I Just Cut Our Cord

I just hung up the phone with Comcast, telling them to cancel my Xfinity TV account. That’s the cord people keep talking about, and I just cut it.

If you pay any attention to the television industry, you know that the common wisdom holds that only millennials (people born between ~1980 and 2000) have cut the cord. This is no longer true; it makes sense for virtually everyone to cut their cord too, and I’m amazed more people haven’t noticed. Once they do notice, the process of turning the television business upside down will be complete.

“Cord” is a misnomer since the real issue is the box the cord is attached to, not the actual cord (or network wiring). The box is what the cable company uses to control your access to the content it provides, so that it can charge you for that access. Cable companies have come to sell what are known as “bundles” of content. People hate bundles because they can’t see what they are paying for. But they have put up with bundles because they didn’t have an alternative.

But there is a viable alternative now from both Youtube and Hulu, both of which call their offerings “Live TV”, which is to say that they have bundled the content you usually get in real time from your local TV station (what used to be called “Basic Cable”) and are streaming it on the Internet for a low monthly fee: $35 from Youtube TV and $40 from Hulu TV. I subscribed to Youtube TV, and for that I get everything offered by the local affiliates of CBS, NBS, and ABC plus Fox and CNN and a host of other channels I’ve never watched. That means I get local news and sports and most of national news and sports.

We were paying $175 for the HD Preferred XF bundle which Comcast proudly says “includes Digital Preferred, STARZ, HD Technology Fee, Digital Converter With Access to On Demand Programming, Performance Pro Internet and XFINITY Voice Unlimited”. That’s a bunch of gobbledegook, that basically meant I was getting Basic Cable plus most cable channels and basic sports programming bundled with our internet service and a phone line (which I never used). That was just the bundle for the first $175: All the extra fees (HBO, sports, faster internet, as well as regulatory fees and taxes) added another $115 to the bill. With $10/month for Netflix, we were spending $300/month.

We are now paying Comcast Business $215/month for fast and reliable internet service with no useage cap. (Our Xfinity internet service would crash on a regular basis, requiring us to go to the basement and restart the device at least once a week.) We are also now paying $35/month for Youtube TV and $15/month for HBO Go (the streaming app that lets you watch HBO content without cable) as well as $10/month for Netflix, for a total of $275/month.

We still have an Amazon FireTV and an Apple TV attached to our television, for neither of which we pay a monthly fee, although we do need to pay for some movies, apps and other content on demand. (Amazon beats Apple hands down, since they offer a lot of content for free to its Prime members.)