Cord-cutting conundrums

“So it may seem that the cable and satellite TV industry is in deep trouble. People are getting more and more disgusted with paying up to $150 or more each month for a bucket of channels, many of which they don’t even watch,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “Even when you want to get a cheaper deal, in order to get a good cross-section of the content you want, you may have to buy several tiers — or higher tiers — of service. You cannot choose from Column A and Column B. So you’re stuck!”

“It never seems to get any better, so jumping ship [cutting the cord] may seem an attractive way to reduce your expenses,” Steinberg writes. “If you try it, however, and you try a little too hard to replace what you lost, you may find that it’s not really so cheap after all.”

“Does this mean that cord cutting is a bad idea? Not at all. If you are judicious about how many programming options you select, you can keep your costs down, and don’t forget your ISP’s limitations,” Steinberg writes. “You might find, at the end of the day, that you want to keep around a basic cable package with local stations and some of the cable channels. Flesh it out with Netflix and that might be more than sufficient to meet your needs. Besides, you won’t have to mess with a TV antenna, and you can still rent a DVR for time shifting.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re still on cable for TV and Internet, but the allure of cord-cutting is very intriguing. One problem is, as Gene mentions, availability: “Netflix and Amazon do offer a fair number of traditional TV shows, with no guarantee how long they’ll be available. As content deals change, the shows come and go.” We’ve thought about cutting the cable cord, though: We’re able to receive all four major U.S. networks plus PBS over-the-air with an antenna. We have Apple TV units on every screen, so we suppose supplementing over-the-air with buying season passes via iTunes Store, Netflix, and some other services might be able satisfy everyone in the family.

Cord-cutters, how are you doing it? How’s it working for you? If there are other family members, how do they like it?


    1. Eight years for me to. I just use Netflix and buy iTunes seasons. I don’t watch anything local.

      I see commercials so rarely at home that when they play at a friends they are beyond annoying. Why do people subject themselves to such loud manipulative low-mentality interruptions?

      Also seeing people fiddle with what shows they want to record seems incomprehensible. Why cable isn’t all on-demand at this point seems insane. Old infrastructure and execution on the part of cable companies.

      1. You can buy an outstanding TV antenna on eBay for under $35, with built in amplifier and remote control rotor (no wires). If you have lots of service points you can also install a distribution amplifier for about $45. That will deliver a 100% signal to every TV and computer (EyeTV) in the house. I live 30 miles from a small metropolitan area and I get 27 channels in uncompressed, digital HD.

        For everything else we use Amazon Prime, Netflix, and AppleTV. The only two things I crave are an ESPN stand alone service and a good OTA DVR (presently using EyeTV on an old G5 Mac Pro for that.) It seems the cable companies have bought out all the DVR manufacturers and killed off the OTA DVRs with tuners built in. All I can find are cable compatible DVRs.

  1. Perhaps one should simply unplug the cord and try it and if they’re unhappy they can plug it back in. Great way to lower your cable bill too as your new plan will be much cheaper than your old one, at least for a year or so. Then it will begin to creep upwards again.

  2. We got rid of cable almost 5 years ago and haven’t looked back. With over the air broadcasts and a MacMini hooked-up to our TV we get enough content. It stinks at times not having access to as many live sports as I would like but then I think about the $6000 save in that timeframe and smile. It also helps us watch less TV which is a good thing.

  3. It’s been frustrating. My over the air reception is bad. I miss the DVR. I still can ‘t get certain shows. Plus the shows I watch on Netflix, I can’t watch the current season, only previous seasons.

    That being said, I am finding content on Netflex that is far superior to some of the crap I use to watch on cable.

    I am really impressed with the following series:
    The Fall
    The Killing
    House of Cards (season 1 and 2 only, 3 sucked)
    Hannibal (on Amazon Prime)

    I am caught up on The Walking Dead and The Good Wife, but have to wait till next season to watch the current season. Very frustrating.

  4. The main thing keeping me from cutting the cord is Fox News. I tend toward Tea Party in my politics and I am a politics junky. The main thing I watch there is the last part of Bret Baier with the Fox News All-Stars. I am currently paying about $160 for just about everything but the premium movie channels and my internet is pretty fast.

    I suspect I’m not alone given Fox News ratings as the numbers leader in cable news.

      1. I can see more than enough FOX News with my TV and computer both turned off. You do realize they went to court to determine they were entertainment and were not required to present any factual information at all.

    1. Fox News is the channel people watch who pay for the stuff Obama gives away from their hard-earned income and are tired of it. I don’t mind giving to people who are truly in need – I do it frequently. But I do mind giving to those who shine a couch with their butt because they’d rather get a govt check than take a job that’s “beneath them”.

  5. Between iTunes and Netflix, I have access to lots of content on demand and commercial-free. I spend $8/month for Netflix and about $40 (or less) per season of the shows I like and I spend a total of about $300 per year on the two sources combined, saving $1500 over the sample cable rate quoted above.

    Why pay for boatloads of crappy TV you don’t watch. Cut the cord and be free!

    1. Just watch out for the Netflix/iTunes trap:

      1. Find a show on Netflix and fall in love with it
      2. Binge watch up to end of last season
      3. Go into withdrawal
      4. Give in and buy the current season pass from iTunes.

      This has happened to us three time in our household. It’s still a lot cheaper than cable, though. 🙂

  6. I do OTA exclusively, and have done ever since Comcast decided out of nothing but greed to encrypt all their channels, including the local access stuff (which should be illegal but apparently isn’t), and here in the Boston area, there are dozens of channels, and many of them are not available on the cable listings, which, AFAIK, is against FCC regulations, but since when has that stopped cable companies? Granted, about 5% of these channels are non-english, but I’ve become quite an addict of MeTV. Otherwise, we Hulu or Netflix. Besides, what’s the point of a cable subscription now that the BBC fired Jeremy?

  7. I cut the cord long ago and never looked back. Instead of paying 150.00 a month for a load of crap I never watch, I pay $90 a month for a 300Mb/s connection to all the information the world has to offer, not to mention pretty much everything I ever want to watch from conventional television and more.

    It depends on what is important to you. Some people miss live sports. I don’t care for sports. Well except for rugby. Those guys try to kill each other. Others miss the 24 hour news channels. No seriously, there are people who watch those.

    Other than that, meh. Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes are enough for me.

    Oh and YouTube. YouTube is a national treasure from my perspective.

  8. Cut the cable 3 years ago. Netflix and Hulu on apple TV. Buy show that I just have to see (read: Walking Dead).
    Wife buys a lot on Amazon, so we have prime on iphones and airplay to ATV.
    Have a mac Mini connected too- rarely use it. (Some shows are on Hulu via computer but not on ATV). Powered antenna.
    Lowest internet package, a good router, big HD for music (shared via iTunes)…
    I’ll never go back!!!

  9. Cut the cord almost a year ago. I have internet through Comcast, so they gave me a receiver for free just for the local channels. I use Netflix, a website called and iTunes. After a show airs, it is immediately available to watch on that website. I also know someone who has Comcast cable, so I use their login info for all the extras on Apple TV, as well as the Xfinity app on my Xbox. Between all these, we can watch just about anything that anyone with “the cord” can watch. I do miss having a DVR, but that’s such a small price to pay.

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