In the wake of popular streaming services gaining a strong foothold in the home entertainment arena, cable is starting to diminish significantly. In fact, nearly 33 million people in the United States alone decided to cut the cord and leave their cable company.
It makes sense. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu provide a wealth of television shows and movies, also opting to produce their own original films and series as well. When it comes down to it, cable as we’ve always known it is becoming obsolete.
But what exactly are the pros and cons of switching to a different service and leaving cable behind? What does moving on to bigger and better entertainment solutions entail? I’ve put together a guide to making the switch, so you can do so easily and efficiently.
First, let’s take a look at what necessities you’ll need to make the switch.
What Equipment Do I Need in Order to Cut the Cord with My Cable Company?
You really don’t need much to cut the cord with your cable company. To use a streaming service or utilize media players such as Roku or Apple TV, you just need the following:
● A modern television set with an HDMI port and at least one USB port.
● A wireless internet connection with a modem and router.
● Access to an electronic port.
If you’ve had cable, chances are you already have everything you need in order to switch to a different entertainment service.
Alternatives to Cable Subscriptions
There are so many cable alternatives out there for an affordable price. The big ones include:
● Online television channels for streaming
● Apple TV
● YouTube/YouTube TV
● Amazon Prime Video
● HBO NOW/HBO GO
● Sling TV
You also have the option of casting online streaming services to your television with casting devices like Google Chromecast, or you can simply purchase a physical media player like a Roku to directly hook up to your television. You can find Tommy’s recent comparison of media players here.
Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Cable Company
Nothing is perfect, and there are certainly advantages and disadvantages with each route you choose. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of cutting the cord so you can make an informed decision.
Pros of Leaving Your Cable Company
● You will have the freedom to watch whatever you want. Streaming services allow users to simply click and watch whatever shows or films are available. Cable restricts viewers to a schedule, which is completely done away with in a streaming service.
● You’ll be saving money. Saving cash on a cable subscription is one of the main motivators that influence users to move on to streaming television. Cable subscribers pay around $120 per month on average for cable, averaging nearly $1500 per year. When paying for a high-speed internet connection at the same time, that could tack on another $1000 per year easily. But after switching, your options change significantly. You can choose an inexpensive streaming membership along with a one-time cost to purchase a physical media player, and you’ll still be saving a drastic amount of money.
● If you know a thing or two about new technology, then switching to a streaming service will be very easy. Browsing and searching are often easier with streaming apps than they are with a traditional cable subscription.
● You will actually be able to enjoy your films and shows without being stuck in front of a television in one or two spots in your home. Streaming services are highly portable. If you subscribe to a streaming service, you’ll be able to access that service through your television, your smartphone, your tablet, and your computer. As long as you’re within range of a wireless internet hotspot, you can enjoy these services literally anywhere you want.
Cons of Leaving Your Cable Company
● The learning curve could be pretty substantial if you’re not the most tech savvy, or if you’ve been using cable for most of your life. Streaming television works similarly to cable, but it feels significantly different. Instead of browsing a broadcast schedule via a menu on your television to see what’s on, you’ll have the option of selecting pretty much whatever you want to watch when you want to watch it. As we said, the freedom is great–but change is often difficult when it comes to tech.
It’s also worth noting that one related byproduct of switching to streaming is how overwhelming that freedom can feel. Having so many choices at once might even have an opposite, restrictive effect, resulting in a lot of time spent choosing what to watch instead of actually watching.
● You’ll save money, but it’s rare to find a streaming service that is free. YouTube is free to use, but you won’t be able to access films and shows via this service. Most streaming services cost around $10 to $20 per month. This is certainly cheaper than cable by a long shot, but the concept of completely free television isn’t much of a (legal) reality. Streaming services are not a solution to this. And as their popularity continues to increase, streaming services will raise their fees slowly over time. I’ve already experienced this with the services I use. It’s just inevitable.
● If you don’t already have high-speed internet, then the use of a streaming service is virtually impossible. Just about every streaming service out there lists high-speed broadband internet as a requirement in order to properly stream content.
● If you’re a sports buff, then streaming services may be a bit lacking for you. It’s very easy to access a wealth of sports channels with cable, but streaming services don’t really showcase live sports events. You can certainly use your Roku or other physical media streamer to download sports apps like Watch ESPN, but it isn’t the same as getting your sports content from cable. Some companies have hinted that they may experiment with live sports, but it hasn’t happened in a pervasive way yet.
I hope this comparison has helped you decide whether cutting the cord is a viable option. It’s a process that involves a change in equipment, but more importantly, a change in how you consume your media. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what that entails and can decide if it makes sense for you.