×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Is TV Over the 'Net Really Cheaper Than Cable?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the depends-on-your-morals dept.

Television 285

jfruh writes "More and more people are joining the ranks of 'cord-cutters' — those who cancel their cable TV subscriptions and get their televisied entertainment either for free over the airwaves or over the Internet. But, assuming you're going to do things legally, is this really a cheaper option? It depends on what you watch. Brian Proffitt contemplated this move, and he walks you through the calculations he made to figure out the prices of cutting the cord. He weighed the costs of various a la carte and all-you-can-eat Internet streaming services, and took into account the fact that Internet service on its own is often pricier than it would be if bundled with cable TV."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

285 comments

Quality and quantity (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796751)

Lets do the math. The most my ISP (Suddenlink) will sell is 250GB/mo at up to 15mbps. Put two TVs in a home, that is pretty minimal these days. So you can't expect to stream more than six or seven Mb/s and have any hope of keeping a second set going. Now an hour of HD programming on my MythTV system scarfs down GB/hr when recording HD and perhaps one GB/hr for standard def.

Add it up and if you stream you are going to settle for a lot lower quality and still be watching the bandwidth counter the last part of the month. The bandwidth caps ended cord cutting as a viable tactic for any home where the TV runs a lot, i.e. children are involved.

Re:Quality and quantity (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796785)

My ISP still gives me the "all you can eat" unlimited transfer per month. They are a DSL offering, bundled with landline telephone.

I cut the cord years ago. I work secnd shift, and the only thing on cable that late is porn, informercials, and shit like ancient aliens.

Streaming let's me pick what I want to watch, at the times I want to watch it. For me, the choice is clear.

Re:Quality and quantity (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796841)

Good, nice to learn some people still get all you can eat Internet. Here the choice is AT&T's 200GB cap or Suddenlink's 250GB cap.

As for nothing on at night, that is what my MythTV is for.

But with a CableCard in a Homerun Prime I get the full bitsream and they are pushing some bits on cable for HD. 4-6GB/hr fills up hard drives but it looks so much better than standard def I hate to record that if I can help it.

But ya know what? Cable HD looks really good and most movies would fit on a DVD9 without the commercials. Really makes ya wonder if BluRay was really worth it. They could have just tweaked DVD.

Re:Quality and quantity (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797143)

A few DVDs wre released with MPEG4 encoding for HD, but they are still not as good as Bluray. There's a huge difference between the DVD's average 6 Mbit/s and the Bluray's average 35 Mbit/s stream, which gives the DVD with HD artifacting.

Re:Quality and quantity (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797705)

well i do agree, although there are some scene releases that would make me think twice.
obversely, i would like to see blu-ray's space utilized for older, standard def tv shows, fitting a whole season on 1 disc.

Re:Quality and quantity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797271)

They could have just tweaked DVD.

They did. And called it Bluray.

Re:Quality and quantity (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797355)

A well mastered DVD is also a suitably good "tweak" for a lot of use cases. Not every DVD is created equal (or BD for that matter).

Some discs are wonderful advertisements for their particular formats and others are not.

Maybe we should be asking (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797551)

why you pay a low flat rate for 6GB/hr they push at you but through the nose if you want to pick and choose yourself. I find it hard to believe they need bandwidth caps to manage the limits when every receiver is digital....

late-nite-TV (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796865)

porn, informercials, and shit like ancient aliens

At the same time?

Heh, I wouldn't be surprised if Adult Swim aired fake ads for alien porn. Or real ones for that matter.

Re:Quality and quantity (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796895)

You cant really assume that Cable and Internet are interchangable.

For me, Internet can replace cable, while cable can never replace the internet.

If I consider it mandatory to have internet, and I get more TV than cable for from Hulu & netflix, then its a no brainer to ditch cable.

said and done, $55/month covers cable, internet, TV entertainment, and phone (Magicjack+).

Re:Quality and quantity (1)

AnalogDreams (2478696) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796959)

The bandwidth caps ended cord cutting as a viable tactic for any home where the TV runs a lot, i.e. children are involved.

I agree, but thankfully there are no caps where I live (currently). Time Warner tried and failed, but they may still give it another push. Dropping their phone and cable package saves me over $100 a month. Granted, it raises the base price of their internet service, but the bill is still substantially less.
With that said, I only follow a few TV shows (free basic cable), so to me this is the best value. Anything else, I will stream if it is available. This will not the best option for everyone, but I believe you should keep your monthly bills (especially subscription services) to a minimum.

