Ways to Cut the Cable/Satellite Cord?
December 17, 2015 6:48 AM   Subscribe

I work for a small, community-owned, fiber optic Internet and telephone start-up and we want to provide customers — and potential customers — with options on how to use our services to (legally) watch their favorite programming. Looking to the hive mind for suggestions.

I noticed recently that my AppleTV has a CBS "app" which allows people to watch live programming. Do other networks offer this? Will it matter if someone chooses Roku or AppleTV or ChromeCast, etc? There is Hulu, Netflix, etc, but what other tips can you pass on? Bonus points for live sporting events. Thanks!
posted by terrapin to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I would definitely look at is Sling TV, which broadcasts a number of cable channels live over the internet, including ESPN.

Also, the major sports leagues in the US all have some kind of streaming service, although I think MLB.tv is the only one that's actually any good.
posted by selfnoise at 6:56 AM on December 17, 2015

Also you might want to look at this recent question for options in terms of streaming boxes.
posted by selfnoise at 6:58 AM on December 17, 2015

I've found that sporting events are frequently the hardest to find for free. The best solution I've found is, ironically, the purchase of an inexpensive HD window mounted antenna.. I pick up most of the local stations over the air so I can often watch local teams on CBS/ABC/NBC.

The CBS app you're speaking of requires a subscription to use, $6 per month..but, it's not a bad price for the amount of content.

CW, ABC, NBC all have free streaming, as does PBS.

HBO has a stand alone streaming service.

I found Sling to be expensive for a pretty limited selection of Content, but it did allow me to access ESPN channels.

Amazon Prime streaming is a good buy for only $100 per year cost (plus the side benefit of free shipping which pretty much pays for the service).

I cut the cable about four months ago, life would be good if I could only find a way to watch Jeopardy....
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 AM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I cut the cable about four months ago, life would be good if I could only find a way to watch Jeopardy....

I have a dumb tv and a cheap desktop computer and through this all things are possible. All you need is a tv tuner.

I use the tv as the monitor for my computer. Plug the tuner into the computer, plug your antenna into the tuner, and you're golden. Windows Media Center comes with a dvr baked in. I can record any broadcast tv, as much as I want, whenever I want, to watch at my leisure while fast forwarding through commercials.

Between this, youtube, and free hulu I can see almost all the TV I'm interested in. For the rest there are shady streaming sites.
posted by phunniemee at 7:18 AM on December 17, 2015

The answer is going to be more of a process than a website, depending on people's abilities, but there are some great cord-cutter resources available (here's one for sports, for example). The TV Tuner phunniemee links to is the easiest solution and then a combination of YouTube and free Hulu and other stuff they may have subscriptions to. I haven't found the Roku too useful but I have an old one and the new ones have apps for things like Comedy Central which is almost all I ever have cable for. I think a neat helpdesk thing to do would be to take requests for what people want to watch and see if you can find ways to do it and assemble a FAQ. Give them links to things like Can I Stream It which helps with some things.

The big deal is that since you're a business you can't really suggest the sketchier stuff which actually will allow them to fill in the blanks, though you can suggest they get good at Gooling "Watch world cup free" or something. Things like getting a VPN so they can watch BBC or using one of those sketch FreeTv sites to see if you can find your thing. I watch SNL that way when I don't have a local option.
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 AM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good advice. I have been reading articles online with suggestions but I am looking for these sorts of real world examples.

I checked a DTV reception map and my area is completely in the weak to no-signal range. So that's not a real option.

Jessamyn, as you know, my concern with telling someone to google something like you suggested is that while there are many pirated feeds for live sports, they all come with malware/spyware risks.
posted by terrapin at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2015

I checked a DTV reception map and my area is completely in the weak to no-signal range. So that's not a real option.

This is also not a real option unless you can get several people to participate in your madness, but one of my neighbors has a receiver dish SETI would be proud of mounted in his backyard to pull stations from Mexico. The signals are out there if you have the right equipment.
posted by phunniemee at 8:35 AM on December 17, 2015

There are a few "immoveable objects" that will keep cable customers from cutting the cord:
- Exclusive contracts for live sports
- Bad OTA reception
- Networks who just don't seem to give a damn, like HGTV.

When potential cord-cutters identify what they actually want to watch, and compare that with the various offerings, one of these issues is what's most likely to scuttle their switch. *shrug* It certainly did for us, unfortunately. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2015

We cut the cord in 2009, when I lost my job, and haven't plugged in again (though I now have a job). I live south of Seattle, so even with an indoor antenna we get reasonable OTA coverage. We're not huge sports watchers, but my wife misses baseball (I don't) and the half of the NASCAR season that's on cable. The Seahawks, thank heavens, are broadcast.

If you get decent good OTA reception, broadcast TV is spectacularly sharp and bright. For the rest, we've had a Roku for years for Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. That and Redbox take care of 95% of our needs. The other 5% are the holes in our system.
posted by lhauser at 2:14 PM on December 19, 2015

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