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Best of 2017: Avoid The Temptation to Make Cord Cutting About Replacing Cable TV

Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating retired people cancelling cable TV serviceToday we continue our look back at some of the best and most popular stories of 2017. Today we look at why you shouldn’t make cord cutting about replacing cable TV.

I am hearing a lot of talk about how cord cutting is not less expensive than cable TV. I could not disagree more because my family saves over $2,000 a year and our studies have shown that on average cord cutters save over $1,000 a year.

When I talk with people who say they cannot save money I often find they are subscribing to five or more services. One person had a very high package of PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime.

That raises a major mistake I often see people make. They try to make cord cutting just like cable. Cord cutting can be a great way to save money and still watch your content but you need to look at it differently.

So here are a few guidelines on how you can avoid the trap of trying to make cord cutting just like cable.

#1 Stop looking for channels and start looking for shows.

I often hear how someone is paying for the most expensive package of PlayStation Vue, or they got an add-on for Sling, just because they wanted access to one show.

If all you want is that show why not do one of two things? First, buy a season pass to that show on Amazon or iTunes, which is far less expensive than paying monthly for that one show.

Second, only subscribe to that package or service when that show is live. Want HBO just for “Game of Thrones”? Why not subscribe to HBO Now only when “Game of Thrones” is on?

Get past the idea that if you want a station you need to pay for it year-round. Cord cutting gives you the freedom to add and drop services any time you want.

#2 Don’t overpay for Internet.

This is a big one because most cord cutters make two big mistakes when they become a cord cutter.

First, shop around for your Internet. Do not just go with your cable provider. Often they will charge down graders considerably more than someone who is new and only wants Internet. By shopping around and jumping back and forth between cable and DSL, you can save hundreds of dollars every year.

Second, streaming does not need a ton of speed. When I cut the cord I only had 10 Mbps down from our local DSL company. We find 20 to 25 Mbps down is more than enough to stream Netflix and other services. I run Cord Cutters News with just 40 Mbps down.

Often when you downgrade your TV service reps will try to talk you into a faster Internet package. Avoid that temptation.


#3 If you went back would you really cancel Netflix?

There are about 20 million cord cutters in the United States but over 60 million Netflix subscribers. That means about 40 million cable TV subscribers also pay for Netflix. There are roughly 50 million Amazon subscribers, meaning 30 million cable subscribers also pay for Amazon Prime.

So ask yourself if you went back to cable TV would you really cancel all of these services or would you be paying for cable TV and several streaming services?

#4 Don’t be fooled by the offer on the phone.

Often when you call in they will tell you the bill will be the same; however, they don’t tell you the full story. Here are a few things to ask them.

First, what are the rental fees on the devices? Some cable providers are charging you a fee for every TV in your house because they require a box on every TV.

Second, what are the taxes and other fees?

Third, how long is this rate good for? This one is tough because they often will say the life of the contract, but get it in writing. If it is not in writing don’t trust it. When I talk to people and they tell me this I always ask to see their contract. When we get it they are shocked to find out the promotional rate won’t last for the life of the contact.

So don’t be fooled. Stay strong! Cord cutting is less expensive than cable.

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33 Responses to Best of 2017: Avoid The Temptation to Make Cord Cutting About Replacing Cable TV

  1. Avatar
    Nathan John Ganiere December 28, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    #3 listed reason why I find it hard to consider any type of service as Netflix, Prime, Hulu on demand, or Boomerang or whatever else one would have as a savings when I add my bill up each month, as I’d probably have most of it anyhow had I kept traditional TV, tend to just add up my internet + my tv package aka Directv NOW currently as to what I would be paying had I kept TV through traditional method, that all being said, I can pay for all those services but yet not still pay what Mediacom would want for internet + basic family television…….

  2. Avatar
    Sunflower December 28, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    #1 tells me to keep building up my home dvd library : )

  3. Avatar
    Mike Thaler December 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    You keep mentioning Amazon Prime Many of us belonged to “Prime” because of the “free, fast shipping options and had nothing to do w. cord cutting.

