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Old 07-12-2013, 02:49 PM   #1
sterlingice
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Back in Houston!
Cutting the (Cable) Cord?

I couldn't find a thread specific to it, but this one migrated over that way:
Netflix consumers continue to trend away from conventional TV...... - Front Office Football Central

We're in the market for a house and this seemed like a good time to examine some of our spending and living habits. I've gotten tired of the constantly creeping contracts, the bi-annual fight with the cable company, and the bills that seem really high for what we're getting. We have a fairly basic package, internet, no phone, and a single DVR from AT&T and it's been the same story everywhere I've lived with Verizon and Comcast as well.

I'm going through this category by category and would apprciate help on any of these from people who have cut the cord.

Our setup will be fairly simple: 3 tvs but only the living room and possibly the bedroom need a DVR. It was nice to have Verizon's multi-room DVR where we could watch something on the DVR in either room but we could just adjust our behavior to record things in the room we watch the most. The tv in the game room would be nice to have cable for, but it's a lower priority as it's an older 27" tube tv thatis hooked up to about 10 video game systems and newer tvs don't have some of the connectors I need (plus, playing an NES on a 42" tv just kindof looks ugly). If we have a simple system, then I might add a cheap 4th tv in an office but it's strictly extra.


Satellite as an Alternative
  • I'm just going to assume that dealing with them is like dealing with a cable company: "Intro $30 for a billion stations and then it's up to $100 a month after a year or $60 if you just want 5 stations and a DVR rental is another $25 a month on top of it". Am I wrong here?
  • Installation and disconnect costs probably suck, too, right? And the house we rented in Indy, the previous owners had run satellite and they had to put down an entirely different set of cable since they couldn't tie into the cable in the house or something so the owner got to spend a couple of days pulling cabling out of the house.
Networks
  • Can't use rabbit ears any more and at least one of the tvs doesn't have a digital tuner so I'll need to get one or more of the converter boxes. No big deal: it's a $40 one time expense. Any complications I'm not seeing there? Is the quality decent for anyone going this route?
  • We still watch a decent chunk of our shows off of network tv. If we end up with that setup, is there a good way to DVR things off of network?
  • I don't really want to hook up another computer to the box as I want something my wife can comfortably use. Is there some sort of appliance for DVR over the air like this?
Premium Streaming Television
There seem to be 3 big streaming providers: Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix
  • The advice I've always heard is that to get a majority of the shows you watch, it's likely you'll need to pick 2 of the 3 to get near complete coverage. Does that sound accurate?
  • How often does a show "fall off" of Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Netflix? Sometimes, we'll get behind on our tv shows and the DVR is useful because, for instance, CBS will keep shows up on their website for 3 weeks and then it's gone. If you want it after that, you have to go pay for it, skip the episode, or watch it through more unsavory means.
  • How about hardware: Roku boxes seem pretty popular. This is a streaming appliance, right? Does it have DVR features? Do you need DVR features with a streaming appliance (previous question kindof covers that)?
Sports
Damn you, ESPN (Fox Sports, etc)! They're the big problem. And I don't think Ben would appreciate streaming pirate suggestions here so let's move past that. Going out to a bar to see a big game with some fans is fun. Having to go somewhere for every Big Monday game that ends at 11 against Baylor is not an option.
  • MLB and NFL are covered. I don't get to see the Royals as is, what with their big national presence, but I like to flip on a Cubs game or Sunday Night Baseball or whatnot. I already subscribe to MLB Audio so I'd probably just bump that up to MLB.tv. Or just live with the MLB.tv free game of the day, which is pretty cool. The only annoyance comes in that I won't be able to see Astros or Rangers games due to MLB's stupid blackout rules. Most NFL games are on broadcast networks except for the occasional NFL Network or MNF and the list I get most weeks are good enough for me.
  • NBA or NHL are more problematic. I don't watch enough to justify a yearly subscription if they have one but I do like flipping on a good NBA or NHL game. I will catch pretty much every Rockets game on ESPN/TNT. However, Comcast is fighting all the cable providers here so no one is getting Rockets or Astros games anyway right now (seriously: only about 20% of Houston gets Comcast Sports Houston right now so no one gets to see them). What is pricing like for NBA.tv? And, more importantly, what are the blackout rules? If I can't see the Rockets, I definitely don't care.
  • NCAA Sports are the other big stumbling point: Kansas football (hah!) and basketball. I can watch a good 75% of those games on ESPN3 in some fashion (or ESPN2/ESPN). ESPN has some odd rules about blackouts: like if something is on ESPN, you can't get it on ESPN3: I haven't quite deciphered those yet. But this is a huge consideration for me: can I get ESPN3, especially KU games, in any way without subscribing to ESPN on cable?
SI
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:03 PM   #2
molson
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FWIW, I pay $75/month on DirecTV years after all the promotions ended, and I think that's the absolute minimum. It covers the essentials, and then I add on the $10 monthly sports pack during college football and basketball pre-conference game seasons (being able to watch every Syracuse game in Idaho is pretty awesome), and $10 for premium channels for a couple of months here and there if there's a series I'm watching and I want to load up the DVR with movies. No problems with installation or service. Apparently, if you're really aggressive, you can call up the retention line and get all kinds of deals, like free Sunday Ticket. There's message boards devoted to gaming that system but I haven't tried too hard yet.

