I’m Carly’s husband, Nick, and I’m going to be telling you a story today. When you hear about a lifestyle blog, it seems like we talk about the sunshine part of life sometimes. Well today we start with a parent horror story.
Imagine you’re in your bed with your spouse sleeping peacefully. All of a sudden you hear the faint sound of crying. You awake to realize the feed on your video baby monitor has cut out, so you didn’t hear your baby wake up. You run to your child’s room and comfort them. They fall back asleep, but you’re left wondering, “What happened?”
You didn’t sleep great before because you were constantly waking up checking on your sleeping baby. Even sometimes, just sitting there and watching them peacefully, sleep (or in our case what we call “traveling” which is moving around the crib with some randomness while seemingly never actually waking up). Now you realize that your Internet is causing there to be either a delay in the baby monitor feed that can result in as long as 5 minute delay by morning, or it just kicks you out of the feed all together. We really aren’t sure which one was worse.
So, I call our cable and internet provider – ugh AT&T. Over the course of about three months, we go through three different routers. They send out two technicians, and the problems have only gotten a little better. The final solution they’ve said that they think will make it better involves spending additional money to buy equipment to improve the signal!
Cutting the cord? Why not another provider?
Ultimately, we come to the decision that I’ve been nagging Carly about for years – cutting the cord. I know, some of you are saying, “what does that even mean?!?” Cutting the cord just means going away from a traditional cable service for any of a number of reasons. Our reason was obviously service issues, but a lot of people do it to get rid of huge bills and the dreaded 24 month contract. These days, your options for cutting the cord range from installing an antenna to using streaming apps to get all of your media content.
1st Step: Internet
Let’s start with the first step in cutting the cord. You need internet! Won’t it be super expensive to get Internet if it’s not bundled with my cable package? Not at all, and the answer is with one of the largest national cable providers – Charter Spectrum. In our area, Spectrum offers an Internet only Bundle with no data caps for $44.99 for 24 months. I know you’re saying, well that sounds a lot like a contract? Spectrum offers cancel anytime packages that lock you into promotional rates, but don’t come with any cancellation fees if you want to cancel before your promotional period ends. The kicker with the Spectrum Internet package is that it starts at 200 Mbps, so for us, we were getting Internet that was twice as fast for less than we currently paying in a bundled package.
2nd Step: Channel Choices
Next step, we need our TV channels. If you want to follow our example, then you need to first decide what you really watch on television. Make sure you think about year round. For us, I made a list of shows by channel that we watch. If there were 3 or more shows that we watch on a certain channel, then I put it down as a must have. Cutting the cord certainly could require you to make some tough choices depending on how much you use your television.
For us, we watch a lot of local television, but we also watch sports and some entertainment television (HGTV, Food, and Bravo). Then there was the matter of having some kind of channel our little one can watch. Even at a young age, she loves the shows on Disney Jr. Figure out based on your list, what your non-negotiables are. If you only watch one show on a network, is it worth it keeping that channel? Or are there other ways you can watch that show i.e. Amazon, Vudu, Apple Store, or Google Play Store. Or is it even a show that you could watch on Netflix after the season or on Hulu next day?
3rd Step: Streaming Services
Now, it’s time to pick a streaming service. The big players here are Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and Philo. They all come with a variety of channel packages, but for us the choice really came down to Hulu or YouTube TV.
The next thing you need to decide is what features are important to you? DVR is a must for us. We have a young daughter and rarely get time to watch shows live. If we do, they can be filled with squeaking toys, baby talk, and our daughter’s goal of having all attention focused on her.
Obviously, the channel package and cost are a big deal, but you also want to think about the number of people who might be watching at any given time.
For us, the DVR made our decision a lot easier because YouTube TV ($49.99/month) has unlimited DVR space and recordings last for 9 months. The base Hulu package ($44.99/month) only offers 50 hours of DVR and is upgradable to 200 hours if you want to pay an extra $9.99 a month.
Our Choice: YouTube TV
We absolutely love YouTube TV. The best part is the interface is very easy to get used to. When you open the screen, it provides you with 3 options Home, Live, and Library. The Live screen comes up exactly like a traditional cable menu with channels to scroll through and the next 2 hours plus of programming showing. Your home screen shows suggestions based on your watch history, a resume watching area to continue anything you were recently watching, and then suggestions as far as shows and movies to watch or record. Finally, the Library shows all the shows that you have favorited (recorded). It also breaks them up into what’s new in your library and most watched.
The DVR is really where we have truly fallen in love with YouTube TV. You favorite all the new shows that you want to record, and that’s great. But you can also favorite shows like Friends or Big Bang Theory, and it will record every episode that comes on every channel. Over a rolling 9-month period, you could probably end up with most of the episodes saved in your library. It does the same thing with movies, so if you record Pitch Perfect (One of my personal favorites – it’s aca-awesome) this week on television then it will appear in your library, but if you don’t remove it from your favorites, it will replace it every time it airs on television. I know – Aca-scuse me?
The other really nice thing when compared to cable is the sheer volume of On Demand content. From movies to shows, there is a lot to offer. On AT&T U-verse, On Demand content was decent, but in a lot of cases a popular show might have the five most recent episodes or maybe the whole current season. On YouTube TV, most shows have the whole current season available through On Demand with limited commercials or no commercials for older episodes.
Here’s the rest of the details. You can have up to 6 accounts on one YouTube TV account. So you can create an account for everyone in your house to keep everyone’s shows separate. They even have the ability to exclude content on accounts for kids. The ability to watch on the go is also really nice. You can access your account from anywhere in the US and watch a good amount of live TV (you’ll get the locals from wherever you currently are). You can also access most of your recordings and on demand content on the go as well. It means I can catch up on some of my favorite shows on my lunch break at work. Finally for the sports lovers, they offer a huge sports package that is better than any of the other streaming services I mentioned above.
Cons to YouTube TV
There are a few downsides to YouTube TV. There are a few channels that won’t let you access your recordings of their shows – CBS is one. They force you to watch the On Demand version. Although I’ve heard its less channels than Hulu or Playstation Vue. There’s also the downside for any of these services that you have to have “boxes” (ex. Roku) to stream the content on, so depending on how many televisions you want to stream content on you could have a decent bit of startup cost.
YouTube TV is also currently not available on Amazon Fire TV, but that is supposed to change in the very near future (Amazon has made the YouTube app available on it’s devices and YouTube TV is supposed to follow in the coming months). If you already have devices, it might not be a big deal. We had a Roku and an Xbox One for our bedroom and the living room, so we just bought a cheaper Roku for the guest bedroom. When no one is staying with us, we can move it to our office.
Like I said it’s a great all around answer for us, but it could be different for you or your family. If you aren’t interested in sports, an Antenna and Philo will work great for you. If you really don’t watch many shows at all, maybe you can make it with just the antenna, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
If you use a different service, please tell me how you feel about it, or if you want recommendations on making the switch, leave a comment below or send us an e-mail. Hope you enjoyed my longwinded cameo appearance here on Sippy Cups and Mimosas.