We Cut The Cord (Kind Of)

We're changing the way we take control of our entertainment

It seems more and more people are trying to cut the cord these days. We’re no exception, and we had a perfect opportunity to try it.

When we moved into our house, we were unable to transfer our existing cable TV and Internet package through Comcast due to an exclusive deal with another ISP.

So, we had a choice to make: when we got new service, would we get actual cable TV through the internet company again? Or would we stick to just internet and find an alternative for watching TV?

We did some soul-searching. And by that I mean we figured out if we could make it work. For us, it was making sure we could still watch the shows we wanted.

Our Consumption

I rarely watch TV (just a few shows) and Kristin watches shows on just a few networks. The Cable TV package we had previously was way overkill. This is a pretty common rhetoric for any TV-watcher I talk to. In general we have 200 channels but only watch maybe 5 or 6, at most.

We are no exception. Most of our TV-viewing occurs on a handful of networks:

  • Bravo (Real Housewives of Anything)
  • Lifetime/LMN (AKA the “Men Are Horrible and Women Are Crazy Network”)
  • HGTV (Anything with the Scott Brothers…we heart the Scott Brothers)
  • Oxygen (I didn’t want to end up on Snapped, which Kristin occasionally watches…)
  • FX (American Horror Story)
  • And occasionally HBO (West World and Game of Thrones, neither of which are on right now anyway)

During football season, ESPN sometimes comes on, but watching football wasn’t a chief concern since it’s less than half of the year. We can also go to the bar or a friend’s house in a pinch if needed.

With that in mind, we set out to find how we could watch all of our shows without paying for a Cable TV package.

Weighing Options

With our list ready, this whole thing comes down to finding another service that fits our needs and is a reasonable cost. We had a few options here when it came down to it. One was to look at services we already had for other purposes. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime, and also leech some Hulu.

Overall we already have a ton of entertainment options at our finger-tips. But none of them really give us what we wanted – and what we had with our old Cable TV package.

A big reason these weren’t ideal for us is that we wanted to be able to watch shows as they were airing instead of waiting in some cases nearly a full year to watch them. Yeah, we’re spoiled and love our instant gratification. Sue us. 🙂

After doing a few hours of research, everything seemed to point to SlingTV being a service that’d match our consumption needs. Let’s dive in on what we get.

SlingTV Service Offerings, Pros, and Cons

For starters, a few things on what SlingTV isn’t.

  • It’s not a cable company. They have deals with TV networks and are a streaming service.
  • You don’t have any contract to deal with. If you change your mind, just cancel.
  • It’s not a create-your-own-package offering. There are pre-selected packages and add-ons, and you can get whatever suits your needs. Thankfully they’re all reasonably priced.
  • It doesn’t replace all local channels. Thankfully, over-the-air antennas can do the trick just fine.

They have two basic packages which they call Sling Blue for $20/month and Sling Orange for $25. For many people, this will take care of all of their TV needs.

We opted for Sling Blue which had most of the channels we watched.

To keep up on the other shows we watch, we had to also add on the Lifetime Extras package for an additional $5/month. We will consider paying for HBO once the shows we watch are back in season. Until then, we can avoid that add-on.

You can view SlingTV‘s channel lineup and decide the best package for you on their web site. It’s super easy to find exactly what you need to get.

I opted to sign-up for two months of service so that we’d get a free Roku. Woot!! That bad boy doesn’t stream 4k, but we’ll eventually buy a new one that does. For now, this does the trick.

The sign-up process was insanely easy. Pick your base package, pick any add-ons, pay. If you pre-pay two months, you get that Roku. If you don’t, no big deal – Sling works with Android TV and a bunch of other devices.

Comparing Bills

So we knew that we could get all of the channels we want to watch for about $30 bucks a month. Our goal amount was less than $100 for everything.

Could we get FAST internet (enough to support streaming of our shows now, and me playing video games at the same time) for $70?

Uh, yeah. Obviously. Let’s compare bills.

  • Our old bill for 100MBPS internet and cable TV rang in at a whopping $134 and change (even with our own modem)! Good riddance, ultimately. For the record, just going down to internet on this plan would have been about $55…we were paying an extra $80 for TV!
  • New bill for just internet: $45 and change.
  • SlingTV Blue Package ($25) + Lifestyle Extra add on ($5): $30 and change
  • Overall: About $80-$85 with taxes and fees

An overall saving of nearly $50 is awesome. And we won’t waste it – we’ll add that on to what we’re throwing toward our mortgage.

