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My Reply to The New York Times’ Hit Piece: The Downside to Cord-Cutting

Recently The New York Times released a story on cord cutting that I can only describe as a hit piece meant to turn people away from cord cutting.

So let’s take a moment and break down why Brian X. Chen’s story failed to take all the options cord cutters have into account.

#1 Helping Brian Find His Channels:

Right in the second paragraph Brian X. Chen said he was unhappy to find out PlayStation Vue did not offer CBS or The CW Network. Brian, let me save you some time and money here. For areas where the PlayStation Vue does not offer local channels, you can get local channels for FREE with an antenna.

Brian, you live in San Francisco, according to your NYT bio. CBS is on Channel 5, and The CW Network is on Channel 44. Not only did I help you find your content, but I saved you the extra $10 a month or $120 a year PlayStation Vue would have charged you.

#2 Cord Cutting Is Over 10 Million Strong

Brian, you talked about how there are only 4.9 million cord cutters in the United States. That is very bad data and only looks at half the data. You used eMarketer, who said there are 4.9 million fewer households paying for cable. That ignores all the cord cutters out there today who have never paid for cable.

According to The USA Today story dated August 24, 2014, there were over 7.6 million cord cutters. At CES, Sling TV announced that they estimate over 10 million cord cutters in the United States.

Cord cutting is not some small group of people, but a fast-growing market that companies are tripping over themselves to reach.

#3 There Is More to Cord Cutting Than Sling TV and PlayStation Vue

Brian, you said you only tried PlayStation Vue and Sling TV—two live TV services. Cord cutting has so much more to offer with over 100 streaming services available to cord cutters. That is like complaining about a long drive as you deliberately avoid the Interstate in favor of back roads. Of course, you won’t get the best cord cutting experience when you only use a fraction of the services out there.

#4 Cord Cutting Is Not Meant to Be Cable TV

You also said PlayStation Vue and Sling TV where designed to replace traditional cable packages. Trying to replace cable with an exact copy of cable TV is like a Windows user switching to a Mac and complaining that there is no start button.

Cord cutting is meant to be a different experience from cable. Cord cutting is more about the shows and less about the channels. You complained that you couldn’t get CBS earlier, but you missed the point: you don’t want the channel you want the shows. There are many ways to get shows other than PlayStation Vue and Sling TV. If you don’t want to get an antenna, you can subscribe to CBS All Access, Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes, and many other services, which would give you access to the shows you want.

#5 The Neighbor Test

OK, this one made me really scratch my head… Brian you used a PlayStation and complained how people struggled a bit to use the PlayStation controller to watch TV. There are many devices out there, such as Roku and the Fire TV, which not only give you access to more content than your PlayStation but give you a remote that everyone would be interested in using.

Complaining about the remote is a bad reason to not recommend cord cutting, especially when cheaper options with simpler remotes were ignored. Or just buy a traditional remote for the PlayStation 4.

The Real Bottom Line

Cord cutting is not cable TV and should not be approached as cable TV. When you go in trying to find an exact copy of cable TV you set yourself up for failure from the start and do a disservice to your readers.

Cord cutting offers so much more than traditional cable TV could ever offer. Netflix alone offers great award-winning content you cannot get on cable TV. Add in Hulu, Amazon Video, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, and other great services and you have a catalog of content that cable subscribers could only dream of. The best part is the freedom from long contracts. If you had done this test on cable you would have now been locked into a 2-year contract that you could never get out of.

So, Brian, give me a call, and I will be happy to help you find every show you want so you can give cord cutting a true and fair look.

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34 Responses to My Reply to The New York Times’ Hit Piece: The Downside to Cord-Cutting

  1. Avatar
    Jon July 16, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    I cut the cord a few months ago.

    With everything that is happening internationally lately I thought, “SkyNews would be good”, Roku, add channel, done.

    Do that for free with your cable system!

