They say let sleeping dogs lie. We have been customers of our cable company for over two decades – Paragon, then part of Bright House, now part of Spectrum. We have a couple of old Vizio TVs and a more recent Roku smart TV. We share a Netflix subscription with the kids. Some Amazon Prime shows on a FireStick. We have deliberately not bundled – our internet used to be streamed by Verizon DSL, then its FiOS, now it is by Frontier.
I watch baseball while working when I am not traveling. Some Sunday football. Some historical documentaries. Very little political TV or sitcoms. Margaret watches even less TV. We are not big TV content consumers.
Then our cable company decided to wake us up. They are going all digital and wanted us to get new receivers. So I made a trek to their store. Activate the receiver and many previous channels were no longer available. Called them and they offered a plan for another $ 70 a month. I escalated – the exec could only offer a plan for another $ 50. I told him after two decades they were going to lose us. And by the way I told him it was an awfully sneaky way to try and squeeze more revenues from us.
That started my cord cutting exercise. I bought a Terk digital antenna. Neat design – paper thin to position on a window with a detachable digital signal amplifier. May sound retro but Consumer Reports says one-fifth of U.S. homes with broadband access now use an antenna to get live TV. They recommend you move it around a bit and rescan to get even more channels. If I were a telco executive, I would be embarrassed to see so many consumers regress to rabbit ears.
This antenna recognized 50 channels in our area. Not bad for a one-time $ 50 investment with no monthly fees, but I would like to watch some shows on my electronic devices and on the road. That led to exploring Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV.
Am trying out YouTube. One touch on the smart TV remote allows us to easily compare the YouTube stream for a network compared to that from the Spectrum digital receiver. My daughter says YouTube is far better. I can watch it on several mobile devices. Here is what it looks like on my laptop.
Even better, I can have a game on in background while I am researching and writing on the device. The Spectrum app only streams if you use their hotspots. No thanks. The real game changer - YouTube has a family sharing plan. I have invited my kids to check it out in their cities. Only 3 devices can simultaneously use the service so we will have to occasionally coordinate.
So, I call Spectrum to cancel and they try to upsell, cross-sell and I go “I gave you a shot earlier in the week – should be notated on the account” The rep goes “Yes I see it but don’t you want to hear the specials we just announced today?” Announced today, yeah sure Anyways, she offers me more channels than what we had for $ 10 a month more.
For now, we have both Spectrum and YouTube. I want to check out how YouTube works on the road. As they say “You can enjoy YouTube TV while traveling in the United States, but what you can see or do in the app may vary based on your location. If you visit an area where YouTube TV hasn't launched, you'll get a notification explaining what you can watch in that specific area. “
I have a feeling Spectrum should have let this sleeping dog lie.