Cord Cutting- Your how-to guide

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cord cutting how to guideI find Cord Cutting to be a very interesting topic simply because of the incredibly broad range of cord cutters that you can fit into. We have certainly come a long way from one of the original cord cutting strategies and quite possibly the simplest. For the OG cord cutting you would just cancel your cable paid TV service, buy a TV antenna, sign up for an internet only plan, and Netflix. This would have been remarkably cheaper than your existing over the air TV package but that was then and this is now. Today, with the onset of so many streaming services and rising internet prices it’s doesn’t feel quite as easy to cut the cord.

Here are the 6 steps I took when I tried to finally pull the cord cutting trigger.

1. What channels and shows do you watch?

Sounds really easy, right? I thought so too! First, I started going through my cable channel guide and picked out all the shows that we watched regularly. This exercise turned out to be quite informative since apparently, we don’t watch all that many with any regularity and I doubt you do too. So, our list of “must-haves” began and only had a handful of channels/shows that we “needed.” I really wasn’t expecting the serious FOMO feeling that immediately followed my excitement that we didn’t “need” all the extra channels. I started thinking about all the shows that maybe, possibly, one day, we will be in the mood to watch again when there isn’t anything else on. Obviously not rational but that didn’t change the fact that our list expanded to include a bunch of additional channels that we decided we needed and wanted.

2. Switch to a standalone internet package.

Full disclosure, If you are in an area with many internet providers then this will be more extensive than it was for us. We only have a few options available in our area so this step wasn’t too painful. Overall this shouldn’t be difficult and can mostly be done by browsing the different plan options on the provider’s web page. However, if you would really like to cut down on the monthly expense then you will have to call and waste a substantial amount of time asking for the lowest priced plan available. It would make sense that it wouldn’t take a long time to get this information but it does. I have done this many times and this is how it usually goes:

  1. Call and request to change my plan and I bounce between sales, customer service, retention & billing.
  2. The rep offers the “lowest promo plan.” This is usually a double/triple play.
  3. I decline and push for a lower standalone internet plan, then they offer me the “lowest” recommended streaming plan based on my “estimated usage.”
  4. Finally, I decline this again and then they offer me something that sounds like it may actually be the lowest.

By the way, if anyone reading this has any tips on how to improve my process, please share. I am always interested in wasting less time negotiating with my service providers.

One very important piece of information that you should know is the reps will absolutely tell you because you are connecting so many devices to the internet that you need some astronomical amount of MBPS (megabits per second). The fact of the matter is that all of your devices are not connecting simultaneously so your needs do not match the answer to the question. The question of “how many devices do you connect to the internet” is flawed and should be how many devices will simultaneously connect. They do not ask that question because then they wouldn’t be able to start the conversation at their ~$100 package.

Note: If you visit your favorite streaming service website and search for recommended streaming speed, you will see that you only need 5-8 Mbps to get HD quality.

3. What cord cutting streaming services have the shows you watch?

This is where I truly believe most potential cord cutters fail because honestly, I almost gave up myself. There is no great way to find the package that has everything you determined as “must-haves” in step 1. Although, there are many sites that try and compare channel lineups, like this one at Cnet, I highly recommend using them. If you find yourself with some channels missing from the “best” package you are then presented with 3 options:

  1. Whittle down your list
  2. Select a bigger streaming package
  3. Add additional streaming services

The 1st option is definitely the smartest option but humans are emotional creatures and so options 2 and 3 are much more common.

Note: Option 2 seems like it would make sense however it’s not always that easy since different services have different niches. See below for some of the big ones with Live TV.

  1. Sling Tv
  2. DirecTV Now
  3. Hulu
  4. YouTube TV
  5. PS Vue
  6. Fubo
  7. Philo

For our own selection, we initially chose sling (blue + orange). Then when I realized I was missing some local sports channels I switched to Fubo. Fubo, however, is geared mostly toward sports channels and didn’t give us many of the entertainment channels on our list from step 1. This is about the time I was strongly considering going back to my cable provider.

As our final attempt, I decided to try DirecTV Now. We didn’t fit into their most affordable plans since the local sports channels are unlocked at the $55 package but it was certainly cheaper than our old cable package. This package has every channel on our original list plus all of the additional channels we added during the moment of weakness as well as a bunch of other channels that we never watch.

4. What streaming devices are needed for cord cutting?

There is a lot of options on this step so I will go through the options that I considered.

The TV Antenna feels like something from the past but the reality is you can get a fairly decent number of channels over the air, providing your house is in the vicinity of the transmission. The FCC has a search tool for you to see exactly which channels you will have access to. Depending on what channels are available, this may help you choose between different streaming packages. I whittled my list down to these three from Mohu:

The Streaming Player is the single most important piece of this cord cutting puzzle! If you have a good player then it makes your life so much easier when switching between different streaming services. I personally think one stands above the rest and so I purchased the Roku Ultra and could not be happier with that decision. My runner up choices:

  1. Roku – All other players
  2. Amazon Fire TV Stick
  3. Amazon Fire TV Recast
  4. Apple TV

5. Which Modem & Router to buy?

I added this one because most people leave this extra expense on their Internet Service Provider’s bill because they aren’t even aware it exists. Take a look at your statement and more than likely you will see a cost of ~$10 every month for them to rent you the modem that delivers the internet to your home. There is absolutely a better way and you should be taking advantage of it right now!

There are many different options out and they all do the same thing so it’s really only a matter of finding something that won’t break the bank and that is reliable for what you need it to do…deliver internet throughout your home. I went with the below:

Modem: ARRIS SURFboard

Router: NETGEAR Dual Band

6. Sit Back and Enjoy!

That is really all there is to it! Cord Cutting for us was about flexibility in what we watch and control over what our bill is. The savings are certainly there if you can find a balance between needs & wants and definitely there if you are ok turning on certain services for a short time to binge your favorite series and cancel it when you finish.

I hope this list was helpful for you! Leave some comments on any tips you have found, I am always looking for new cord-cutting strategies!

-D-

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