Are you thinking about "cutting the cord" and getting your TV content through one of the various internet-based options? The Data Doctors' Ken Colburn says there’s much to consider before you get out the scissors.
Q: I’m ready to drop my cable package and go to streaming services, so what suggestions do you have?
A: Lots of people are thinking about “cutting the cord” and getting all their television content through the various internet-based options, but there’s much to consider before you get out the scissors.
Are you willing to change?
Nothing out there will work just like your cable service does, and you have to have the mindset that there will be challenges.
With your cable service, you pick up a single remote and start channel surfing, but when you cut the cord, you’ll likely have various devices and remotes to get to all of your content.
Your local stations will come from connecting an indoor HD-TV antenna, so you’ll be using your TV’s remote for those channels.
The rest of your content will come from a streaming media box, such as an Apple TV, Roku or Amazon Fire TV, so you’ll switch to that remote for movies, streaming and on-demand programming.
You’ll then have to bounce around the various services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Now on your streaming device to drill down to your shows.
You’ll also need to calculate a potential expense to upgrade your internet bandwidth speeds, especially if you’ll have many people streaming content at the same time.
A good rule of thumb is 10 Mbps for your first stream with 5 Mbps for each additional simultaneous stream.
Alternatives are getting better
There was a time that sports fans had no real options for cutting the cord, but now there are a couple of very solid options for just about everyone.
Both Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue offer a large number of very popular channels, including CNN, ESPN and HGTV.
Sling TV offers two packages for $20 a month without a contract. The original package has 20 channels that include ESPN and ESPN2 for sports fans, while their new ‘beta’ 30-channel package substitutes Fox Sports national and local channels for ESPN.
One major difference in the two packages: The 20-channel package only allows one user at a time, while the 30-channel package allows up to three simultaneous users.
Sling TV works on most major streaming devices, your computer, smartphone or tablet, and
offers add-on packages that include HBO ($15), Cinemax ($10) and other specialty sports and kids channels.
Sony’s PlayStation Vue offers three packages: 55 channels ($30), 70 channels ($35) or 100 channels ($45) and allows up to five simultaneous streams with some limitations on certain devices.
You don’t have to own a PlayStation console to use the service, but you will need either a Sony console or an Amazon Fire TV device in order to set up the service.
Once it’s set up, you can access the service on just about any of the major streaming devices (except Apple TV), as well as Android and iOS mobile devices.
Trying to figure out which streaming device to buy and which package to get can get complicated, so I’d suggest you use the seven-day free trial both services offer before you “cut the cord.”