I've thought about cutting the cable. A braver man would. I'm sure I could get more than my fill from Netflix. But I'd probably get MLB.TV, and Hulu plus, and maybe Amazon prime, and go to redbox more often, so I tell myself I would cannibalize some of my savings anyway.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
PilotMan
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I currently spend about $68/mo for cable and internet @ 20.0. I would only have internet but the add on for cable was pretty much the same. Now of course, the whole family really enjoys that too. I also spend $25 for Netflix and another $8 for Hulu Plus, both of which get used too. I have been an MLB TV subscriber for about 5 years now too. That's another $129, but well worth it for me to watch the Dodgers, Reds when I'm out of town and any Braves game. I've more than made it pay for itself.

All in all we probably spend too much but that's more me than anyone else. With my travels I like to have the flexibility in the hotels when the cable there sucks. FWIW, I also spend $10 on Boingo to have internet in pretty much any airport that isn't already free. I don't have a smartphone so this is my alternative to Verzion's $30/mo/phone for me.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:38 PM   #4
Honolulu_Blue
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I spend far too much on cable. Far too much.

If it wasn't for me, there is no way Lady H_B would have cable. She's suggested we get rid of it a few times or shut it down a few times, but I just don't think it would work for me. There are too many shows I enjoy watching and then, of course, there's the sports thing.

For sports, none of the offered packages would work for me because they blackout all local games. That would mean I would have to go to a bar to watch a Wings game, a Michigan game, a Lions game or what have you. That does not appeal to me at all.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:44 PM   #5
sterlingice
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This is... disheartening. I hate that I get to fight the cable company about every 6 months to find a new deal that lowers my rate back to $90 from $120ish. And this is in different cities with fairly bare bones packages.

Is there a good DVR substitute? That would be $15-$20 off the top to save.

SI
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Last edited by sterlingice : 07-12-2013 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:12 PM   #6
panerd
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SI:

Not sure this will help but I find myself having the same debate in my head that you are having. Ultimately sports (Mizzou and STL here, KU and local NBA for you) end up throwing a wrench in it. I think your best bet is to just get on the phone every 6 months of so. I have done this with Directv and gotten pretty cheap Sunday Ticket and a monthly bill for whole home DVR around $60. The plan you are coming up with to circumvent the cable companies will run about this much anyways and you won't be able to watch a lot of things you didn't realized you watched. (for example I just got done watching Let's Make a Deal and now have the Family Feud on in the background) You feel dirty and low about it at first but those phone operators don't care and will gladly give you the discounts if you just play the game.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:28 PM   #7
sterlingice
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So for panerd and molson: I'm assuming this is 60/75 per month and then another $30+ internet bill, right?

SI
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:30 PM   #8
ISiddiqui
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I have recently done this. Ended cable and went to internet only from Comcast... halved my bill.

Though I never would have done it if the latest Tivo Premiere (the regular, not the 4 or XL4) didn't have an OTA input (I love me some DVR). And I got a Clearstream 2 antenna, which is currently on my apartment's porch.

In addition to that I already had a Roku. I know some people who just use a Roku and don't worry about antennas at all, but I like some live stuff.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:36 PM   #9
ISiddiqui
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sterlingice View Post
[*] We still watch a decent chunk of our shows off of network tv. If we end up with that setup, is there a good way to DVR things off of network?

Tivo Premiere (though with bunny ears or something similar):

https://www3.tivo.com/store/premiere..._premiere_shop

(I got a lifetime service - there was a deal that made it $400, but $14 a month ain't bad)

Quote:
[*] How often does a show "fall off" of Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Netflix? Sometimes, we'll get behind on our tv shows and the DVR is useful because, for instance, CBS will keep shows up on their website for 3 weeks and then it's gone. If you want it after that, you have to go pay for it, skip the episode, or watch it through more unsavory means.

Hulu Plus usually as the last 5 episodes of a current network TV. Netflix has episodes usually after they come out on DVD. Amazon Prime has all the eps, but you have to pay $1.99 or $2.99 for HD for eps this season.

