Lessons Learned by a Would be Cord Cutter

Internet Service is Definitely Required

Let’s face it. NONE of this works without an internet connection. Period. Another obvious statement is the need a big and wide enough pipe to make streaming HD content on demand – meaning any time of the month, week, day, etc. – a reliable reality. There’s nothing worse than starting to watch a live sporting event, an NFL or other professional sporting event, for example, only to have playback pixilate, stutter or stop entirely due to some level of network congestion.

NFL Sunday Ticket Max, a service available from DirecTV, has been wonderful for me. While I have to watch the games in a browser, I can do so on my Mac running OS X Mavericks (see below), and still get to see the games I want in beautiful HD, provided nothing else is gumming up my pipe. I’ve got 33Mbps service from Cox at my long term, temporary housing, and it seems to be giving me what I need. Anything less than that, however, and I really think I’d have trouble getting what I want at the quality level I’m capable of displaying.

You also need to be aware that while a lower speed may be acceptable, the “more affordable” service tiers are often VERY crowded. Most users will obtain service on the lower service tiers, and your level of service will be effected by the number of users eating up bandwidth. The higher service tiers tend to be less populated, in large part to their higher service costs. Here, you really do get what you pay for…

tv vs apple

 

Don’t Cross the Streams (or Compatibility issues Really Suck)

I love sitting on the ragged, hairy, bleeding edge of technology. I’m not quite an early adopter, but I’m close. For example, I had Mavericks installed on my MacBook Pro as soon as it hit GM status. The problem here however, is that not every app out there, client or web based, will run on Mavericks yet.

Case in point – DirecTV won’t stream TV over the internet under Mavericks. So, none of the premium movies channels or cable TV channels I have that DirecTV is licensed to stream over the internet will actually stream. NFL Sunday Ticket Max WILL work under Mavericks, but that seems to use a different infrastructure. I’m nearly certain that its nothing more than a PLIST issue indicating that I’ve got Mavericks instead of Mountain Lion; but I don’t know which PLIST file to modify or where it might reside.

Its aggravating, as I am relatively certain I’ve also got the latest version of Silverlight, Flash and every major browser available. It simply doesn’t work under Mavericks yet. DirecTV’s forums are awash with Mac users complaining that streaming won’t work under Mavericks. Unfortunately, aren’t saying if and when the issue will be resolved. This is amplifying the need for a TV in my cord cutting configuration even more than you would think.

 

Conclusion

Cord cutting is about saving money on streaming, video and online services. Without spending a great deal of money, someone with the right equipment can only pay for what they’ll really use when it comes to watching TV. However, there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome, and it may actually end up costing you more money than you might think, at least at the outset. You may not have the ongoing monthly fees but if you don’t have a TV, set top box, digital antenna or wide enough internet pipe the down stroke can be steep.

I know in my situation, I’m saving myself anywhere between $50 – $75 per month reusing some of the services that I already pay for at the house vs. the apartment, especially with a donated or discarded TV. I’m planning at least one additional update to this series after I get the donated TV installed and working with a digital antenna in the apartment. After that gets finished, watching TV at home may actually get a lot easier and become a much better experience.

Until then, I’m stuck to what ever I can watch via iTunes and in a browser on my Mac. While that isn’t a horrible experience, getting news or any other local programming is nearly impossible. Aero doesn’t service my area and none of the local or network stations regularly stream content over the internet.

 

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