Re:Quality and quantity (4, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796963)

The bandwidth caps ended cord cutting as a viable tactic for any home where the TV runs a lot, i.e. children are involved.

ISPs need to waive the caps during off-peak periods, similar to free unlimited nights and weekends on cell phone plans. Let people download all they want overnight. A megabyte of data transfer doesn't cost the ISP nearly as much at 3am as it does at 7pm. Then we'll stream our videos less and download more, but planning ahead like that is only a minor inconvenience.

Re:Quality and quantity (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797065)

If children are involved, you can stream as low as 300 kbit/s (like I do) and they won't care. That's about equal to VHS or youtube-360p in quality.

I watch about 2 hours a day... 8 on weekends. So that's 16+2*5 == 26 per week or 111 for the month. 250GB/111 hours == 5 Mbit/s. Most streams don't come anywhere near that amount so I'd not worry about going over the limit. And just to be sure I'd watch everything in SD (which is what comcast cable serves anyway).

Re:Quality and quantity (4, Interesting)

SomeJoel (1061138) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797399)

If children are involved, you can stream as low as 300 kbit/s (like I do) and they won't care. That's about equal to VHS or youtube-360p in quality.

I watch about 2 hours a day... 8 on weekends. So that's 16+2*5 == 26 per week or 111 for the month. 250GB/111 hours == 5 Mbit/s. Most streams don't come anywhere near that amount so I'd not worry about going over the limit. And just to be sure I'd watch everything in SD (which is what comcast cable serves anyway).

All you'd do with your internet connection is watch TV?

Re:Quality and quantity (1)

Imagix (695350) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797345)

I can only think of one of my friends that has 2 TVs in their house, and I can think of a couple that have none.

I'm sure about one thing... (5, Insightful)

grumpyman (849537) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796765)

...OTA is cheaper than cable and that's all I need.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (4, Funny)

yurtinus (1590157) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796953)

Free TV over the air? What are you, some kind of a communist?!

I think a depressingly large number of folks these days would be shocked and amazed to find that they can put a pair of rabbit ears on that fancy new TV and get local HD broadcasts...

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797081)

Except that I live in BFE, and need way more than just a pair of rabbit ears.

I have an amplified HD rabbit ear antenna, and it is not sufficient to get more than about 6 channels, in spotty quality. To get efficient OtA, I need to set up an actual roof antenna. I don't like TV sufficiently enough to have considered doing that. Streaming is fine.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797247)

BFE?
Amplified rabbit ears are basically worthless for digital reception (unless you live within 10 miles of the broadcaster). Anyway: Just because you buy a "roof" antenna does not mean you have to put it on the roof. My CM4228 sits right next to the window, aimed towards the nearest major city 55 miles away. It was a piece of cake to setup & then run the cord under the rug to the TV.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (3, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797419)

My CM4228 sits right next to the window, aimed towards the nearest major city 55 miles away. It was a piece of cake to setup & then run the cord under the rug to the TV.

I have the smaller 2-bay version of that antenna [amazon.com], and I do basically the same thing as you. It's awesome. Now I get about 10 digital channels where I used to receive only one with my indoor Terk amplified antenna.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (3, Informative)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797811)

BFE?

Bum Fuck Egypt... a.k.a the back of beyond or the middle of no where.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (3, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797191)

Not communism. Ad-supported entertainment broadcast over AM, FM, and ATSC:

- 40+ TV channels through my antenna (CM4228)
- supplemented by free Hulu so I can watch Syfy

And yes it's VASTLY cheaper than the ~$900/year that Comcast wants to charge to hookup two sets. (Another alternative is Dish TV which only costs $23/month for two sets... still much less than comsucks.) I've been watching lots of old movies, retro-shows like Dragnet, Cheers, and 24 hours news via RT. Also PBS World which airs lots of documentaries..... ya know, like History and Discovery used to do. ;-)

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797041)

It's OK to admit you're poor, not all of us can afford cable or satellite.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797059)

rabbit ears don't keep the children entertained, so we have Netflix. Almost every sport I want to watch is at the bar or OTA. I don't want to watch scripted "reality shows" or poorly scripted sitcoms, and history channel content doesn't expire quickly. There should be a TEDx channel.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (1)

gatfirls (1315141) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797103)

Funny, how just a short time ago, relatively speaking, children entertained themselves for the most part. Not being condescending, we're all guilty of it.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (1)

joeflies (529536) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797243)

Based on the author's math, you're still paying for Internet, whether you use it for tv or not.

