For hipsters, cord cutting has become a mark of being “with it,” but the question of how viable it really is for the average family has been a giant question mark. Solving the problem of linear TV, the “now” stuff like news, sports, or even your favorite program that you can’t wait another minute to see has been poorly addressed by most streaming solutions tied to television. Even apps like those from ABC require a cable subscription to view the stream, making them functionally useless to cord cutters. So how affordable is cord cutting compared to keeping the cable, really?
The first thing you have to consider is that virtually no one really cuts the cord. They simply eliminate the pay-TV subscription from their cable service package and usually stick with their cable company as their Internet Service Provider (ISP). This typically runs at least $50 a month for a decent speed that will reliably support HD streaming. Once you start lumping Hulu, Netflix, and/or Amazon on top of this, and some subscriptions to some cable shows on Amazon or iTunes (which can run up to $40 a year, each), and you can start seeing where cutting the cord becomes a lot less attractive.
So what can you do to actually save money? For this, we must turn to the ancient knowledge of our forefathers, who raised magical totems to the sky to catch the invisible messages from the gods. An antenna can be quite viable for anyone living within 30 miles of a major metropolis. In a large market, you can expect to pull upwars of 40 channels off the air when you count in all the subchannels. Sure, some of those might be your local religious broadcaster splitting their signal eight ways, but there’s actually some worthwhile networks out there like Antenna TV or THIS that give you at least a decent facsimile of channels like Turner Classic Movies or Nick at Night. By coupling those with the aforementioned streaming services, you can stay reasonably current and up to date on scripted programming. Cord cutting isn’t just a thing for hipsters, either. Many seniors are cutting the cord to save money, and that digital antenna is a great option for them too.
At this year’s CES, we’ve already seen TVs from the manufacturers that make cross-platform searching a lot easier. For example, Panasonic’s new line of Life+Screen Smart TVs that premiered yesterday allow you to search keywords across any TV app, such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc. making Smart TVs the perfect option for the cord cutter–especially considering their ability to connect to the Internet where cord cutters get all their content in the first place.