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Topic: Cut the cord!

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bwarbiany

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Cut the cord!
« on: July 13, 2017, 05:56:08 PM »
So, I've been a cord-cutter since the end of 2015 March Madness. The biggest impediment to most people cutting the cord is the lack of live sports, as it was for me prior to the introduction of SlingTV.

I had wanted to take at least one season to see if it worked for me, but since it was Apr 2015 when I did it, that means I've made it through two football seasons and two basketball seasons since ditching DirecTV.

I thought I'd post some thoughts on what I've done and how it's working out so far.



First things first, you need a broadband internet connection. I would expect that most of you already have one, of course, so your cost for internet should NOT be considered a "cord-cutting cost". However, if you have the lowest tier of service, or if your internet provider will jack your rates due to no longer bundling with TV, you may have to factor in the cost of your internet increasing.

The key to remember is that you DON'T need blazing-fast internet. You probably don't want anything south of ~25 Mbps, but unless you're regularly streaming UHD (4K) content, anything in the 25-50 Mbps downstream rate is just fine. If someone tells you that you're going to need the 150 Mbps or 300 Mbps tier of internet, they're lying.



Okay, step #2. Local OTA channels. For some people this matters. For others it doesn't. For me, it didn't, until I started getting into NFL and found myself unable to watch a lot of games. For college basketball, and some college football games (SEC on CBS, prime-time ABC game*, Fox games), having your locals is really helpful.

For most people, if you're in a city you already have locals. You may need to buy an antenna as a one-time purchase, but you will get them. You can go to the TV Fool website to determine what you will receive.

For me, I'm about 50 miles from the broadcast towers. That meant I couldn't get by with a simple indoor window antenna. But for under $50, I bought this model off Amazon, and it works beautifully.

One thing you'll notice: TV looks better over the air! OTA transmission is now all digital, which means that you don't have the static and noise of the old-school analog OTA signals. The reason it looks better, then, is that cable/satellite streams are highly compressed in order to save bandwidth. OTA signals are not. So the picture is actually better OTA than it is on cable/satellite.

(* I put the asterisk by ABC, as getting ESPN through other sources will still get you streaming access to the ABC game even w/o antenna.)



Next is your non-live streaming services. I'll go over this briefly since I'm primarily writing this for sports fans. But once you cut the cord, if you still want to watch TV, you probably want access to the main streaming services. Here's what I use:

Amazon Prime Instant Video ($8.25/mo*): A lot of content here. Not as much original content as some of the other services, but getting better. You can rent movies that aren't available on Prime, but I rarely need to do that (once every 4-6 months).

Hulu ($7.99/mo): Biggest claim to fame is next-day access to network sit-coms and dramas, although they've been coming along with a lot of original content lately.

Netflix ($10/mo HD, $12/mo UHD): GREAT original content and decent library of non-original. Oh, and a lot of their newer stuff is in UHD. Sure, you bought that fancy UHD television on Black Friday, but you can't watch any content from your cable company? Well, now you can.

Oh, and for those of you with kids? Kids do *JUST* fine on the streaming services. In fact, kids are instant gratification by default, so they like the on demand viewing more than waiting around for a program to start and then sitting through commercials.

(* I asterisk the Amazon Prime cost because I was a Prime member for the shipping benefits LONG before I ever started watching video content.)



And now the big one: live TV. This has exploded over the last 2 years. The first key enabler for sports fans was SlingTV, which brought along ESPN. Now you add DirecTV Now, Playstation View, Hulu Live, and there are others in the works.

You can see their channel lineups compared here, along with the base package costs.

Keys:

SlingTV gets you access to ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN3 (as well as streaming access to ABC sports) for $20/month. For added tiers you can have additional sports options.

I believe Playstation Vue is the only one with Big Ten Network that I can tell. It also includes local channels if you're in a market with them, but prices recently jumped and it's about $50/month.

DirecTV Now is about $35/month for their base plan, but that doesn't include BTN. For BTN you need to get into a bigger package.

Hulu Live includes BTN in its base package, but looks to be about $40/month.

Now, some of those look pricy. But I argue it's better than traditional cable/satellite for two reasons:

  • That's your all-in cost. With satellite/cable there a whole bunch of addtional fees, equipment rentals, etc etc. Even if the advertised prices were similar, you don't have all that other crap layered on.
  • There's no contract. I cancelled SlingTV this year right after the end of March Madness. I'll start another service (maybe Sling,
     maybe not, depending how much I decide to value BTN) right at the beginning of football season. So that cost is amortized. I get plenty of content through my other streaming services that I don't need the other live TV channels.

So although the live packages aren't as compelling as SlingTV at $20/mo was originally, I think they're still a better deal than cable.



After this, there *is* an equipment cost... Maybe. A lot of you probably already have a Smart TV that has these apps. If not, a Roku Streaming Stick is pretty cheap, as is the Amazon Fire TV stick. I personally eventually upgraded to a Roku Ultra, as I found the higher-performance CPU improved responsiveness and I wanted the 4K UHD support. But this is a one-time cost, not a rental.



