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THINK BEFORE YOU CUT: Five Things to Consider

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Most consumers have heard of “cutting the cord,” which generally means cancelling a cable TV subscription and switching to a combination of content delivery options.  That might mean giving up TV entirely, watching only free channels, or replacing cable TV with a stack of Internet-delivered streaming services.
 
Whether cutting the cord is the right choice for you depends on many factors.  Here are five considerations to help you make an informed choice.
 
  1. Simplicity
Cable television subscribers sign up for service with one provider and choose from a variety of packages, which offer both price and content options. New boxes are slim (can be wireless) and modems are high-tech. There is a single program guide and a remote with voice-activated search.
 
Cord cutters assemble their preferred on-demand and live content from a mix of streaming services (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Peacock).Smart TVs and streaming devices (e.g., Roku, Amazon Fire} make aggregating relatively easy, but each service has its own subscription offer, price, interface, and sometimes its own remote control.It’s not unusual for a cord-cutter to simultaneously subscribe to four or five – or more – different services.
 
  1. Live Content Availability
 
The availability of live content, especially sports, continues to be a cord-cutting juggernaut.  Cable providers offer all major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX), along with live regional news and sports, 
 
Streaming services do provide some live and local options, but the choices are varied and confusing, and there are often additional charges.
 
If live sports viewing is a must-have, you could be left wanting with streaming-only options.  Smartest option may be to stay with cable until the conflicts are settled.   
 
  1. Wading Through the Choices
 
Both cable TV and streaming services offer vast libraries of shows and movies.Some are included in the subscription price; some have an additional fee.Others offer original, proprietary content, available only on cable or a single streaming service.
 
There are more than 50 streaming options today, from large aggregators to niche networks.If that sounds daunting, here’s a source that covers content and costs for many of them. [Link to Consumer Reports July list]    
 
Or take a cue from consumers who opt for a smaller cable tier and add a streaming subscription service or two.  Many companies also offer customers easy access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others from the main menu.    
 
  1. Service Reliability
 
Cable Internet and TV signals travel directly to and through your home via a robust infrastructure of fiber, coax, broadband technologies. A single connection delivers TV content to any device, anywhere, and reliable Gigabit Internet service to power, well… everything,
 
Streamed content is delivered to your home on Internet-based technology.Inside the home, you’ll still want cable’s reliable Gigabit service and serious WiFi to enable viewing on any device, anywhere. (Link to Improving Internet Experience article) Many cord-cutters also add a digital antenna to view local sports and news, but it may not work in rural areas.    
 

Making the Best Choice for Your Lifestyle

Today, these choices are made even more complex by the impact of COVID-19.  Added to streaming TV, video games and everyday computing are virtual learning, working from home, telemedicine and more.

Ultimately, your decision may come down to balancing price and ease. Cable offers more breadth of content with simple navigation, but it’s more expensive than any single streaming service.  You can save money if you limit number of streaming subscriptions and take advantage of canceling at will.   
 
But be aware that streaming fees are rising and you’ll need cable’s superior broadband speed to fuel more online activities.   

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