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Cut It Out! These 6 Cable Cord-Cutting Myths Just Won't Die

Will you have to pirate content? Go without sports? Or is it completely simple? We sort through both the pros and cons to get the truth about dropping cable.
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If the headlines are to be believed, this past decade has seen a mass exodus of people leaving cable television behind for a streaming nirvana devoid of contracts and exorbitant charges for hundreds of unwatched channels. But others think cord-cutting is full of complications and problems. Is either case true? To find out, we took a look at some of the biggest myths surrounding the so-called cord-cutting movement.

People Are Leaving Cable for Streaming

Is it a myth? Maybe, maybe not

For every article saying cable companies are losing customers in droves, there is one stating that the trend is being overblown. It's possible to spin the statistics to support both assertions, but the truth is probably somewhere in between. Though cable companies saw a decline in subscribers in 2013 and 2014 according to Leichtman Research, those numbers were insignificant (approximately 100K and 150K, respectively). That amounts to about a 1% attrition rate. Additionally, these numbers seemed to indicate a growing trend of more people sharing the same subscription.

In 2015, however, a total of nearly 385K jumped ship from cable. It seems that after years of it being discussed, cord-cutting is slowly but surely becoming a phenomenon.

Cutting the Cord Won't Save Any Money

Is it a myth? Depends

There are many factors that determine whether cord-cutting will actually save you money. The first is how much TV you watch. If you watch a lot of shows across an array of channels, you may be better off keeping your cable bundle, as opposed to switching to the à la carte options of streaming.

However, if your television consumption is less voracious, you can probably tune in to all your favorite shows by subscribing to a couple streaming services and viewing the others via iTunes or Amazon. Besides, you may find a new favorite among the original programming that most streaming services now offer.

SEE ALSO: Tune In and Drop Cable With a Digital Antenna

The other thing to consider, however, are the startup costs associated with cord-cutting. Unless you have a Smart TV, you'll need a streaming device of some sort, which could be around $50, give or take. You'll probably also want to purchase a digital antenna for picking up over-the-air broadcasts. That'll cost you about $25. You may also need to upgrade your cable service and/or modem if your internet speed isn't at least 5 Mb/s per device.

How quickly you absorb these miscellaneous costs depends on how much cord-cutting will save you, which is of course dependent on how much you're currently spending on cable. This tool can help you figure out how much you can save.

Cord-Cutting Is Too Technical

Is it a myth? Yes

As streaming devices have improved, they've become more and more user-friendly. These days, whether you choose a streaming stick or box, it's pretty much plug-and-play. Plus, Smart TVs are more prevalent than ever, so there's a good chance you don't have to plug in anything at all. Signing up for streaming services is similarly a breeze; after entering in some basic details, you'll be binge-watching your favorite shows in no time.

You've Gotta Wait to Watch Recent Episodes

Is it a myth? Mostly

While in the past streaming services only made shows available after they were originally broadcast, there are now many options that allow you to watch programs as they are aired. As its name indicates, HBO Now, the network's cable-free streaming app, airs Vinyl, Game of Thrones, and other shows in real time, while streaming services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue allow you to tune in to live TV. And with a digital antenna, you can tune into the major networks.

Regardless, more and more people aren't watching shows when they air, but rather recording them to their DVRs to watch later, so does it really matter?

You Can't Watch Sports

Is it a myth? Yes

If you're the type of sports fan who always has a game on year-round, you may fare better sticking with cable. Otherwise, streaming now offers many options. Most of the professional organizations have their own streaming channels, each offering several different options.

For example, NBA League Pass allows you to sign up for only your favorite team's games or pay for individual games. Just be warned, if you root for the home team, its games may be blacked out on these services. Instead, see if you can tune in to a local network over the air, or use a service like Sling TV.

You'll Have to Become a Pirate

Is it a myth? Yes

Not only will you not have to don an eye patch and start forcing people to walk the plank, but you'll also never need to download any illegal material. Most networks are aware of the popularity of streaming and have made their shows available through one or more channels. They often even have episodes available to view for free directly from their website. It may take a little legwork to figure out how to view your favorite programs, but sailing the seven seas of piracy is completely avoidable.

Readers, what's your favorite cable-cutting myth? Have you said goodbye to traditional TV packages, or are you still paying for cable? No matter where you stand, share your thoughts in the comments below!


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen Slaybaugh is a Brooklyn-based writer with more than 20 years experience. In addition to his work for DealNews, he publishes The Agit Reader music webzine and has written for The Village Voice, Paste, The Big Takeover, and many other publications.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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24 comments
okani
I cut a cord a year ago, use magicjack for phone service, prepaid for 5 years for $100 which translates to $20 a month + it provides me ability to use their app on my iphone that let's me use it overseas over wifi for free - anyone in US can call me and I can call them back as well - on any US and Canadian number. No regrets, and I still use Netflix and amazon, youtube.
beachboui
I dropped cable, due the cost, about two years ago, and don't miss it much. I simply got tired of paying for 125 channels when I was only watching content from about 8 or 10 of them. For the most part, I don't miss cable. It has expanded my viewing options in some respects, and limited them in others. I miss Nat Geo, TCM (love the old Cary Grant movies) and local stations. I'm too far from the towers to get them OTA. I watch more movies now than I ever did before, which means I have to commit to longer viewing periods than I did before.

