Why cutting the pay-TV cord turned out to be a good move

Cutting the cord

Cord cutting saves money, but costs can soar if you go all-in with every streaming service. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime offer free trials before you have to commit to payments. (Jonathan Takiff / TNS)

The pay-TV industry lost more than a million subscribers last year, four times the number that skedaddled a year earlier, according to market researcher SNL Kagan.

That doesn’t mean cable, satellite and other pay-TV companies are gasping for breath. But it does mean that cord cutting is having a clear impact on the industry — and that can only be good for consumers who have grown sick of paying for dozens, even hundreds, of channels they never watch.

Best Boxes for Cord Cutting

Readers have asked for updates about my experience since I cut the pay-TV cord in January, slashing my monthly Time Warner Cable bill in half (I still receive broadband Internet and home-phone service from the company).

I can say without reservation that the experience has been a good one. Although I’ve said adios to two channels that used to be part of my regular viewing diet — CNN and AMC — I’ve found:

Best Boxes with private IPTV Setup

•Life goes on. I still get plenty of news without CNN and, surprisingly, I didn’t mourn the loss of “The Walking Dead.” By all accounts, the latest season, which ended Sunday, wasn’t very tasty.

•Roku is an excellent way to access streaming video on my TV. I have more than enough viewing options with a stand-alone, $15-a-month subscription to HBO and with Amazon Prime, which I already had for the free two-day shipping.

•With TV now an on-demand experience, I watch what I want when I want. The few times I’ve kicked back and aimlessly surfed the networks and local channels using my HD antenna, I grew so tired of commercials that I turned off the set.

•As a result, I’m reading more.

Krissy Harris knows what I’m talking about. Like me, the 46-year-old Encino resident cut her $150-a-month Time Warner Cable bill to $60 in November by going Internet-only. She gets movies and TV shows via Hulu for $8 monthly.

“I’m reading more too,” Harris told me. “But what I’ve really noticed is that I’m no longer watching stupid shows like ‘Real Housewives.’ I’m watching better shows because there are so many good things available, especially for binge watching.”

Convergence Consulting Group predicted this week that at least another million people will cut the pay-TV cord this year. By December, it said, about 27 million U.S. households will have abandoned pay-TV services.

“Consumers have more options than ever,” said Bruce Leichtman, president of the media consulting firm Leichtman Research Group. “Because of Internet-delivered video, you have the ability to cobble together your own video service.”

But cobble carefully. Costs can quickly soar if you go all-in with every available streaming service. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and premium channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz offer free trials before you have to commit to monthly payments. Check them out and see what’s best for you.

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