Quote:
[*] How about hardware: Roku boxes seem pretty popular. This is a streaming appliance, right? Does it have DVR features? Do you need DVR features with a streaming appliance (previous question kindof covers that)?[/list]

Just streaming, no DVR. Technically the Tivo Premiere has Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon apps, but its ridiculously slow on them (for some reason), so I use my Roku.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:45 PM   #10
MacroGuru
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My GF has zero cable and uses an HD Antenna. She uses her aircard for the web. I bring my own and use it for Netflix on her Wii and my tablet.

She gets by, but during college football season I am at when my team plays. Bills we typically get on local tv so that is fine..
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:02 PM   #11
LastWhiteSoxFanStanding
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Playon.tv is cheap software that pushes video from the computer to any video game console or set box connected to a tv. And works fairly well.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:03 PM   #12
Izulde
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Netflix (streaming only) and Hulu+ for me. When I got my own apartment last summer/fall, I thought about finally getting cable. I took one look at the prices and said hell no.

The only things I miss are:

1. Being able to stay up to date on my favorite shows (I haven't advanced beyond S7 on HIMYM and S4 on new favorite Parks and Recreation for example).

2. Sports - although I live close enough to UNLV to walk to basketball games, and UNLV football and Sam Boyd Stadium both suck enough that if I want to put myself through the torture of it, I usually just go to a local bar. On the other hand, I can't remember the last time I got to watch a Dolphins game, and I'd love to start watching the NBA again.

3. HBO shows - Which tend to be some of my favorites, but I usually just put them on my Christmas/birthday list, or buy season by season DVDs myself.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:10 PM   #13
molson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sterlingice View Post
So for panerd and molson: I'm assuming this is 60/75 per month and then another $30+ internet bill, right?


Yup (except a little more than $30+ for internet). So I guess I pay about $140 for DirecTV (with DVR and HD)/Netflix/Internet. I guess I can sleep at night with that, but I will cancel DirecTV eventually.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:32 PM   #14
panerd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sterlingice View Post
So for panerd and molson: I'm assuming this is 60/75 per month and then another $30+ internet bill, right?

SI

Yes not much choice for me outside of cable internet and it's $35 (negotiated from $50 ). Tried DSL a while ago and it was terrible maybe it has improved in the last several years.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:44 PM   #15
bob
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Once Aereo comes to your area, look into it. Records / streams ota content to you. I know an hd antenna works, but we are far out enough that we'd need a roof mounted big one.
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Old 07-15-2013, 07:17 AM   #16
sterlingice
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bump: fishing for thoughts from others

So far it doesn't sound like a lot of alternatives exist to even get close to replicating the "cable/satellite" package but I can't think that it's quite true

SI
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Last edited by sterlingice : 07-15-2013 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:07 AM   #17
BBT
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Katy, TX
Longtime lurker, infrequent poster; I'm from Houston, love all Houston sports, but currently live in San Antonio with my wife and three kids. Here's my setup after cutting the cord in May (very pro-Apple).

Hardware:
Internet: Time Warner Turbo Package ($80/mth)
Antenna: RCA- Outdoor HDTV Antenna ($80 - Best Buy)
TVs: 2 Standard HDTVs, 4 smaller TVs 10 years old or less
Media Player: Playstation 3, Samsung Blu-Ray with Internet Access, 2 Apple TVs ($99)

Notes: We used to subscribe with Time Warner and had a 2 year locked in contract for $129 a month for cable/internet/DVR. That was about to expire and the bill was going to raise to $200. We asked for a discount and that would have been around $160 which was still too much for so little and I made the choice to cut the cord. Time Warner jacked up the internet portion since I had no bundling and I'd love to go with someone else, but my only other option is AT&T DSL right now and I just can't do that with as much as we stream. I could step down a level for Time Warner, but the Turbo Package serves me well and I've had no issues.

I did some online research and went with the RCA Antenna for over the air channels. I want to mount it in the attic and split it off to all my TVs via the cable hook ups in the house, but we're in limbo with a potential move so I've got it sitting behind my Living room TV currently. I pull about 20-25 over the air channels (including NBC/ABC/CBS/FOX/PBS) and they are HD quality. In fact, my NBC channel is probably clearer than when I had Time Warner. I do have to adjust it from time to time, but considering that its just leaning against my wall behind my TV, I can't complain too much.

Was deciding between PS3, RokuTV, and AppleTV for additional streaming. PS3 is very limited and Roku had 250+channels. All of them offer Netflix and Hulu Plus, however, I was sold on the AppleTVs ability to allow streaming from your Iphone/IPad devices. This opened a ton of options for us as we have Iphones and IPads and can basically stream any app to our TVs. This basically allowed us to not need a DVR as we can stream the NBC/CBS/ABC/cable channels apps as well as most sports services apps. For example, I signed up for MLS.TV on my Iphone and can stream the Dynamo games to the TV. It's not HD quality, but it works. Lastly, all our ITunes purchases are available to us instantly and I can access my computer's file share to stream video content from my computer.