The only thing that doesn't easily stream is NFL, so for that you need either an antenna or a streaming service with local channels. But some of these live services include locals, so at least that's an option now -- it wasn't when SlingTV was the only one in the game.

All told, I ended up spending a little more on my internet (due to lack of bundling), and add $20 offseason and maybe $40-60 during the sports season depending on what service I choose. These services might actually start competing more aggressively now that there are more of them around, though, in which case I might be able to TRULY do a more a la carte channel selection (i.e. the ESPN's and BTN only and leave everything else out).

That's my take on it. I'm sure the rest of you might add to this with your own thoughts, but I've basically been able to get 90% of the sports content I want, and plenty of other streaming video content, and cut out a huge bill otherwise.

Drew4UTk

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 06:09:37 PM »
interesting that you post this today. 

FuboTV may advertise here- and after reading on them, it makes sense.

their BLUF:

"Never miss a game with fuboTV live streaming right to you. fuboTV brings you an extensive sports lineup giving you access to 70+ HD channels including NBC and Fox Sports (with their RSN’s), beIN Sports (English & Spanish) NBA TV, and many more.

70+ National Channel Lineup including beIN Sports, Big Ten Network, FOX Deportes, FOX Soccer Plus, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, GolTV, NBA TV, NBCSN, Univision, Univision Deportes Network and more.

The most comprehensive Soccer lineup anywhere! - English Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Primeira Liga, Liga MX, Copa Libertadores, MLS, FIFA World Cup Qualifying and Final, and more.

Marquee Event Coverage - Summer & Winter Olympics, NFL Kickoff Game on NBC, NFL Playoffs on NBC and FOX, MLB All-Star Game on FOX, MLB World Series on FOX, NHL Playoffs on NBC, NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC and more.

Additional Coverage - Roland Garros, NCAA Football & Basketball, NCAA Big East Basketball Tournament, U.S. Open and British (Golf), NASCAR, Daytona 500, UFC, the Triple Crown and more.

News and Entertainment Networks - A&E, Bravo, CNBC, E!, El Rey Network, FX, MSNBC, History Channel, Lifetime, National Geographic, USA and more.

Watch unlimited programming across multiple devices: Roku, iPhone/iPad, Android Phone/Tablet, PC/Mac, Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire and Chromecast."


I roku out in the pool house, and i don't miss not having access to channels i have in the house (via DirectTV)... I've strongly considered cutting out cable/satellite- and I may just do it.  Even aside from OTA channels, most the major networks have free online streaming- so a $100 chromebook w/HDMI and wireless allows me to slap it on a TV, a monitor, or on a projector.  A matter of fact, I imagine some of my early season games will be on the chromebook's screen tethered to a cell while on a sandbar. 

Riffraft

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 11:08:44 AM »
What it doesn't do is give you the NFL game of your favorite team when you no longer live in the market for that team. Overall a good thing. My niece did basically the same thing you did, but she has her mother's NFL package to watch her football games over there or uses the app on her phone and project it on her TV.

bwarbiany

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 01:46:58 PM »
What it doesn't do is give you the NFL game of your favorite team when you no longer live in the market for that team. Overall a good thing. My niece did basically the same thing you did, but she has her mother's NFL package to watch her football games over there or uses the app on her phone and project it on her TV.

Yeah, I don't quite have a favorite team... I was a Bears fan at one point, but they've lost me. I might have become a Chargers fan, but I hate teams that hold their cities hostage for a stadium and then move because the city says no. So I just like to have NFL to watch whatever game is on.

But truthfully, unless you have NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV, I thought there was no way to truly get all the out-of-market games anyway. I thought generic cable or satellite service would only show you the games that were on your local broadcast channels, which is exactly what you can get with OTA. This was IMHO the primary draw of NFL Sunday Ticket -- ALL the games.

That said, there's quite a bit of games on.

Thursday: Twitter streams some of the Thursday night games free.
Sunday: Typically between CBS, Fox, and NBC, there are games from 1 PM ET until the night game on NBC. Sometimes multiple at once. So you get all the local games cable would give you.
Monday: ESPN now has MNF, so if you are already on one of the live services mentioned above, you get MNF.

And it appears that NFL Sunday Ticket is available without DirecTV as a streaming option, but I don't know the limitations of that.

CatsbyAZ

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 03:04:28 PM »
I went through a bit of a sports viewer's identity crisis after cutting the cord. I ended up spending more Saturday's at the sports bar, the only advantage of watching multiple games simultaneously severely outweighed by running up a huge tab, surrounding by drunks accumulating as the day when on, and not being able to drive myself home.

Streaming worked pretty well, but still, not as easy to switch back and forth between games.

bwarbiany

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 03:54:40 PM »
I went through a bit of a sports viewer's identity crisis after cutting the cord. I ended up spending more Saturday's at the sports bar, the only advantage of watching multiple games simultaneously severely outweighed by running up a huge tab, surrounding by drunks accumulating as the day when on, and not being able to drive myself home.

