Gaining Control, Saving Money, and the Horror of Losing ESPN during March Madness!
While talk of cord cutters, aka consumers cancelling their cable TV, is on the rise, the reality may not match the current hype. In fact, the process of actually getting out of cable was quite the learning experience. I’ve done it recently, and I've laid out my consumer experience below.
But first, it is a fact: consumers are migrating over to streaming services such as Roku, Amazon and Apple. And some are cancelling their cable service in exchange for an entirely different viewing experience, which with time, is quite liberating. Advertisers and marketers will face a new set of acquisition decisions as this migration gains momentum.
But let’s talk about actual cord cutting. If you are contemplating it, read on, as it can be a labyrinth of decisions, follow ups, tech issues and behavior adjustments. But, if you can dare to go where few go, you will discover a sense of freedom and control you didn’t know possible.
Let me try to encapsulate the process:
Step One: head over to Best Buy, Amazon or any number of retailers and select your streaming device. This could be a Roku, Chromecast, an Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, etc. Or, buy a smart TV if you are in the market.
Step One and a Half: don’t forget to pick up a digital tuner, aka rabbit ears, so you can pick up your local stations. Yes, rabbit ears.
Step Two: compete the set up of your streaming device with your TV. This involves various accounts being set up, both online and through your TV. However, for the most part, there is no charge for using the streaming devices once you buy them.
Step Three: confirm your streaming service is working, and tune in your digital tuner for local stations. This requires another set up through your TV to actually program the tuner to pick up these stations.
Step Four: select the streaming channels you like. The most well known are Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon, HBO Go and others. Of course, these cost money, but a few offer free trials. Beyond these, there are literally thousands of free streaming channels, many catering to just about any niche you can think of. A number of cable networks stream their content for free, including History, H2, Smithsonian, AE, Fox, CBS, ABC and more. Many news outlets also provide free content.
Step Four and a Half: set up accounts with paid streaming channels such as Hulu and Netflix. Think Netflix for movies, HuluPlus for recent TV shows.
Step Five: call cable company and cancel your service, but only after you know for sure your streaming system is working. Be prepared to justify, explain and then question complex pricing systems if you are at all bundled. For example, I was bundled with TV, Internet and Home Security. By cancelling TV, my Internet rate actually went up. This was due to unbundling supposedly.
Step Six: wait for your cable to be cut off. Then check your other bundled services for service outage. It seems it can be difficult for cable companies to just disconnect cable TV. In true fashion, Internet was cut, but Home Security stayed up, so it was trip number two to come out and reconnect Internet.
Step Seven, if necessary: call cable provider to come back out and reconnect Internet service.
Step Eight: adjust your thinking. Streaming TV gives you pure on demand, watch what you like when you feel like it control. This takes some time to adjust in your mind. Give it two weeks. From there, your entire viewing experience improves for the better. Services such as HuluPlus, and many of the actual streaming networks include a few short ads. Netflix does not. While ads are ads and good for marketers, I found the length of the breaks to be so short as to not be intrusive.
Step Nine: prepare yourself for no ESPN. ESPN and a few other mainline cable networks require you to enter your cable system provider before you can watch their content streamed through your TV or other devices. This one caught me off guard. Thank goodness for the new Sling TV. This is a paid service, about $20/month, which carries ESPN, TNT, TBS and others. It got me through March Madness, then I cancelled it.
Final step: enjoy being out from under the thumb of cable TV provider pricing, as well as substantial savings on an annual basis. I estimate about $1100 annual savings. Even better, you now you can watch the content you like, as you like, with total control over your schedule.
tandemROI is a cross-channel advertising and marketing agency located in Tampa, FL.
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