Software:
-Netflix: ($8/mth)
-Hulu Plus: ($8/mth) - must for Fox shows
-Crackle: Free
-NBC/CBS/ABC/PBS/other cable channels apps: Free

Sports: Hardest part, but doable
MLB: Astros fan in San Antonio so I don't get live games anyway. Purchased the Radio package for the MLB app ($20/yr) and I sometimes stream the radio broadcast and the Gameday updates through the TV.
MLS: Purchased MLS Live package ($60/yr) and stream the games. I don't get games on NBC Sports, but I get about 80% of the games.
NBA: I'll get league pass once the season starts to watch the Rockets and other games. I don't get ESPN games. TNT games, however, are available on their website via their multi-camera option. You don't get graphics so you have to pay attention for the score and it can get a little disorienting as you don't have the normal half court camera, but it worked for the Eastern Conference Finals. Playoff games on ESPN are my big worry.
NFL: All games are free on over the air channels except for Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football (I have the NFL app though). I purchased the Radio package for the NFL app for $20 last year since I was deployed to Qatar.
College: Definitely the hardest thing. No more College Gameday on ESPN, no more flipping between multiple games except for what's on CBS/NBC/ABC. However, I'm a University of Houston fan so I'll either go to the games, or I downloaded the UH app where for $20/yr I can stream video/audio of all sporting events. If that doesn't work, I can go on the UH website and order their Premium package for around $80/yr and stream audio/video that way. The app worked for baseball which normally is never on TV so I'm hopeful.

What I lost:
-HBO: No option of getting it and they don't offer shows on Netflix or Hulu. Basically, if we want to watch HBO, we're buying DVDs or purchasing shows through ITunes.
-ESPN: Time Warner doesn't let me stream ESPN3 because they suck so I have no ESPN. I only cared about the sporting events, but that's a large inventory I lost.
-DVR: We never watched any shows live (except for sports) so this was a big change. However, the AppleTV and streaming made this easy for us so we don't miss it.

Honestly, we love it and financially, we're much better off. Doing the math, even with the sports packages, we pay less than what we used to with the 2 year locked in contract. We're hoping both HBO and ESPN relent and start offering their channels on a pay per month basis to Internet only customers, but otherwise, we haven't regretted the change yet and the kids love being able to pick what they want to watch instead of watching whatever is on at the time.
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:07 PM   #18
sterlingice
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BBT- thank you very much for the post: hardware, thought process, everything. That's similar to what I'm looking at and a very instructive post.

I didn't think to look if Kansas had a streaming ap. Apparently they do... for $100 a year (eek)- no idea about blackouts

SI
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Last edited by sterlingice : 07-16-2013 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:33 PM   #19
Butter
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Dayton, OH
Sports are definitely the hardest thing to replicate, and the main reason I haven't whacked cable altogether. I really only spend maybe a half-hour per night on average watching non-sports TV at this point.

Basically, you have to decide if that extra $100/month savings outweights the hassle of having to track down "alternate" methods of keeping up your main sports-watching habits. For me, it does not. I like being able to have just about any sporting event at my fingertips without pirating.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:08 AM   #20
sterlingice
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
Once Aereo comes to your area, look into it. Records / streams ota content to you. I know an hd antenna works, but we are far out enough that we'd need a roof mounted big one.

So, some news:
Controversial Aereo to bring Houston over-the-air TV to the Net in September - Houston Chronicle
I'd love to get more thoughts on Aereo. What are the limitations? It looks like the channels are fairly limited- it looks like a DVR substitute for OTA stations.

SI
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Houston Hippopotami, III.3: 20th Anniversary Thread - All former HT players are encouraged to check it out!

Janos: "Only America could produce an imbecile of your caliber!"
Freakazoid: "That's because we make lots of things better than other people!"


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Old 09-04-2013, 11:08 AM   #21
sterlingice
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Back in Houston!
And then there's this:
ESPN considering Internet-based TV service | Digital Trends
If this happens, then it's a complete no brainer rather than an on-the-fence decision

JIMGA, others- know anything about this?

SI
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Houston Hippopotami, III.3: 20th Anniversary Thread - All former HT players are encouraged to check it out!

Janos: "Only America could produce an imbecile of your caliber!"
Freakazoid: "That's because we make lots of things better than other people!"



