. To supplement this I also have a roku2xd with Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and Netflix. I can also use Twonky and download any torrent I want virus free to my phone and stream it directly to my tv's roku. Luckily I have a friend with Time Warner Cable with an HBO subscription since Comcast and Roku can't cut a deal. My fee is $19.99 a month after a $10 a month discount for performance internet. I bought a docsis 3 cable modem and am regularly able to attain speeds above 40mbps.

Now the real situation here is the price you negotiate for cable. I have my parents set up with comcast and they get the triple play premier package with every channel even TMC (no adult or sports) with unlimited 50mbps internet, and phone for $164 a month with all taxes. I am highly considering getting them a Tivo Roamio and a few Mini's. Folks its really not much of a price difference to get Tivo.

I never would buy a tivo lifetime subscription. The technology is changing so quickly and being able to transfer the subscription is not free. Basically in 3 years you will have paid the equivalent of a lifetime subscription but I highly doubt in 3 years a Tivo Roamio is going to even be relevant. The only issue in making the transition is lack of Android support. You can only stream to iOS devices. But still, this is a good attempt at a one box solution. It has youtube, netflix, amazon prime, hbo go, hulu plus, the list goes on.

I think in 5 years we will look back at this time and laugh. Internet will be even faster and more affordable. And Cable companies will only charge customers for the content they want and offer things a la carte. It will also be available to stream.
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livebriand

I'm getting a $65/month Comcast 25/5 connection for ~$40-45. After the 2 year package I had expired (during which they upped a lot of peoples' speeds, so I went from 15/2 to that), I called up, asked for a discount, and got it.

As for TIVOs, I bought one several years ago (series 3 HD I think) and got a lifetime subscription. We've since given that to my grandparents (no use for it once we cut the cord a few years back and got a Roku), and the subscription is still intact.
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