Every month my DirecTV (and before that—cable) bill contains a confusing onslaught of charges, taxes, credits, and add-on fees. With all the fine print and confusing pricing I felt like I was getting ripped off. I tried to take advantage of the “$100 referral fee” credit by lauding DirecTV picture quality to several of my new neighbors—but again, due to the fine print, impossible conditions and many wasted hours on the phone never received a penny credit. Then I had to keep jumping through hoops to keep a “promotional price” which, by the way, was higher than new customers would get. When I realized we were only watching DirecTV programming for an hour or two monthly when NFL football is not on—and STILL paying almost $100 per month for the most basic package (i.e. over $50 per hour for TV), I felt it was time to cut the cord.
I hate wasting money and I hate bureaucracy. When private enterprise starts acting like government—we are in serious trouble. I heard someone once say if government were in charge of making cars and private enterprise were in charge of the highways and roadways—today we would be driving Model T’s on roads good enough for sci-fi flying vehicles.
The average person spends $154 for home communications ($1,848 annually), more than the average household spends on clothing, furniture or electricity. And most are not happy with their services. We have “Model T”V’s in a world of Google Fiber and a la carte Internet. Cable and DirecTV still refuse to allow the viewer to choose specific programming and channels and continually hawk a “triple play” of TV, telephone (who has home telephones anymore?) and broadband Internet services.
Here’s what I suggest:
—If you are an Apple products person—consider buying an Apple TV for $99. The AirPlay alone makes it worth it. Caveat: Provides limited channels, i.e. no Pandora or Amazon Instant Video
—If you are a PC user and Amazon Prime member—consider buying an Amazon Fire TV for $99. Caveat: Still too new to evaluate properly and the user ratings on Amazon.com are mediocre at best.
—If you are a heavy Netflix and Pandora user—buy a Roku 3 for $99. Caveat: For those heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem and like access to your iTunes (and iCloud) content and use AirPlay mirroring, Apple TV makes more sense.
All of the above boxes hook into your home high-speed Internet, have high-definition capabilities, are a breeze to set up on your existing television and have no monthly fees.
Here’s what I decided to do:
1) To determine which TV stations were available in my area I went to http://dtv.gov/maps and entered my zip code to determine I needed a low to medium performance antenna. I used this handy website for guidance in choosing the proper antenna. I bought an Amazon Basics High-Performance Antenna (to be safe) for $35. I get 39 (YES—39 channels) with it for FREE. I couldn’t believe it! The picture quality equals that of DirecTV. I watched the Masters Golf Tourney yesterday in crystal-clear High Definition for FREE. It felt so good. The picture quality was so realistic, my dog Remy was barking at the players.
2) I utilize AppleTV for my music listening, photo streaming, pay-per-view movies (I rarely go to the cinema) and for its amazing HULU Plus ($8 month) and Netflix interfaces. I have both the streaming ($7.99) and Blu-Ray DVD package (one disc out at a time $9.99) on Netflix. Hint: I find a movie I want on the Apple TV “Top Movies” page and then go HERE and scroll down to the “Released In The Last Three Months” drop down menu, search, and 99% of time the movie that would cost $4.99 is available on my Netflix plan. With their fast and convenient delivery and return service I can watch 4 to 5 Blu-Ray movies per month on Netflix for the monthly fee of $9.99. The cost on Apple TV would be: $25. A savings of $15. Caveat: Apple Radio is terrible. It has a long way to go. Use Pandora instead.
3) I stream Amazon Prime movies from my Wi-Fi equipped Blu-Ray player. However the interface is terrible and I’m considering the Amazon Fire or Roku for Amazon Prime Instant Videos (If you are a member of Amazon Prime you get thousands of great movies in HD with your annual subscription—which is increasing to $99.) and Pandora for music listening. I was paying for Amazon Prime anyway, so I consider these movies a free add-on.
4) If you are a sports fan, consider NBA Game Time five-team league pass ($109/year) or MLB.TV ($100 year) for less than the price of one month of Cable or DirecTV. These channels are available on AppleTV and probably on Amazon Fire and Roku as well.
5) My work requires me to have High Speed Internet so I don’t include it in the costs. I’m very happy with the services offered by Charter High-Speed Internet. I get 30 Mbps for $39.99 per month.
Netflix: $215.76 + Amazon Prime: $99. + TV (Free) = $314.76
DirecTV: $1047. (Basic plus NFL Package)
Television Antenna: $35.
Question: Have you cut the cord? What do you do?