In this series of articles, BrightReviews looks at the dynamics behind the growing cord-cutting movement, aka getting rid of a cable TV subscription in favor of watching via the Internet. In Part 1 we looked at why this movement began, and in Part 2 we looked at some of the key players and now… FINALLY… we give you…
Part Three: HOW To Cut the Cable!
Step One: Call the 800 number of your cable/satellite company and tell them you want to cancel. Easy! Or is it…?
This was one customer’s nightmare, where he could not get the rep to cancel his account. After this audio went viral in 2014 Comcast said they were “embarrassed” and would change their policies.
Which brings us to Tip #1: You may be able to re-negotiate a better deal and still keep your cable. As we mentioned in the other chapters, cable companies are desperate to keep you onboard. If you play hardball and are a convincing actor, you may be able to at least temporarily re-negotiate your monthly rate.
Ok, so the cable is cut… NOW what?
Step Two: Make sure your TV is set up to still receive the free TV channels.
Just because you cut the cord doesn’t mean there’s no television to watch. In fact, you will still have access to the Big Five: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CW. Plus, you’ll have local channels that vary from region to region that have news, sports, movies, etc.
Tip #2: DON’T buy an indoor HD antenna! There are many companies out there (like Clear TV and HD Clear Vision Antenna) that make it sound like you need them to get better reception. Here’s the truth: most televisions made after 2007 have a built-in HD antenna that will help you receive these signals. It should also be noted that these antennas will not give you free cable TV!
To find out the local channels you’ll still get without a cable subscription, visit http://www.antennaweb.org and type in your zip code.
Step Three: Hook up your television to the Internet
This is where it gets a little more complicated, depending on what kind of TV you have, what kind of computer, and what kind of Internet connection. As we pointed out in Part 2, there are devices like the Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast to help bridge that gap.
Tip #3: If you have a newer “Smart TV” you may already have WIFI access and apps that can connect you to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or other sources of online video. And if you already have a laptop, you can connect it to your TV via an HDMI cable or other video connector and use a wireless mouse and keyboard. This will essentially turn your TV screen into a giant computer monitor.
Step Four: Choose Your Services
Now that you have cut the cord (essentially replacing it with another cord) you will have access to a bunch of online content both free and paid. There are some services that may be worth the monthly fees, and some not so much.
BONUS: The Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, and more.
Tip #4: You likely do not need Rabbit TV Gold. This is essentially a database that gives you listings of content already available for free on the web. While technophobes may find it easy to install and use, more sophisticated users have found it pointless.
Step Five: Add Some Pay Services
If you’re feeling a little bit out of the loop now that you don’t have live and first-run programming that cable/satellite provides, you may decide that you want to add a few pay sites to broaden your choices.
Netflix is one of the most popular, which currently charges $7.99 per month. Recently, HBO and Showtime launched their own stand-alone apps, which go for $14.99 and $10.99 a month respectively. Hulu is another popular online collection of movies and TV shows and $7.99 per month. Finally, there is Amazon Prime, which also has a library of exclusive TV shows and goes for $8.25 a month (billed as $99 a year.)
Tip #5: If you were to buy all those services, you would be paying $50.21 per month. If you are already a cable subscriber, you may want to sit down and compare what you already have in terms of channels and content for what you are already paying.
Bad News: Sports fans have virtually no legal options to watch via the Internet, unless they’re willing to pay VOD or a membership to their favorite team’s private service, which can be expensive for a season. Currently, the one company we could find is Sling TV, which includes a couple of ESPN channels for $20 a month (and is owned by Dish Network).
Add that to the other packages and you are up to $70.21, which is more than the average cable subscription.
Step Six: Keep Up to Date with the Latest Tools and Tips
The players in this game are constantly changing so it’s a good idea to stay in the loop with the latest info. One place to do this is by visiting Reddit’s Cordcutter’s Forum, where people discuss news as well as offer advice and reviews of products and services. If you’ve discovered a service we haven’t mentioned (or have an opinion about ones that we have) please let us know in the comments!
Well, that about wraps up this article about cutting the cord… almost.
In the 4th chapter we’d like to discuss one of the evil side effects of the cord-cutting movement why you should avoid it – PIRACY! Aarrgh!