July 30, 2012, 2:00 PM — When I put together "Making the switch to Internet TV," I walked people through the decision-making process I used to cut my household cable account. When I came to the end of the piece, I thought it was important to avoid giving my final outcome because it would raise a lot of your-mileage-may-vary issues.
That may have been short-sighted on my part. The point of the piece was, and still is, to introduce a straightforward way to go through your own viewing habits and determine your own savings based on subscribing to the services you want and the savings from cutting the cable.
But quite a few people wanted to know what my final outcome was to get a read on the kind of numbers we were talking about. So, I've decided to walk through them here and share my personal experiences along the way. (And yes, your milage may vary.)
Based on what my family members were wanting for their TV viewing, we opted to go with a Roku set-top device. We already had a Netflix subscription, so that was already part of our monthly budget. By adding Hulu Plus and dropping our AT&T U-Verse service, we would initially save and average of $39.98/month. Some months we save more or less, since the TV seasons we purchase for viewing on Amazon are staggered through the year.
We would have saved more ($53.20) if we had gone with an Apple TV device, but we wanted to stick Amazon's selection of TV seasons which were at the time more comprehensive than iTunes'.
We also decided to get over-the-air digital antennas for local broadcasts. Though we can get all four networks and PBS decently enough with OTA, we still opt to get all but local news and sports through the Roku.
There were some added costs that had to be factored in. Right after we started, Roku released their second-generation HD device, which we decided to buy for the main TV and use the older Roku for the TV in the master bedroom.
Also, we ended up buying or renting more video for which I initially budgeted (of course). So my actual average savings were coming in at something like $33/month.
So, all told, the antennas and the Rokus cost me around $255. Based on the actual savings I picked up, the return on investment was done in seven months.
Thus far, I would have to say the experience has been worth it. We have not had problems with the devices or the OTA service. If I had to complain, it would have to be about sports.
We are not, typically, a sports-watching family. But if we were, this would be a very painful experience. I have been tempted to pick up MLB.TV to watch my beloved Cubs, but I live within their market and am thus blocked from watching live games.
Watching big events, like the EuroCup '12 final and the Olympics, has proven to be very difficult. Although ESPN and NBC both cover the events, they've gotten wise to the cable cutters and now you have to be a cable or satellite subscriber to actually view these events.
CNN, I should note, does the same thing now with its live feed, too.
As a techno-expert, I can certainly set up some other workarounds that will bypass these issues. But honestly I don't because such workarounds are a pain in the butt with their irregular ups and downs. Plus, there's the principle of the thing.
It would be nice, I suppose, if cable providers gave users like me a low-cost pay-as-you-go type of account that would get you X hours of viewing cable-only content. But if the cable companies and the broadcasters had any sense like this, people wouldn't be running for the metaphorical scissors, would they?
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