Last edited by sterlingice : 09-04-2013 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:27 AM   #22
Logan
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NYC
As the article suggests at the end, in the best case scenario, we likely end up reducing our cable bill but the cost of providing all the bandwidth needed to offer these internet-only plans will skyrocket and we'll pay for it that way.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:54 AM   #23
CraigSca
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Location: Not Delaware - hurray!
Yeah, kind of a bummer.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:56 AM   #24
gstelmack
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Location: Cary, NC
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logan View Post
As the article suggests at the end, in the best case scenario, we likely end up reducing our cable bill but the cost of providing all the bandwidth needed to offer these internet-only plans will skyrocket and we'll pay for it that way.

Except that internet use is already a huge profit center for the cable companies, this is just an excuse for them to make it even MORE profitable. I still love that they are pushing bandwidth caps while advertising that you can do all the stuff that they claim makes them need bandwidth caps...
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:27 PM   #25
Logan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gstelmack View Post
Except that internet use is already a huge profit center for the cable companies, this is just an excuse for them to make it even MORE profitable. I still love that they are pushing bandwidth caps while advertising that you can do all the stuff that they claim makes them need bandwidth caps...

Oh yeah, I'm just saying that they will make up the revenues they're losing elsewhere very easily. Not sure if it was in this thread or one of the others, but at the end of the day, I think the only thing the consumers will end up "saving" with all this is the frustration of navigating the 10 channels they actually watch among the 500 channels listed.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:21 PM   #26
bob
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterlingice View Post
So, some news:
Controversial Aereo to bring Houston over-the-air TV to the Net in September - Houston Chronicle
I'd love to get more thoughts on Aereo. What are the limitations? It looks like the channels are fairly limited- it looks like a DVR substitute for OTA stations.

SI

Sorry for the late reply on this. First of all, any streaming service is going to be dependent on 1) the device you stream on and 2) the quality of your internet. We use Aereo on both my PC and a Roku generation 1. Our internet quality is good enough to watching streaming Netflix at the highest quality without buffering issues. That being said, here are my thoughts on Aereo.

- You have access to any local HD over the air signals. NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, some PBS, and then (mostly) a bunch of junk. In Atlanta we have Peachtree TV, so Seinfeld reruns and such, but in reality this is for the big four networks above.

- You can't just channel surf and watch a channel. Its like picking a show on Netflix. You use the menu on whatever device you have to pick a show from the networks available, hit go, and when it thinks its over, you return to the menu. So if a game goes late, you have to go back and pick the next show in the schedule to keep watching. They claim that will be fixed somewhere down the line.

- We seem to have more picture quality and buffering issues on the Roku at medium quality than on the PC at high quality. So like I said, some performance is device specific, but we have no issues at highest quality with Netflix on the Roku. Live show streaming seems to result in more buffering errors than recorded shows (you get either 20 hours or 60 hours of cloud DVR service depending on your subscription level).

- Picture quality isn't always great.

- You can only use your subscription if your IP address indicates you are local to your area. If I go on a business trip, i can't stream the local Atlanta stuff.

In short, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that is going to get irritated by picture quality or buffering issues or that can pick up local signals over antenna. For us, its fine as 1) we live outside the range of the transmitters, 2) we only watch 4 or 5 shows on network TV, 3) we don't watch too much TV to begin with, 4) my wife really wanted some access to the local news for weather reports and other stuff, and 5) we watch most of our shows using the DVR. Being able to watch network sports was just a bonus.

If you have any specific questions, let me know.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:35 PM   #27
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A few more notes:

- Setting up your DVR picks on the PC web interface works pretty well and I've never had an issue with something not recording.

- I haven't streamed on the iPhone yet, but I know they don't have their own app. You still log into the web site to do it.

- Finally, you can have up to 5 authorized devices, but every time i log in I have to re-authorize my PC. Roku seems to keep its authorization fine.
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:59 AM   #28
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Thanks for the tips. Im escaping from FiOS contract soon, exploring options...not sure this is idiot-proof enough yet, but closing in.
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:17 PM   #29
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Ok- I think I'm mostly decided. I'll take AT&T's promotional rate for one year and explore other options during that time. Rather than hook up all 3 TVs to Uverse, just go with two tvs and take the $10 per month for that tv as "found money" to experiment with (yes, I will exceed the $120 savings but at least I can use it as some justification).

I just keep going back to the recurring costs as being killer. Honestly, if it were just $75 a month or whatever, that wouldn't be so bad. But it always jumps to over $100-$120 and then there's the stupid $20 per month for their PROPRIETARY DVR and $10 for their PROPRIETARY modem, and $10 per month for each additional tv on their PROPRIETARY receiver. So suddenly a $75 bill is $150-$200. And even calling them up and doing the "threatening to leave" thing costs you time and money for less than $50 a month return.

