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Television The Almighty Buck Entertainment

Is TV Over the 'Net Really Cheaper Than Cable? 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-on-your-morals dept.
jfruh writes "More and more people are joining the ranks of 'cord-cutters' — those who cancel their cable TV subscriptions and get their televisied entertainment either for free over the airwaves or over the Internet. But, assuming you're going to do things legally, is this really a cheaper option? It depends on what you watch. Brian Proffitt contemplated this move, and he walks you through the calculations he made to figure out the prices of cutting the cord. He weighed the costs of various a la carte and all-you-can-eat Internet streaming services, and took into account the fact that Internet service on its own is often pricier than it would be if bundled with cable TV."
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Is TV Over the 'Net Really Cheaper Than Cable?

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  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:30PM (#40796751)

    Lets do the math. The most my ISP (Suddenlink) will sell is 250GB/mo at up to 15mbps. Put two TVs in a home, that is pretty minimal these days. So you can't expect to stream more than six or seven Mb/s and have any hope of keeping a second set going. Now an hour of HD programming on my MythTV system scarfs down GB/hr when recording HD and perhaps one GB/hr for standard def.

    Add it up and if you stream you are going to settle for a lot lower quality and still be watching the bandwidth counter the last part of the month. The bandwidth caps ended cord cutting as a viable tactic for any home where the TV runs a lot, i.e. children are involved.

  • by grumpyman (849537) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:32PM (#40796765)
    ...OTA is cheaper than cable and that's all I need.
  • My story.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:37PM (#40796805)

    I used to pay just over $100 for Internet and Digital Cable - 90% of which I never watched.

    I now pay $54 for internet, $8 for netflix, $8 for hulu, and OTA is free.

    Yup, its cheaper.

  • by The Good Reverend (84440) <michaelNO@SPAMmichris.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:39PM (#40796827) Homepage Journal

    ...unless the total bundled cost is LESS than the price of internet alone. That's never the case.

    I cut the cord almost two years ago, and have Netflix and Hulu+ ($17/month, I believe, for both). I was paying nearly $70/month for cable. The $50+/month difference paid for my three Rokus, my $50 tuner, and my $300 HTPC in the first year after I cut.

    Between OTA, Netflix, Hulu+ (which you can suspend easily if you're not using it) and all the free channels on Roku, I'm never lacking for anything to watch, and I'm still saving $50/month over the cheapest cable plan. It's not going to work for everyone, but it's absolutely the right choice for me.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:40PM (#40796841)

    Good, nice to learn some people still get all you can eat Internet. Here the choice is AT&T's 200GB cap or Suddenlink's 250GB cap.

    As for nothing on at night, that is what my MythTV is for.

    But with a CableCard in a Homerun Prime I get the full bitsream and they are pushing some bits on cable for HD. 4-6GB/hr fills up hard drives but it looks so much better than standard def I hate to record that if I can help it.

    But ya know what? Cable HD looks really good and most movies would fit on a DVD9 without the commercials. Really makes ya wonder if BluRay was really worth it. They could have just tweaked DVD.

  • by The Good Reverend (84440) <michaelNO@SPAMmichris.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:41PM (#40796849) Homepage Journal

    Oh, and I'm going to have internet access even if I throw away my TVs and never watch a movie again, so I don't think adding it into the equation is fair. I need a house to watch my TVs in as well, but that doesn't mean I count my mortgate as part of the price of television...

  • Legally ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:46PM (#40796893) Homepage

    assuming you're going to do things legally

    This is where things go south. If I could get the shows I like from a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, I would not mind waiting a few weeks or months after the original airdate, but I can't. A lot of the shows I watch, I can't get at all without paying $120+ for the "everything" cable package. They simply aren't available anywhere else, so I choose option C: Usenet/torrents.

    If I were living in the U.S., things would be different, as the vast majority of popular TV programming is stubbornly geo-blocked as soon as you cross the border. I can't even begin to describe the stupidity of locking your content to a mere 5% of the world's population, but that's precisely what these media companies do. Fuck 'em! I have money, I want the content, but they won't sell it to me unless I agree to a 3 year contract with a cable company I absolutely despise, a fixed schedule that does not work for me, and invasive advertising wasting one fifth of my time. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em dead!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:52PM (#40796947)

    Not having to deal with the cable company ever again?

    **PRICELESS**

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:54PM (#40796963) Homepage Journal

    The bandwidth caps ended cord cutting as a viable tactic for any home where the TV runs a lot, i.e. children are involved.

    ISPs need to waive the caps during off-peak periods, similar to free unlimited nights and weekends on cell phone plans. Let people download all they want overnight. A megabyte of data transfer doesn't cost the ISP nearly as much at 3am as it does at 7pm. Then we'll stream our videos less and download more, but planning ahead like that is only a minor inconvenience.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#40796979) Journal

    First he assumes that whatever shows you watch, you NEED to watch, and you need to watch them NOW.

