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My Journey to Cut the Cable Cord

Now that I have Netflix and Hulu Plus, I'm closer to cutting the cable cord, but there are still some content gaps and a problem with live news and sports.


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I'm sick of cable, sick of CableCard, sick of cable bills, sick of "60 Minutes" not recording because a football game ran too long.

So I'm on a journey to cut the cable cord, once and for all. Hopefully you can help me do it.

I'm not concerned about movies right now. I get what I need through Netflix.

So it's my TV needs that must be addressed. I wish I didn't enjoy mindless TV as much as I do, and I sure hope my mother doesn't read this, but there you have it.

Here are some things you should know about me (and in some cases my husband).

Entertainment Content - Video
  • We must have "House," "Modern Family," "Big Bang Theory," "The Good Wife."
  • We enjoy the legal/crime/mystery shows but could possibly live without them: "The Mentalist," "Law & Order," "CSI," "Hawaii Five-0," "Terrier."
  • We can really get into some of the good series such as "Damages," "Flash Forward," "Breaking Bad" (never got into "Lost").
  • I don't cook or even shop for food, but I do enjoy the cooking contests including "Top Chef," "Hell's Kitchen," "Next Food Network Star." (My husband does the cooking and grocery shopping and wouldn't be caught dead watching these shows.)
  • I also enjoy the reality design shows such as "Project Runway" and "Next Design Star."
  • Showtime is our only premium channel and all we watch is "Weeds" and "The Big C."
  • We record "CBS Sunday Morning" and "60 Minutes" but don't need to watch them immediately.
  • I schedule my stationary bike rides around "People's Court" or "Judge Judy." I'm not proud of this.
  • I work out of the home and have no water cooler, so I don't need to watch any of these shows right away for social purposes.
Live Content - Video
  • We need live news from the major news channels.
  • We're not sports fans but would like the opportunity to stream important games such as the Super Bowl and World Series, as well as events that feature my teams, including University of Michigan, University of Texas, state of Texas, state of Minnesota.
Audio Content
  • Decent CD library, courtesy of my husband (I brought 3 CDs to the marriage)
  • I like Pandora and have a killer Neil Diamond station.
Preferences
  • Audio and video quality are secondary to content availability.
Devices
  • 60-inch Mitsubishi DLP with no Internet connectivity
  • iPad
  • iPod Touch
  • S1Digital Media Center PC
  • Roku box coming
  • Apple TV (currently disconnected)
  • Vudu box (currently disconnected)
  • Windows Media Server
  • Gyration mouse/remote (love it),
  • Wireless keyboard
Subscriptions/software
  • Hulu Plus
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Boxee (on Media Center)
  • Pandora

Now What?


So where do I go from here?

I only just subscribed to Hulu Plus yesterday, primarily so I could watch TV content through my iPad while riding my stationary bike or lounging on the couch.

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I use Hulu a fair amount but I'm not sure yet if Hulu Plus fills the content gaps for me.

Netflix is nice for catching up on series and I'm currently watching Season 1 of "Damages."

Can you help me cut the cable cord? What are some content tips? Where are the gaps? What products would you recommend? How about content navigation and universal search a la Google TV?

Please share your experiences in the comments section below and also let us know how you're advising your clients on streaming content.

Meanwhile, I'll keep you posted from my end.




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Article Topics

News · Blogs · Video · Digital Media · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

39 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Steve Crowe  on  11/01  at  07:39 AM

I’m a sports nut, will never be able to cut the cord. I also enjoy mindless TV, but wait till the seasons are available on Netflix.

Posted by Matt Scott  on  11/01  at  08:06 AM

I hear ya, I can’t suggest too much as I’m in Canada and we have none of these options. Can you fill in your tv show gaps with iTunes? You’d end up paying for some of it but not into cable prices?

I’d love to see a US to Canada comparison. We just got NetFlix a little while ago but the content is dismal and hulu/huluplus are restricted due to copyright.

Posted by Borg Custom  on  11/01  at  08:09 AM

My wife and I are in the same boat Julie.  Live Sports/News are the only issues right now.  I’m going to put up an HDTV antenna, so that will get us news, and some sports (Hockey Night in Canada, NFL) but most other sports are on cable networks up here, like TSN and Sportsnet.  No OTA option.

Posted by IntegrateMe  on  11/01  at  08:10 AM

Julie:

I believe you’ll have fun researching this topic and it is a path many people would like to follow due to increasing satellite and cable costs.  However, you just won’t find all of the content you are looking for, especially in HD (as most people would like), nor will you find it in a usable, searchable format with all of the meta-tags/guide information you would want.

Google and Apple would certainly like to solve this problem for you, for a fee, but they are many years away from anything more than per episode/season pay-per-view solutions which for an average TV viewer would probably cost about as much as cable and satellite if not more and remain less convenient for those used to channel surfing.

Posted by Steve Crowe  on  11/01  at  08:14 AM

@Borg Custom, I’ve been looking into NBA League Pass, gives you 40 games per week, but you have to have a cable provider or satellite provider to get it, I believe. Is there a way to get a package like this without having a cable provider?

Posted by Chuck Ogden  on  11/01  at  08:27 AM

I have found an interesting blog on this same subject as follows:

http://www.cuttingthebills.com/2010/10/cut-cord-survival-guide-episode-5.html#more

Does require TV tuners and a digital OTA antenna.

Posted by John A  on  11/01  at  09:11 AM

Hi Julie,

For news and local TV, why not get an OTA?

Posted by JohnA  on  11/01  at  09:21 AM
Posted by Arlen Schweiger  on  11/01  at  10:38 AM

@Steve Crowe, not sure about the NBA League pass, but we’ve been doing some research into this as well. For one thing, I found that my cable provider supports ESPN3 - very cool. I also saw that for like $50 you can get the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket To Go pass to stream all the football games. Both of those also let you do mosaic views. Would have to investigate the NBA side of it.

Posted by Arlen Schweiger  on  11/01  at  10:47 AM

OK, well apparently you need to be a directv subscriber for the NFL Sunday Ticket to Go, so my bad there. But if you get an OTA antenna you’ve got CBS, NBC and FOX games covered at least

Posted by Jason Knott  on  11/01  at  09:29 PM

In addition to sports, children’s programming is another roadblock. The availability of kid’s programming on cable is so much easier because it doesn’t require the parent to constantly have to click off pop-up ads and self-starting videos that come up on the kid websites.

Posted by AJW  on  11/02  at  06:42 AM

I think I would add Playon (http://www.playon.tv) to that setup and drop the Hulu Plus. Then as others have said go OTA for local news/PBS

Posted by Steve Crowe  on  11/02  at  06:47 AM

I downloaded a trial version of PlayOn last night and was running it through my PS3. Not sure if it was my slow computer, but the streaming quality was unwatchable. Kept buffering and even the dull UI had trouble loading.

Posted by JohnA  on  11/02  at  08:22 AM

@Jason

There is a lot of kids programs on Netflix, my daughter can go through the kids list or we can search for a specific show/series and let her watch.  And another big one for kids shows is OTA, PBS (at least where we are) has 4-6 different channels for kids programming.

Posted by Mark Schue  on  11/02  at  10:25 AM

get an outside antenna for local all channels are broadcasted for free in hd 1080 i

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