A year ago, I cut the cord and left cable/satellite TV. How has my cord-cutting experience been over the last year? Was it worth it? Read on and find out…
My cord-cutting background
I previously wrote about my cordcutting reasons and journey. In short:
- I wanted to save money. DirecTV had gotten too expensive
- DirecTV’s DVRs were slow, clunky and frustrating
- DirecTV’s customer service sent me over the edge
In many ways, I was already on my journey to cutting the cord over a decade ago. I haven’t had a regular landline in over a decade. In fact, in my current house we never even connected up the telephone lines. I’ve had Netflix and Amazon Prime for a few years, and occasionally watched movies on Vudu and Google Play TV & Movies.
A year ago, however, I took the plunge and canceled DirecTV and subscribed to the YouTube TV. That’s when I believe I officially joined the cord-cutting revolution.
The streaming services I’ve used over the last year
I started off with subscriptions to Amazon Prime Video, YouTubeTV, and Netflix, and I still have all 3. Streaming services have really exploded over the last year. Providers have made many shows exclusive to their streaming platform to lure subscribers. There are also many promotions that make it inexpensive to try these services. This all worked on me. Here are all the services I subscribed to for at least some time over the last year:
This is basically my cable/satellite replacement service for my live TV and sports needs. The big draws for me are the channel selection (it has all my locals) and the unlimited DVR. And, as I found out from trying other “cable replacement” streaming services, the quality of the video is better than other services.
Amazon Prime Video
This is a no brainer, as it comes with Amazon Prime. However, I’ve discovered another benefit to Amazon Prime Video. It is a good place to subscribe to premium channels. YouTube TV actually doesn’t have HBO. I can subscribe to HBO separately (I needed my Game of Thrones last year!) or, for the same price, I could subscribe to Game of Thrones through Amazon Prime Video Channels, and still have access to the HBO app.
This may seem minor, but if you end up subscribing to more than one premium service, like ShowTime or Starz, you can aggregate them with Amazon through one app. Over the year, I subscribed to HBO, and CBS All Access (Star Trek: Discovery!) through Amazon Prime Video Channels.
Netflix was the early dominator in this category and the first streaming service to get my dollars. I don’t see canceling Netflix anytime soon. It has so much content, and I watch quite a few Netflix originals.
Technically, I’ve been an ESPN+ subscriber longer since before the beginning of the service. It previously lived under other names, like WatchESPN. I have paid for the “ESPN Insider” subscription for more years than I can recall right now. In addition to exclusive ESPN articles, stats, and web site features, this package also includes (and now is) ESPN+. I’ve got a sweet grandfathered rate and I keep this subscription going all year.
I pretty much only subscribed to Hulu because I was able to get it for a year for $0.99/month. It has a decent selection of movies and tv shows, but not enough to keep my subscription all year. This is one I may reactivate from time to time, but I don’t use it enough to justify the cost.
I love YouTube TV, but it doesn’t have access to the NFL Channel or RedZone. Sling does, so during the football season, I subscribe. One thing that is very apparent after subscribing to Sling is how much better YouTube TV’s video quality is. Sports on Sling TV don’t look anywhere near as good. This could be a function of their Roku apps. I haven’t compared them on other platforms.
I’m a huge DC comics fan. In addition to original content like Titans, Doom Patrol, and the unparalleled Young Justice, this service has access to a library of classic DC shows and DC comics! I actually occasionally do some comic reading on this service.
I’ve got young children and we are all big Marvel and Star Wars fans, making this service a no brainer. Original new content is a little thin right now, but in a year or two, this service will have original content I’ll want to watch year-round. And all those classic movies!
This one kind of snuck up on me. I’m a big boxing fan and I occasionally pay for pay-per-view (PPV) fights. For the cost of about 1.5 PPV fights, you can subscribe to the DAZN all year and get access to live fights and replays of popular boxers like Canelo Alverez and Anthony Joshua. Additionally, this service has access to classic fights and live MMA bouts. You can also pay for this month to month if you’d like. As long as they keep a stable of boxers I’m interested in, this service is more than worth it.
They do need to fix some glitches though. The DAZN app on my Roku Ultra often freezes, requiring me to restart the app for popular live fights. I haven’t had this problem with the android app or on my Roku TV, however.
What I’ve liked about cord-cutting
- Flexibility and ease of subscribing and unsubscribing to services. Most services I only subscribe to when I’m using them, and I don’t have to go through a retention department to unsubscribe.
- Portability of the services. It’s nice to be able to watch any of my shows pretty much anywhere I am!
- Reduced DVR footprint in my house. I no longer need buggy and slow DirecTV DVRs or to maintain an extensive MythTV setup. Sub $40 Roku, FireTV, and Chromecast devices give me access to everything. This has also reduced my electricity costs.
- I don’t need an expensive remote. I needed to replace a failing, expensive Harmony remote. I found that since I’ve moved to Roku for almost all of my streaming that I don’t need that many features in a remote. You can learn more about this and the remote I use by reading my SofaBaton R2 Universal Roku replacement remote review.
What I haven’t liked about cord-cutting
- Too many different streaming choices. I like the diversity of content, but it is getting hard to keep track of what shows are on what streaming service, and it does get a bit annoying to subscribe to many different services with wildly different apps and user experiences. I actually keep a spreadsheet of the different services, their costs, what shows and what shows I watch on each service. I predict this is only going to get worse in the short term.
- Completely dependent on Internet service. If our Internet service goes down, no TV! Luckily, our Internet service is pretty reliable, and I’ve added a backup Internet service.
Has cord-cutting saved money?
This is the reason many people consider cord-cutting. Yes, it has saved me money. As you can probably tell, my family consumes a lot of TV content. The package we had with DirecTV had ballooned to over $200.00/month. At no point do all of the streaming services I’m subscribed to cost more than that. A large part of this is because I only pay for services when I’m using them, and I’m pretty good about taking advantage of promotions.
I also save money on electricity costs, and the amount hasn’t been insignificant. It’s actually a few dollars every month. Additionally, I don’t need to buy an expensive remote control. So all in all, I pay significantly less for more content and a better user and customer service experience. Cutting the cord is a no-brainer for me.
A year ago, I tepidly took the step of cutting the cord. At no point since I made that leap have I even considered going back. I get better content, a better user experience, and more control of my costs all at a lower cost. If you are considering cutting the cord, now’s the time.
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