Steps on How to Cut Cable TV

scissors cut cable cord

Beware that Internet TV, aka Broadband TV, is not for everyone even though you may be fed up with those cable and satellite costs, two year contracts, and renting DVRs. Without doing some research, you may end up buying devices you don't need, subscribing to networks that don't have the shows you want, or worse, end up paying more than your current cable bill. You may have heard about Roku devices or Netflix subscriptions, but those items alone are not going to lead to your cutting cable in order to reduce your monthly bill. The following are things I found in this process that you need to consider. I am not a journalist nor someone with a website devoted to TV. This is just plainly how to possibly achieve what the title of this article states.

Step 1: Is it worth it to cut the cable?

To Cut or Not to Cut, that is the Question -- William Snakesnear

If you watch episode reruns and movies for the 7th time; it can be said TV is your hobby. Packaging saves, so keep the all-you-can-eat buffet of cable or satellite with 100s of networks.

If you are a sports fan, know that sports are dispersed widely on the Internet TV networks. NFL Redzone only gets you the highlights from Sunday football games. NFL Game Pass offers all football games after they have been played live. MLB.TV, NHL.TV, NBA League Pass cover live one particular sport. (MLB doesn't do the World Series.) Then there's getting all the others sports. Broadbanding sports events will not save you money. Again, keep your cable. (Will an antenna do? If so, read on.)

If you are not one of the aforementioned, you are set to begin investigating cable cutting. Your next step is to do some math with a simple cost benefit analysis, in order to figure out if this anti-cable approach is going to save you money on your shows. You may need more than a few content providers in order to view all of them, such that it may not be cost saving to switch.

Former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, R. James Woolsey, remark about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"Yes, we have slain a large dragon. But we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes..."

This quote can be applied to the independent of cable networks. Each new network snake has smaller fees than the total fee of cable and satellite, but when combining the snakes, cost can add up to more than you were paying to the cable or satellite dragon, you slew in the first place due to their high cost.

So, figure out you cost. Here's how I charted costs to see if my independence of the cable or satellite monopoly was going to be worth the switch.

  1. First, take your monthly cable or satellite bill and multiply by 12 to give you what you're spending yearly, so that you'll become sick and motivated to do something about the situation. At the time my annual cable cost was roughly $142 X 12 = $1704.
  2. Second, in order to get just my TV cost from my total cable bill, I subtracted my Internet cost …
  3. Internet Service$30 x 12 months = $360
    Router and Wi-Fi$12 x 12 months = $144
    Total Internet (annual)$360 + $144 = $504

    … of $504 from my annual cable bill of $1704. This left $1200 I was paying for TV shows annually. Yikes! What the *#@!.

  4. Third, I researched the shows I watched on cable and priced them for purchase with Internet/broadband delivery. Internet delivery is not a cable buffet of every network. It's more like several entrées' and a-la-cart. Entrees (multi-show libraries) are the new networks of Netflix, Hulu, Sony's PlayStation Vue, Dish Network's Sling, Comcast's Stream, Amazon Video, Time Warner's HBO Now, AT&T's Direct TV Now, and Showtime's Showtime Anytime. A-la-cart is like the AMC network's Walking Dead, purchased through stores such as Amazon, Google Play, etc. So write down your shows, find where they're obtained, and figure costs.
1 show2 season subscription with Amazon$54
9 showsAnnual subscription with HBO Now$180
1 showHistory channel$0
Total Broadband $234
Pro football, local weather, etcNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox if able to use an antenna$0
Total Broadband & Broadcast $234

So with cable I was paying $1200 per year for shows I watched, and with the Internet I was going to pay $234 per year for the shows I watch. That's a difference of $966 annually I could save by cutting back on unneeded TV shows. An antenna and selecting shows with Internet delivery definitely reduced cost. If your cost is a significant less than you're currently paying to the cable or satellite company, congratulations, you're about ready to make the switch from cable TV to Internet/broadband TV + antenna/broadcast TV. However, there are still a few more things to know.

Step 2: Do you need live showings or not need live showings?

Do Need

For live TV ( morning shows, sports, etc.) from the major, traditional networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox; you will need an over-the-air antenna. The antenna will help reduce your show cost to $0.

However an antenna is no good unless it gets good signal reception. The following are things you need to know about antennas, but signal strength is going to be the first thing to check on. If you don't have it, your only options are back to cable or using apps as in the next section.

