Should Netflix Have Content Quotas?

Netflix provides a lot of content. But should a percentage of that content come from a specific geographical region?

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Roughly 90% of what I watch, I stream through Netflix. If I’m not streaming through my TV, then I’m streaming it through the Netflix app.

I consume my content this way because of convenience. It's easy, it's right there, and there are no commercials! Yes, I'm admitting I’m lazy. It’s something that I’m working on. Netflix is also enabling me.

Despite Netflix enabling of my apathy, I enjoy the content offered. It also helps that I checked out the best internet deals and packages.

Not everything I find there is something I want to watch though.

I would prefer, every now and then, to partake in content that’s centered around my hometown of San Antonio, TX. Not southern California dolled up to look like San Antonio. Instead, I'd prefer a more realistic facsimile.

Not only that, the program should present the city of San Antonio as it truly is. The representation should be based on current trends and not what people in Hollywood assume it is- some uber-conservative town steeped in old thinking (San Antonio is quite progressive, and I should know, I live here).

Can I find this on Netflix?

No, not at all.

Should it be a near-accurate representation of San Antonio in both image and sociological makeup?

I would say, “Yes.”

And can I require Netflix to create that show just for me?

Given my laziness—yes, absolutely I should!

Is it the right way to create content?

…hmmm.

Content Quotas

Although I might have some influence—something like 0.000000000000000001% influence—I highly doubt Netflix will scramble to make my dream become a reality.

Why?

Because they’re not even doing that for the European Union.

Recently, the EU took to changing up the rules they impose on outside entertainment services. Part of that rewrite includes demanding that Netflix allot 30% of their catalog to content centered on European works.

Netflix, understandably, balked at the maneuver.

I can see where the EU is coming from though.

They want to see more and more content that reflects the socioeconomic, ethnic, and regional background of their viewers. This will lead to less alienation, and hopefully, more confidence in oneself. Or maybe they’re just looking to provide opportunities to the content creators themselves? I’m inferring those last two points.

Anyway, this move could backfire.

You’ve heard the expression, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”?

The road to hell can start with these good intentions.

By holding Netflix responsible for creating content specifically geared towards a subset of their audience, Netflix gets hamstrung. They need to figure out what types of programs those viewers like to watch, bring in producers for it, and create the appropriate content. This ties up money and creative powers.

Sure, it helps those specific content creators.

But are they going to create something worth watching for the wider audience? It's possible.

Ethics aside, forcing the many to watch something that appeals to the few will end up alienating the larger group in the end.

And if there’s a quota to meet, then quality will get sacrificed so that Netflix can say, “Hey, we met the quota, so what are you complaining about?”

A Different Tact

Is it more advantageous to create content aimed at specific sub-groups?

Sure. Why not?

As I mentioned earlier, I demand a program centered on San Antonio that doesn’t involve someone butchering a Texas accent, or making all Texans look ignorant.

But forcing Netflix to create that just for me will end up alienating viewers from Dallas, Houston, and the hipsters up the road in Austin. Soon they’ll get their own shows too. When that happens, I’ll refuse to watch them based on principle. This will drive overall viewership down and put Netflix in a bind. They could end up losing money on this content.

This solution is bad.

To solve this problem I’m required to (sigh) get up and do something about it.

If I watch content about San Antonio that represents it honestly, then I need to go out there and make it myself. And if it’s no good, then Netflix can pass on the project. This will, in turn, force me to work harder to create content that’s of quality and will appeal to the mass audience.

And it will involve…sigh…work.

For those who want to have content that better reflects who they are, they’ll have to go out and create it themselves. Or get on board with a project.

Others Can Help

Given how much Netflix is pouring into their content creation, they probably can accommodate new content from creators from specific areas. If the content is approved, Netflix can add it into their catalog and appeal to that specific sub-category whilst still putting out content for the larger audiences. Netflix will handle the distribution while the creators handle the production end.

