We finally cut the cord.
For a long time, TV program providers via cable or satellite were seen as the content gatekeepers. And boy, did they relish that role. Not only were prices astronomically high, but you also had to buy one of their infamous “bundles” – meaning that you paid for a slew of programs you were not interested in and never watched. It was impossible to put together your own bundle of of only those channels you wanted to watch.
When digital TV broadcasting started in the late 2000s, it was suddenly possible to receive the big networks in high definition over the air. And then streaming services like Netflix and Amazon started to make content available over the Internet.
So a couple of weeks ago, we cut the cord. The image is actually misleading: We still need the Internet cord. But we are not paying anymore for content we are not interested in.
For over-the-air reception, we need an antenna. But antennas are not the beasts they used to be. Here in Los Angeles, reception is relatively easy and all we need is the non-amplified signal from a small, flat antenna. With that, we are receiving 150+ digital broadcasts. Not all are high definition, of course, and not all are in English. But the big network broadcasts are uncompressed and of much higher quality than what you would receive from your cable or satellite provider.
Smart TVs or boxes like Roku or Apple TV allow you to watch free content as well as paid streaming. With Amazon’s Prime membership you have access to a load of free content as well as paid content – if you want to watch a recent movie, for example. So what is the downside?
At the moment, we are happy with arrangement. But before you cut the cord, you have to be aware that your cable-only channels are gone – unless you buy into their individual Internet streaming services (if they have them). If you are heavily into sports, you probably need to find a way to access ESPN. And without the cable TV or satellite provider, you have to get your own open DVR. They exist, but there isn’t much of a choice and you can record only over-the-air content. (But then you do not need to time-shift on-demand streaming channels anyway.) And your Internet connection must be sufficient to support streaming movies without constant buffering.