Leaving cable in the dust

I love TV. I know I know, it’s a terrible habit, but it’s how I relax. When I am stressed or feeling anxious it helps me to clear my mind. I can sit and watch something and turn my brain off. With that being said, we are not TV junkies. Glenn isn’t obsessed with watching sports. I have a few shows I enjoy watching but I am not worried if I miss one, I am one of the few people in the world who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones (please don’t discredit me for this!) so I am not worried about spoilers. After our introductory period was over Glenn and I realized our cable went up to $160 a month. A MONTH!!! How ridiculous is that!

I had read about people cutting the cord and getting rid of cable but the reviews I read made it sound complicated and confusing. At the same time, I could do A LOT with an extra $100 in my pocket each month, so I decided it was time to cut the cord.

I didn’t want to become the parent who didn’t let me family watch TV at all so I wanted to find a plan that fit into what we watched and gave us the option to watch live TV. I assumed there were two or three services to choose from. Boy was I wrong. Hulu TV, YouTube TV, DirectTV Now, Playstation VUE, Sling… the list went on and on. So for a few weeks, I gave up and decided it was too hard. Super good life motto right? But after another $160 bill came that was it, I had enough.

So where to even start?

The biggest difference between the options seemed to be the channels offered. Some had DVR and other features but with each TV channel having its own Apple TV or Roku app to watch past shows that didn’t seem super important. I am also not the person who needs 4K quality or surround sound.

I decided a spreadsheet was the best option. I downloaded a list of all the channels that we got on DirectTV (it was insane, we got close to 200 channels). Once I had this built I could start my comparison. I added in the data for each of the streaming services, what channels they offer and what the cost was for each.

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So now I could compare apples to apples. I went down the list and highlighted the channels we watch regularly, those we watch on occasion and those we might want to watch someday. I highlighted each in different colors.

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Now I could easily see which plan best met our needs. You can start to see above that DirectTV Now “Just Right”, the $50 a month plan, was the best fit for the channels we watched the most. And at $50 a month we were going to save $110 a month!

Easy money! And actually, we got to save even more! Right before I was about to sign up Glenn decided that he doesn’t actually watch some of the channels he marked as “important” were really that important, so we ended up going with the “Live a Little” package which rings in at just $35 a month, saving us $125 a month.

Now there are a few other costs to consider before just putting that extra money in your pocket. You need a device to use for your streaming. We have some smart TVs but I never have good luck with the apps on them and most of these streaming service apps aren’t offered on smart TVs. So you will need a Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV or something else to use to stream. We already had 3 Rokus so it made the most sense to stick with one brand. Most of the things I own are Apple so in the long run it probably would have made more sense to get an Apple TV, but the Roku works great for us. I also like that there are different models of Roku offering different quality. In the living room and the basement TVs, we got the nice high-quality Rokus. On the other TVs, we got the cheaper models. I didn’t think we needed HD in our bedroom or toy room, Blake isn’t super concerned with the quality of his paw patrol lately. And honestly, I can’t really tell much of a difference between the models.

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We did get 1 streaming stick however and no matter what I do I can’t get the remote to work. It isn’t a huge deal since there is a phone app you can use for the remote, but it is still a little annoying. I put that on the garage TV since Glenn really only watches TV out there in the summer when working on his boat. So if you are trying to decide I wouldn’t recommend the streaming stick, the Roku express works much better in my opinion.

Make sure you consider the cost of purchasing Rokus for all your TVs into your price comparison. We got 1 free Roku when we signed up for DirectTV Now. I tried to search for a promo code but I wasn’t able to find one so they might not have the promotion anymore.

We also learned once we started using DirectTV now that while CBS is available to watch live TV it wasn’t reliable for the on-demand. So we ended up adding a CBS all-access pass for $6 a month. So after the initial cost of getting Rokus for each TV, we are saving $119 a month! I’d call that a win.

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Now I do need to add 5 additional notes.

  1. Make sure your internet can support streaming. We did speed up our internet a little. You also need to make sure you have good Wi-fi coverage everywhere where you want to watch TV. We already had a wireless extender so it wasn’t a problem for us, but that could be an additional upfront cost.
  2. Remember you are relying on the internet for your TV service. We do have some buffering delays, especially during times when a lot of other people are using the internet, like most recently during the super bowl. But this doesn’t happen often and I will gladly accept a little buffering for the money I am saving.
  3. Check to make sure your internet provider doesn’t have a usage limit, or if it does have a limit that you will still be under that limit when you add streaming. Our provider doesn’t have a limit but I know some do.
  4. When we signed up for DirectTV Now they were “promising” DVR services in Jan 2018. Well, it is now February and that date has now moved to spring of 2018. Is DVR a deal breaker for me? No. Does it make life just that much easier to keep up with your favorite shows? Yes! So maybe it’s a good thing because I am probably not staying up as late to catch up on my shows.
  5. There is no sleep timer. I have been one to fall asleep with the TV on since high school. There is a sleep timer on the TV still but because the Roku is a separate device even if the TV turns off the Roku will keep streaming. This was an easy problem to solve as I just put on my big girl pants and now go to sleep without the TV on, but just something for you to consider. For years my mom told me that affected my sleep, don’t tell her but I think she might be right! I do fall asleep much faster.

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