Thursday, February 5, 2015

CC 201 : Cord Cutting Plan Of Attack

If you've gotten this far you are either profoundly bored or are seriously considering Cutting the Cord. And this is serious business requiring careful planning and deliberate execution. Disappoint is universally caused by unmet expectations and managing expectations is the best and most effective way to prevent what could be a relationship shattering tsunami of disappointment.

So. You need a plan.

There is no one size fits all plan. You have to take into account your individual circumstances. Are you in an established residence or are you just moving in? Do you have must-watch programming and if so, do you know what it is? Even without that knowledge in hand there is a general framework, a set of recommendations for moving forward. A meta-plan.

Some assumptions must be made even for a meta-plan, e.g., you have a high speed data plan of some sort? If you do not have and are not expecting to get high speed internet access you could skip directly to OTA but you will miss out on a large selection of content. But...there was life before the interweb.

A common practice in any service cutover is to "switch on before switching off." Turn up the post-cord-cutting services before you fire the cable company. Not one of the services and technologies you will be using in the Land Of No Cable is incompatible with that ugly set top and only one is inconvenient. 

A principal stolen from product development is "fail fast, fail cheap." If you THINK you know what the best option is but you're not absolutely certain, try a cheaper way of doing the same thing. Consider this a proof of concept, and if that works and you like the outcome, then consider the grander, more expensive option.

Let's look at how this works in practice starting with OTT. Start with Netfix, who like any good drug dealer gives you the first one free. Take that free month to learn the ropes and do the administrivial things like setting up your profile, searching for programs, build a list, watch some things and rate what you watch. Doesn't cost much as you can watch the programming on a PC, an Xbox, or many a Bluray player and if you find you (and yours) really don't like it, Netflix has a no-contract cancel-at-any-time policy. If you find you like it you may want to move on/up to Hulu or Amazon, keeping in mind that you are still in an exploratory phase. Even if you don't like what you see you didn't sink a lot of money figuring out that watching streamed TV isn't your cup of tea. 

Similarly for OTA. You can buy any number of antennas for well under $100 with Mohu being one of the more highly regarded in the low cost one-antenna-per-TV category. Dunwoody is pretty well situated with a major antenna farm to the South/Southeast such that one of the mudflap antennas is likely to work in a second story bed/bonus room. The amplified version may be required but even that retails for about $70. Significantly less than one month's extended basic cable and probably less than a year's set top rental. It is much more difficult to explain how much programming is now available over the air than it is to hook up an antenna, scan for channels and just look around.

If these prove out the concept then it is time determine where you are going to go with these services and what your ultimate system would look like. And if you find out that you really prefer what you already have then you know that for certain and have not made an expensive mistake.