The Trials and Tribulations of Cutting the PayTV Cord Part 1: A Failure to Launch

As an experiment we’ve decided to have a go at cutting the payTV cord this week.  An important facet of our TV viewing that enables us to consider cutting the cord is we do not watch sports nor reality TV.  Since we got a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) several years ago our viewing of live TV has dropped to near zero.  We read the news on the web and have apps for the weather.  We tracked our viewing over a 12 month period to understand the content we like and when and where we watched it.  For example, Dexter is a show we enjoy, but we didn’t get around to watching the episodes until 3 months after the show ended; we’re not appointment TV viewers.  These characteristics put us in a minority of TV viewers.

Our son is the TV Everywhere viewer, he uses the Kindle Fire (with Amazon Prime and Amazon on Demand), the iPad and our iPhones for about 50% of his viewing.  The other 50% being on a regular TV for shows on PBS kids.  Our viewing is restricted to those 1 to 1.5 hours in the evening when the kids are in bed and we have a little time to ourselves, generally viewing content from the TiVo connected to the HDTV in the basement.

We attempted to set up a free to air (FTA) antenna, this is a significant barrier to cutting the payTV cord.  We did not have a legacy FTA antenna, so we needed to get one set up.  Finding an installer proved challenging, we used Redbeacon and got very high $1000 quotes.  In the end we selected a local home theater installer who was frank about the challenge we faced in getting FTA working as we wanted the antenna in the attic.  We’re on north west side of a hill, surrounded by trees.  We used a long range antenna and amplifier, in the attic the local channels like NJN came through strong, the picture quality was amazing.  But ABC, NBC and Fox were not detected.  Even up on the roof we could not receive those signals.  So it looks like the local channel service from the payTV provider is the only option at $12.99 per month. Just getting to this point took significant research and effort, and I can see most people simply giving up and continuing with PayTV at this point.

On calling Verizon this week I discovered I’m actually trapped in a 2 year contract so have until the middle of August to wait, else pay a $345 early termination fine.  It looks like the FCC hasn’t got around to pro-rating those early termination fines for fixed services only mobile.  So the cord cutting isn’t happening yet.  On what we save once August arrives.  Verizon is currently charging $171 per month.  The annoying thing is they give you a good bundle offer and 6 months later the prices hike up and you’re locked in.  But the savings should be around $100 per month as we already subscribe to Amazon Prime, and will likely experiment with Hulu+ and Netflix to see which makes most sense.

I’ll do another installment once we finally get around to cutting that PayTV cord when Verizon lifts its early termination fine of $345 in August.  But it takes stamina; if I hadn’t persuaded the rest of my family to do this experiment I have a sneaking feeling I’d have given up by now.  Our experience to date has been a failure to launch!