Cord Cutting 2nd Try (2019)

I had tried cord cutting before, but it didn’t work. (Parts 2, 3, and 4) However, that was a while ago and I felt that it was time to try again. My internet access is from Wave communications, 500mbits and pretty stable. I have 8 eero devices scattered around my house.

Starting (monthly) costs before cutting the cord:

  • Internet: $97
  • Modem: $13
  • Cable TV: $140 (Including HBO)
  • Netflix: $16
  • Hulu $6

Grand Total: $272 / month for entertainment (and internet).

The Good

  1. Tivo interface was pretty good.
  2. Fast DVR functionality (fast-forward, skip commercials, etc)
  3. Single platform for viewing

The Bad

  1. HBO didn’t have all the versions in HD. Only 1 HD version.
  2. Tennis Channel was not HD
  3. Hulu app on Tivo didn’t have profiles

The Ugly

$272 was just too much money for what I was getting. So I decided to try again. The options can be split into two categories. Platform and Programming.

Platform Options

Im not going to go into a comparison of everything, but let’s skim it.

  1. Roku – Built into TCL TVs or you can get a cheap device. Definitely an option.
  2. Amazon Fire – I have one, but I feel like it doesn’t play nice with all the programming. Maybe Im wrong here.
  3. Apple TV – I am considering one. It’s fast, but a little expensive.
  4. Android TV – Built into my main SONY TV. It’s ok, but not great. Hulu profiles not supported.
  5. Others – I know there are others like Sling or whatever, but I am not considering them.

Programming Options

  1. YouTube TV – It is clearly built using YouTube technology.
  2. DirecTV NOW – I was a DirecTV customer for so long, but I just feel like some of these companies have become enormous. After AT&T bought DirecTV, it made me uncomfortable.
  3. Philo, Fubo, Sling, etc etc. I honestly don’t know much about these guys.

I decided to go with YouTubeTV on top of my current TV which is an Android TV by SONY. I kept Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The UX of YouTubeTV

There are good things about it, but the overall experience on a television is pretty bad. It’s designed to be alot like YouTube. The problem is that YouTube is designed for a tablet or desktop/laptop experience. It’s not designed for a television and remote control. I notice the same design patterns on Apple TV. The “Guide” has an information density that is just too low for the use case.

YouTube TV Guide Interface

Notice on the screenshot above that you can see 5 shows at once and about 60 minutes of programming. Compare that with the guide on Tivo.

Tivo Guide Interface

2 hours of programming showing 8 shows at a time. Look at the same comparison of the recorded DVR programs.

YouTube TV Library
Tivo Library

On YouTube TV, it is pretty, but it’s very difficult to use. You have to use your remote control way too much. It’s annoying. 6 shows on YTV and 13 on Tivo. The experience jsut doesn’t work.

There are other details, but this one jumped out at me.

Another improvement since last time is the frame rate for sports. It’s 60 fps so the video is pretty smooth. I don’t see any programming in 4K, but am hoping that shows up eventually.

New Cost

  • Internet: $63 (I got a discount for a year by asking!)
  • Modem: $13
  • YouTube TV: $50
  • HBO Now: $15
  • AMC Premiere: $5
  • Netflix: $16
  • Hulu $6

Total: $168

So I am saving over $100 a month and getting more HD channels (especially Tennis and HBO). I can watch the recordings from anywhere (difficult to do with the Tivo system.

I still don’t have any way to use the profiles in Hulu. I am considering switching platforms to Apple TV or Roku Ultra. Roku is cheaper, but slower, but also has a better UI (in my professional opinion). Apple TV, expensive, faster, and possibly being dismantled in favor of other hardware vendors? Not sure what is going on there.

Plus, I really need to consider what remote controls I want to have. it’s a more complicated question than it should be.

Bottom Line

So far so good. It will take a while to see how it goes. I assume I will get an Apple TV and try it. I was considering waiting until the fall when the new version comes out.

There are tons of new platforms and programming options coming out. It’s enough to drive one crazy. Oh well, such is TV.