Another option would be for local and regional governments to offer incentives to content creators. For example; the San Antonio Film Commission offers a 7.5% incentive on film and television project with at least $100,000 of approved San Antonio spending (check the details at filmsanantonio.com). This is to help content creators secure locations and equipment in San Antonio for their projects.

With this kind of assistance, burgeoning projects can find a place to shoot their film in and around San Antonio. They can avoid straining their budget and keep a


The 3 Laws of Starting a Streaming Service

Apple, and Disney, have been teasing their streaming services for some time. Instead of launching, they're following 3 laws for starting a streaming service

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Apple, much like Disney, has been “working” on launching a streaming service for quite some time. Most recently, on August 23, they announced they’ve greenlit a series based on Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It’s expected to debut in March of 2019. This is all well and good, but they could have launched this already. They seem to be following a set of rules, or laws, to starting a streaming service. These laws are great for starting one, yet, laws on launching a streaming service seem to be missing. Instead, we’re just getting more and more updates on series while Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, continue to increase their content offerings, as well as solidify their subscriber bases. It’s somewhat frustrating. The good news is that Asimov’s “Foundation” series will get some series power behind it.

Who’s Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov was a prolific writer of science fiction. He saw the genre as a place where true intellectualism could reign. Ideas could be thought over, developed, and allowed to expand without anyone putting restrictions on them. Asimov was also a curious one and loved science fiction from a young age. He taught for some time at Boston University and wrote on the side. But when income from his writing surpassed his professor’s salary, he went to writing full time. If only we could all be so lucky.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Asimov created and developed The Three Laws of Robotics. It's also what he’s most well known for. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z7a8MTYrDE
  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. Robots must obey orders given to it by human beings except when such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Law.
These laws have become commonplace among the die-hard science fiction fan. Not only do they provide a basis for robotics to behave, they also provide constraints. Without constraints, there’s no conflict, and even robots need conflict. Asimov developed the laws for his Robots stories. A series of short stories and novels that revolved around the autonomous creations was also where the term “Robotics” was birthed. Asimov saw robots as another character in his stories. At the time this was a novel concept and one that remained solely within science-fiction for some time. These robots, man-made though they were, developed their own personalities. As a result, some were good, and some were bad. While he does have a long list of published works, he’s most well known for writing “I, Robot.” This was turned into a summer blockbuster in 2004, starring Will Smith. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL6RRIOZyCM And then the FX Network put it into syndication until it was overplayed. I heard there might be a sequel, but nothing new has come of that rumor. “Foundations”, though not as popular as “I, Robot”, has its own cult following. And now it’s part of Apple’s promised lineup of original content for its streaming service. Which leads me to believe that there are three laws for starting a streaming service.

The Three Laws

While Asimov’s three laws were meant to govern robots’ behavior and interaction with humans. The laws were a safeguard as well as a means to keep the robots in check. As displayed in I, Robot, even these laws have their loopholes which can be exploited. Beyond that, robots were free to live as they wanted. It’s different when it comes to streaming services. Especially when launching one. It seems every company these days has already launched a streaming service or is working on it. Those that have already done so have paved the way. Streaming services, as exciting as they are, still require a means to enter the world. Growth, oddly enough, needs assistance. Hence, the three laws.

The First Law

Build up hype. Streaming services are not created in a vacuum. To get one started, there needs interest among the general public. It doesn’t matter if it’s an entertainment company, a software company, or a retail giant, anyone can launch their own streaming service…well, almost. There needs to be a lot of money first to get the production companies involved, scout out properties for original content, and set up the service itself. To justify such costs, the company in question will announce they’ll be making their own streaming service. And that’s it. They just have to announce it and put out there a vague deadline somewhere off in the future. Walmart has set a definite deadline for the rollout of its pumped-up Vudu service. Disney and Apple, however, have taken their time. The deadline for each is a blurry date somewhere off in the future. But at least they’ve got the hype going for them.

