We are cutting the cord with Comcast

Cable TV is just outrageously expensive. For years, I’ve enjoyed a $120/mo promotional price but last month Comcast jacked up the rate. For $170, Comcast provided high speed internet (12MB), the Digital preferred video package (with HD channels) and AnyRoom DVR but no premium channels.

Cable-guy

When I learned that they wouldn’t lower my price (and my prior critique of the Comcast streaming service certainly didn’t really help my case), I began to consider cutting the cord. Knowing that I’d save $100+ a month, I looked a few video streaming options:

  • Apple TV. I’ve been a fan of Apple TV since the very beginning. Unfortunately, their current device (third generation) still lacks 1080p capabilities and many owners are pissed about the lack of airplay mirroring support with a Mac ecosystem that’s only two year old (source) so I decide to pass on it.
  • Boxee TV. The Boxee team has recently pivoted with their introduction of a new set-top box that includes no limit DVR capabilities. While this feature is available in my area, my enthusiasm quickly dwindled when I learned that shows cannot be recorded through the remote. Instead, they must be scheduled through the web. That’s certainly poor UX but it doesn’t explain the disappointing sales at Walmart. This was also a pass.
  • Google TV. This is one of the only devices with potential. Unfortunately, the first generation release of Google TV on Logitech hardware was lacking to say the least. There is hope with the third generation version though it may be available only as built-in service to LG smart televisions. Having access to Google Play and a real browser like Chrome is certainly promising but for now Google TV 3rd gen is only a pipe dream.
  • Roku. Again, this is one of the best streaming devices on the market. It has the biggest application store. Unfortunately, our Samsung Smart TV supports virtually every major app that this device posses, including support for the Amazon Cloud Player, so the investment in it wouldn’t provide any additional functionality/advantages.

Lastly, I considered purchasing a Mac Mini because it offered the flexibility of watching any stream that’s available on a computer but at $500 it was also the priciest. While I may end up getting one, I decided to just to let the experiment run the course for a few months before making such an investment.

So, I called Comcast to disconnect my service. They justifiably tried to sell me on bundling more services or downgrading to a cheaper package. As the conversation progressed, I found myself annoyed that the pricing tiers were no better than going with over-the-air signal which includes HD. That’s also what a recent review of cable pricing by Forbes showed. At the end, we downgraded to just internet for $62 per month. The trial begins.

 

  • Summers Pittman

    The only thing we missed when we cut the cord was being able to watch HBO and Showtime shows. Right now you have to wait a year for them to come out for individual purchase.

  • tomerific

    HBO is tricky! They are in high demand partly because of their original content. I also suspect that they can toss their weight around because they are owned by Time Warner, which is a distributor. Very convenient!

    Not sure if you saw this (would be interesting if it ever jumps the big pond):

    http://m.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/08/hbo-finally-ok-cord-cutting-scandinavia/56387/

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    That’s the main dealbreaker for me, HBO. I heard they are piloting a subscription service in Europe where you pay $10 or something a month for HBO as a stand alone. But until then, it’ll be hard to pull me from it.

    Tomer, interested to hear which platform you guys choose and I’m kinda impressed you pulled the cord (or chord :) without having one in mind!

  • tomerific

    Yes — going cold turkey for now. :) Thx for the pointing out the spelling error — fixed! :)

  • http://www.digitalmarketingspeak.com/ Vlad Gorenshteyn

    If you liked the above, you might also be interested in: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/cord-cutters-why/

    I think as soon as FCC allows for carriers small or large (e.g. google) to provide over-the-air broadband and/or cheap residential fiber, there will be another paradigm disruption in the content industry and we’ll hit another trough in pricing. Right now we’re probably close to or quickly approaching the crest…hence everybody’s frustration.

    In the near future, you’ll also see content partnerships like RedBox and Verizon which should make a full transition to streaming services more palatable.

    The actual problem here is not so much price IMHO but rather an overabundance of content which people are hooked on or the perception has been created that they can’t live without it…even though we probably only consume less than 1% (I’d have to verify the stats on this) of what we have available at our disposal. Personally, I’d rather pay more– for fewer, better content than pay less for too many options. After all, how much content can a working professional consume? There’s got to be significant diminishing returns after watching one hour of tv every night, right?

    I don’t think that cutting should be an economic decision but rather one of lifestyle.

    — my two cents

  • tomerific

    Vlad — according to the FCC’s Aug 2012 report on broadband progress, only 6% of the US population are without broadband so I don’t think that access is the problem (http://www.fcc.gov/reports/eighth-broadband-progress-report). However, I completely agree with you that streaming services will pave the wave of the future because in the end it allows content distributors who also own the broadband pipes to charge you based on your bandwidth.

    And while I can agree with you that there’s an overabundance of content (because anyone with a mobile device/cheap video camera can generate content), the challenge for those who have cut the cord isn’t content discovery or search UI but content aggregation. Ever since I cut off cable I’ve spent a significant amount of time fetching content. It is a pain! I now understand why I paid a premium to satellite/cable or Netflix to perform this duty! ;)

    PS The Wired article that you referenced is awesome! Thanks for sharing it!!!

  • http://www.digitalmarketingspeak.com/ Vlad Gorenshteyn

    Tomer, yeah this is definitely not an access issue (as was the case with mountain valley residents not being able to catch terrestrial signal…which is how cable came about).

    Of course, you pay the distributor to license (aggregate) the content, organize, suggest, serve up, in some cases commission, etc. I’m not talking about overabundance of UGC, I’m talking about studio made content.

    I’m suggesting something different. I think that it’s healthy for a content market to produce and a consumption market to buy/not buy– that’s the invisible hand at work–love it! What I’m hoping is that the consumer has to be a little bit more savvier and discerning with what they decide to do with their time.

    In my mind there are two solutions here: 1) studios produce less, more quality content and find means to serve it up to publics that are more guaranteed to watch it — that’s just big data at work, and 2) consumers realize that there is finite time to consume media and discontinue purchasing bundled services (less than 1% of good stuff you’ll actually derive value from and 99% crap that you’ll never even have time to evaluate). Only then, will the market start producing products and services for the mass audience to cater to this “liberated” consumer.

    What do you think?

    — my two cents

  • tomerific

    Vlad — I love your POV but I wonder if consumers are willing to compromise on quantity. We LOVE options — whether it is selecting a television show, picking out a bottle of wine or ordering your coffee at Starbucks. Since television is a lean back technology, there’s even more reason to just tune out to whatever is on. I understand the thinking that consumers should be liberated but I’m questioning whether they actually have that desire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erdichia Eric DiChiara

    Tomer,

    What’s the latest on cutting the cord? Can you give us an update and let us know how the experience has been?