Will you have to pirate content? Go without sports? Or is it completely simple? We sort through both the pros and cons to get the truth about dropping cable.
If the headlines are to be believed, this past decade has seen a mass exodus of people leaving cable television behind for a streaming nirvana devoid of contracts and exorbitant charges for hundreds of unwatched channels. But others think cord-cutting is full of complications and problems. Is either case true? To find out, we took a look at some of the biggest myths surrounding the so-called cord-cutting movement.
People Are Leaving Cable for Streaming
Is it a myth? Maybe, maybe not
For every article saying cable companies are losing customers in droves, there is one stating that the trend is being overblown. It's possible to spin the statistics to support both assertions, but the truth is probably somewhere in between. Though cable companies saw a decline in subscribers in 2013 and 2014 according to Leichtman Research, those numbers were insignificant (approximately 100K and 150K, respectively). That amounts to about a 1% attrition rate. Additionally, these numbers seemed to indicate a growing trend of more people sharing the same subscription.
In 2015, however, a total of nearly 385K jumped ship from cable. It seems that after years of it being discussed, cord-cutting is slowly but surely becoming a phenomenon.
Cutting the Cord Won't Save Any Money
Is it a myth? Depends
There are many factors that determine whether cord-cutting will actually save you money. The first is how much TV you watch. If you watch a lot of shows across an array of channels, you may be better off keeping your cable bundle, as opposed to switching to the à la carte options of streaming.
However, if your television consumption is less voracious, you can probably tune in to all your favorite shows by subscribing to a couple streaming services and viewing the others via iTunes or Amazon. Besides, you may find a new favorite among the original programming that most streaming services now offer.
The other thing to consider, however, are the startup costs associated with cord-cutting. Unless you have a Smart TV, you'll need a streaming device of some sort, which could be around $50, give or take. You'll probably also want to purchase a digital antenna for picking up over-the-air broadcasts. That'll cost you about $25. You may also need to upgrade your cable service and/or modem if your internet speed isn't at least 5 Mb/s per device.
How quickly you absorb these miscellaneous costs depends on how much cord-cutting will save you, which is of course dependent on how much you're currently spending on cable. This tool can help you figure out how much you can save.
Cord-Cutting Is Too Technical
Is it a myth? Yes
As streaming devices have improved, they've become more and more user-friendly. These days, whether you choose a streaming stick or box, it's pretty much plug-and-play. Plus, Smart TVs are more prevalent than ever, so there's a good chance you don't have to plug in anything at all. Signing up for streaming services is similarly a breeze; after entering in some basic details, you'll be binge-watching your favorite shows in no time.
You've Gotta Wait to Watch Recent Episodes
Is it a myth? Mostly
While in the past streaming services only made shows available after they were originally broadcast, there are now many options that allow you to watch programs as they are aired. As its name indicates, HBO Now, the network's cable-free streaming app, airs Vinyl, Game of Thrones, and other shows in real time, while streaming services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue allow you to tune in to live TV. And with a digital antenna, you can tune into the major networks.
Regardless, more and more people aren't watching shows when they air, but rather recording them to their DVRs to watch later, so does it really matter?
You Can't Watch Sports
Is it a myth? Yes
If you're the type of sports fan who always has a game on year-round, you may fare better sticking with cable. Otherwise, streaming now offers many options. Most of the professional organizations have their own streaming channels, each offering several different options.
For example, NBA League Pass allows you to sign up for only your favorite team's games or pay for individual games. Just be warned, if you root for the home team, its games may be blacked out on these services. Instead, see if you can tune in to a local network over the air, or use a service like Sling TV.
You'll Have to Become a Pirate
Is it a myth? Yes
Not only will you not have to don an eye patch and start forcing people to walk the plank, but you'll also never need to download any illegal material. Most networks are aware of the popularity of streaming and have made their shows available through one or more channels. They often even have episodes available to view for free directly from their website. It may take a little legwork to figure out how to view your favorite programs, but sailing the seven seas of piracy is completely avoidable.
Readers, what's your favorite cable-cutting myth? Have you said goodbye to traditional TV packages, or are you still paying for cable? No matter where you stand, share your thoughts in the comments below!
Stephen Slaybaugh is a features writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.