Archive for February, 2014

As a family, we love TV and home entertainment – LOVE it.  Big screen HDTV, premium cable, XBox, Blu-Ray, NetFlix, we like it all.  We have age appropriate shows we love to watch as a family, like MythBusters, Face-off, My Cat From Hell, Too Cute, etc…  and we have our ‘grownup’ shows like Sleepy Hollow, Lost Girl, Game of Thrones, and Castle that we watch after the 8 year old goes to bed.  

Our cable bill – a Verizon ‘bundle’ containing HD Cable, premium channels (HBO, etc..) 25MB Fios internet, and home phone, was around $200 a month.  We started looking at how much we were spending versus other options and the value is gave us, we came to a the realization that were were paying a LOT for services that we barely used, and that over 90% of what we normally watched was available in a variety of other much less expensive ways.  

The first thing we did was looking at everything we normally watch and then looked for alternate ways of getting that content.  For most of it, that was easy – most of the shows we like are available on HuluPlus or other online streaming sources.  This meant that dropping cable was certainly do-able, with some adjustments.  

We also did some research on pricing – we found out that our 25MB cable was listed as $45 a month in our ‘Bundle’, but Verizon doesn’t even offer 25MB service outside of a bundle, so to drop cable we’d have to change our internet.  There was a 50MB standalone service for $70 a month, which was a little more expensive than we hoped, but still a significant savings month over month.

We looked at setting up alternate services, too.  We’ve had NetFlix streaming for years, which I think is the best entertainment value you can get for $, and we also have Amazon Prime streaming, since we shop a lot with Amazon, and they do have a decent selection of free content as well.  For this experiment, we also subscribed to HuluPlus for another $8 a month, as a way to get most of our normal viewing content.  

For hardware we already had a ChromeCast as well as a Sony Blu-Ray player that also included IP TV services – that’s how we typically watch NetFlix and Amazon Prime.  We also added AppleTV to the mix, for $99, as this has a simpler interface than the BD player, includes PBS (for Sherlock!) and allows us to buy specific season passes for the shows we really want to watch.  We also bought an HD antenna to get local broadcast stations, as we should have a strong signal here, but it seems that either the antenna or the receiver in our TV is defective, as we haven’t been able to get that working.  

Based on the current setup, our savings is a little over $100 moth over month, for about $1200 a year.  We’ll add a few subscriptions through iTunes – we already added the current season of Mythbusters for $20, and we’re planning on adding Game of Thrones when that’s available.  The monetary savings is great, but there’s another bonus we’re seeing as well – instead of just flipping channels until we come across some random, mediocre show, we’re now looking at multiple options and choosing the one that we’re most interested in seeing, adding quality as well as value.  Also, we’re doing something that we rarely did earlier – if we don’t really feel like watching anything, we’re turning off the TV and doing more constructive things (like blog posts).  

The only real challenge so far has been the antenna issue, which isn’t that big a deal.  For anything we can’t stream on Hulu or Apple TV, like SyFy shows, I can plug my laptop into the home theater HDMI ad watch shows that way.  It’s an interesting experiment, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other habits start to change now that we’ve cut to cord.  


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