Find the needed preceding information by Googling “tv broadcast tower locator”. Here are a useful few links I used.

If you go with an antenna, obtqin one appropriate for the range from the transmitter towers to your house. In some cases, if you live in a well receiving area, getting major networks and other broadcasters is just $12 dollars away with one of those square foot antennas. If you live 40 or so miles from the broadcast towers, you may need to spend $40 bucks like I had to do. I bought one that has almost a 5 star user rating with an online superstore. GE antennas seem to get this.

Also, buy enough coax cable to reach from the antenna to TV.

You'll, too, need a compass app on your phone to be able to point your antenna in correct direction. From an app store, search for “compass app”. They're usually free. Chose one that has degrees on it and not just the north, south, etc.

Do Not Need

If live TV isn't needed, the traditional networks do have apps for your use with Internet TV. Be aware of 3 things, though.

  1. Some broadband shows may have a delay for you to view them.
  2. Some broadband shows and their networks are still, unfortunately, tied to cable providers. Yes, you can download their app, but no shows can be accessed online, unless you have a Participating Television Service Provider (PTSD, aka cable or satellite, aka Post Traumatic Stress Provider). VH1 is an example. Other networks allow their viewers to watch shows from their Websites over a period of several weeks, after a shows initial debut by broadcast and cable. After this period, the show is then turned over to a PTSP, to which you'll need to log in to the PTSD to get the show thereafter. Examples are NBC, ABC, CBS. And still other networks, such as Discovery, have their shows go directly to the PTSD for a week or so, then they return to the network for availability on their Website.
  3. Some networks have same day/same time viewing as the cable subscribers have. But with same day, you usually have to pay a subscription. HBO does this.

Below is a chart for an example of how long it may take for a show to debut on the Internet. A show from various networks was chosen to determine the number of days it took for the network to release it to the Internet. Be aware that other shows on the same network may take more time to be released to the Internet. The moral of this story is to investigate your shows to find wait times. If you don't want to wait, probably get you an antennae.

Availability on Internet after Cable or Broadcast Debut
NetworkVerified with ...Debut - EST# DaysCost
ABCOnce Upon A TimeFriday 8:008Free
AMCWalking DeadSunday 9:001F&PTSP
CBSBig Bang TheoryThursday 8:001Free
Comedy CentralSouth ParkWednesday 10:001Free
CWThe FlashTuesday 8:001Free
FOXThe SimpsonsSunday 8:008Free
FXAmerican Horror StoryTuesday 10:00n/aPTSP
HistoryThe VikingsWednesday 9:001 F&PTSP
HBO NowWest WorldSunday 9:00Same$
NBCThis is UsTuesday 9:001Free

*** All in all, I would do the hybrid approach of antennae and apps. You're going to have more options.

Step 3: Know your Internet casting software

You may be buying the antenna, but for the hybrid approach, you'll also need to get its tag-team partners of apps and app casting equipment.

Casting is a general term that has 2 forms - streaming and mirroring. Streaming is when only video displays on your TV. Mirroring is when video displays on your phone's or computer's screen, plus anything else that's on that screen (control buttons and forth), which then that can be put and replicated to your TV's screen.

Casting has 3 types of apps: casting with a cast enabled Network app, casting with a browser app, casting with an OS app.