    For example, his wife likes Amazing Race, and (apparently) none of the streaming premium services carry it, so it would "have to be written off"...well, except for the fact that in about a 5 second search, I found it at least 3 places. Certainly, it wasn't current-broadcast, but it's still there.

    And of course, he talks about the 'broadband internet cost' - as if most people considering this don't ALREADY pay for that.

    So really, not much of a comparison, or analysis. Save yourself the read.

  • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#40797007) Homepage
    Cable/Satellite are a vast wasteland of channel surfing. We all know this. I ditched Satellite after years because with NF I only watch what I want, and plan to. No surfing, which encourages time wasting.

    Another key thing is that I just really fucking hate the cable and satellite companies and I don't think they deserve another dime from me.
    Their service sucks, their policies suck and they're way overpriced.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:00PM (#40797029)

    We've pointed this out in so many blog entries and whatnot. It's not about cost. I'm ok with paying more on video entertainment through streaming than I might have through a cable bill. It's not about cheap. It's about choice! I want to purchase only the shows I care about, I want to watch them exactly when I have time to, and I want to do it on whatever device I feel like. I don't want to pay for MTV or the Home Shopping Network. I'll never watch Real Housewives of Wherever-the-fuck. I just want my GoT fix, a few shows from PBS and the Discovery channel, and the occasional interesting sci-fi series. Everyone will have a different set of choices. We're tired of being bundled-to-death. I need high speed internet regardless, and I like paying for it separately from my occasional on-demand streaming purchases from Amazon (or my Netflix subscription. while netflix *is* a bundled service full of shows I'll never watch, it's also dirt cheap).

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:41PM (#40797355) Homepage

    A well mastered DVD is also a suitably good "tweak" for a lot of use cases. Not every DVD is created equal (or BD for that matter).

    Some discs are wonderful advertisements for their particular formats and others are not.

  • by sl149q (1537343) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:47PM (#40797405)

    I cut the cord. Installed HD antenna's for the local news and use Netflix for the rest. I was paying > $200 for high speed (50Mbit) cable internet and HD tv. Now (with a new higher speed lower cost product available) I'm paying about $85 for 100Mbit access with a 1 TB cap.

    Yes, I'm missing a few shows we would like to watch. But, the reality is that we have only so many hours a week to consume TV (or any media.) AND there is more than enough available through Netflix (or Hulu etc.) that it simply makes sense to use them and save a bundle.

    The more we reward the low cost providers the more content they will be able to get access to.

    Did the same for our landlines two years ago. Went from two old style @ $45 /month each to four VOIP @ $3... (with more or less free North American LD.)

    Overall I've reduced my "media" bill from over $400 to just over $100.

  • by slippyblade (962288) on Friday July 27, 2012 @10:50PM (#40798667) Homepage

    My question to this is... why be a sports fan? I just don't get sports fans. I mean, truly, is any year all that different from any other year? How many different ways can a ball be hit, or carried, or thrown. Not to mention, sports players are by and large, douche-nozzles.

    I'm not trolling, this is a serious question. How can you honestly give a rats ass about a bunch of millionaires chasing a ball around and complaining that they're not being paid enough?

  • by icebike (68054) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:37PM (#40798871)

    I feel pretty much the same about movies.
    So, you watch what you want, and I'll ask for no explanations from you, an provide none of my own.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:09AM (#40800777)

    I never grew up around sports and nobody in my family was really interested in them at all, I was the music and computers person.
    At some points in my life I was even down right hostile towards sports (maybe having a college roommate who listened to baseball on the radio while watching 20 year old games all night on cable had something to do with it).

    Anyway as I got older and moved a lot, in particular to big cities with huge team followings I finally get it. It's not about the guys who get paid way to much to play with a ball but about a community of people coming together and enjoying an event. Baseball is still as boring to me today on TV as it was when I was younger but nothing beats sitting in a baseball field on a nice Saturday afternoon, enjoying some crappy american food and beer while bullshitting with your neighbors. You almost can't even relate to some people unless you spend some time learning sports. Think of sports as modern day church to some people.

    Never mind the physical, mental and social benefits of actually playing sport yourself provide. I'm pretty happy sitting at my computer all day but I'm not going to turn down a chance to play golf, or tennis, maybe fail at basketball, hell i even joined a company softball league just to embarrass myself once but boy was it fun even if i threw the ball straight up in the air trying to pitch.

    Anyway crawl out of the basement, go visit some friends, watch a football game maybe even go watch one in real life you might not have to ask that question ever again. I know I don't anymore.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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