    • Avatar
      CommodoreFan64 July 16, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      If you like NEWS check out plutotv they put a lot of good quality ones on there for free also CBSN is good

  2. Avatar
    Ben M July 16, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    Excellent piece. You hit on many good reasons for becoming a cord cutter but left off what I think is a major reason and that is commercial free shows. I have been a cord cutter for 4 years now and do not miss cable at all. I get ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS with an indoor antenna and subscribe to Netfix, Huluplus commercial free and have an Amazon prime membership. Gives me more than enough content to watch and other than the OTA channels I do not have to sit through 20 minutes of commercials to watch a 40 minute show. Chen definitely missed the point of cord cutting.

    FYI, you have Brian spelled Brain at the top of your article (third sentence) and at the bottom (third from bottom).

    • Avatar
      Cord Cutters News July 16, 2016 at 10:04 am #

      There are so many great reasons to cut the cord we could not list them all but you hit on a really good one. If you watched Better Cal Saul on AMC you would have to sit through over 2 hours of commercials over just one season. (Thanks for the heads up I went and fixed that.)

    • Avatar
      Jim Carter July 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

      I second your comments!

  3. Avatar
    Iacobus July 16, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    You don’t have to wonder why The New York Times is in financial trouble when they write pieces like that.

    All one has to do is research. Apparently, this is a long stretch for a so-called, “journalist.” I wonder what cable company greased his palms to write that hit piece?

    • Avatar
      PRMan July 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

      I don’t think he’s greased. He gave it an honest effort. He just didn’t do any research first.

      He should have read r/cordcutters for a week or two first.

  4. Avatar
    Jack Astor July 16, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    NYT is a joke! You have to be brain dead to listen to anything they say.

  5. Avatar
    950Hoon July 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    I’m still wired with DirectTV, but I have a computer hooked to one TV and a Firestick on another. I think, one of the main things that is holding back people from cutting their cables, is you can’t just key into the computer or FireStick, and say, “record The A-Team at 8pm”. “Record all episodes of Ninja Warrior.” You have to search it, find it, make sure it works, and I haven’t figured out an easy way of recording anything yet, either, but it’s coming. I think that is the main drawback. I have been able to find, streaming from the internet, everything I have looked for. But if I still have the DirectTV connection if I don’t want to mess with things, if I want to watch 60 Minutes at 7pm on Sunday. But the time is coming closer and closer, when I would rather have that $70 in my pocket every month, than that Dish and DVR that I’m renting from those guys.

    • Avatar
      Kristin Noll Marsh July 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

      Why would you need to record it? Most network show episodes can be found on Hulu Plus by the next day – with the exception of CBS, which has its own service. Or get PlayOn or Plex and install one of the addon channels and just about any show that has ever aired is at your beck and call. I’ve been a cord cutter for 2 years now and have seen every show I’ve ever wanted without the need to record anything. 😉

      • Avatar
        RowMan July 16, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

        Some people (like my parents) love the cable TV-like DVR experience of TiVo and would still rather not use apps just for everyday viewing. When all is said and done, they pay ZERO per month for content with a guide and DVR style they have been used to for many years. Although they hardly use it, I set them up with one of my old Rokus and installed a slew of channels that give them plenty of movies and TV show to watch for free, as well.

    • Avatar
      PRMan July 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      I’m recording American Ninja Warrior and 60 Minutes from the TV networks’ “5 free episodes” sites. Works great.

  6. Avatar
    Norman July 16, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    I went and read the NYT article for myself and you’re right, there are a few things wrong.
    1. The idea of or suggestion to buying a Playstation console to watch Playstation Vue. If you’re going to do that, save yourself money and stay with cable.
    2. The idea that skinny bundles are the equal of cable. At best they are cable lite and you are likely to lose a channel or 2 or 3. If keeping 2 or 3 channels is worth not saving $70 a month, then go for it. Seems pricey to me.
    3. The implication that this is all you get if you cut the cord. The truth is things are changing all the time, especially this year and more’s coming. Also, cord cutting doesn’t start and stop with PS Vue or SlingTV. There’s a lot out there that’s free.
    4. Something that always get left out of the saving equation, is the must rental of the equipment, which can represent $30 to $50 above the cost of cable.