Re:I'm sure about one thing... (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797829)

Thus you eliminate the cost from both sides of the equation lol. However, in the instance of JUST internet, you are usually paying more than you would pay for it with a package.

Providers aren't dummies (5, Informative)

biometrizilla (1999728) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796803)

You can be assured that there are people within the cable and satellite TV providers that run this math to help them set their pricing. If you have cable the satellite promo pricing always looks better until you start to match it box by box and channel by channel. Same goes for satellite users that look into switching to cable. Every time I do the math it's so close it's not worth the trouble. Unless you are willing to give up content expect to pay about the same no matter what path you take. The only true break in costs can't come until governments stop enabling collusion. Same story applies to cell phones.

Re:Providers aren't dummies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796889)

Don't confuse collusion with competition. Most of the costs are in the programming, and if they carry comparable content then they are going to have comparable pricing.

Re:Providers aren't dummies (2, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796911)

> Same story applies to cell phones.

Stop whining about the government being needed. Just shop a little and then stop bundling a loan into your monthly cell bill for the iPhone (or top of the line Android). I only pay $100/year for 2000 minutes or texts, work the math out to get the monthly. I supplied my own handset though, they aren't expensive at all if you know where to shop and don't need the latest features. Now AT&T has a cheap ass GoPhone you can get a similar $100/yr plan on.

Oh, you want Gigs of Internet bandwidth crammed into scarce wireless spectrum the cell carriers are spending Sagans annually to continually upgrade to ever faster speeds and still can't keep up? Pay up sucka, that tech ain't cheap yet but if you guys keep paying long enough you will finance a network that will eventually be big enough, widespread enough and finally cheap enough for me to get a data plan.

Re:Providers aren't dummies (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796977)

Eh - T-Mobile has a $30/mo unlimited data and text plan with a handful of minutes for those rare times I need to use my words. You're absolutely right - shop a little and bring your own phone and you'd be amazed at how inexpensive it can be.

Re:Providers aren't dummies (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797091)

> Eh - T-Mobile has a $30/mo unlimited data and text plan...

T-Mobile won't sign up customers in my zip code. No towers so all traffic would be roaming. But yea, they had a $100/yr voice/text plan at least a year ago.

Re:Providers aren't dummies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797489)

the cell carriers are spending Sagans annually

Awesome word choice, bro!

Re:Providers aren't dummies (1)

biometrizilla (1999728) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797781)

Re-read my post - I am advocating government getting out. The carrier lobbyists are perpetuating oligopolies and collusion. Best approach would be to decouple the infrastructure from the content. Personally I don't have a smartphone and take your approach, but that doesn't apply to many other consumers.

My story.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796805)

I used to pay just over $100 for Internet and Digital Cable - 90% of which I never watched.

I now pay $54 for internet, $8 for netflix, $8 for hulu, and OTA is free.

Yup, its cheaper.

Re:My story.. (4, Interesting)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797107)

Same here, I even subscribed to Amazon Prime because I saved money on shipping. With the simplicity of using a Roku, and the ability to watch your shows on your Laptop or iPod/Android, it's a wonder Cable Providers still have subscribers.

Re:My story.. (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797181)

It's mostly inertia; older people (like 30+) are set in their ways and think cable is a requirement for modern life. (I say this as someone almost 40; I don't think most of my peers are as up to newer technologies as me.)

Re:My story.. (1, Offtopic)

repetty (260322) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797431)

It's mostly inertia; older people (like 30+) are set in their ways and think cable is a requirement for modern life. (I say this as someone almost 40; I don't think most of my peers are as up to newer technologies as me.)

What do you think of black people?

(This should be interesting.)

Re:My story.. (3, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797121)

I'm saving about $70 a month with netflix and basic internet over basic internet + expanded basic HD cable (without any premium channels).

The drawback is that most of the stuff on netflix is a little older. However, it's so much easier to watch stuff on demand, I actually end up using it more.

I know people who pay $150 a month for cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797327)

And I've heard of people paying $190 a month.

It is insane. I'm surprised anybody does it.

Re:My story.. (1)

biometrizilla (1999728) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797801)

And how much of the 10% you did watch did you lose in the switch? Be honest - surely there is something you used to get that either you can't get now or you can only get older content.

Short version. (2)

khasim (1285) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796807)

It depends upon how much you're being charged for cable and for Internet and what you watch.

YMMV
Void where prohibited

Naivette is soooo cuuuute :) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796809)

assuming you're going to do things legally

Awww, how cute.

Are you still waiting for the little pony [kaboodle.com] Commander Taco promised you?