Experiment 1: Antenna
Let's give the over the air thing a try and see how it goes. The cost is fairly minimal ($40 one time investment) and Houston is a great place to try this out with quite a few OTA stations and flat ground makes it easy for signals to carry.
Amazon.com: Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna for Off-Air HDTV Reception: Electronics
I only looked for about a half hour but this seemed to be a pretty well reviewed indoor antenna. If anyone with a better one in a similar price range, I'm open to it. I am looking to keep it to indoors instead of outdoors, tho.

Experiment 2: DVR
I would love to use Tivo but it's just as bad as a cable company: $12 a month or the one time $500 a year cost. I guess if I'm certain they will still be around and compatible in 5 years without adding on some additional bullsh*t fee (hey! it's free and unlimited... except for some new technology that carries an additional fee or whatnot) and there's no paradigm shift in the industry... so, yeah.

That brings us to this guy:
Amazon.com: Magnavox MDR533H/F7 HDD/DVD Recorder: Electronics
So, Magnavox makes a DVR to record things to hard drive and can burn to DVD. However, they make it just luddite enough to sidestep some possible legal problems. One: no HD- that's fine for me. Two: it doesn't have a tuner so you need to manually set the station and time- but if it's recurring weekly, that's fine with me. Those seem to be the major downsides but otherwise, works great as a DVR. You can pretty much run anything into the box as it has a lot of inputs (but no HDMI- see above), you can burn anything you want to DVD, and you can easily install a larger HDD if 320GB isn't enough.
And there's a pretty active user community at AVS Forum to help with any questions: http://www.avsforum.com/t/940657/mag...lips-3576-3575

The other option would be a PC-based DVR but the cost will be substantially higher as I don't have a desktop sitting around that I could retrofit as I've been using laptops for a few years now (and my last desktop was a server-desktop frankenbox with loud fans and heat sinks due to the size so it's just not conducive to quiet theater watching).

SI
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:14 PM   #30
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Lots of different threads, this seems the best. Looks like we've finally hit the tipping point and the number of folks subscribing to pay TV AND the number of folks watching TV in general has started to decline as a total, even as the population / households keep going up. It used to be that the increase in subscribers wasn't keeping up with population growth, but now the subscriber / watcher base is starting to truly decline.

Cord Cutters And The Death Of TV - Business Insider
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:41 PM   #31
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Cable TV is honestly getting ridiculous.

I think the content providers best course of action is to begin paring down the number of channels they carry and lowering costs to the consumer. I don't need a dozen different sports channels who are mainly filled with talking heads and I don't need multiple channels that all play the same reruns of Cops and That 70's Show. In a time-shifting world, if I want to watch something I'll record it, I don't need multiple channels that play the same things over and over and over.

Cable companies and broadcasters also need to negotiate content exclusive deals so the shows that people do want to watch aren't available on the same day via streaming and stretch out the time before they're available on home video.

I think cable companies can turn it around but they're going to have to be inventive in how they do it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:04 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by gstelmack View Post
Lots of different threads, this seems the best. Looks like we've finally hit the tipping point and the number of folks subscribing to pay TV AND the number of folks watching TV in general has started to decline as a total, even as the population / households keep going up. It used to be that the increase in subscribers wasn't keeping up with population growth, but now the subscriber / watcher base is starting to truly decline.

Cord Cutters And The Death Of TV - Business Insider

Here's a note worth, well, noting.

The definition of "TV Household" also changed for 2014. In short, it basically added TV-via-broadband-only homes (i.e. AT&T uVerse & the like) which did not previously count. That's the increase you see in Q1 2013 on the table of TV Households. Meanwhile the decrease from the previous couple of years was influenced by the Census revising population estimates downward (vs the estimates available at the time the HH Universe was set the previous year).

Quite a few "carefully selected" charts in this "article" to be honest. My favorite was the one that showed the declining share of the "broadcast networks" ... by carefully omitting FOX and only showing the old Big 3. Duh.

While the picture is definitely far from rosy for television in general, when reading this particular piece it's probably wise to keep in mind what agenda the source has: BusinessInsider is increasingly believed to be on the block as the owner -- permanently banned from securities trading as part of a fraud settlement -- looks to cash in. The spin on this piece is as much about maximizing the value of his asset as it is about an accurate look at the media marketplace.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:14 PM   #33
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I don't need multiple channels that all play the same reruns of Cops and That 70's Show.

You do realize how good the ratings are for those endless re-runs, right?
The better ones (L&O, CSI, etc) regularly outdraw original programming ... in some cases even horrible timeslots like 11am outdraw prime on other networks.

As for timeshifting, the most common source of viewing timeshifted programming is ... yep, cable/satellite providers on-demand services. And Tivo/similar devices (often via Dish Network etc) are a solid 3rd just behind Hulu/Netflix.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:24 PM   #34
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You do realize how good the ratings are for those endless re-runs, right?
The better ones (L&O, CSI, etc) regularly outdraw original programming ... in some cases even horrible timeslots like 11am outdraw prime on other networks.