    • Avatar
      Vegas Steve December 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

      I sub to Prime for both, actually. Imho, it’s a great value.

  4. Avatar
    Ron M. December 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    One idea I don’t ever see suggested is to use a relative’s logon credentials (might even offer to pay them a little something ). My senior citizen Mother would never do without Cable TV because she’s mostly at home with a lot of free time. I’ve even suggested cord cutting ways to save her money but she’s not at all tech savvy and she doesn’t want to learn something new. At any rate, I logon on to all the Cable roku channels with her logon credentials and this includes about four local channel roku apps so I can get some of my local live channels on Roku. My T-Mobile account pays for my Netflix so I only pay for Internet which I work from home part time so I have to have internet. There are a couple of shows on Showtime and HBO and we just buy the season on DVD used local on craigslist for $5.

    • Avatar
      Fred Koot December 28, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

      Because this site is for legal ways to get content .

      • Avatar
        Ron M. December 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

        Oh I understand, I’ll stop suggesting this.

        • Avatar
          Fred Koot December 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

          No biggie, a lot of people do it

      • Avatar
        Roy Aguilera December 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

        What is illegal about using your families legally paid for cable package log in?
        People share their HBO Now and Netflix passwords. Isn’t it essentially the same?

        • Avatar
          Ron M. December 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

          That’s the way I was looking at it, plus the fact that when my Mom does come over to visit she’s watching her “benefit” she gets by paying the cable company. One thing of note is that “charter cable” (just using as an example), they block their own roku app because it’s not on the same internet as my Mom’s home (she doesn’t even have internet).

        • Avatar
          Fred Koot December 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

          Because they legally paid for the service, not someone else and don’t have the rights to share it. Just because services like HBO and Ntflix don’t crack down doesn’t make sharing leagel.

          • Avatar
            Ron M. December 28, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

            Good article Fred, thanks for that link. This article basically described what I was thinking… realizing that cable companies know what’s going on and just how will they stop it and under what scenarios will they allow it. Like the article said, they don’t have a problem with one or two family members using their parents login (paraphrasing), it’s when it’s many more users. I would think they know that my Mom lives a couple of miles from me and when she visits she has the right to use her credentials to watch in my house.

  5. Avatar
    Fred Koot December 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Also I don’t see mention of Netflix dvd/bluray plan. It’s a cheap way to get content that’s not available on streaming

  6. Avatar
    Roy Aguilera December 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    “I could not disagree more because my family saves over $2,000 a year and our studies have shown that on average cord cutters save over $1,000 a year.”

    Last night on your podcast you mentioned that you subscribe to FuboTV, Sling, YouTubeTV, DirecTVNow and Vue. But you leave that out of your figure because of it being charged to Cord Cutters News. If you didn’t do that what would your real monthly bill be? Unless you really only use it in the office and not at home at all.

    “When I talk with people who say they cannot save money I often find they are subscribing to five or more services.”

    Yet so do you but you don’t factor that in to your figures.

    • Avatar
      Cord Cutters News December 28, 2017 at 11:23 pm #

      What I have at home and what I have at work are two very different things.

  7. Avatar
    Michael Smith December 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    I cut the cable specifically to save on my cable bill. I had the triple play with my telco (only game out here in BFE). I dropped the local phone, upgraded to 15 mps internet, dropped cable and subscribed to PS Vue Elite for a total savings of $110/month. I am considering subscribing to DTVN with a $5/month HBO for $65/month which is only $10/month more than what I’m paying now but will give my wife her channels that Vue either has dropped or haven’t added. So Luke, yes I cut the cord to save on and replace my cable.

    • Avatar
      CordCutting2017 December 29, 2017 at 12:29 am #

      Have her look at https://try.philo.com/ It should cover most of what she might be looking for and it’s only $16 or $20 depending on the package you choose.