It's not "cheaper"... (4, Insightful)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796827)

...unless the total bundled cost is LESS than the price of internet alone. That's never the case.

I cut the cord almost two years ago, and have Netflix and Hulu+ ($17/month, I believe, for both). I was paying nearly $70/month for cable. The $50+/month difference paid for my three Rokus, my $50 tuner, and my $300 HTPC in the first year after I cut.

Between OTA, Netflix, Hulu+ (which you can suspend easily if you're not using it) and all the free channels on Roku, I'm never lacking for anything to watch, and I'm still saving $50/month over the cheapest cable plan. It's not going to work for everyone, but it's absolutely the right choice for me.

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (4, Insightful)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796849)

Oh, and I'm going to have internet access even if I throw away my TVs and never watch a movie again, so I don't think adding it into the equation is fair. I need a house to watch my TVs in as well, but that doesn't mean I count my mortgate as part of the price of television...

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796935)

His point wasn't to consider the cost of Internet... but the difference in cost between internet alone, and the bundle discount. Its a fair consideration to make... but it doesn't make a difference. Its still cheaper.

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (3, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796887)

^^^ This is my story, exactly. It's not the same kind of entertainment, but it is good entertainment for ridiculously cheaper. And as a 4th year cord-cutter, I've become spoiled by the idea of watching ENTIRE shows that I've never seen before and didn't program in advance.

It's rather surprising how annoying it is to watch a half show when you are used to entire episodes on demand...

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796981)

Often overlooked is that the "internet bill" is a necessity these days. If you can get more out of that bill per month, sufficiently that you can cut a different bill per month, the money you save is through the cutting of that second bill.

Eg, you don't include the cost of internet with the cost of cable, unless you would suffer a rate hike by unbundling. (In which case, you count the rate hike as a negative savings figure for your assessment.)

In my case, the ISP is DSL, and is bundled with the landline. It costs about 70/mo for both combined. I use netflix. That's 8/mo. Typical dish offering for useful channels is around 80/mo. I am paying 1/10th that. Do I get all the same channels? No-- but I also have a media PC in the living room, and many cable channel providers also stream direct on their websites. Just browse, pick, play. No added bill.

Getting legal access to media is not that hard. Cutting the cord is easy.

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797265)

Food and water is a necessity. Internet is hardly a necessity. It's a convenience / desire / want. Nothing more.

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797383)

When prospective employers contact me through the Internet and current employers expect me to work through the Internet then it is no longer a "convenience".

Same goes for the phone (land line or cell).

Re:It's not "cheaper"... (1)

Zebai (979227) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797645)

the best way to keep your tv/internet cost down is to switch back and forth. In my area you can get tv/internet through ATT or comcast if you know where to look you can often get 1-2 year promotions through their alternate sales channels (.com/field agents) and just go back and forth after your promotions run out you will save far more than any install fees you may occur once a year.

You don't even have to disconnect entirely, if you drop your services to basic levels for a couple months you can often get a discount for upgrading again later.

Yes. Next question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796837)

I imagine it depends on location, but:
Internet: $40 unlimited (at least the data caps haven't hit here yet)
Cable tv: Last I heard it's a 3 digit number for any number of the "good" channels (aka: the only ones we give a shit about)

Yep. Internet wins.

Country-dependant (2)

davegravy (1019182) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796839)

In my country a-la-carte works like this: the price per channel scales depending on how many channels you buy, such that the total cost you pay is always at least equal to the cost of the traditional bundle packages. It's totally pointless. Also in my country, over the Internet broadcast licencing hasn't really been established (for the most part).

The result is that over the net tv is far cheaper, but in no way legal.

Apples and Oranges. (1)

gatfirls (1315141) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796853)

Even if it's 50X more expensive your options for content, delivery, interface, etc are amazingly diverse and constantly improving and changing. My cable box hasn't changed much in 10 years, aside from adding a HDD to record a few shows.

Re:Apples and Oranges. (0)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796991)

Even if it's 50X more expensive your options for content, delivery, interface, etc are amazingly diverse and constantly improving and changing. My cable box hasn't changed much in 10 years, aside from adding a HDD to record a few shows.

