What the Tech? How to decide whether to cut the cord to cable TV
By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter
Over the past few years, millions of people have canceled their cable or satellite subscriptions to potentially save money by streaming live TV over YouTube TV, Hulu, Fubo TV, Sling, or one of the other choices.
I’ve heard from dozens of people who say they save hundreds of dollars a year. For many people streaming is a fine choice but for others, well, maybe not so much.
There’s a lot to love about streaming and canceling expensive cable. But there are things everyone should know and consider before making a decision.
It’s a huge change.
#1. The remote and menu are nothing like cable. You can control the channels with your TV remote, or the remote that comes with a Roku, FireStick, or Chromecast. One surprise in our home was that those remotes were a lot smaller than cable remotes with fewer buttons.
There’s no “previous” or “last” button. What looks like a previous channel button actually takes you back to the main menu, so changing channels requires going back to the menu and finding the other channel. That’s a big deal for sports fans who switch back and forth between games. It is not nearly as fast as cable or even satellite.
#2. There are no channel numbers on YouTube TV or Hulu. This was a big issue for my wife at first. You can set up the menu to place your favorite channels near the top, or you’ll need to scroll, and scroll, and scroll to find what you’re looking for. And there is a lag when you switch channels. That isn’t a big deal for some, but streaming isn’t nearly as convenient or fast as the
cable or satellite menus you’re accustomed to.
#3. Startup is slower. Turning on a cable-connected TV is instant and generally turns on to the channel you last watched. Using a streaming service, it must load, connect to the internet, and display the menu. If you have a house of 3 or 4 people you may also have to select who’s watching before the menu is loaded.
#4. You might need to upgrade your WiFi router and your internet plan, especially if you have multiple TVs streaming in 4K.
#5. You might not save as much money as you think. In the past couple of years, YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV have raised prices. Three years ago streaming services charged around $65 a month. Hulu is raising its subscription rate to $77 a month, while YouTube TV has raised prices to $73 a month.
Most people who’ve switched to streaming are happy and have adjusted to the many changes but if you’re a creature of habit who hates change, you should take advantage of free trials before actually cutting the cord. YouTube TV lets you try it out for 20 minutes without needing to log in or enter a credit card number.
You can always try one of the streaming services for a few months (most have special offers with discounted rates for a couple of months) and if you don’t like it, you can cancel. None of the streaming services require a commitment like cable and satellite.