Streaming worked pretty well, but still, not as easy to switch back and forth between games.

Yeah, that's one reason I haven't brought up the "well if you want to watch a specific game that you can't stream, you can always go to the sports bar!"

I can pretty much rack up the equivalent of a monthly cable bill pretty quickly that way  :singing:

CatsbyAZ

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 06:29:51 AM »
The other thing about nixing the cord (back in 2015) is finding out what I really didn't miss, in a very good way. I don't for one second miss the baseball games I used to watch (radio is better for baseball anyway), or even Monday Night Football. Or Storage Wars.

bwarbiany

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 12:33:12 PM »
Cord Cutters News had a nice article today specifically about streaming college football.

They showed FuboTV has BTN and FS1. But I did make a look at the FuboTV site and it's $35/mo, and *doesn't* include ESPN. It looks to me like FuboTV will carry a lot of other sports content, if you're into some of the 2nd-tier sports that don't get a lot of airplay.

But it looks to me like PS Vue and DirecTV NOW are the most complete options. SlingTV is the only one with the PAC-12 network (but doesn't have ESPN and you need the $40/mo package if you want ESPN *and* FS1.)

I'll have to do some more research and figure out exactly what the cost is based on which channels are included with which package.

Thumper

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 03:02:04 PM »
I went with DirecTV Now.  I was one of the early adopters and got their "Go Big" package for $35.  Now it is $60.  The package I have has ESPN, ESPN2, EspnNews, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, BTN, SEC Network.  It had the LHN for awhile but it went back to regional.  I get the local channels over the air with an antenna so I'm pretty well set.  As a bonus, Directv Now threw in HBO for free.
One thing lacking is a DVR which is supposed to be available this fall.  I use a service called Playon Desktop which provides some DVR functionality.  It actually downloads whatever streaming video I request and saves it to a disk on my home network.  It also removes commercials so that is pretty good.

MichiFan87

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Re: Cut the cord!
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2017, 01:01:46 AM »
Obviously, going to the bar for games is more practical / cost-effective and even desirable if you live in/near a city where there's transit and an alumni bar / club for your school.

Youtube TV is expanding and seems to be the most compelling deal in terms of cost, channels provided, and functionality. I don't know anyone who has it, but I'd be curious to get reviews:

http://www.businessinsider.com/youtube-tv-expands-us-footprint-2017-7
“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing”
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MaximumSam

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Cord cutting football watching
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2017, 01:20:27 PM »
All right troops.  I finally cut the cord and no longer pay for cable.  However, being able to watch college football is a priority.  What are my best options?

At first I was going to roll with Sling TV.  However, it doesn't appear they have ABC, CBS, or the B1G Network, so that cuts out a lot of games.  The website isn't all that user friendly so I was having a hard time figuring out what they did and didn't offer.

Does anyone use Playstation Vue?  They appear to offer more channels (at a steeper price), but seem to have BTN as well as ABC.  What say you?

The priority channels would be Fox (OSU v. Oklahoma, OSU v. PSU, OSU v. Michigan) and then ESPN, but would like to have BTN, ABC, and CBS if possible.  Then all the other stuff like ACC network and piddly stuff like that.  The more options the better.

FearlessF

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Re: Cord cutting football watching
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2017, 01:46:14 PM »
I'm with the cable company, so no help here

I am curious if you are able to get all the live football content you are looking for.  You may need multiple subscriptions.  Also, curious as to how much that might cost in total.

I could be a cord cutter when I retire  ;)
"Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."

Anonymous Coward

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Re: Cord cutting football watching
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2017, 02:28:54 PM »
For sports-watchers at home, I'm beginning to believe the more ideal option (than a true cut cord) is in the middle.

A YouTube TV subscription costs $30 per month. It includes practically endless "on demand" programming but also comes with the advantage of being paired with every ESPN channel plus BTN, Fox and ABC for sports.

It is growing as fast as any alternative I know of. It premiered in these cities in April:

New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

And it has already grown to these ones since then:

Washington D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

I hear Detroit is coming in the next month.

FearlessF

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Re: Cord cutting football watching
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2017, 02:37:52 PM »
BTN President Mark Silverman kicked off the 2017 Big Ten media days Monday with a quick rundown of updates and advancements in the network.

>> BTN will be available on Hulu, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling and DirecTV Now — all over-the-top, Internet broadcasters — coming in the fall, a decision that addresses the declining numbers in cable subscribers, particularly those younger Americans who are “cutting the cord” or not signing up for cable at all.

>> For the first year, BTN will feature a woman, Lisa Byington, calling play-by-play during a football telecast. Byington will do the Sept. 16 Northwestern-Bowling Green game.

>> The BTN tailgate show will go to two hours and visit ten campuses.


>> BTN games will be televised on the Fox Sports Go app as well as the BTN2Go app.

>> BTN is a co-collaborator with ESPN on the upcoming four-part documentary on Minnesota coach PJ Fleck. "BEING PJ Fleck" will debut Aug. 2.
"Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."

 

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