Shill

Mixed bag (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796867)

For us, setting aside cell service (which also get from Verizon, but mostly because we're idiots and are still under contract) we pay around $140/month. That includes the VoIP landline. Cell service in our area ain't great so we can't ditch a landline of some sort and stick with the mobile phones. Dropping the TV portion of the FIOS service and sticking with the same speed connection is $80/mth. So if we go with just that and get some sort of VoIP replacement, I think that adds another $15-$20/mth. Netflix adds around $9/mth (we looked at Hulu+ but it didn't add that much that we wanted.) So we end up saving around $30/mth; it's not a huge amount but it adds up to a lot of diapers and baby food. I just wish iTunes or Amazon was cheaper for renting individual episodes of shows. Going piecemeal ends up being more expensive than just sticking with cable.

Re:Mixed bag (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797333)

I don't know about other carriers, but I have T-mobile, and it doesn't matter how bad cell service is inside my house, because it uses WiFi for phone calls if I'm associated to a WiFi AP.

If you have this available, you could just use your mobile phones and ditch the landline entirely.

I did the math... (4, Interesting)

Foundling (1856832) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796869)

...and got a divide by zero error. I kept cable internet and dropped cable TV service for a year. I reconnected last night. 1000 channels including HD service. Searching for "Nova" returned no instances of the PBS show; if I want to watch my favorite show, I still need to buy it from iTunes and download it. Jury is still out on the other reason I dropped cable TV; I want to watch WWE Summer Slam in HD, live when it broadcasts (not three months later on DVD). It's not showing up in the listing yet; I'll try again two weeks prior to the event. Haven't tried to find a 2012 BBC Top Gear; had to 'torrent last winter's shows because they won't even sell those to us yanks. The funny thing is, Comcast never asked why I dropped TV service in the first place.

Re:I did the math... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797347)

I assume you couldn't receive a PBS station via OTA antenna at your location. However, there is also free OTA satellite; the initial investment in equipment is $100-200. Lots of other fun things you can find jumping from satellite to satellite. Depending on your location you may/may not be able to hit some of the overseas satellites too.

My favorite part about my system is picking up the live feeds from news vans. Nothing more amusing than watching a reporter cuss out her coworkers or pick his nose while waiting to cut into the main broadcast.

Just a thought.

Cut the cord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796871)

I was paying a lot of money to watch bad programming full of irritating adverts, so I cut the cord 3 years ago and never looked back. I read more, do art projects with my kids, and when do feel the need to watch something, I use netflix, hulu or BBC. It is great not having the ads and being able to watch what I want, when I want.

Re:Cut the cord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797491)

How do you legally watch BBC from America?

I did it... (3, Informative)

GA-MadMikey (717930) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796875)

If I absolutely must watch "Some Premium Show X", then I may be stuck with TV service providers. After cancelling my TV service and going with OTA, NF and Hulu, I can still watch television, I just don't get to watch premium content like HBO/SHO originals. I cancelled my service, changed my viewing habits and I'm saving more than $100/month.

Re:I did it... (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797397)

I literally watch no television at all. 200 channels of crap is still crap. If there's something I want to see it'll appear on the net fairly quickly.

Legally ? (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796893)

assuming you're going to do things legally

This is where things go south. If I could get the shows I like from a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, I would not mind waiting a few weeks or months after the original airdate, but I can't. A lot of the shows I watch, I can't get at all without paying $120+ for the "everything" cable package. They simply aren't available anywhere else, so I choose option C: Usenet/torrents.

If I were living in the U.S., things would be different, as the vast majority of popular TV programming is stubbornly geo-blocked as soon as you cross the border. I can't even begin to describe the stupidity of locking your content to a mere 5% of the world's population, but that's precisely what these media companies do. Fuck 'em! I have money, I want the content, but they won't sell it to me unless I agree to a 3 year contract with a cable company I absolutely despise, a fixed schedule that does not work for me, and invasive advertising wasting one fifth of my time. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em dead!

Cheaper to own (4, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796917)

I already need high speed internet so that's not really an additional expense since it wasn't through a cable company, none in my area. I did the math and I figured I could get somewhere between 50 and 75 movies and 20 and 25 TV series seasons on DVD or download for what my cable was costing. This is far more than I actually watch. Throw in Netflix Streaming which sucks for selection as in not much current but a ton of old and obscure which I like and I really have no need for satellite or cable. The Dish/AMC fight was the end for me. I already buy Walking Dead on Blu-Ray and they cut AMC anyway so I see no need to have Dish. Direct is almost as bad. I may be a season behind but most of the stuff I watch I'll own and I tend to watch stuff multiple times. Most of the stuff on Netflix is HD where as cable is all highly compressed HD which looks like crap. Alot of it is blown up cropped as well. If they offer Ala Carte streaming I'll consider buying AMC and a few of the movie channels, things like HBO for Game of Thrones and Newsroom. At this stage I have zero interest in ever having cable again.

