I was in a bar on Friday night and the tv was tuned to the Cubs/Phillies game. It started raining and within minutes there was a message on the screen that the Direct TV service was out. I flashed back to the summer of 2017 and how after months of disrupted Direct TV service at my house because of snow and rain, I decided to cut the cord and use streaming services for all of my home entertainment.
If you’ve been following this series on my experiences with cord cutting, you know that it’s had its share moments of frustration. I initially started with subscribing to the new HULU Live TV service. This appealed to me because Hulu has a deep VOD library and I like the idea of a service using an algorithm to make viewing recommendations for me. The interface is pretty easy to use and and over the last year, Hulu has invested a lot in curating movies and a variety of tv shows to make it’s VOD library unrivaled. The service also does a good job of making programs accessible under genres such as TRUE CRIME, NEWS, HULU ORIGINALS, MOVIES, etc. You know exactly what you’re getting and there’s a lot to find.
My biggest frustration with the service over the last year was that the video would often freeze while I was watching the live tv service. This problem was unique only to live tv. I didn’t find it an issue if I was watching something in the VOD library. I spernt a lot of time tweeting Hulu about this issue and as of today, it seems to be fixed. But, I’m not sure who or what is responsible for the remedy. As I’ve said in previous posts, the most important thing to do when you decide to cut the cord and stream is making sure you have high quality internet WiFi. I had the best WiFi service Comcast had to offer at the time but the problem persisted.
Then, one night at the same bar I was in last Friday, a coworker who works in IT told me I should probably look at getting WiFi signal boosters since I live in a townhouse and with my router upstairs, the TV downstairs where I do most of my viewing was most likely struggling with the signal. So, I purchased 3 WiFi boosters from Comcast through their xfinity xFi app. It was an easy purchase that was just added to my bill that month.
Once the boosters arrived installation was simple. I just had to plug each one into an outlet in the rooms where I have TVs and the app found them and paired them with my router. The boosters are small and don’t distract from my decor. Here’s a picture:
Once I installed all three I noticed an immediate improvement in my service. With that said, I’ve also noticed an improvement in the Hulu live tv service when I’m outside of my house on public wifi. As with any wifi if a lot of people are using it, you’re bound to have some buffering issues, but they’ve decreased so much I’m no longer frustrated and considering cancelling my service. It’s a keeper.
I also have a basic Direct TV Now subscription because with my AT&T cell service I get it for $10 a month. Direct TV Now has improved their interface greatly and now include 20 hours of cloud DVR service with your service. This is the same as what Hulu offers but unlike with Hulu you can’t pay to upgrade your DVR storage hours, yet. Honestly, I would recommend against paying for more cloud DVR space. With VOD and network apps, you can most likely find any show you’re not viewing live anyway. Also the cloud DVR will delete oldest programs to make room for new recordings, so you don’t really need to worry about missing a show.
Money-wise, I’m definitely spending less than I was on cable and/or Direct TV wired services. For one, I own my Apple TV boxes so I’m not paying monthly rental and taxes on DVR boxes and remote controls. When I’m not home, I can watch any of these services on my phone, iPad or computer. And it’s all seamless. The services remember where I left off whether I paused in the middle of a show or ready to watch the next episode.
I like using Apple TV because I’m an Apple user and I like that my music, tv, movies are all connected and I don’t have to use any third party services to access my entertainment. But, if you have a smart tv, Amazon Fire stick, Roku, etc., you’re still good to go.
I’ve been adventurous in my experimenting with cord cutting. If you want something simple I would suggest Direct TV Now or the new Comcast streaming service. These will also get you your local tv stations outside of the CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX stations. Take a look at your next cable bill and take note of how much you’re paying for the DVR boxes, remote controls and taxes.
The other cool thing about streaming services is that it’s a bit easier to build out a service with the networks you want most and not the ones you never what but pay for.
If you don’t want to go the streaming route and just want some old fashioned tv, you can still cut the cord, buy a digital antenna and have access to all the broadcast tv networks, local stations and a host of genre digital broadcast networks.
One year later, I have no regrets about cutting the cord. I still have access to the basic and premium cable networks I want to watch and I’m saving money. I also like the idea that if I move, I don’t have to call for service set up, losing a whole day waiting for someone to show up and install. With a smart tv, Apple TV box, my iPad or a myriad of other ways, I can have entertainment anytime, anywhere and the way I want it!
One last thing, another great thing about streaming apps is that if there’s a show you like that’s exclusive to one particular app, you can just subscribe long enough to watch that show and then pause or cancel your subscription, picking it back up when your show is back again. A lot of services also have 3-7 day free preview offers. It’s a smart way to still see the content you want while managing costs.