Wednesday, August 18, 2021

It might be time to drop cable.

Comparing streaming prices

After seeing my Spectrum bill had gone up another $30/mth despite losing 2 movie channel networks I called them to see if a better bundle might be had. Not only was there no better deal but it seems now that the bundle only gets you $10 off the total so the old "internet only cost you almost as much as the bundle" days seem to be over. I also discovered the local channels are $17.99 of that Gold bundle price on top of the $123.99 for the cable channels which include HBO, Showtime and Starz. You add in the required cablecard fee (even if you are not using it) of $2 the effective cost is $133.98. Note this is without any DVR ability so technically you might need to add a tuner fee if you have a DVR or another $23/mth for their DVR. Since the services all seem to have some a cloud DVR component a better compare cost would be more but it really does not matter since all the services I looked at were cheaper. Even after recent price increases. With the possible exception of AT&T. (See below.)

Here is the sheet I used to compare the services

Note not all movie channels are available on all services but they all are from Amazon for the same price as other places so I put in that cost where not available to include in the equiv total cost.

Note AT&T is a weird case that would be hard to compare if not already higher than the others. In the sheet it shows the compare prices with the "ENTERTAINMENT" + the listed later costs for channels. From their site it appears this is not actually an option. See note on PREMIER package equiv cost.

Lastly note there are "fees" on top of these prices that will make the comparisons a bit off.


I should note here beyond the initial hardware costs most DVRs require a subscription cost. TiVo for example is $75.76/year and Tablo is $49.99 USD/year for the guide plus $20.00 USD/year if you want to auto skip ads. Note Tablo ad skip is iffy at best and TiVo's is getting worse. Another reason for going YouTube TV is that it includes the local PBS which means I should be able to shutdown my TiVo and Tablo and use the YouTube cloud DVR instead. There are 32 Over The Air (OTA) channels watchable here but realistically only 6 of the 7 YouTube TV can record, I really care about. ~1/4 of the 32 are in Spanish and most are showing old programs or infomercials. The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show for instance, is available from several places. Even the somewhat obscure Rat Patrol is on Pluto TV. Though you might like something like The Unseen World which is only available on OTA channels.

One of the things I've lost with an OTA DVR instead of a cable DVR is being able to watch a cable show shortly after it starts. Most of the streaming services, even when offering live, only offer on demand sometime later. In some cases they can run up to an episode behind meaning a week or more after the broadcast. I'm hoping the cloud DVRs will give me that back and will not be anymore flaky than TiVo has become much less Tablos are.


It looks like YouTube TV is the best fit for me but I watch stuff on a lot of channels. For example, BBC News is one of those news programs I like to watch timeshifted in the morning. BBC World News and BBC America both seem to to be option or not available most places. With an OTA DVR I can still get a wee hours broadcast from PBS but it would be nice to catch one closer to the current time. 

Update 9/15/2021

Pretty happy with Youtube so far. Went into Spectrum store to turn in my cable card (I had to have per my bundle despite not using) and turn off my cable. They took the card but could not change the cable. So I called in and they are like well if you are going to turn off the service we can give you a discount. So I'm trying their cloud DVR service which I had not even heard of. Still not sure how I missed that when looking for options. The first year price is about $50 less than what I was paying for all the same channels. Of course knowing their hardware DVR there are questions about if it will actually be usable. Also the person on the phone had no record of me turning in the cable card so I'll have to see if they try and charge me for that. Awhile later installer called thinking I was new service. He was trying to find my place. Explained that I have the latest hardware do no need. You got to wonder.

After I've tried it side by side with Youtube's cloud DVR

Also they were trying to talk me into their cell service. Only $14 vs the $55 for 2 lines I'm paying now so I'm going to have to think about switching after my V60 is paid off in 11 months.

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