• Tag Archives budget
  • Attempting to cut the cord – cost and evaluation

    I have for a very long time wanted to “cut the cord” and drop cable/satellite television. I know I am probably a little late to the party, but it has taken quite some time to convince my significant other it would be worth it. She is rather accustomed to the convenience of DVR and the all-in-one programming guide of today’s digital TV systems.

    My reason for wanting to go streaming-only has been largely a matter of principle. I do not like the way TV service providers “reward” loyalty with increased prices. I also figured we could save a few bucks, which is good because TV seems like a lot of money, considering how little I consume it. I figured it would be more of a long-term savings because of the way cable providers increase their price over time, but I found myself a bit surprised when I did my analysis.

    I started by calling my local providers. My primary choices were CenturyLink and Mediacom. CenturyLink severely limited Internet speeds if you use their Prism TV, and I don’t want to mess with a satellite, so they were quickly taken off the table. With Mediacom, I was offered a package that starts at $90 per month and includes 50Mbps Internet and more channels than I need, plus Starz and Encore. I was also informed that, because of the way their packaging works, it would cost more to go without Starz and Encore. This required a 2-year contract, under which the price would increase $10 in year two. Without a contract, the price would increase $20 per year for five years! I also learned that adding HBO would be $18.99 per month (but just for a couple of months for A Game of Thrones) and extra channels for my daughter would be an additional $5 per month ($7 monthly in year two). So, we are looking at $95 per month for year one and $107 for year two ($124 and $137 for GOT months). After year two, I assume I fight for a new two-year contract special price so it doesn’t start going up $20.

    Next, I researched my streaming options. That started by also asking Mediacom (who currently offers the best Internet speed in my area) what it would be to get only Internet. With a two-year contract, it starts at $45/month for 50Mbps (so streams shouldn’t affect my gaming), which goes up to $55/month in year two and caps out at $60 without a contract. I learned that Sling TV was just launched in February and offers channels like AMC that had caused us hesitation. Through that service, one can get ESPN, HGTV, Adult Swim, Disney, and many more high-profile channels for $20/month. The downside is that many of them are livestream-only, so there is still no (easy legal) way to record or watch things like The Walking Dead on-demand without additional cost or waiting for it to come to Netflix in the Fall. For an extra $5 (just like with Mediacom, except it isn’t under contract to go up next year), I could get some extra kid’s channels through Sling. I also planned to get a subscription to Hulu Plus for $8 a month and already had a subscription to Netflix for $9 a month, though that doesn’t really count because I likely would have kept that subscription if I have cable, so it would be a cost either way. I decided we could hold off on Amazon Prime (yeah, I am one of those few people that don’t already have it for the shipping), but that would be another $8 a month, approximately. So, with the services we are using, year one is $45 for internet, $25 for Sling, and $8 for Hulu, or $78 per month. That’s $17 a month less! I was excited to realize we would save money from day 1. Of course, I couldn’t do that without access to decent bandwidth, and I still have a Mediacom bill, but it could be worse. Also, I know from past experience that the addition of Starz and Encore does not really add much value to having cable.

    It still took a bit of convincing because not everything is on-demand, but saving money was good ammo. The biggest issue we had was that with a Roku, we would not have access to HBO Now until July at the earliest. However, I just learned that I should have access to it through the old iPhone I use as an iPod, so there may be hope yet that we can watch GOT as it airs, rather than three months later. Plus, an HBO Now subscription is $14.99 a month, rather than the $18.99 subscription through Mediacom, so there’s more savings.

    Cost-wise, cutting the cord certainly seems to be worth it. We have been so busy lately that we have barely had time to try it out, so I’ll bring you more on our experience as time goes on. However, so far experiences have been positive, and we’ll see where it goes as we get more time with it. Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences below.