Cutting the cord


Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.

Last week, I finally cut the cable cord.

It was satisfying to march into Cox Communications with my cable box in hand and order my service disconnected. I had around 70 channels and will be saving about $75 a month by ditching them.

That isn't to say that I'm giving up my television. It's just that the cost of cable keeps rising at the same time there are a growing number of options providing the same or better programs

The recent debut of the Netflix-only series “House of Cards” was one factor that helped push me over the edge. I signed up for Netflix with the idea that I could spend a few weeks getting through the 13-episode season and then decide whether to keep the service.

I soon found myself four episodes deep at 3 a.m. That's both the good and bad side of streaming services: They allow for binge watching.

The folks at Cox say their on-demand service provides the same experience. It doesn't. Many of those shows are filled with commercials and don't allow you to fast forward through them. Some shows aren't even available.

That was the second event that pushed me over the edge was the conflict last Sunday between “Downton Abbey” and the mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead.” The Brits beat the zombies to control the TV in our household, in part because I thought that I could watch “The Walking Dead” on demand.

But it wasn't available, so I forked over a couple bucks to watch the episode on the Amazon Prime streaming service. That got me thinking: Couldn't I just buy those episodes and another favorite show or two every week and still pay a lot less than what my cable was costing?

After disconnecting my cable, I bought a $10 digital antenna to try to get some free stations. It picks up six, including the local PBS and ABC affiliates. I'll be able to watch tonight's “Downton Abbey” finale at no cost.

I also splurged and bought Apple TV. The puck-sized device allows me to stream anything on my iPhone or iPad through my TV. I can also watch baseball games if I fork over some dough for the MLB premium package.

Of course, all this online content means that I'm still on the hook to pay Cox for broadband Internet. But I was paying for that when I had cable. If you add all the new costs up, I'm still saving money from what my monthly cable bill was costing.

Cable companies may be riding high now, but they should be worried.

Viewers today want programing that fits their schedules. With sports leagues signing massive deals for their games, cable costs will only continue to rise.

That's where the cable companies still think they have the upper hand: live sports. There are some streaming options, but watching certain games is a challenge without cable.

It just means I'll have to go over to friends' places or a sports bar once the football season starts. With all the streaming options that I now have, I'll need the excuse to get out of the house.

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