The numbers for pay TV providers this year have been dismal, with suppliers on track to post their worst 12 months ever. The only bright spot for the industry is that the losses could have been much worse.
In spite of losing subscribers of pricey channel bundles, cable companies and other suppliers of pay TV managed to increase their content profit margin by 5%. Instead of trying to stem the bleeding by giving consumers a better deal, pay TV is squeezing more profit from the customers they have left with additional price increases. It’s hard to see how raising prices on a shrinking customer pool is a sustainable business model; Americans have had enough of expensive channel bundles, and are turning to alternatives in record numbers. Here are a few of the ways consumers are "cordcutting" — using their broadband Internet connection to dump premium content packages.
Connect Your Laptop To The TV
In most cases, the cheapest way to get streaming content on your regular TV is a simple cable connection through either the mini display or HDMI ports on your computer. If you need help figuring out what kind of cord you need, start at this website.
Connect Your TV To The Internet
Several services exist for using the Internet to stream TV from your Internet connection. If you have a newer TV it most likely already has a USB port, and that's all you need to get started.
With the $29.99 Chromecast USB dongle for your TV, you can stream content from any PC, smartphone, or tablet to any TV with a USB port. The Chromecast dongle gives you access to Google Play with a large selection of movies, and is compatible with Netflix and most other online subscription channels. While this device is a price breakthrough in terms of linking video devices and YouTube to your television, the implementation can sometimes require a bit of technical sophistication. Chromecast may not be the best choice for those who are not comfortable researching the occasional technical fix.
Set-top boxes like Roku, which range in price from $39 to $89, will handle all the technical settings for you. After a simple setup, you can access hundreds of free channels via Roku — and it’s compatible with subscription services like Netflix, Hulu+, and other on-demand content. You decide what you want to pay for, not the cable company. If you have a Windows PC or laptop and don’t want to mess with the technology, then Roku is the way to go.
Apple TV provides the widest variety of content, including compatibility with iTunes. Apple has been very aggressive about inking deals with major distributors but, like all things Apple, it tends to be one of the more expensive alternatives. Apple TV also may not be the best choice for those who avoid all things Apple like iPhones, iPads and iTunes. Unless you already have a lot of iTunes content, get a Roku. If you’re already an Apple fan, then stick with Apple TV.
New TVs are out that you can connect directly to your wireless network, cutting out the need for a set-top box. So far these just seem like expensive TVs and, at this stage of the technology development, it would probably be better to stick with a set-top box. Who knows how streaming content may be delivered in five or six years — so why risk having an outmoded TV that will require some other type of set-top box anyway? Buy your TV for the picture quality, and leave the streaming content to third-party devices for the present.
With pay TV providers trying to squeeze more money from their customers, this holiday season might be the perfect time to tell your local cable TV company that the Internet can stay, but the rest of the pay channels have to go.