Re:Cheaper to own (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797049)

> Most of the stuff on Netflix is HD where as cable is all highly compressed HD which looks like crap.

You must have a terrible cable system. I'm deep in flyover country and I get good HD streams. Broadcast channels appear to be full bitrate and even channels like FoxNewsHD and CNNHD at 10+Mbps. Rates no streaming provider is going to reliably send. And even if they could the cap would limit you to an hour or so of daily viewing at those bitrates. Netflix is usually much lower rate streaming balanced a bit by h264 vs Mpeg2.

> Alot of it is blown up cropped as well.

Eh? I see movies reedited into 16:9 instead of the original movie aspect on some channels but no blown up or cropped outside of IFC. Sure you aren't having equipment issues between the aspect controls on your cable box and your tv colliding? I use MythTV + a CableCard tuner so of course it usually does the right thing without touching anything, most people have more button mashing to do to battle the black bars the HD transition cursed us with.

My TV is free (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796919)

- it comes in through my antenna (40+ digital channels)
- supplemented by Hulu so I can watch Syfy

And yes it's not only cheaper, but a VASTLY cheaper than the ~$900/year that Comcast wants to charge to hookup two sets.

Re:My TV is free (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796961)

Another alternative is Dish TV which only costs $23/month for two sets.

Re:My TV is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797169)

Intro or full price?

It makes me sick the full cost of one of these things. One of my friends wanted to get the full price of the services to get an idea of how expensive ti would be when his stuff changed over. He finally had to get the utility board involved and then it turns out that the cable company he had was the only one that was exempted by law from their power. But, it made quite clear that he was going to quit them for not telling him. Turns out that his bill went from $10 to almost $100 and that is only for cable. Doesn't count phone and Internet, which similarly increased. If memory serves, he started a business and one of the main reasons why is that there are 2 companies that can provide RESIDENTIAL Internet and phone but 10 major companies and even more smaller places that can provide BUSINESS Internet and phone. Guess which class had lower prices.

Re:My TV is free (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797451)

$20 for year one, and $25 for year two. Averages out to ~$23 per month. The DishTV equipment is free w/ the contract.

>>>Turns out that his bill went from $10 to almost $100 and that is only for cable

Cancel. I inquired about cable for my brother and his four sets, and it started at $75 for one year, then jumped to $96, and finally $110 in year 3 (normal monthly rate). It was like pulling teeth to get the answer. They didn't want to tell me how much years 2 and 3 cost.

Not about price (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796939)

I'm sorry to say that it isn't about price. It's a philosophical issue to me - to subscribe to a 'push' service or a 'pull' service. I choose 'pull' where I have control on what garbage can or cannot enter my life.

TFA missed the most important consideration (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40796947)

Not having to deal with the cable company ever again?

**PRICELESS**

YES! (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796971)

I've been doing this for quite a while now. Between HULU and Netflix, you're pretty much covered. And you can watch whenever you want without needing to record shows on a DVR. Also, many shows are available on network websites.

Fallacy on top of fallacy (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#40796979)

First he assumes that whatever shows you watch, you NEED to watch, and you need to watch them NOW.

For example, his wife likes Amazing Race, and (apparently) none of the streaming premium services carry it, so it would "have to be written off"...well, except for the fact that in about a 5 second search, I found it at least 3 places. Certainly, it wasn't current-broadcast, but it's still there.

And of course, he talks about the 'broadband internet cost' - as if most people considering this don't ALREADY pay for that.

So really, not much of a comparison, or analysis. Save yourself the read.

Re:Fallacy on top of fallacy (1)

Rudolf (43885) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797331)

For example, his wife likes Amazing Race, and (apparently) none of the streaming premium services carry it, so it would "have to be written off"...well, except for the fact that in about a 5 second search, I found it at least 3 places. Certainly, it wasn't current-broadcast, but it's still there.

CBS.com streams Amazing Race same day, with about a 3-hour delay from air time. No premium service needed.

Except for Sports... and AMC (3, Insightful)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797007)

Cable/Satellite are a vast wasteland of channel surfing. We all know this. I ditched Satellite after years because with NF I only watch what I want, and plan to. No surfing, which encourages time wasting.

Another key thing is that I just really fucking hate the cable and satellite companies and I don't think they deserve another dime from me.
Their service sucks, their policies suck and they're way overpriced.

What about regular channels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797021)

For movies and TV shows Netflix, Hulu and Crackle works well. Where do you go when you want to watch your local TV station over streaming media. Don't care for OTA right now.

