Cord Cutting Developments
The practice of cord-cutting continues to build momentum in the United States, and after many years of denial by the pay television industry, cable and phone companies now admit television packages are under threat. Companies are still trying to hold the line on cable TV pricing, but some are using tricks like surcharges to cover increasing costs for local TV stations and sports networks.
Charter is quietly testing new slimmed-down packages targeting cord-cutters and internet-only customers. Frontier has determined its future should not rely on offering linear/live cable TV programming to customers, and isn’t aggressive about expanding service in its legacy service areas in any case. Greenlight has never been in the television or telephone business and is unlikely to start.
In 2018, expect large studios that own and operate cable networks to offer streaming services or apps that offer live and on-demand content from their network libraries. Boomerang, ESPN, Viacom, and a handful of others are pitching their own standalone services (or soon will) for around $5 a month each.
But the vast majority of cord cutters still interested in linear/live television choose a bundle of channels from one of several competing streaming cable-TV providers. A few are finally also streaming live feeds of Rochester’s ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations, although none carry PBS. Access to CW and MyNetworkTV programming is sometimes available on demand.
Make sure you have a streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, etc.) that is compatible with the service you want to use and take advantage of widely available free trials before committing to a service.
AT&T DirecTV Now
One of the largest services, DirecTV Now offers 60+ live channels for $35 a month. Three other tiers offer progressively larger numbers of channels – $50 for 80+ channels, $60 for 100+ channels, and $70 for over 120 channels. Premium networks are especially cheap from DirecTV Now — $5 each for HBO and Cinemax, and $8 for Showtime or Starz. There are also significant discounts for AT&T’s wireless customers. DirecTV Now is also beta testing a cloud storage DVR which can record and store programming. Biggest downside remains no local stations.
CBS All-Access Pass
This service lets you access a live stream of WROC-TV and on-demand access to CBS shows and a number of older shows licensed from Viacom and other entertainment companies. Customers can choose from a “limited commercials” plan for $5.99 or a commercial-free plan for $9.99/mo.
50+ networks, the only service offering a complete lineup of local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations, and a cloud DVR with no storage limit are all strong selling points for YouTube TV. The service this week announced it would add Time Warner/Turner Network-owned services including Turner Classic Movies, TNT, TBS, CNN, among others. But with that comes a price increase. If you are a new or existing customer, you can lock in the $35/month rate by subscribing before March 13, 2018. After that date, new customers will pay $40/month.
Philo offers no local stations, but does offer inexpensive plans for those who want only the basics. Philo offers a 37-channel package for $16 a month or 46 channels for $20 a month. The lineup has no news or sports programming, except for BBC World News and Cheddar, but does offer a number of Scripps Media, Viacom and Discovery Networks channels like Comedy Central, Food Network, MTV, History Channel, and HGTV.