    I’ve been a cord cutter for all of 4 days, having finally escaped my 2 year bundle agreement, and I’m loving it. The experience was a lot like hesitating to jump into the pool, but once you’re in you don’t want to leave. I’m discovering new fun every day. Marco?

  7. Avatar
    frankinnoho July 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    The NYT, like the rest of the ad driven media, live and die on advertising buys. They have a vested interest in the health of the advertising, marketing and the consumer opinion shaping industry. To the extent this industry is deminished, all in the commercial media game are deminished.
    Between the basic health of the economy and the consumers increasing ability to go around these gate keepers, commercial media is struggling, and the most vulnerable among them (I.e., print) are dying. Of course they are going to say anything to prop it up.
    Regardless, fewer and fewer are hearing them everyday. Especially content producers. It is becoming increasingly obvious to them they need to produce content for “consumers” and not for “advertisers”.
    For myself, that can only be a good thing. Advertiser based content was increasingly “Lowest Common Denominator” type mindless drivel. It just filled the time between the Hillary commercials and the mortgage commercials and the beer ‘n chips commercials.

  8. Avatar
    tommyr July 16, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    Well that clown can’t be an investigative reporter that’s for sure!

  9. Avatar
    RowMan July 16, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    Is there a comments section for this article on the NYT website? I can’t find one (at least on my phone). If there deliberately isn’t one, gee, I wonder why? This guy CLEARLY, has not done his research. I have told people who are resistant to cord cutting that they have to get out of the mindset of “What channels do I need?” to “What shows do I watch?”

    • Avatar
      Elmer Fudd July 18, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      I have NYT blocked on my router, big liberal ant-american newspaper who think they now/see all.

  10. Avatar
    bobinc July 17, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    I agree with the shortsightedness of the NYT article. He was looking for a cable package not from cable and would settle for nothing less. Also as with any device there is a remote/controller learning curve. Also why would he select options he knew didn’t have the channels he wanted? Also as you pointed out why does he as a lot of cord cutters do exclude OTA channels?

  11. Avatar
    Carol Kubala July 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Cord cutting is not cable tv and thank heavens for that. Isn’t that the purpose of cord cutting? I don’t want cable or even satellite with contracts, channels I have no desire to watch, and the high cost of services I don’t need.

  12. Avatar
    88cooper July 18, 2016 at 7:36 am #

    That was a Smackdown if I ever saw one! Good work, Luke!

  13. Avatar
    OldMetalHead July 18, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    I got by without Sling TV or PS Vue for two years. I have PS Vue now, but the only reason to have either in my opinion is sports. I watch can get a lot of UFC content on FS1/FS2, and my wife likes having her HGTV shows back.

    • Avatar
      PRMan July 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

      You can get ALL the UFC content with Fight Pass a lot cheaper. And all the HGTV shows are on Netflix now. One day, I had to one star all of them just to get them out of the way…

  14. Avatar
    Manuel Stevens July 18, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    There is one more major difference that was missed in the response. When watching Cable Television and/or a particular station we have submitted our freedom of choice to someone else for them to decide what we watch. With cord-cutting, we are now free to watch whatever we please, whenever we want, wherever we want. I have had the pleasure of watching movies of content and meaning that are entertaining. American entertainment industry no longer makes the quality movies of yesteryear, but other countries do. College courses, educational programs and courses are available. Operas and the arts are available. The choices are tremendous and, almost, overwhelming. We are no longer restricted to one or two channels for the other side of the news. We can get both sides of the news from other countries, both the pro and con, both the right and left. It is no longer the question of which of those limited shows did I want to watch, but what new adventure will I choose on this Cable-Cutters Highway? It is time for program hunting in the Cable-Cutters Forest.