It's not about cheap (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797029)

We've pointed this out in so many blog entries and whatnot. It's not about cost. I'm ok with paying more on video entertainment through streaming than I might have through a cable bill. It's not about cheap. It's about choice! I want to purchase only the shows I care about, I want to watch them exactly when I have time to, and I want to do it on whatever device I feel like. I don't want to pay for MTV or the Home Shopping Network. I'll never watch Real Housewives of Wherever-the-fuck. I just want my GoT fix, a few shows from PBS and the Discovery channel, and the occasional interesting sci-fi series. Everyone will have a different set of choices. We're tired of being bundled-to-death. I need high speed internet regardless, and I like paying for it separately from my occasional on-demand streaming purchases from Amazon (or my Netflix subscription. while netflix *is* a bundled service full of shows I'll never watch, it's also dirt cheap).

The article in a nutshell (5, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797061)

The author took 4 pages (you start on page "1" and click through 3 other pages ... ads at each step) and basically he says this:

Open a spreadsheet. Enter in all the shows that you like to watch on cable. For shows that are available on HuluPlus, assume you'll subscribe to HuluPlus ($8/mo). For a show that is available on Amazon, enter it's cost per episode (less than $2). Same if your show is only available on iTunes or some other media center. Add up the costs, calculate a "monthly" cost to stream your shows. Compare to your monthly cost for cable TV.

That's pretty much what the article is about. I've just saved you a bunch of clicks and ads.

It is what I have been saying about my own television watching. When my wife & I moved two years ago, we opted not to sign up for cable TV, choosing to stream everything instead. We have Netflix for movies and "TV on DVD", HuluPlus for most of our current shows, Amazon for a few others. We bought a Roku ($99) to stream everything to our television - and it effectively paid for itself over a couple of months. Our monthly cost for all that is way less than the monthly cost of cable TV. And as long as the math continues to be in our favor, we'll keep streaming.

Re:The article in a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797171)

When I had hulu+, it was only $4 a month not $8... And I just canceled it about a month or two ago... ?

Bandwidth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797069)

My cable ISP not only gives me unlimited bandwidth, but also free access to ESPN3; I subscribe to Amazon Prime for $49 a year; We actually do still subscribe to cable TV, but that is mainly for my dad. He is one of the many people that don't like change.

Dumb term (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797083)

I hated that term since the first time I heard it. I don't know why anyone calls it "cord cutting" when it's really just "cord switching."

And if anyone thinks those in control are going to let millions of subscribers save millions of dollars this way, they've never heard of "equilibrium." Or "greed." They'll throttle you, or cap you, or charge more, or all of the above, until it's not worth it.

And yeah, long story short: for some people, it'll work great; for others, it won't. It depends how much TV gets watched in your household. If it were just me, watching my small handful of shows, I could have switched years ago. But it isn't, so I haven't and won't.

No longer slave to the marketing overlords... (5, Interesting)

ZephyrQ (96951) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797133)

My daughter summed it up best in a tweet to her friends: (paraphrase)

"wow, now the television doesn't tell me what I want to watch, I tell *it* what I want to watch". Unfortunately, she skewed my Netflix preferences so now I have a bunch of 'one-tree-hormoneville' shows suggested to me...

AND my son has his pick of whatever anime he could ever desire.

It takes a little time to adjust (you can't just plop in front of the tv and turn it on for 'whatever'), but everyone I show it to loves it. And I save US$60 a month!

Other than the quality of my OTA channels going down (a problem I had for awhile with DTV as well), I haven't missed my sat/cable stuff.

However, it DID take me over a week of arguing with the satellite company to get it disconnected. (go ahead...ask me about it...please...).

Re:No longer slave to the marketing overlords... (4, Funny)

Z34107 (925136) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797209)

However, it DID take me over a week of arguing with the satellite company to get it disconnected. (go ahead...ask me about it...please...).

So, how'd disconnecting the satellite go? Was there arguing, and did it take a week?

There is no good way to get content legally (4, Informative)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797313)

Cable / satellite don't always show the things you want, or when you want. Even DVRs only help a little, because it depends on you knowing what you will want to watch later.

Netflix streaming has a poor selection (for my tastes anyway), and Amazon is only slightly better, and even then only if you are willing to pay to rent on top of the Prime membership. You can get a broader selection on disk from Netflix, but not on a whim.

Hulu has a terrible selection as well. When you want to pick up a show from the beginning, and it's been playing for a while, they have only a few episodes of most shows, even on the paid side.

