Cutting the Cord

November 1, 2017

In the “good ‘ol days” as a kid, I remember having a big ‘ol TV antenna on our roof…with a rotor and a big dial to turn it toward distant stations. There were only 3 local stations at the time, which we got but thanks to the rotor we also received stations from Asheville, Knoxville & Charlotte. The only real reason to get cable when it came along was to get stations more clearly, maybe get a few more channels and to get the antenna off the roof. I had TV cable as soon as it was available and kept it until this past summer, about 30 years. After my bill went up to over $250 a month, with stations being dropped and countless service problems with the local cable company I finally “cut the cord!”

Now that all TV stations broadcast digitally, I put an antenna in my attic….to avoid putting it on the roof (Lots of subdivisions and home owners associations ban them.)  Life comes full circle! Using an amplifier, I get all the local stations in crystal clear digital high definition.  I dropped cable TV but kept my cable Internet so that I could use my Roku to watch Netflix and other shows. Most of these are through paid subscriptions but some channels are free. If your TV does not have a digital tuner (mine doesn’t) you will need a digital converter box for the antenna (about $30.) I replaced my whole house cable feed with the antenna so I get all the local channels on all my TV’s. (Your reception is based on your proximity to the TV transmitter towers on Holston Mountain.)

I have since been turned on to video streaming devices. There are many to choose from, such as the Amazon Fire stick. There are numerous Android streaming boxes available too. I use the Nvidia Shield box (about $200.) I have also used the Mi box ($69.00) and others priced as low as $30. They all do the same thing…..but the better boxes have bigger processors and more memory so they are faster. Out of the box you get many streaming channels, but again lots are by subscription like Netflix & Hulu. One downside, you can only watch it on the TV it is hooked up to….not others in your house.Using the free software Kodi, and adding different free streaming “builds,” you can get movies, TV shows and lots of free stuff. This is all perfectly legal as you are streaming the content, not downloading to own…or sell. Kind of like folks who stream our radio stations….free music. You are supposed to pay only if you download songs to own. The great part about my set-up is that you can watch current TV shows whenever you want, not just when they are broadcast. For that reason a DVR is not needed. Same with movies…some even currently in theaters.

The last caveat for me was live sports. There are numerous apps that you can subscribe to to get live channels such as ESPN & NFL Network & Redzone. My current favorite is “Gears TV.” Costs $15 a month and I get virtually all USA channels, and some other countries too!  As far as costs are concerned, by dropping cable TV my bill went from $250 to $80. That includes Internet and home phone service bundled.  I pay $15 a month for Gears TV, so my total is under $100. I do still subscribe to Netflix only because my daughter is hooked on some of their original programs. I don’t even use the Roku anymore because everything on it is available on the Android box.

The local power company will soon be offering Internet service and at that time I will sever all ties with the cable company.I have set several folks up with this system, some keeping basic cable and setting up the streaming box for movies and shows they can’t get otherwise. I am available to consult for anyone else who wants to “CUT THE CORD!”