Cable is certainly more convenient. But, I always felt like I was being abused by the cable monopoly in my area. They kept raising the cost without delivering anything more than the year before. They found my limit. Now, the cable company can go sc#ew themselves in the ear for all I care. By eliminating cable, I eliminated the second largest monthly expense I had.
mjhombre
In response to engelb15 and codelemur, you can get all the ESPN's and Fox Sports, SEC Network, FS1 and FS2 on Sony Vue. Cable and Sling TV are not the only options
bciocco
We cut the cord seven years ago or so. We found network TV to replace anything we watched on satellite and, even though we have Netflix and Amazon Prime, we don't use them much. We often turn Netflix off for months at a time.
Our Dish bill was $70 for SD quality. The savings from two years more than paid for a 55 inch plasma TV to replace our 30 inch Sony CRT HD. We started with a TiVo HD and recently upgraded to a TiVo Roamio with lifetime service. We don't miss cable/satellite at all.
The TiVo has several apps available and works fin as a set top box for us for DVR, Amazon Prime, NetFlix and the occasional month of Hulu Plus. It also works with several other apps.
Monsterdg
I cut the cord in Jan; I was paying $120 for Directv. Trying to save some money on the package results in $7 savings and losing several of the channels I watch (Cooking, DYI, Destination America). I bought an OTA attic antenna for ~$50. We already had DSL and Hulu & Netflix. I've already saved a ton & don't miss a thing. I wish I had done this years ago.
eastside_golfer
The problem with cutting the cord is, as a few have noted, that you can't really cut the cord unless you're willing to go totally OTA or use your cell phone as a hot spot. You have to have that internet connection. Where I live there's the choice of DSL at 1.6 Mbs (despite their constant 40 Mbs ads) or cable which costs $45 / month the first year rising to $58 / mo. for their basic 15Mbs service. I imagine that taxes and fees would add $15 / mo. Unless there is considerable competition at the "cord" level, you're still stuck with whatever the ISP's want to charge you.
mtlmn1971
Been off cable and satellite tv for 3 years now. No complaints what so ever. I have no problem watching what I want when I want. There are many ways to achieve this. I know many people who have done this. I have helped them cut the cord. Also have a friend who works for one of those satellite companies and has said that they are really getting nervous, especially the younger generation as they go out on their own. Anyway, it can be done and it can save you lots of money.
johnalexgolden
Following up on the sports thing: a LOT of local sports aren't on any kind of broadcast now. In the DC area, you're not going to see a non-national Wizards or Caps game over the air in any form. This is becoming more and more prevalent among NBA and NHL teams.

At that point, your only option becomes League Pass / NHL.tv and a VPN to mask your location....which works....."eh" is the best review I've heard.
dtrudea
Try channelmaster.com for all your dvr needs. About 2 bengeez up front. Then no monthly cost to record all your shows. Sweet!!
kangarooz
3 tv's, 2 OTA antennas, 1 Netflix account, 1 VPN, phone tethering, piracy

I cut the cord about 6 months ago. I use metropcs' $60 unlimited 4glte plan and tether it. There's a couple guides out there to tether with root so your phone doesn't report the tether data to your provider but at 50gb a month of tethered data usage, I only occasionally feel the throttle (which has to do with data prioritization and the 25gb tether cap). That issue should not present itself when using the regular phone's internet. Unfortunately it seems internet fast lanes are a thing for some mobile providers. You could use a USB tether set up correctly and stream netflix through tmobile's Binge On plan (when tethering via usb not wifi it doesnt change the mac address or something that the provider uses to determine tether).
Woshishei
Cord cutting works for some but not for everyone.

I am fortunate because there are multiple cable companies (3 to be exact) where I live. Because of the competition, they keep their prices relatively low. Even if one decided to raise their prices, there are at least two other companies who are eager to take my money at a lower rate.

