Before my lovely partner Sue moved into our house, I didn’t have cable or internet in the house. It was fantastic. I owned DVDs, had Netflix delivery, and read. I also read and read and read with a pinch of video games thrown in for fun. When Sue arrived, she wanted cable for fun and needed the internet for her studies. She read as much as I did, but whereas I read for pleasure, she was deep in academic research, and mindless TV shows let her rest after all those educational articles. Since it was a want for her, she took on the responsibility for that bill. Excluding mortgage and car loans, it quickly became our biggest expense. Other than local channels, I was only watching three channels, and while Sue watched shows on a number of channels, most of what was included in our package were channels we didn’t want. So after some research, we cut the cable cord.
We decided to keep internet and did research on how to keep as many of our shows as possible. At first, Sue was skeptical, but we’ve made it work. The savings are without doubt worth it, but our viewing habits have changed. Binge watching is standard now. We’ve even revisited shows that are off the air. Cutting the cord took a bit of adjustment; certain networks and shows aren’t easily streamable. With planning we’ve been able to keep up with shows that we enjoy, but others, we stopped watching altogether. Sue added a digital antenna to get local channels, but it’s not as reliable as the streaming services. Still, it’s nice to have local news, but because we’re used to watching shows whenever we want, we rarely turn on the local channels for the correct show time.
Our goal was to pay for the least number of services that combine the most shows that we enjoy. As of now, we have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. To keep up on Game of Thrones, we added HBO Now. It’s the only single channel service to which we subscribe, and with HBO’s excellent programming, we’ve found other series worth watching. Even with all these services, the savings were significant enough that we went up a speed for our internet service.1
The downside is that there is always a period of waiting for the episode to be available. For HBO, the delay is usually just the length of the episode on their cable partners. Some shows are available the day after they air, and others, like Archer, wait until the new season is going to be released. So spoilers are a constant hazard, but there’s evidence that spoilers don’t actually ruin anything. Talking with co-workers and friends about shows is a non-starter since we can’t keep up as quickly on current episodes.
Luckily, there is way too much content out there for the wait to bother us. Netflix has been creating its own shows to varying degrees of success, and we’ve found other shows that we may not have watched because we didn’t start from the beginning. Adventure Time was a show that was constantly recommended to me, but since it was in the middle of its run, I wasn’t going to start it. I like to start from the beginning. Well, Hulu let us discover the wonder of Adventure Time from episode one.
Cutting the cord made a lot of sense for us, and it’s saved Sue quite a bit of money. With planning, it causes a minimal interruption to a viewing schedule. Hopefully, as more people continue to switch to streaming, this will force cable companies to revisit their business model. Until then, streaming provides flexibility, and with binge watching, longer narrative arcs become easier to manager. If you want to save money and don’t mind waiting for new episodes of your favorite shows, I highly recommend cutting the cord.
Have you cut the cord? Let me know what you think in the comments. Please, abide by the comment policy.
1. The increase in speed is actually difficult to determine. UVerse claims to have fiber optic cable, which increases the speed. Between their nodes, this is true. But between the hub and your house, it’s still a copper cable. So we’re limited by the speeds of the copper cable.