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    charles perry December 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

    Your commentary is so right. Basicly, when you make the switch, you have to decide 2 things: Do you really watch [this cable channel] and do you know about the hidden fees? Cable charges so many fees that are avoidable by streaming, and if you buy a modem and digital antenna, you save even more. Plus, as another poster suggests, Amazon Prime pays for itself in lower prices on items you would buy anyway AND free shipping. As far as basic cable channels, there are only about 20 anyone really watches, and they are usually available in the lower-end streaming packages. The money saved here can go to the channels that really have fresh programming such as Hulu and Netflix. Finally, don’t pay for CBS All Access, as many of those programs can be seen elsewhere. Even the exclusives are so rare you can wait for a free month promotion and not miss anything.

    • Avatar
      Brian Alexander December 29, 2017 at 6:58 am #

      What’s a digital antenna? Does it look like fingers?

      • Avatar
        charles perry December 29, 2017 at 9:29 am #

        I don’t what you’re thinking of, but mine is a flat plate with recievers attached. It’s not like the old rabbit ears, and it only picks up local stations. However, some streamers carry local stations, so you may be able to avoid that problem by picking the right service.

        • Avatar
          Brian Alexander December 29, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

          Fingers are also called “digits…”

          I asked the question because there is no such thing as a “digital antenna.” My 1980’s vintage Radio Shack UFO antenna works great in my area. Those new flat plate antennas are more correctly termed “UHF antennas,” and they don’t work as well for folks that still have broadcast stations in the VHF range, especially those with channel 2 (like Chicago.) I’ve never tested, but I wonder if an old-school UHF loop would work as well as a flat panel, just not be as pretty?

          • Avatar
            charles perry December 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

            Well, if you’re going to split hairs, they are NOT antennas in the sense that they take analog waves and convert them into pictures on the screen. Rather, they receive digital data being sent out from various sources and transfer them into an analog type format. Yes, there are old fashioned antennas that can receive certain low-power stations from nearby, but what you call an “UFO antenna” has not been able to receive regular channels since the FCC conversion in 2009, although conversion boxes were made for those with older analog sets. I’m assuming that’s what you use, since they do convert digital signals into the UHF format.

          • Avatar
            Brian Alexander December 29, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

            Not sure where you got the idea that your antenna is a digital/analog converter. Antennas are antennas – they pick up a signal from the air, whether analog or digital, and concentrate it into a strong enough signal for your television to decode. The antenna is just pieces of metal (with an added amplifier in some cases.) Heck, if you’ve got a strong enough signal and no multipath issues, you can use a paperclip bent into an “L” shape and stick in the center of your coax jack!

            My old antenna is attached via a 75 ohm cable to my 1 year old Samsung TV, and receives all the digital signals in my area – just like it was attached to my converter box after 2009, but before we upgraded our TV – and, before that, hooked directly to that old analog TV.

  9. Avatar
    SanityChecker December 28, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    For me CuriosityStream replaced History/Science/Discovery/TLC channels and turns out to be far far better. We rotate everything else once in a while – Netflix, DTV Now sometimes. which saves a bundle instead of keeping those subs every month. And then there’s free Pluto/TubiTV/Roku Channel/Popcornflix/etc.

    If looking for substance, definitely try CuriosityStream trial. CableTV is mostly sensationalized junk and you’re paying for ads.

    • Avatar
      CordCutting2017 December 29, 2017 at 12:26 am #

      Don’t forget now you get the option of Philo https://try.philo.com/ 37+ channels that account for about $100/mo on a single TV through cable for only $16/mo.

  10. Avatar
    Vegas Steve December 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    All common sense, but maybe someone gets something out of this. Unfortunately, there are way too many people with little to none. People who try to replace cable channel-for-channel are playing right into BIG cable’s ‘it’s not cheaper to cord cut/stream’. Like stats, you can always find a way to twist things.

    • Avatar
      CordCutting2017 December 29, 2017 at 12:28 am #

      AKA the DTVN Go Big package that bumps you right into that $70/mo ballpark… mix Philo and one other service like Sling Blue and you’re at $40/mo for the same as the fluffier package with the crap you don’t need/want.