What About Quality?

The cost is great, but my biggest concern was quality. After all, what good is it to switch to a cheaper service if it was going to be choppy or unreliable?

Thankfully, so far Sling has had a very strong showing for us. Normally there’s about a 2-3 second point after switching to a different channel where it’s fuzzy, but that clears up. Audio comes through right away and it’s rare that anything super-critical goes wrong.

Also of note is that some channels will let you start their programming over. This is negotiated with Sling, so which channels get that perk and which don’t will vary. Heck, for all I know it could be limited to specific shows too. It’s nice, but don’t count on it.

If you’re really that concerned, you can also add a DVR option (which we may do) for a few extra bucks a month. The biggest reason we would do that is to allow us to watch TV when it’s convenient for us, not when it’s convenient for the network. For now, we’re fine without it.

To me, the biggest drawback in terms of quality though is that there’s a short delay in programming. The other day we were watching football and we had the windows open. We heard our next-door neighbor cheer in delight at a play which aired for us about 3-4 seconds later.

Not the end of the world, but definitely something to keep in mind if you’re keeping up on anything on Twitter, or have noisy (awesome) neighbors (hi neighbors!). 🙂

General Thoughts

Overall we’ve been using SlingTV for a few weeks and it’s been a pretty seamless transition. It’s less expensive, the quality so far has been good, and it’s got exactly what we need.

If you’re trying to cut down your Cable TV bill but don’t want to totally stop watching TV, I’d highly recommend giving Sling a look. In an ideal world you could watch everything you wanted to over the air, but alas, Kristin’s gotta keep up with her Housewives…

Question

Do you still pay for cable TV? Would you consider switching to something else or cutting it out altogether?

Note: Those links above are Affiliate links which means if you sign up for SlingTV or purchase an Amazon product with them, I get a small kickback. The Amazon links take you to Amazon Smile so that part of your purchase also gets donated to a charity of your choice. Don’t worry, it costs you exactly the same! That money helps support the site.

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11 Comments

  1. I haven’t heard of Sling TV before! I wonder if they have it in Canada. I haven’t had cable for about 4 years and we just have Netflix. I don’t watch very much TV at all, too busy blogging 😉 lol. My theory is that when one has cable, you spend about 30% of the time mindlessly flipping through channels anyway. I can’t keep up with the cable channels since digital cable came out.

    1. I’m not able to find anything on SlingTV in Canada – guessing it’s not available 🙁 But if Netflix suits your needs that’s awesome 🙂 It’s definitely easy to spend tons of time looking for something, only to decide that you don’t want to watch anything, and instead watch about 3 hours of House Hunters and judge everyone. Not that that’s EVER happened to us…

    2. If SlingTV is available in Canada, I’d highly recommend it if you’re a TV watcher. I like it because it is pay as you go system and it’s only $20 / month down here in the States. The base package has most of the channels I watch (e.g. ESPN, HGTV, Travel, AMC, etc) but also has package options if you’d like to add on sports channels, etc. I usually get it during college basketball season since I follow several teams. Just make sure you have adequate bandwidth from your Internet provider in order to get optimal quality. As you mention, there are quite a bit of “TV” options available now-a-days (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc), I’m not sure why people continue to pay a large cable bill. Cutting the cable cord saves $$ and opens up so many other fun things to do (blogging, reading, volunteering …)

  2. We are getting close to cutting satellite TV. We bought a channel master two months ago and in process of getting familiar with it. In a week or so, will be calling to cancel Sat. TV. Will save over $900/year and like you said, not much on. We still have Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. I think Amazon Prime TV still needs a lot more work on type of shows and ease of use.

    1. Yeah, Prime TV is actually decent for movies and a few shows, but isn’t nearly as good as Netflix. Shame that Netflix just increased their rates. Only an extra dollar a month, but still…

    1. Hahah yeah, those two are pretty entertaining, and JD is too. I like when they bring him into their shows, since he basically runs their production company.

  3. Nice work, Dave! You’re so close! We have cut back to just using the Apple TV with Netflix, plus our digital antenna for free local channels. Used to LOVE our cable much the same as you – tuning into HGTV and Food Network mostly. Miss those, and yeah, miss the Poverty Brothers too. We might need to give Sling a look!

    1. HGTV and Food Network are addicting! But it feels like after you stop watching them for a couple weeks you just kind of forget about it and go ‘eh’.

      I’d much rather watch me some Planet Earth on Netflix anyway 🙂

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