The Second Law

Find an intellectual property that’s not too popular, but just popular enough. Asimov, in the science fiction community, it a well-regarded name. To those outside that community, he may be known, he may not be. But his name is tied in with some big movies, so there’s that. Now, the streaming service must create the original content to populate its new lineup that’s set to debut…sometime in the future. To ride the hype they’ve created, they need anchor content to build on. But most of the major production companies, and other streaming services who haven’t been sitting on their butts, already hold the rights to popular stuff. Unless they’re willing to shell out a lot of cash, they’ll have to go find their anchor content somewhere else. This is why Apple went for “Foundation”, and Disney has promised a live-action Star Wars show. Since Disney owns Star Wars, this is a no-brainer. They’ve got the rights and the money to do a series like that the right way. For Apple, they need something that can compete with Star Wars, and other sci-fi shows, without looking like a rip-off. Luckily, they’ve got Asimov. His work is original and already has a loyal fanbase. It also helps that Asimov consulted on the Star Trek movies. That fact alone differentiates “Foundations” from Star Wars.

The Third Law

Pack Big Names behind Anchor Content. With the hype rolling and the intellectual properties secure, a few big names are needed. John Favreau is behind Disney’s Star Wars show. Foundations will be headed by David S. Goyer, the story writer for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, among other highly known properties. The purpose of these big names is not only to ensure these properties are done right but to also give fans the hope that they will. Favreau and Goyer are big names. They know how to create, write, and produce content that resonates and entertains. When it comes to adapting content that’s not their own, they’ve proven themselves already. This is good news, as there are a few series out there that have been soiled by big names. I’m not going to name names directly, but Star Trek got ruined by JJ Abrams, and Superman and Justice League were messed up by Zak Snyder. Just because A big name is attached to a project does not mean it is the RIGHT big name. Think I’m wrong? Just jump on Netflix, or Amazon Prime to watch these films yourself. Make sure you’ve got the best internet and cable deals first. This way you’ll save money. But you might get a headache, so consider yourself warned.

Applying the Three Laws

For Disney and Apple, they seem to be following these three laws pretty closely. And doing a good job of it. You will notice, however, that there is no law requiring a definite start date. Instead, that’s assumed. Somewhere, off in the future, we’ll get to see these streaming services. In the meantime, we’ll make do with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the other services that have already gotten their act together.

Are 8K TVs Right Around the Corner?

8K TVs are just around the corner.  Manufacturers have their sights set on the next generation of technology which promises vivid, true-color images.

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8K TVs are just around the corner.  Manufacturers have their sights set on the next generation of technology.  Seems like we just got introduced to 4K, which refers to the resolution of the display.  4K is four times the pixel resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels), providing a more detailed screen image.  8K is 16 times the resolution of 1080p. Though a few 8K monitors have been introduced (mostly for professional applications), affordable consumer options are still some time away, but maybe not as long as we originally thought.  Tech industry leaders have speculated that consumer options for 8K screens would penetrate the market between the years 2020 and 2025.

Introduction of the technology

Samsung and LG jumped the gun.  At IFA, Europe’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, they each unveiled their latest TV offerings – 88-inch giant screens with vivid, striking colors.  Samsung revealed the 8K QLED TV known as the Q900.  At the same event, LG introduced their 88-inch 8K OLED TV.

QLED and OLED

QLED stands for quantum dot light emitting diode.  Basically, the technology uses a sheet of quantum dots in front of the backlight of the screen to produce brighter and truer colors.  On the other hand, OLED stands for organic light emitting diode, which does not use a backlight, but instead uses OLED pixels to produce their own light.  This means that each individual pixel controls its own color in the hopes of creating more contrasting colors within the image. These technologies are going head to head within an 8K resolution framework.  The goal, of course, is to produce the highest quality image available on the market.

