DIEGO ó Youíve heard this story before. Someone gets
fed up with their cable company and drops the service.
Either in an act of defiance or disillusionment, they
choose instead to rely on Internet-based services and
mobile apps for video entertainment.
my story too. I joined the cord-cutters club in August,
sacrificing all-you-can-watch for a la carte, DVR for
whatever-is-available-now. But whatís interesting is
not that my story is unique, but that my behavior is
is the unremarkableness of choosing Netflix, Amazon
Video, Hulu and other Internet-based services, or whatís
called "over-the-top" options, in lieu of the
traditional cable bundle that makes the cord-cutting
experience is part of a broad movement away from bloated
bundles, said Paul Verna, an EMarketer analyst who
researches the cord-cutting trend. There are roughly 8.6
million homes in the U.S. like mine considered
"cord-cutters," meaning they have high-speed
Internet access but no cable or satellite television
subscription, according to a study published this year
by Experian Marketing Services.
think (cable) is a thing of the past," said Deb
Cole. The Mission Beach, Calif., resident, in her late
30s, ditched cable in 2009 and now swears by her
streaming accounts: Netflix, Amazon Video and HBO.
"I loved my DVR and would record all these
stations," she said. "The problem was I had to
be home to watch them."
Richard Combs, 40, of Kensington, Calif., as traditional
a television viewer as you can find, went cable-less a
month ago. He took his wife and two kids with him to a
strictly streaming entertainment diet with help from his
Amazon Fire TV set-top box.
first few days were kind of weird," Combs admitted.
"But I have to tell you, itís better."
in part, because cutting no longer requires complicated
configurations. All you really need is $100 or less for
a set-top box such as an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or
Roku, or an even more affordable streaming stick like
Googleís Chromecast. Then, your TV transports you into
the always-expanding realm of Internet programming,
which isnít as foreign as it sounds. Netflix and
Amazon are, for instance, becoming networks in their own
right with must-watch original series that arguably best
the TV shows on the big four networks.
you canít give up traditional TV, you donít have to.
A digital antenna ó Iím using a Winegard HDTV
FlatWave antenna ($30) that I slapped up on my window
ó can provide your ABC, NBC or CBS fix free of charge.
And Hulu, though not the perfect replacement for cable
TV, has enough in-season network content to make giving
up your DVR less painful.
this year a series of radical industry maneuvers have
changed TV as we know it, making it easier than ever to
dump your cable company.
and Showtime began selling their content catalogs as
over-the-top options, meaning consumers can pay per
month ó $15 and $11, respectively ó to stream the
premium networks. Even CBS now sells its shows direct to
consumers through a $5.99-per-month service called CBS
All Access. And Sling TV, which launched in February,
offers a squished version of the cable package: 23
channels including ESPN, TBS, CNN and HGTV, all
streaming live and on-demand via the Sling TV app for
$20 per month.
options are on their way, meaning itís not
inconceivable that your favorite channel will have its
own subscription-based streaming app.
are some people who say (cord-cutting is)
overblown," said EMarketerís Verna, "but if
it wasnít real, you wouldnít see stand-alone
services pop up."
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you already pay for Netflix or have access to Amazon
Video (through Amazon Prime), you might have a
light-bulb moment during your next apartment move.
Amanda Nelson, 28, who stopped paying for cable in 2010
when she split with her then live-in boyfriend. She
couldnít stomach the cost of paying for cable solo.
Like most of the cord-cutters I interviewed, Nelsonís
move made her rethink her entertainment choices. Today,
the Golden Hill, Calif., resident happily subsists on
the new commercial-free version of Hulu ($12), which she
watches primarily via a 17-inch laptop that travels with
her wherever she goes. She also shares ó as in, doesnít
pay for ó Netflix, HBO and NFL Sunday Ticket accounts
with friends and family.
travel frequently and like being able to watch my Ďstories,í
as my grandma says," said Nelson, who estimates she
pays around $20 a month for her entertainment choices.
"I recently spent a week in Miami, and it was nice
to watch the most recent episode of ĎEmpire.í"
own move to a new apartment presented me with the
perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. I had been
paying Cox $238.58 per month for Internet and cable at
my former residence. A sales rep had, at one time,
suckered me into a promotional deal for the cable
providerís top-of-the-line Contour service, which came
with all the bells and whistles, including the ability
to record up to six ó yes, six! ó shows at once. At
the time, the Contour bundle was cheaper than the other
options available, so the excess seemed reasonable.
as always happens, the promo price disappeared at a
later date, and my bill was never the same. Sure, I
could have downgraded my service or threatened to leave,
but Iíve been down those paths before. Theyíre just
days, I pay $8 for Hulu, $20 for Sling TV and $45 for
Internet access through Time Warner Cable. My new total
comes out to $73 a month ó or $165 less than what I
was paying before. And, if Iíve learned anything, itís
that money is more important to me than "The Real
STORY CAN END HERE)
word of caution, though. Cutting the cord isnít hard,
but it comes with sacrifices some just wonít be
willing to make. Iíve had to learn to live without my
former in-season Bravo staples, for instance. And my
parents would not, could not give up Padres games, which
are broadcast by Fox Sports San Diego and are not
accessible through an antenna.
cable providers can always count on people like my
parents. Truthfully, they can rely on most of us for
business, especially since we cord-cutters require
high-speed Internet access for our in-home
entertainment. And those of us who choose Sling are
really just giving our $20 to Dish Network, which owns
Sling but deliberately markets the streaming service as
TV for the counterculture.
justified or not, those who forgo traditional cable
ultimately feel liberated by the decision.
used to be the "mark-his-calendar" kind of
cable customer, calling every six months and threatening
to cancel his AT&T U-Verse subscription if his bill
wasnít lowered. "I was in a great deal for $140
Ö and it was about to expire. I was playing the game,
so I called the guy and said I was done Ö . He put me
in this short-term program."
this time around, Combs forgot to call back after the
deal expired, and his bill went up to more than $200 a
month. That "was the straw that broke the camelís
back," he said.
called me this morning and tried to pitch me on
TV," Combs said. "I said no way. I love