You can get a lot from Apple, but expensively (about double the DVD cost to see a TV season). And even then, they don't have a long tail for those who prefer more obscure stuff. Probably because content providers are afraid Apple will do to them what Apple did to the music industry.

But you can get anything you want, even foreign or obscure material, by torrent easier than you can get Finding Nemo. So the bottom line is content providers suck at giving people what they want when they want it. Until they stop sucking or get disintermediated, there will not be a convenient and legal way to get content.

Re:There is no good way to get content legally (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797437)

> Even DVRs only help a little, because it depends on you knowing what you will want to watch later.

You only have that problem once. Then it goes away. That's kind of what the whole point of a PVR is.

I have recording rules as old as my current PVR setup.

You can even program a PVR with your personal preferences so it goes out and finds things you might not have sought out by name.

Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797403)

I cut dish tv about 5 years ago. Hulu and Pandora plus an hd antenna have provided me free entertainment since then. I occasionally have to torrent a few shows that don't seem to want to embrace hulu (their loss in revenue). I even cut my internet over a year ago because of all the easily accessible wifi routers in my apartment complex. Saved thousands of dollars I reckon, which have paid for ipads and other entertainment toys to use. Not sure if I'll go back to cable anytime soon. I recommend giving it a try for a month (especially during the summer season with little new programming). If you can't live without cable they will be happy to take you back and probably offer you a discount as well!

Reward those that are providing cheap content! (4, Insightful)

sl149q (1537343) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797405)

I cut the cord. Installed HD antenna's for the local news and use Netflix for the rest. I was paying > $200 for high speed (50Mbit) cable internet and HD tv. Now (with a new higher speed lower cost product available) I'm paying about $85 for 100Mbit access with a 1 TB cap.

Yes, I'm missing a few shows we would like to watch. But, the reality is that we have only so many hours a week to consume TV (or any media.) AND there is more than enough available through Netflix (or Hulu etc.) that it simply makes sense to use them and save a bundle.

The more we reward the low cost providers the more content they will be able to get access to.

Did the same for our landlines two years ago. Went from two old style @ $45 /month each to four VOIP @ $3... (with more or less free North American LD.)

Overall I've reduced my "media" bill from over $400 to just over $100.

Sometimes I think this is they don't up bandwith. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797461)

In the US: quite often the oligopoly/monopoly on high speed internet are the same guys which sell television. To a certain regard, it isn't in the ISP's best interest to up speeds as more people will drop television. It is disgusting, but what can you do?

By far the cheapest option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40797495)

If you live in a major market, the cheapest option is over-the-air.
The equipment costs are recouped within a few months.

flexibility on content and timeliness helps (4, Informative)

ffflala (793437) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797529)

The time slot programming model of cable television is a technical vestige, and the sooner it is eliminated the better.

After the first time I watched an entire season of a show in the space of a single (and very lazy) weekend on a DVD years ago, I was unable to return to waiting for weekly installations. I now prefer to wait until a season is over, or even until a series has concluded entirely, before bothering to spend my time watching it.

Sometimes at the conclusion it will become clear that you shouldn't bother. For example I was waiting for LOST to end before watching it, but based on the non-plot-spoiler reviews I've read, I'm glad I didn't waste my time in the first place.

For quite a while now there has been more video entertainment than a single person could watch in one lifetime. If your primary reason is to be entertained --rather than to be able to discuss current entertainment at the office the way people do sports games-- you'll save time and money being selective about what you watch, as well as by not being in a hurry to catch the latest episode.

the cost of cable (2)

mythandros (973986) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797537)

UVerse Internet + UVerse TV is more expensive than UVerse Internet + Hulu Premium + Netflix. That's all I really care about. Sure, you can get deals for UVerse TV and pay an "introductory" price for a year but at the end of that year, the introductory price goes away. You can't just call customer service and ask for the same deal. They'll tell you to piss up a rope and suck on it. You have to cancel your TV service and, like clockwork, a month later they'll send you a flyer to get "introductory pricing" for a year's service. It happened to me. It happened to a dozen of my friends. AT&T isn't customer friendly and their default stance in customer service is to call your bluff when you say you're canceling. I cancelled AT&T UVerse TV and I'm never going back. Why? Because now, I only watch what I want to watch instead of whatever's on.

apples and oranges (2)

giorgist (1208992) | about a year and a half ago | (#40797625)

How do you price the convenience of on demand ?

Also how do you price the convenience of torrents ?

You cant exclude torrents, they are the major disruptor

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...