Roadblocks to adoption

There are two primary considerations when it comes to market penetration of 8K TVs.  The first is the price.  Because it’s still a new technology, 8K TVs currently have a whopping price tag of about $13,000.  This price will decrease as increasing amounts of people adopt the technology.  Certainly, as with any new technology, it will be a slow introduction process as early adopters lead the way. The other consideration is content.  8K will remain a niche until more content is made available in 8K.  What good is the fancy screen without optimized content to watch?  This was the case when 4K was introduced.  It took a while for content creators like Netflix and Amazon to create shows in 4K. Related to content, there is also the issue of getting 8K content to consumers via broadband.  Currently, most ISP speeds are enough for 4IK streaming, but 8K streaming may present a bandwidth challenge.  That’s where fiber Internet comes into play.  Fiber can support that amount of data and more.

3 Reasons Hulu is Helping Disney

Hulu is going to be owned by Disney soon. Good news for Disney, if they're okay with losing $1 billion. Yet, Hulu is actually helping them. Here's how...

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Hulu, one of the big three streaming services, is going to be owned by Disney soon. Well, 60% of it will be owned by Disney. And this will happen after Disney completes its purchase of Fox Entertainments assets. Good news for Disney. Except when Hulu costs them about 1.3 to 1.6 billion in losses. Yet, this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe not at first. Disney, like any company, wants to make money on its assets and not have those assets lose them money. Especially when that amount starts with a ‘b.’ The positive here is that Disney is going to be enjoying the returns on Hulu’s efforts. Sure, in the short term, Disney is going to lose some money. Some. It’s a big amount, no doubt about it. I’ve never owned $1 billion. I doubt I will ever be worth that much in my lifetime. Disney, on the other hand, is dealing in multiple assets and properties across the globe. A billion here, a billion there is an acceptable loss for them. At least, it is from my perspective. They’ll most likely earn that $1 billion back in a month from all the merchandise they sell. What’s really happening here is a training or an upgrade montage.

The Upgrade Montage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBGGEZSAfyY Nearly every action movie has a training or an upgrade montage. Sometimes both. This montage is a series of clips of the hero, or team of heroes (as in the case of the Big Hero 6 clip above), get some new trinket, ability, or skill. Then they figure out how to use it and use it well. If Big Hero 6 isn’t your type of movie, then check out others on the streaming service of your choice. Or on cable. But first, save yourself some time and money by checking out the best internet deals and packages. Now go watch an action movie right up to when the hero gets the upgrade. Then stop. It’s not enough to get the upgrade, the hero(es) in question must use it and in the right way. Time is at a premium when it comes to movies, however. Audiences are not going to sit and watch hours upon hours of training, mistakes, learning, mistakes, frustration, mistakes, more frustration, learning, mistakes, and on and on. That’s real life. People who are training themselves want a break from the monotony of training. They don’t want to watch it in a movie. To get around this issue, producers put all that training and upgrading into a quick montage. Little scenes with quick action, one-liners, some slapstick comedy, and then show the little wins. Once the little wins are established, they show bigger and bigger wins. By the end of the montage, the hero(es) are proficient in said new skill/ability/talent/technology. A big part of the training montage is the song. Sometimes it’s an instrumental piece, written to highlight the difficulty of the training and/or upgrading. As the montage progresses the keys change to a higher key, signaling an emotional uplift. This comes right as there’s a small win. The music then builds as there are bigger and bigger wins. Once the hero(es) manage to reach a predetermined level of aptitude, the music crescendos, and the montage is over. Case in point; Fallout Boy’s “Immortals” is edited down to fit the montage for Big Hero 6. The key changes are kept in to signify when there’s a small win, and on and on until all six members of Big Hero 6 reach the appropriate level of aptitude. Fallout Boy was a good choice for the film, playing to the younger audiences and the hip feel of the movie. If they went with a different band or sound, it would have taken away from the overall feel of the movie. In real life, unfortunately, there are no training montages. It’s a day-in, day-out grind to train and keep training. As people work towards a goal, there’s no background music. If there was an option to have a full orchestra playing while I worked, I think I would take it. Nothing like hearing music firsthand to really stoke the creative fires. For Hulu, they’re in the middle of their training montage. There’s no music, no short clips. But we are past the hard part.

