Financial and Time Stewardship – Cutting the cord

Years ago we decided to shut off our cable. This past week we went on vacation and as part of our resort room we had an included basic cable with a few movie channels. During our time there we turned our TV on a few times and let the channel guide scroll through. We both immediately responded, “All these channels and nothing to watch.” I wanted to write about our streaming experience to help those out there that might be on the fence when it comes to cutting the cord.

Cutting the cord has been one of the best decisions we’ve made, both from a financial and time management perspective. Does that mean we have no television services? No, in fact we subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and as an Amazon Affiliate, I obviously also have Prime. In the remaining bits of the article I will share our experience with each of the streaming services we’ve used and suggestions for how to get the best out of your hard earned entertainment dollar.

In order to use streaming services, you’ll either need a properly equipped SmartTV or a streaming appliance such as the Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc. We personally use the AppleTV, but I’ve heard good things about each of the other options.

Streaming Hardware
Amazon Hardware
$119.99 Fire TV Cube with Hands Free Alexa and 4K Ultra HD
$69.99   Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Remote
$29.99   Fire TV with Alexa Voice Remote

Apple Hardware
For the Apple Fanboys, Apple has multiple versions of the AppleTV, largely just providing additional space for applications and media. If you don’t have other Apple products to link in your home, or if you’re not a user of iPhones, Amazon’s options are likely more cost effective and a better option.

Google and Roku
I don’t have any personal experience with the Google Chromecast or the Roku, but I do know they are popular options as well. Please feel free to Google these options, I’ve included some Amazon links to the Roku products.
$29.88 Roku Express HD
$69.99 Roku Streaming Stick 4K HD

Streaming Services

Amazon Prime Video
I’m continuously surprised to find that people don’t realize that their Prime service through Amazon also includes streaming TV services. Amazon has an abundance of movies, shows and original series. If you’re also someone that feels the need to have HBO, Showtime, etc., they offer subscriptions to those services as well. I personally use Amazon Prime video primarily for their original series. I’ve enjoyed both “The Man in the High Castle” and Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan”, which are both original series produced by Amazon. There are also many blockbuster movies and TV series featured. If you have prime, take it for a test drive – if you don’t the streaming service alone is worth the cost of your annual membership. Use my link below:

Amazon Prime 30-day Trial
Amazon Prime -Showtime Free Trial
Amazon Prime – HBO Free Trial

Netflix
When people think of streaming services Netflix is commonly thought of as the pioneer in the streaming movies field. Netflix has been a staple of our entertainment since they started delivering DVDs and saving us trips to Blockbuster. Netflix also has a large selection of movies and TV shows for the whole family, they’ve also started producing their own Original content, but I’ll confess I’ve not had the opportunity to watch much of it. However, they have a lot that seems very interesting.

Netflix Has the Following Pricing Structure as of September 2018

  • Basic – ($7.99 per month) Watch on 1 screen in SD quality.
  • Standard – ($10.99 per month) Watch on 2 screens at a time with HD available.
  • Premium – ($13.99 per month) Watch on 4 screens at a time with HD and Ultra HD available.

Hulu
It’s my opinion that Hulu is a must have if you’re cutting the cord. A majority of people stick with their cable or satellite providers because of DVR capability for prime time TV. Most of us don’t watch these prime time shows the same day they air. Hulu maintains all of your prime time television content from the main alphabet networks and many cable networks. They even have a subscription option to allow you to skip commercials. Hulu also produces several original series and movies. Hulu provides options to add HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, if you need premium movie channels.

Streaming Cable Substitutes

There are several options to stream your cable TV using what I like to call Streaming Cable Substitutes. The ones I’m aware of are as follows:

SlingTV
Hulu with Live TV
DirecTV Now
Playstation VUE

I’ve only personally used SlingTV, I was drawn to it because of their low starting package price (~$25), depending on what you want out of your TV services, these may be good options to consider. We enjoyed Sling largely because they provided some sports content I wasn’t able to get before.

ESPN+
ESPN+ filled some of the sports gap, resulting in the cancellation of my SlingTV account, it allows me to see many MLB, USL and NCAA sports. I’ve considered turning SlingTV back on largely to get PAC-12, but only during football season. ESPN+ is $4.99 a month.

In conclusion there is a small investment up front to purchase your streaming equipment, but when you consider that many cable/satellite TV subscriptions exceed $100, you’ll pay yourself back quickly. With subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, Prime and ESPN+, my monthly expense is only ~$30 (note: I don’t include the cost of my prime membership because I didn’t purchase that for TV, but if you did you’d add approximately $12 a month). This results in substantial savings over your typical cable provider. It also forces you to be a little more intentional about your TV watching, so you spend less time surfing channels and if you subscribe to commercial free services through Hulu, you’ll cut about 15 minutes off your typical hour long show. This means more free time for you to do other things.

What tidbits do you have for Cutting the Cord? Comment below.

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