Alright, I get it. Paying for cable is foolish because Over-The-Air (OTA) TV, subscribing to Netflix or using other online service providers to get content on your TV is fun, cool and less expensive than cable. I can’t tell you how many blogposts and news articles I’ve read over the last couple of years that provide how-to-instructions and compelling “whys” for cutting the cable cord, largely for financial reasons. Before I slam those arguments entirely, let’s review the benefits presented in some of those articles, things I agree with to a point:
- You (may) spend less time in front of the TV,
- You have better on-demand entertainment, and
- You pay only for the services you use.
The problems with generalizations are…they are generalizations. Here are my specific reasons why (for now) I’m willing to spend $40 per month more money for traditional cable TV services beyond alternative services.
You (may) spend less time in front of the TV
Who says? I watch TV when I want and I only feel compelled to watch my favourite TV shows when they air. If I miss something so be it. I will either use my PVR to record a show in advance or just suck it up to a missed opportunity. Netflix wouldn’t change that paradigm for me.
You have better on-demand entertainment
Who says? If you love watching many TV shows then I could see that. I suppose many people enjoy sitting on the couch watching marathons of their favourite shows or entire seasons of TV shows but that’s not me or how I live. Furthermore, my favourite type of on-demand TV is live TV; as in sporting events. I can just imagine the sheer thrill of watching the U.S. Open golf championship or any other sporting event I see on the Golf Channel, TSN and other stations when I already know the outcome. Missing live sporting events on TV is one of the biggest downsides I see to cutting the cable cord. As more live sporting events are online, I will definitely reconsider my position.
You pay only for the services you use
Netflix will cost you about $10 per month and that’s for limited programming. So, for limited services you pay limited fees – you get what you pay for. Don’t forget though, there are on-going operational costs associated with Netflix. For example, you need some major internet bandwidth for Netflix and other online services; increasing your download and upload thresholds, and usage allowance costs money folks. Beyond Netflix, maybe you want to use Roku or Hulu for entertainment. There are some start-up costs you need to think about with those services. Then there’s Apple TV. Streaming videos, movies and shows from iTunes is great, and the AirPlay stuff sounds cool but if you don’t have other Apple products, well, you don’t have Apple products.
Personally, I can count on two hands the number of cable channels I watch on a regular basis, two of them being Golf Channel and TSN (much to my wife’s exuberance I might add). I don’t need 300 channels in my cable box and I don’t want to pay for them either. This is where my main beef with telcos exist. Unfortunately for many Canadian consumers, the cable companies haven’t got their act together yet to offer better pricing options to retain valued customers. I hope those days are coming. (I’d like to hear from Rogers, Bell, Shaw and others on this subject). In the meantime though I’m going to keep my cable package until renewal time comes or more live sports can be obtained online. Getting rid of cable doesn’t make sense for everyone as much as many frugal bloggers and anti-telco industry experts might think.
Cutting the cable cord might very well be the right thing to do for many households. Major consumer debt would be a good reason. However, if you enjoy cable TV, the convenience of it and you can save money in other areas of your financial future self then don’t be so quick to cut the cable cord. I’ve calculated I’m currently paying about $40 more per month over some alternatives listed above when you consider the increased internet costs and start-up costs. I’m sure I can find my $40 per month or $10 per week savings elsewhere if I look.
Personal finance decisions are personal for a reason and although there are some good options out there and interesting rules of thumb to follow you don’t always have to follow the crowd.
Have you cut the cable cord? If so, how much are you saving over traditional cable services? What are you using those savings for?
Are you considering cutting the cable cord anytime soon following hundreds of thousands of other Canadians over the last year?