My Corner, Your Corner: Cutting the cord on TV and satellite

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio
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I ran into a reader last week and he asked how my experiment with cutting the cord on cable and satellite TV is going. The answer is… I’m not really missing the hundreds of channels offered but, most of all, I’m not missing the huge bill that goes with cable or satellite.

It’s about a year now since I suspended my satellite service and, admittedly, it was tough at first. I was probably in withdrawal for about three weeks to a month. What I missed most was the DVR service.

One thing that irks me the most about cable or satellite services is that they nickel and dime you to death. I think DVR was at least $10 per month.

There are service charges, taxes, and equipment charges, charges for breathing air and charges if your name has a vowel in it.

Seriously, did you ever sit down and study your cable bill?

The other thing that bothers me is when your “special promotion” is over — holy moly, sit down and take a deep breath to see how high your bill will rise.

Since last March, I’ve discovered that with an antenna, you can get between 20 and 30 channels over the air. Over the air? What’s that?

About 40 years ago, cable TV (no satellite back then) was pretty prevalent and just about every household had cable. Cable was pretty cheap compared to today. Even though your home had cable, you still had an antenna on your roof or attached to your chimney.

Today, satellite dishes have replaced those antennas. Did you ever take notice how many dishes are on roofs as you drive through neighborhoods? The other day I saw three dishes on one porch roof.

My house doesn’t have a TV antenna on the roof, but I do have smaller antennas hanging from my TVs to the wall or window.

Is it unsightly having an antenna hanging from my TV? Nah, not really? After a while, you don’t even notice them. Actually, I’m half tempted to place a much larger antenna back on the roof or attach it to my chimney.

If I do get a larger antenna, I know I’d be able to pull in more channels. Did you know, for all you shopaholics, QVC and HSN are broadcast over the air? I was a bit surprised myself.

All the local networks have multiple channels. For example, WNEP has two channels, WYOU has four, WBRE has four, WSWB has four, WVIA has three and WOLF has three.

So you see, there is plenty of channels to watch, you just can’t DVR any of the programming without buying extra equipment to do so.

I’ve mentioned in the past that there are more ways to cut the cord and, besides getting programming over the air, you can buy channel packages to stream over your Internet. Granted, if you pay for slower speeds, streaming channels is not really suitable because you need faster bandwidth.

In the last two months, I’ve been trying one of those services and there are plenty to choose from and more coming every month.

I’ve chosen SlingTV to stream some channels. SlingTV offers two packages — one is $20 and the other is $40. I chose the $20 package. The beauty of streaming channels is there are no hidden fees or equipment charges. SlingTV does offer extras not included in those two packages like a cloud DVR for an extra $5.

A cloud DVR simply means you don’t need equipment to store your recorded shows, but the company stores them instead.

How many times have you recorded tons of content when your DVR/tuner goes on the fritz and you have to get a new one only to lose all those recordings? It’s happened to me plenty of times.

Besides SlingTV, there is DirecTV NOW, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube TV and more. Minimum packages go from $5.99 per month to $44.99 and up if you want more features or channels.

My SlingTV package includes three ESPN, AMC, TNT, TBS, A&E, History, BBC America, HGTV, AXSTV, Food Network, Travel Network, Free Form, Disney, CNN and several more. As you can see, that’s plenty. It has a little bit for everyone.

The best part about SlingTV is they have plenty of On-Demand programming. Each network has a bevvy of programs you may have missed. If you like “Fixer Upper” and missed the new show on Thursday evenings, no fear, they just place it in their On-Demand queue and there you have it. SlingTV and Netflix were just awarded the Editor’s Choice by PC Magazine.

You can get your TV fix in with just over-the-air antenna programming, but if you still want more, you can for far less than what you pay now.

If you purchase SlingTV for $40 and add Netflix for $8 and Hulu for $8, you’d only pay $56 for an immense amount of programming for only $56 plus sales tax. I’m sure that would cut your bill in half or more.

Personally, I’m waiting for YouTubeTV to be available in our area. They offer live TV programs with more channels offered than SlingTV for a $40 per month charge.

If you are still on the fence about cutting the cord, just do it. Then hang in there for a few months to free yourself from withdrawal symptoms and getting used to being so dependent on cable or satellite TV.

What you will be happy about is zero bills to pay if you opt for just antenna TV.

Quote of the week

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot, former Harvard University president

Thought of the week

“Rob the average man of his life-illusion and you rob him also of his happiness.” – Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright

Bumper sticker

“I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me.” – Ovid, Roman poet

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My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.