  11. Avatar
    stumpy579 December 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    Number one find the service that gives you the channels you Must have with as few of your don’t want channels as possible for the lowest possible price. Never accept a service that does not provide your MUST haves or you will never be satisfied. Shopping for internet is a pipe dream for most people. I have two choices cable co. or phone co.. That is it period. Not much shopping around to do here. I have dsl from Frontier and my phone bill is $84 for phone and internet up to 24 mbps and that is the max available. Cable is $121 month for up to 25 mbps w/o cable subscription or $98 month with cable subscription. I have had Amazon prime long before it included any free video content and would still keep if it did not have the video so I don’t count that as a pay tv cost. I had Netflix when I had cable so again that don’t count. I have Vue $44.99 that gives me my must haves with a bunch of crap I don’t want but it is easily the best of the bunch for me. No channels ota where I live. I am saving a lot of money with what I have now and what that would cost from cable company but more internet competition is needed.

  12. Avatar
    CordCutting2017 December 29, 2017 at 12:24 am #

    #1 – a spreadsheet of shows/channels is a good start to figure out where your focus should be. When I did mine I found 50%+ of the content I was watching was broadcast ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX.

    #2 – your 40M down isn’t a big deal for a server / hosting… if you’re hosting locally then your upstream is more important and is probably about 5-10M at most for typical rez service.
    — for most streaming content 25 would be barebones if you wanted to do anything while streaming content and probably wouldn’t cut it very well for a household with 4 people in it.

    #3 – people with cable pay for netflix because there’s a ton more content than if they spent $15/mo for a single pay channel like HBO/SHO/TMC/Starz on their bundle.

    #4 – same goes for internet…. buy your modem, get a tivo w/ lifetime EPG, build your own Plex box and get a couple of HDHR’s with CC’s for them 1st free / 2nd $2.50/mo…. with the Plex box I setup for about $900 I could simply add the Extend box for $50-$60 for 4 tuners to go back to coax service.

    Once you have a plan and put up the money to do it right there’s a ton of savings to be had. Even with the occasional splurge there’s still more savings after your first year (being generous). Even in the 6.5 months I’ve cut the cord I’ve been saving $125/mo on video services that I took into account while building my Plex box/subscriptions/add ons/ etc. and still saved more than I spent.

    I won’t be spending anything on additional equipment in 2018 which means that money gets to stay and earn interest in my checking account! I did splurge and bite on the gig internet service that will trim that profit to only $75/mo I’m not sending to Comcast each month but, 20X the speed and it’s price locked for 2 years.

    Maybe we should start a cord cutting consultant service to build packages based on what people want? 🙂

  13. Avatar
    Selden Deemer December 29, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    I could hardly disagree more. I moved to an area with no OTA TV service ~9 months ago, and I rely exclusively on streaming. Last month I stayed at a state park lodge that had basic cable — a vast wasteland that I have no desire to pay for.

    CuriosityStream, Amazon Prime Video, PBS streaming, and Youtube provide everything I am interested in watching.

  14. Avatar
    Carol December 29, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    We were in a grandfathered plan with dish that they no longer have it was only 42 dollars per month but didn’t really have anything we wanted to watch. We already had Netflix and Amazon prime.. We don’t watch sports or have children living at home so all we added was the one time cost of a outdoor antenna and recently we bought a all included tivo. We were retired when we cut the cord so even 42 dollars a month was a nice saving. Another thing to consider is the public Library for dvds and hoopla ebooks and audiobooks.

  15. Avatar
    Tom Austen January 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

    I don’t see the fault in my decision to subscribe to Vue as a cable replacement service. There are other issues to consider besides cost and channel line-ups. For instance, dealing with my local cable company was a pain in the ass. They raised rates and changed channel offerings constantly. The customer service was terrible. The hardware they gave me to use was unreliable. With Vue, I have 1) a month-to-month subscription which I can modify anytime while online, 2) all the channels I want, 3) arguably the best DVR service, and 4) my choice as to which hardware to use.

    As a computer user, I would need to invest in Internet service anyway, and my 12 Mbps DSL handles streaming TV just fine. Some people complain that their cable package includes too many channels they don’t watch, or they complain about having to pay for channels they can get OTA. No matter which package you choose, you’ll end up with something you don’t necessarily want or need. Netflix and CBS All Access are no different–they include tons of programs that don’t interest me.