ARE YOU READY TO CUT THE CORD?
Is it for You?
Television has changed remarkably over the past few years. It might be time for your viewing habits to change as well. Unless you enjoy paying up to $100 a month or more for a cable or satellite subscription you only half use, you’re probably considering joining the growing ranks of consumers who have “cut the cord” and are now getting their favorite TV shows, movies and even live sports through the internet and streaming services.
Here’s where it all begins: You’re sick of paying an exorbitant cable or satellite bill, and you have a strong sense that if you just limited your spending to a few streaming subscription services, you would be much more satisfied with your home entertainment experience. Making this change requires some preparation, though.
What is Cutting the Cord?
It is simply transitioning to watching your shows and movies over the internet instead of traditional cable. Its possible thanks to high-speed internet, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and internet enabled devices like Smart TV's and streaming media players like Roku, Apple, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Where To Start?
The starting foundation for any cord cutting strategy is a robust internet connection. Because most of the media will be delivered via the internet it is important that your connection be both fast, to keep up with data heavy streaming and strong, to avoid the frustration of blurry and choppy streaming. You’ll want to make sure you have the proper internet package.
The fancier your TV, the faster your internet connection will need to be. The minimum 4 Mbps recommendation for streaming video is inadequate for most 1080p, 4k, and HDR content and higher definition feeds. For that, you’ll likely need to upgrade to around 15 Mbps and be mindful how many devices are making these demands. If you watch alot of TV or have a household that streams across multiple devices make sure you have a package that can handle it. Also normal internet usage combined with video usage you can quickly eclipse any data caps so make sure you have an unlimited plan.
Where Are You Going To Get Your Content?
With a suitable internet plan, you're going to now want to decide what services you'll want to use to access all the shows you want to watch. The major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime all work the same way, you pay a monthly fee and you receive unlimited access to 1000's of hours of content to watch whenever and wherever you want on any kind of internet enabled device you want.
Once you have all the needed connection, it's helpful to understand all of the streaming services available, from the big players that will likely provide the most variety of content to the more niche services that interest those who like to venture beyond the mainstream. Everyday the list of services grows, in fact this past month Apple TV and Disney entered the fray. You could begin with the established guys like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, you could also tack on a standalone monthly subscription to an original content channel like HBO, especially if you were a G.O.T. fan for example.
You’ll have plenty to watch, all commercial-free, and if you hear a lot of buzz about a show that isn’t available through any of those platforms, you can always pay for them on an episode-by-episode basis from Amazon or iTunes, or whichever digital retailer you prefer. Remember all of the mentioned applications offer at least a week or month free trial, so you have a chance to find those services best suited to you at no cost. The variety and selection are vast. Good luck!
The final step is to determine, how are you going to watch all this content?
The simplest way for the viewer is probably taking advantage of a Smart TV, which features built in internet connectivity, web browser and a processor. Smart TV's run streaming Apps like Netflix natively without needing any other equipment, as they come pre-installed. Accessing these Apps is as easy as pressing a button on the remote. However, Smart TV's only pre-install applications for which they have a licence to do so.
If you don't have a Smart TV you'll have to upgrade to one of the many streaming media players, small low power devices that connect directly to an HDMI port on your TV. This will make your TV internet enabled just as any laptop or smartphone. Or take advantage of other devices you may already own which can act as a streaming media player, like a Playstations, XBox or many of the newer Blu-Ray players.
With a suitable combination of internet service, wireless network, applications, and streaming media players the access to content is virtually limitless. There is a learning curve but this combination allows flexibility, convenience and the ability to personalize your media consumption. For many, choosing your own content and watching it anywhere and anytime can be seen as a great value.
Know The Terms
Cord Cutting: The process of cancelling a cable or satellite subscription and getting TV shows and movies by other means. This typically involves switching to video streaming services that are accessed through the internet.
O.T.T.: Short for “over the top.” It refers to media companies that provide a range of programming directly to internet users, without relying on a cable or satellite company. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube are all O.T.T. services. You pay Netflix to get Netflix; you don’t pay Shaw or Telus or the like.
Streaming Media Players: Internet-connected devices that allow a TV to display O.T.T. programs. Sometimes they’re literally boxes, and sometimes they’re USB sticks. Once enabled, they present a main page with links to different services and applications, from video streaming to music to games.
Definition: The quality of a video image, which can range from fuzzier “standard definition” to sharper “high definition” (which is what most TV owners are used to these days) to the strikingly vivid “ultra HD” or “4K.”