Small Win

The Handmaid’s Tale won Golden Globes and Emmy’s this year, making it Hulu’s first original content to take home such honors. To capitalize on this, Hulu has begun to put money and effort into more and more original content. Endeavors such as these take time and money to pull off. About $1.3 to 1.6 billion in money to be exact. But it’s not a bad thing for Disney.

Long-Term Gains Over Short-Term Revenue Goals

Any new endeavor takes time. The Handmaid’s Tale is a signifier that Hulu is onto something that works. It may not be perfect, but it’s successful. And successful is better than perfect. What the drama has done is show Hulu what to do, how to do it, and where to improve the formula. Sure, Disney has their revenue goals, as all companies do. But to enjoy bigger revenues in the future, maybe taking a $1 billion loss will be worth it? From the lowly perspective of a content manager, that makes sense. Of course, we’re talking about large sums of money in the abstract. I can’t begin to understand how the accountants involved in dealing with the real money feel right now.

Better Strategy

Making money for the sake of making money is a bad strategy. I’ve taken jobs before simply for the money. Sometimes it was because I had to. There were bills to pay and children to feed. So I took a job I hated because it meant my children wouldn’t starve. Then there were the jobs that I took because I thought “Hey, more money, should be fun, right?” But I was wrong. So, very, wrong. This “more money” type of job came with a boss who had unrealistic expectations of me, not to mention he wasn’t completely honest with the requirements of the job. It also didn’t help that other people within the company were incompetent and that just made more work for me too. But I’d be making more money, right? That didn’t matter. After all the time I spent on the job, I barely had time, or energy, to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So I quit. Hulu is doing it differently. They’re focusing on what works and improving that than just focusing on what makes money. This comes back around for them. By focusing on what works, they will be making more money. And more efficiently too.

Calculated Risk

Everybody must take risks in life. Otherwise, life would be very boring. Companies must take risks too. Yet, companies need to be wise in the risks that they are taking. For now, Hulu is risking billions of dollars in losses for Disney to fill out it’s stable of original programming. They aren’t doing this recklessly though. As stated before, they know what works and they’re using that as a guide for further endeavors.

Montage Ends

Hulu has their small wins and as they continue to duplicate them, there’ll be more mistakes. It’s easy to say, “mistakes will happen, learn from them.” But for those who make mistakes, and must pick up the pieces afterward, it’s not so easy. Mistakes can be demoralizing. Learning from them isn’t always fun either. Hulu is doing just that, making their mistakes, picking themselves up, learning from them, and trying again. Maybe when it’s all over they can make their own movie about it and have their own upgrade montage to show the process. Should be interesting.

An Irreverent Guide to Cutting the Cord and Saving Money

The goal of cutting the cord is to reduce costs by streaming a select few shows that comprise the majority of your television-watching experience.

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Any article that you read about cutting the cord on pay TV subscriptions will ultimately amount to a cheerleading session encouraging you to take the plunge. At the end of the day, there's no great mystery about cutting the cord. It's common sense: you cancel your cable subscription and substitute it with other television content, namely, streaming. Often times, people make things far more complex than they are just to avoid getting down to business, but that’s okay. Sometimes we all need a little push in the right direction. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of the phenomenon of cord cutting, but as with any tried-and-true habit, you just can’t convince yourself to leap into the unknown. That’s why I’m here – to encourage and guide you through the process, but mostly to encourage you. cutting the cord The process itself is really quite simple. No, you don’t physically cut your cable cord, but you do sever ties with your cable TV provider. Freedom is just a phone call away. If you’re anything like me and you hate getting the sales pitch from some customer retention manager whose sole job it is to salvage your account, then you can simply access the provider website and do it that way. Don't quote me on that one, though.  You'll probably still need to make a call.  It's okay; it's good to be social every now and then.

Why cut the cord?

However, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. The first step to successfully cutting the cord is to determine if this is something that’s right for you.  To do that, you’ll need to ask yourself one simple question: do you want to save money? Yes? Okay, then; we’re in business! 83% of consumers who decide to say sayonara to pay TV subscriptions do so because it’s too expensive. That’s the only reason to do it, really.