But aren't the Law & Order series all on TNT? Which means there's a single cable channel to watch them on (its also syndicated here but on a station hardly anyone watches)? Would those ratings be as high if the shows were also played everyday on multiple other channels as well?
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:44 PM   #35
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But aren't the Law & Order series all on TNT? Which means there's a single cable channel to watch them on (its also syndicated here but on a station hardly anyone watches)? Would those ratings be as high if the shows were also played everyday on multiple other channels as well?

Okay, maybe I took too many liberties when I interpreted what you meant. Let me try again with your original examples.

That 70's Show appears to be airing on 2 cable networks: ABC Family (overnights 3a-5a) & TVLand (early morning 8a-10a)

Cops appears to be essentially cable exclusive to Spike (airing frequently) with a few airings on sister network G4 ... which only exist because G4 is currently in limbo (supposed to die & be replaced by Esquire TV, an 11th hour change that killed Style Network instead left G4 basically running on auto-pilot until they decide what to do with it).

Of those networks (in prime) ... ABC Family is #14 overall on cable, TVLand is 24th, Spike is 25th. Total day ratings have ABC Fam at #17, TVLand at #20, Spike usually falls somewhere in the 30s IIRC. Point being, even if networks were dropped/ceased to exist en masse, none of these are on the list that would be cut.

Further, once again I'll point out that reducing channels <> reducing costs. If some of the bottom feeders were unbundled, the price for the major players simply goes up to make up the difference.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:27 PM   #36
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That 70's Show appears to be airing on 2 cable networks: ABC Family (overnights 3a-5a) & TVLand (early morning 8a-10a)

It's also been airing on MTV lately.

Quote:

Cops appears to be essentially cable exclusive to Spike (airing frequently) with a few airings on sister network G4 ... which only exist because G4 is currently in limbo (supposed to die & be replaced by Esquire TV, an 11th hour change that killed Style Network instead left G4 basically running on auto-pilot until they decide what to do with it).

Cops Reloaded (remixes of original episodes) airs on CMTV. In three or four-hour blocks.

Quote:

Further, once again I'll point out that reducing channels <> reducing costs. If some of the bottom feeders were unbundled, the price for the major players simply goes up to make up the difference.

Then the cable/satellite companies simply have to play hardball with those content providers that are charging unreasonable rates.

My point is, things seem a less special in the 500-hundred channel universe especially when there are so many other ways to waste time now that didn't exist twenty years ago.

I think content providers are creating their own demise by having to have multiple channels without the programming to support it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:42 PM   #37
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It's also been airing on MTV lately.

Ah, couldn't have told you that (and it didn't show up in my scheduling searches, guess the run has ended). Totally different audiences though, not much crossover between MTV & the other two (which are actually fairly distinct audiences from each other as well). That really explains the multiple airings pretty much.


Quote:
Cops Reloaded (remixes of original episodes) airs on CMTV. In three or four-hour blocks. [/i]

Again, a search failure on my part, I'll have to own up to that. Similar situation to the other though, completely different demographics (young males vs older rural adults).


Quote:
Then the cable/satellite companies simply have to play hardball with those content providers that are charging unreasonable rates.

What's "reasonable" though? It's whatever the market will bear basically, and the market is still bearing it pretty well. Take Time-Warner Cable's last quarterly report for example
Quote:
Time Warner Cable has been cutting promotions and discounts as part of a plan to emphasize profit over subscriber growth. The company added just 8,000 residential high-speed Internet subscribers, its lowest quarterly total in at least six years .... Time Warner Cable lost more video customers than projected last quarter, with 191,000 subscribers leaving the company. Analysts had projected a drop of 164,000. Sales rose 2.7 percent to $5.55 billion
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:54 PM   #38
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What's "reasonable" though? It's whatever the market will bear basically, and the market is still bearing it pretty well. Take Time-Warner Cable's last quarterly report for example

But how long can Time-Warner retain such a strategy before they start bleeding customers in a major way that damages the company?

I get what you're saying about crossover demographics. But how long will even that be the norm? I guess maybe I'm an exception, but most of the time I don't even look at the channel on the guide just for the shows I want to watch. Which is why I'm aware of Cops being on CMTV (if it wasn't for the logo in the corner I'd likely never be able to tell you what station I was watching outside of the sports networks).
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:04 PM   #39
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I guess maybe I'm an exception, but most of the time I don't even look at the channel on the guide just for the shows I want to watch. Which is why I'm aware of Cops being on CMTV (if it wasn't for the logo in the corner I'd likely never be able to tell you what station I was watching outside of the sports networks).