  15. Avatar
    Scooter July 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    As someone who cut the cord 3 years ago I admit it does require patience, resolve and determination but more importantly a new mindset. Since we cut the cord we are saving over $100 a month (over $4,000 total), we are viewing almost pure content, on demand, as opposed to the 60/40 content/commercial ratio on cable/satellite and we have only channels that we watch as opposed to the archaic linear programming approach of paying for 80 channels to watch 4. The ‘Downside to Cord-Cutting’ in my opinion is far outweighed by the upside, I think Mr. Chen lacked the objectivity to write an unbiased piece. It’s like asking a smoker who has no intention of quitting to write an article about the benefits of quitting smoking, they’ll always find the ‘Downside’.

    • Avatar
      88cooper July 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

      Nice analogy!

  16. Avatar
    88cooper July 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    A number of cord-cutters object to what is also my biggest gripe with cable, etc.: Having all those channels that I don’t want jammed down my throat.

    I’m talking Spanish channels, children’s channels, govt access channels, girl’s channels, and the 4-major networks. I look at time in front of a TV as the same as a night out for dinner. I want to pay only for what I want to eat. I don’t speak Spanish, I am not a child, I really don’t find a camera in an empty govt meeting room entertaining, I don’t watch Home Shopping programs, and I don’t need 4 different stations to tell me how many policemen were murdered today, or that it’s going to rain. One Network news channel is plenty.

    Let us look at the entire channel lineup that Comcast has, let us select the stations we want, and let us pay for them individually. It ain’t the money! It’s the fact that I don’t want to be charged for the broccoli on my plate that I didn’t ask for, when I pay for my dinner!

  17. Avatar
    1EYEDJimmyBivvins July 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    “For areas where the PlayStation Vue does not offer local channels, you can get local channels for FREE with an antenna.’

    That’s not entirely true. I can’t get any channels with a wall antenna. I could get a few channels with a quality rooftop setup but it would not be worth the cost. There are places that are outside the range of transmitters and there are places that prohibit rooftop antennas. Anyone unable to receive locals with a wall mount antenna must rely on their provider for these channels and so far Vue and Sling have failed to solve this problem. Many more people will cut the cord when local channels become available to them. I will cancel Vue and go back to cable when NFL/NCAA football seasons begin because there is no other way to watch my LOCAL NFL team and the NCAA Saturday games on ABC CBS NBC and FOX. Luckily my cable requires no contract and I can switch back and forth but many people out there won’t cut the cord until they can get locals. I really don’t believe Vue or Sling are making an effort to provide locals for all. I would like to see an article on how many people are outside the range of transmitters and the effect this has on cord cutting. I find it interesting that for the most part Vue provides local channels to areas where they are available ota with only wall antennas but not to areas where locals are out of range. A big complaint on Playstion Vue forums is from people who can get locals ota easily and don’t like paying Sony the extra $10 a month for them. I would gladly pay that $10 or even a little more if Vue would provide my locals. Unfortunately I will be forced to reconnect the cord on Sept. 1st.

  18. Avatar
    David1970 July 18, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    I’m curious why you count people who never had cable as cord cutters? Also, did you notice the 2 1/2 star review for the remote you attached. It appears that neither of you can write an unbiased review.

    • Avatar
      Cord Cutters News July 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      David cord cutters is just the generally used term for anyone who does not pay for traditional pay tv but still watches it.

      As for the remote the purpose of pointing that out is to show there are other options that the NYT never even considered not to mention options like Roku or the Fire TV.

      • Avatar
        88cooper July 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

        I spend more time reading and enjoying the Cord Cutters emails than I do watching TV. Somehow, having used car salesmen and ambulance chasers screaming at me every 10 minutes on 20 channels, just doesn’t work for me.

  19. Avatar
    Token July 18, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Well you can never overcome the fact that there will always be a ton of dumb people out there. Some just cant cord cut.

    • Avatar
      Ben M July 19, 2016 at 6:25 am #

      Well Chen is a supposed “journalist”. They quit thinking for themselves 20 – 30 years ago. Now they write what they are told to write.

  20. Avatar
    Wilson Gawthrop July 19, 2016 at 6:54 am #

    I finally dropped Directv after 10 years. My entire “TV” bill went from $205 to less than $40, and my family has more things to watch than ever before. Sound like he is a shill for the cable company.