What's All This About "Cutting The Cord"?

The phrase "cutting the cord" is popping up regularly in the US, and in the technical parlance of today it usually refers to dropping your cable or satellite TV service and using a streaming video service instead. The big attraction is that, depending upon your viewing habits, you can save a lot of money each month by doing this.

With a noticeable shift away from traditional TV programming to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, it's probably less painful or complicated to do it now than in past years. My daughter and her husband have not had "regular TV" for a couple of years now (and don't miss it), and Mrs. Old Goat and I are getting pretty close to doing it ourselves, as we find we watch less and less TV of any kind.

The basics are as follows:

1 - The hardware. You can watch programming on most recent flat screen "smart" TVs with minimal fuss via your Internet connection, or you can use a Roku or an Apple TV (both small set top boxes) to provide the output for most any TV. You can also watch on a tablet, PC or other mobile device via your home Internet connection or using a data plan if you are away from home. Be aware that viewing a LOT of video on a data plan can use up your monthly data allowance pretty quickly.

2 - The software. There are many streaming video services, providing music, TV shows and movies. The set top boxes mentioned above will usually offer more that one streaming service as part of their software package.

There are some overlaps in what programming is provided, and some services may carry products unique to them, or even shows they produce themselves (such as the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated "House Of Cards" on Netflix). A recent interesting addition is SlingTV, a DISH Network service (you don't need the satellite service to use SlingTV). SlingTV offers a'la carte live TV channels as a streaming product.

3 - Local programming. Many people can still get local TV broadcast stations using an indoor antenna, so you can keep up with local news and so on.

4 - Sports. If you are a playoff fan, the picture is not quite so rosy - although things are slowly improving. A lot of sports team revenues are made from exclusive TV contracts, and these are poorly represented by streaming products. It is getting better, but the cost can add up if you follow a lot of sports or a lot of teams.

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