OTA TV FTW! A Cord Cutting Guide – Part 1 – Evaluation

OTATV_Title

The cord-cutting revolution is upon us. Cord cutting is becoming so rampant that cable providers and cable TV networks themselves are starting to cater to cord cutters, a win for everyone.

It is easier than ever to sever the connection, and you really don’t have to miss out on anything at all. The cord-cutting revolution is in full swing. But how much preparation, cash, and sacrifice is really required to cut the cord? Let’s take a look.

Why Should I cut the Cord?

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably had cable ever since you could remember. If you are moving into a new place, it’s probably one of the first issues you address. New apartment? Gotta get cable TV ordered. New house? Better call Comcast. Moving? Gotta transfer service to our new address. It’s a vicious, costly, never-ending cycle. But it’s just a part of everyday life, you gotta have cable TV, right?

Well, not really anymore. The answer greatly depends on how much TV you actually watch, but with all of the cable cutting alternatives out there, the process is just about as painless as you are going to get. Almost every single show you watch on broadcast TV can be viewed via alternative means elsewhere.

Cable subscriptions, as we know them today, may soon become irrelevant. Most cable subscriptions are still based in a world where you could only view content via one specific service. Like watching a movie on HBO.

When you were tired of watching the same old shit, you had to flip to another channel. Hence the need for tons of worthless channels. Today’s cable TV can be summed up like this. It’s the luxury of having hundreds or even thousands of channels that you don’t watch, instantly available. But you pay for of your unwatched channels anyway. It caters towards those indecisive folks that never know what they want to watch or those who are always looking for something new. Most cable TV providers offer excellent technology and features, such as on-demand titles, DVR, and online streaming integration. But it’s all still based in a world where you don’t need a cable subscription to get the same content.

Most, if not all, cable companies won’t let you pick and choose the stations you want. But rather they are grouped into packages that are strategically priced to get you to spend more money. Want the base cable package, but love sports? Tough shit, ESPN isn’t available unless you increase your plan rate by 30%. Want NFL Network? Fuck you, you need to sign up for the premium sports tier with a free 30 day HBO trial, nearly doubling your monthly bill. You are at the mercy of your cable company, there is virtually no freedom of choice.

Contracts. Everyone loves contracts! Contracts are the easiest way to get suckered into a plan, but they almost always end up biting you in the ass. I am guilty of falling in love with a contract offer. We have all been there. It’s tough to say no to a good deal, which cable TV almost always is for the first 6-12 months. Then your promotions and special offers go away and you find out what cable TV really costs. It’s not all that uncommon for cable bills to double after the first year. But since you are in a 2-year contract, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it, other than downgrade your services, or pay to get out of your contract. Sure, you can try haggling with the cable company every month to reduce your costs, but you have more patience than I do.

Ultimately, it comes down to this. Is it worth it anymore? For me, no. For you, maybe? Cutting the cord will not come without a sacrifice here and there. Sports junkies might have a difficult time adjusting unless they know someone with cable TV, more on that in another post. You just need to get used to the changes, which can be minimal or big depending on the direction you are going and your watch habits. If you can’t handle living without cable, you can go back at any time. The devil cable company will welcome you back with open arms.

Options. Options Everywhere.

There has never been a better time to think about cutting the cord. Your options are virtually unlimited. Which is good, but so many options might make it tough to find a good solution for your home.

For the purposes of this post, I will assume that you have a need for OTA (Over the air) television. Either for live news, sports, or TV shows. Otherwise, you can just buy a few Roku’s, Fire TV’s, or Android TV boxes and call it a day. As I was said before, there are so many fucking options for cord cutters. So many possibilities and endless software & hardware configurations. Where do you start?

Start by accessing your needs. Here are just a few questions you should be asking yourself before beginning your cable cutting venture.

How many people live in your house & how many TV’s are you connecting to?

This will assess the overall scope of the project and how much new equipment you’ll need to buy.

How tech savvy are the people that live in your home & how willing are they to adapt to a new system?

Is your significant other a tech idiot? A complicated system or drastic departure from cable TV might frustrate them. Will the new system be user-friendly enough for family/kids/guests to use?

What kind of control do you want over your content & do you need a DVR?

Do you need absolute control over your recordings? Do you need the ability to watch your TV everywhere you go?

How much cash and time do you have to invest in the project?

There will more than likely be some startup costs, but most costs will be recouped in the coming months because you no longer have a monthly cable bill.

It’s a lot to think about, and probably the hardest part of the project. Deciding on the right setup is vital to cord cutting success. If you over complicate things, you’re gonna have a bad day. If you go cheap and have a bad experience, you might be more inclined to go back to your old ways. It should not only fit your needs but the needs of everyone in your home.

This is the first in a multi-part series on cord cutting. We have a whole bunch of shit to cover, so grab your popcorn. In part 2, we will go over everything you need to make your cord cutting dreams a reality. Till then, ETR out!

[Image: Antennas Direct]