Standard behavior is that most people (especially younger ones) rarely venture outside one or two little channel groupings. My wife can't tell you where Spike is on the dial, I can't tell you where Oprah Network is ... and neither of us end up surfing near those very often (hell, I rarely surf at all)
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:05 PM   #40
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But how long can Time-Warner retain such a strategy before they start bleeding customers in a major way that damages the company?

I get what you're saying about crossover demographics. But how long will even that be the norm? I guess maybe I'm an exception, but most of the time I don't even look at the channel on the guide just for the shows I want to watch. Which is why I'm aware of Cops being on CMTV (if it wasn't for the logo in the corner I'd likely never be able to tell you what station I was watching outside of the sports networks).

A pretty damn long time if you're the only player in town. Considering that even the most really large cities only have one cable provider and one "phone" provider in any given location, it's pretty easy to protect your monopoly.

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Old 11-26-2013, 04:35 PM   #41
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Two anecdotes from me, an avowed cord-cutter:

1) My wife and I stayed in Charlotte for the Monday night game last week, and got to peruse the DirecTV channel guide. A good reminder of why we cut the cord - not a darn thing on we wanted to watch.

2) My kids would rather play video games than watch TV. We have the occasional family movie night to watch a Blu-ray, and they like the occasional Phineas and Ferb from Netflix, but rarely do they ASK for the TV. They greatly prefer the interactive stuff.

#2 is what cable companies and content providers really need to watch out for.
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:01 AM   #42
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With a wifi enabled Blu Ray player like the following:
Amazon.com: Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi: Electronics

Can you stream free content from places like Hulu or YouTube or only if you have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime? How about sites like CBS or Fox which don't typically use one of those third party outlets for their content?

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Old 12-05-2013, 07:56 AM   #43
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It depends on the player, you need to check what services it will stream. Some will do Hulu/Youtube, some will only do Hulu Plus. An alternative is to use PlayOn, which runs on your computer and streams whatever to anything that is DLNA compatible, which I believe the Sony players are. It has a very robust list of places it will stream from.

Be aware that streaming via Sony (unless using DLNA on your local network through something like PlayOn) has an extra hop in it, Sony makes you go through their service as an intermediary, which was somewhat unreliable for me. It would outright fail to stream regularly. I use my Xbox (360/ONE) or a Roku for streaming these days.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:07 AM   #44
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Two anecdotes from me, an avowed cord-cutter:

1) My wife and I stayed in Charlotte for the Monday night game last week, and got to peruse the DirecTV channel guide. A good reminder of why we cut the cord - not a darn thing on we wanted to watch.

2) My kids would rather play video games than watch TV. We have the occasional family movie night to watch a Blu-ray, and they like the occasional Phineas and Ferb from Netflix, but rarely do they ASK for the TV. They greatly prefer the interactive stuff.

#2 is what cable companies and content providers really need to watch out for.

We cut the cord months ago. Netflix only.

I'm on the road a lot and stay in hotel rooms about 4 nights a week. While I enjoy HBO and HDNET, I watch nothing else. None of the other 40 or so channels offer up any decent entertainment. It's only reinforced that we made the correct decision when we decided to stop paying huge amounts of money for lousy TV shows.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:26 PM   #45
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It is around this time of year when cutting the cable cord sucks. Seriously, only 2 (TWO!!) bowl games from today onward are on network TV (well there is one right now but I'm at work)?!!

Not even the BCS Championship Game? Ugh.
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:53 PM   #46
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Most of the early ones weren't on, either. I just view it as their issue, I'm one less ad view, so they get lower rates. Also keep remembering what you get to use all that extra cash per month on...
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:57 PM   #47
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Yeah, but the early ones are unimportant .

The BCS games and New Years Day Bowls are what its all about (esp the NYDay Bowls). Ah well.
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:37 PM   #48
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Who watches bowl games?
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:00 AM   #49
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I think we're going to half-cut the cord. Right now I have whole house DVR with 4 TVs hooked up with the deluxe channel package from UVerse. I think we're going to scale back to a single TV with DVR (so I can keep ESPN3) and a much smaller channel package. Still save $50-100, but still get to keep most of the sports I want to watch.
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:43 AM   #50
cubboyroy1826
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Looking in to switching from DirectTv back to cable but there really is not much if any cost savings when I factor in the fact that I have one DVR now and I can watch the recorded shows in two other rooms. From my intial look Comcast does not offer something like this so I would have to record in multiple rooms thus defeating the purpose of being able to watch recorded shows in different rooms. No Uverse option here so that is out as well. We do watch a few regular channel shows as well things on AMC, A&E and BBC. I just hate to keep shelling out $200 per month for TV.
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