I tried something dramatic about 6 years ago, something well ahead of it’s time… I temporarily cut the cord with my cable TV service provider (DirecTV). This lasted a few months during the summer of 2006 (maybe 2007, I forget). A couple of years ago, prior to the summer of 2010 and living with my brother at the time, I somehow convinced him to give it a try. We cut the cord with DirecTV for a few months during that summer and, apparently, my bother enjoyed the experience. He liked it so much he brought up the idea of doing it again this year. And so, as of this past Monday, we temporarily cut the cord with DirecTV once again through September 1, 2012.
DirecTV has certain requirements for putting an account on hold, but they’re definitely not unreasonable. The requirements include:
- Zero balance on your bill.
- Customers with only 1 account are allowed a maximum of 2 suspend requests every 12 months.
- Customers with 2 or more accounts are allowed a maximum of 4 suspend requests per account every 12 months.
- Total time with service suspended per 12 month period cannot exceed 6 months.
This may seem like a drastic thing to do for those of you that spend countless hours watching TV. Granted, I’m one of those people. I can easily wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and watch Criminal Minds, Law & Order, or NCIS marathons for most of the day. But that’s the point, those are just wasted hours of doing purely nothing when there is a whole world of things I should be doing… even if one of those things is cleaning.
It should be noted that cutting the cord does not mean the TV will be turned off full time during the coming months. Actually, it’ll be quite the opposite. But instead I’m going to watch TV with a purpose. Instead of watching whatever happens to be showing on the TV just because it’s there, I’ll watch a specific TV show when I want.
How do I go about doing that, you ask? Well, I have a few options.
The inability to watch sports when cutting the cord is one of the toughest things to get over. Luckily, during the summer months there’s only one sport, baseball. I’m going to negate this loss by going with two separate options. The local watering hole is always a good place to watch sports as it gets me out of the house to hang out with friends. This also brings up a negative aspect of eating not-so-healthy meals often… and chances are there will be alcohol consumed too. To combat this negative I’ve purchased a monthly subscription to MLB.tv ($25/month), which will allow me to watch the Mets play, except for Saturday blackout periods. That’s a pet peeve for another day (and blog post).
So, now that the sports dilemma is out of the way. There are two relatively cheap options for watching regular TV shows; Hulu Plus and Netflix, both of which are $7.99/month. A subscription to both, along with a computer and Thunderbolt to HDMI cable, will allow me to watch TV shows on the big screen. That’s $16/month as opposed to over $100/month of DirecTV service. I’m not counting MLB.tv and a high speed internet connection against the $100/month DirecTV service. First of all, as an out-of-town fan of the Mets, MLB.tv is an add-on either way, so the DirecTV service cost would have gone up too in order to get the same service. Also, I already had and have no plans to cut the cord with my internet service provider, so there’s no additional cost involved there in comparison.
The cost savings can be put to other uses if one plans to go an extensive amount of time without cable TV service. Specifically, Apple TV and Roku come to mind, both of which are $99. My brother already purchased one of each during the previous month to prepare for cutting the cord. Personally, I would have been ok without either one, but they are pretty sweet devices in their own right now that I’ve had a chance to see them first hand. The Apple TV is, well, it’s an Apple product. It just works as intended with a smooth interface. It’s biggest selling point is AirPlay, which provides the ability to stream video/audio from an iPhone or iPad to the TV seamlessly. Roku provides more video and audio options than the Apple TV, but that difference is minimized by being able to stream from the iPhone or iPad to the TV using Apple TV.
The idea may have been ahead of its time when I first tried it 5-6 years ago, but I’ve seen more and more articles about it on CNET and other websites recently. The first TV show on my list is the first season of Weeds, of which I’ve already watched an episode per night during the first few nights after cutting the cord. Next on my list will be Mad Men, I think.
While writing this I did think of another dilemma that I’ll have to research… the Olympics. I wonder if there’s an online option for viewing the Olympics this year. I sure hope so.