With that said, I would be happy to cut the cord if it saves me money but keep the convenience of being able to watch/stream all of my favorite shows from one place/app as soon as it airs or at the very least immediately after it has aired. Unfortunately as of right now that's simply not possible.
jake2011
Just signed up for Playstation Vue since it is now nationwide without locals. Works perfect for me prices start at $30 much better deal than sling tv
Dman6250
As many have mentioned, the way the cable companies are fighting back against cutters is by raising the cost of stand alone internet service. Cut for 3 years until the price of internet reached a point where it no longer made sense, $66.00 per month, with Sling, Amazon Prime and Roku, so found an internet cable package for $85.00 with Frontier.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@Frank Zentura That's fair, although if you like tennis (*crickets*) like me, a bar can be kind of weird / aggravating.
Frank Zentura
Sports? That's what bars are for!
Frank Zentura
Cable company tried to jack me up to over $100, now I pay $30 for high-speed, $9 for NetFlix and split an Amazon account with my sister. Tell me again how I'm not saving money? I've been cord cut for over 5 years and I haven't missed that $100+ bill once!
codelemur
We cut the cord last year. Before, we were paying $240/mo for cable. By going Internet-only, that went to $64/month. A $90 one-time cost for an attic mount antenna was the only other cost, as we were already Netflix and Amazon subscribers.

The one thing to note is that, if you like college football, Sling is pretty much your only cordcutter-friendly option. You can get ESPN networks + specialty sports channels (SEC Network) for $25/month. That gives you WatchESPN access too.
SuzeD
We cut the cord a year ago. We installed an antenna in the attic since we live 30 miles from the city (mohu leaf was too weak). Then we bought a Tivo Roamio to DVR the OTA channels. We have a smart tv but prefer the Roku for Netflix and we have an old apple tv that still works. We use Ooma for our (free) phone service. We save tons of money and if we really want to see a show or missed a recording we just purchase it from one of the many providers. We save between $50 to $100 a month. In about 4-6 months the initial investment was paid for and now I save monthly. You've got to look long term, not just at initial investment if you want to save money. It also helps that we're not sports fans - though the Super Bowl was OTA and streaming and looked fabulous on our home theater screen.

I'll never go back to cable or satellite.
HowardaC
What ski522 said.

The problem is for most regions there isn't a "internet provider"... you get your internet from either the phone or cable company. They heavily discount the internet service if you also get another service from them, so if you drop cable you have to take into account the 30 to 50 dollar increase in your internet bill a month.

Also tv over the internet is only viable if you watch shows, not networks. If you sign into the now/go services of a popular network on a xbox one or ps4, you will be prompted to list your cable provider..... which makes no sense because may of these apps are for network tv and they still show the commercials. Don't the commercials pay for the programming?

Long story short, until the networks get out from under the thumb of the cable companies and vice versa, we are NEVER going to get a superior tv experience on the internet.
Wd1966
I was using a lot of services with my cable company, dvr, 3 boxes, higher tier channels, wifi, Internet, one language pkg 200 a month. I bought my own modem and wifi router so I don't have to rent the cable company's for my wifi internet. I checked antennaweb and I get 48 channels in my area. I got an indoor Mohu leaf 50 indoor antenna. I pay for Netflix, Hulu, sling plus one sling $5 extra package, Internet (30 speed), and 5 a month for Tablo advanced TV guide. Equals about 85 total I was paying 200 a month. Tablo is a dvr that shows your free antenna channels live in HD and records them in HD. You have to buy an external hard drive that holds the recording. My 2tb holds 200 hours. It has a basic TV guide free or pay 5 a month for a better one. We have rokus on our 4 TVs and Roku has the Netflix, sling, Hulu and tablo apps so we can watch all those on any TVs. So much content.
HarryTuttle
Sat & cable have improved vastly over the years. Part of that's driven by their competing with each other and part is due to streaming services. I've tried them all. I don't actually watch a lot of TV, but I want what I want when I want it and I'd like to be able to get it painlessly, effortlessly, and at a good price. I still can't do all of that and it costs me way more than it should (imo) for my POTENTIAL viewing pleasure. HBO-Go was a game changer and a step in the right direction, but we're not quite there yet. Wish TIVO would form it's own super home entertainment network and give me a la carte to everything under the sun CHEAPLY !
engelb15
Sure you can watch sports... but only if it's on ESPN or broadcast OTA. All my local teams have sold out to FOX Sports SW so cable is basically required.
johnnylately
We live in East TN and have loved Charter service. When I was needing to come up with an extra $100+ per month for car insurance and cell phone upgrades a couple of years ago I dropped Charter phone for NetTalk and dropped Charter TV for OTA. Yes they raised the Internet only price to $59 with tax and fees but I was still saving $120 per month. It was fairly painless since we weren't watching much TV just Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube, and no one calls us on our home phone (that we wanted to talk to, anyway).

As long as Charter doesn't put a cap on data usage then we're good. If they do then we'll adjust and/or find alternatives.
ski522
The biggest problem with cutting the cord is that companies like Scumcast are going to raise you Internet pricing since most people aren't really cutting the cord, just the TV part. Also many cable companies have download limits to help put a damper on those who want to cut the cord from a TV viewing perspective since they know you're going to stream more.

Thankfully where I live my phone company provides fiber and cutting the cord was a piece of cake.
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