The direction of the industry

We can speculate until the cows come home as to the future of the industry and the direction that cable companies will take to combat this undeniable freight train of a trend. These companies certainly aren’t going quietly into that good night. They are raging against the dying of the light, and they are doing so by creating their own direct-to-consumer streaming services. According to a study by The Diffusion Group, all major TV companies will have their own version of this type of service by the year 2022. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The result has been a proliferation of content services, and maybe that is what makes people indecisive about cutting the cord in the first place: they don’t know where to start. Cable packages are neat and tidy in the sense that they deliver a pre-determined set of goods (the channels). In an ideal world, cable companies would simply allow the consumer to customize their cable package channel by channel. But, do you really see that happening anytime soon, and for a reasonable cost? Me either.

Full disclaimer

Let me add a disclaimer here. I write this blog for a company called “Bundle Your Internet,” and yes, we do sell cable packages. Sometimes those packages get sold in bundles. Sometimes they are à la carte.  It all depends on what works best for the customer, and that’s really the bottom line here. Our agents are trained to be neutral in their service recommendations. The goal is to provide you with a menu of viable options from which to choose.  We do the research for you, but you have to decide what’s best for you.  Just do you, boo.

Reasons not to cut the cord

Laziness

Certainly, there are reasons not to cut the cord. Laziness is one reason. Hey, no judgment here; I have my fair share of lazy moments, too. But, let’s keep it one-hundred, okay? Cutting the cord doesn’t make TV watching any easier on the average consumer. You’ll end up saving money, sure, but one of the things that makes cable subscription services popular in the first place is the convenience of having a centralized service. Some people just don’t want to be bothered with the hardware adjustments and the app updates involved with the process, and that’s fine. It takes a little elbow grease – some research and definitive action to make for a smooth transition – to effectively cut the cord. More on those definitive action steps later.

Technical incompetence

Technical incompetence is another reason. Grandma might not have the basic technical knowledge to get through the process. I can’t imagine my grandmother having the wherewithal to set up a Roku player. She just doesn’t roll like that. Plus, she’s also dead (going on twenty years now), so yeah, that’s another problem.

More benefits of cutting the cord

For the rest of us – we, the living – who don’t mind putting in a little work to save money, it’s hard not see benefits of cutting the cord. And just in case you still weren’t convinced, ask yourself another question: how many channels in your cable subscription do you actually watch? According to Nielsen, households receive an average of 189 channels of which they only watch 17. You are quite literally paying for things you do not use. To hammer in the point a little more, the average monthly cable bill comes out to about $103. On top of that, monthly cable bills increase an average of 6% per year, so even if you’re not quite shelling out $100 per month for your cable service yet, you’ll get there someday. Go you! (Sarcasm). As a bundled package, Internet and cable together (sometimes referred to as a double play package) costs an average of $148 per month according to the market research firm, Mintel.

Getting into the numbers

Compare that with the costs associated with cutting the cord. Let’s do the math. Yeah, I know, I know. I detest numbers, too, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. First things first: you’re going to need to get Internet as a standalone service. The average cost of Internet-only service is $66.17 per month. When you factor in the service costs for streaming subscriptions (and there are plenty to choose from), you can add an additional $26.11 (refer to Grounded Reasons' informative article for a better grasp of the numbers) to that bill, bringing your grand total to $99.28. Quick recap: double play packages cost $148 per month. If you cut the cord on your cable subscription and keep your Internet service, you’ll be paying about $66.17 per month plus an additional $26.11 for streaming subscriptions. Again, on average. In the end, you end up saving $48.72 per month by cutting the cord. Over the course of a year, that comes to about $600. Sign me up, right?

Step 1: Gathering Hardware

HD antenna

Well, let’s get cracking! This is that definitive action part we talked about. The first step to cutting the cord is to compile your necessary hardware. Something you’ll want to consider is getting yourself an HD antenna. That’s right! Antennas are back in style. Remember those metal rabbit ears that sat on top of your TV set? Well, now they provide a simple, cheap solution for watching live TV without a cable connection. It’s relatively easy. You just hook up the device to your TV and position it near a window. Done. Now you have access to local broadcast stations – local news and sports included. More about sports later. Be aware that your channel selection depends to a large extent on where you live and whether you have a clear line-of-sight to the broadcast location. If you live in an urban area, your best bet is a non-amplified antenna, which has a pick-up range of about 20 miles. That’s plenty adequate for people who live near a broadcast tower. Rural customers should opt for an amplified antenna, which can pick up a signal as far away as 50 miles. All things considered, you’re looking at an investment of anywhere from $40 to $70, depending on which model you choose (amplified antennas cost more).

Streaming device

Another piece of hardware that you may or may not need is a streaming device. Roku. Chromecast Ultra. Amazon Fire TV. Apple TV. These are all good options for displaying streaming services – like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc. – on your set. Be sure to check out our reviews of streaming devices to determine which one is best for you. In addition to those things, there are also game consoles and other devices that you can use to set up your TV for streaming.

Alternatives

If your TV has smart capabilities, you may not even need such a device since smart TVs usually have the apps for these services already built in. Let’s also not forget the simple alternative of plugging your laptop (or desktop, if you still have one of those) into your TV via HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or DVI cable. Boom! You just turned your dumb TV into a smart one. Go you! (Not sarcasm).

Step 2: Subscribing to Streaming Services

The next step is to get the streaming services that you want. There are tons out there, from Netflix and Hulu to horror-specific services like Shudder and arthouse/indie subscriptions like FilmStruck. It can be overwhelming with so many options to choose from. So here’s what you do: take an inventory of all the shows you watch. Make a list and then choose your subscriptions based on which ones will give you access to those shows. The thing about subscription services is that the monthly bills can ramp up fairly easy if you’re not careful. Rather than try to duplicate your cable service channel list when shopping for streaming services, go after access to particular shows of interest to you (excluding sports; again, we’ll get to sports in a bit). Use your list.

Cable-replacement services

The other thing you’ll want to consider is a cable-replacement service. While they may not help you save money, these comprehensive packages come the closest to duplicating the cable TV experience. The top cable-replacement services include Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV NOW, Hulu with Live TV, and YouTube TV. Be aware that it will cost you extra to get premium stations like HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

Sports

Okay. Sports. Here we go. I am by no means an expert in this field (nor do I particularly care about it, to be honest). The last time I handled any balls was – you know what, forget it!  Suffice it to say I am no sports aficionado. But, I do understand that sports are a big deal for a lot of people.

Antenna

Local games are covered with that TV antenna we talked about. With an antenna, you can probably access your local CBS, FOX, and NBC station to get NFL games, for instance. Outside of that, there are plenty of streaming services for specific sports.

Sports organization-specific services

Every major sports organization has their own streaming service. MLB. NFL. NBA. Take your pick. Note that these services are more expensive than other types of streaming services – between $100 and $200 per year. Of course, you can always get a cable-replacement service. Just pay attention to which channels you get through the service and make sure you are getting the content you want. If you only follow a couple of teams in one or two different sports, cutting the cord is still a worthwhile option to consider. However, if you’re a sports nut who watches every game that is broadcast on God’s green earth, well, there’s just no hope for you. Stick to cable.

Final Thoughts

That about covers the basics of cutting the cord. Again, the goal is to reduce costs by homing in on a select few shows and content that comprise the majority of your television-watching experience. Look, there’s only so much content that a person can watch in a single day – and there’s a lot of content out there! You’ll never be at a loss for something to watch, and if by chance you do cut the cord and find yourself sitting around one day with absolutely no idea what to watch, then maybe it's high time to get off the couch and go outside.  You know, live life.
Let us help you find the best Internet deals in your area as well as DirecTV Now to get you started on your path to cutting the cord.