  1. 1. Casting with Network Apps
  2.  
  3. These are what you'll be using for most of your casting. There's Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, YouTube, etc. Realize these type of apps are different from regular apps in that they are made for casting and are cast enabled. Regular apps can not cast innately but can by other means (see OS casting). These cast enabled apps and are obtained from stores at2678271581 or Roku or Amazon. If obtaining an app like Netflix from Google Play, then it's going to cast to Google's device - Chromecast. (Devices are discuss in a little bit.) If getting Netflix from Roku or Amazon stores, then it's going to cast to their respective devices. With network apps, you'll be casting by streaming and not mirroring. Streaming puts the work on your router and cast device, and not your phone's battery.
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  5. Added Note - Since Google makes other regular apps that aren't cast enabled, unlike Roku and Amazon, make sure you go to the preceding link and not directly to Google Play. If the network app is found at this link, then you know it's cast enabled. Finding an app and clicking will then direct you to Google Play.
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  7. 2. Casting with Browsers Apps
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  9. You will probably not be using this browser apps much to view shows and video. However, it is useful to know for certain circumstances of viewing.
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  11. When I naively started with the whole Internet TV thing, I bought Google's Chromecast device. I initially had some confusion with what it could do. For example, since the word "Chrome" was within the word Chromecast, I associated the Chromecast device with the Google's browser - Chrome, and assumed I was going to be solely casting from the Chrome browser app to the Chromecast piece of hardware. However, I found casting to the Chromecast hardware could also happen from network apps, with no browser apps needed. (Wish Google would have named Chromecast something like a Google Cast Receiver/GCR to avoid some confusion.)
  12.  
  13. Additionally, I knew the Chrome browser app was this ubiquitous piece of software that works on any type device, whether it's a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. I assumed that Chrome would cast from any of those devices. Wrong again. Casting with the Chrome app can only be accomplished via lap/desktop operating systems and not on mobile OS's with phones or tablets such as Google Android or Apple iOS. (You'd think Google would have made their Chrome browser able to cast on its own phone operating system. But there is probably a couple of reasons why it doesn't as discuss further down.)
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  15. Just a further note about Chrome. To cast on your Windows lap/desktop via Chrome to Chromecast, go to the three vertical dots at the top right of Chrome and chose “Cast”. “Cast tab” mirrors everything displaying in the browser tab, including video and control buttons. (If you fullscreen the video player, just the video is mirrored.) “Cast desktop” is mirroring whatever is being displayed on your Windows PC's lap/desktop along with the video.
  16.  
  17. Microsoft Edge can cast too. Like Chrome, it only cast from a Windows lap/desktop. Unlike Chrome, it only casts to Roku. To run, go to the three horizontal dots and the top right of Edge and chose Cast media to device. Duplicate mirrors everything displaying in your browser. “Extend” mirrors your desktop.
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  19. Mozilla's Firefox browser is the only browser to cast from mobile, only working on Google Android. It can cast to both Chromecast and Roku devices. It streams with no mirroring.
  20.  
  21. Apple's Safari browser does not cast to Chromecast or Roku sticks nor to the Apple TV box. Chrome and Firefox are not going to work with Apple's iOS either. If you need to use a browser to cast, while using a mobile Apple tablet/phone with Chromecast or Roku, there are other apps such as iWebTV that can act as a browser and allow you to cast to the Roku or Chromecast.
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  23. At this point you may be wondering, in this day and age of everything that is Web video is uploaded to YouTube, why one needs a browser to cast video to your TV. For one, believe it or not, not every web video is on YouTube. Some videos are solely embedded in the owner's web page for viewing. Secondly, you may find the movie you want is not included in the network library (Netflix, etc.) you may have subscribed with. The Chrome browser/app was how I was able to search, find, and watch nostalgia old movies such as Billy Jack, The Razors Edge, and They call Me Trinity.
  24.  
  25. That's said, you probably will not be using a browser too much to cast shows, since there are apps for every TV network and YouTube having the overflowing trove of web video. But so you're aware of the extended capability – there you go.
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  27. And with that said, even though a browser app probably won't be your primary method of casting shows to a TV, it is useful for casting other Web content that is not video. Say you're are skimming some Websites, and you find an article with photos you want your fellow couch-taters to see. With a browser app, you can cast it to the TV screen for all to view.
  28.  
  29. 3. Casting with OS Apps
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  31. With mirroring, Google's Android can have 2 approaches. Android mobile uses the industry wide Miracast standard and Google's own standard called Google Home. Miracast will allow Roku and Fire to mirror from an Android phone to their respective Miracast receiver sticks.
  32.  
  33. Mirroring from Android to Roku and Fire sticks is possible with Android 4.2.0 +.
  34.  
  35. Mirroring from Android to the Chromecast stick is possible with semicrepe.
  36.  
  37. Be careful, though. With Miracast, just because you have the necessary OS, doesn't mean you have the necessary Miracast function on your phone. Android devices can potentially mirror, but 903-962-9188 do. If purchasing a phone, you'll need to check to see if it is Miracast certified. A more practical way to check for Miracast is to go to this site. (In the search field there at the top of the page, enter in a phone such as an LG G2. Under the specification heading, select your phone, scroll down to the multimedia heading, and see if anything about mirroring is showing in a row under that heading.)
  38.  
  39. With Google Home, you need to be careful, also. Check to see if your device is trustworthy to mirror. (That listing needs to be updated. Newer phones, not listed, may have the power.)
  40.  
  41. iOS is capable of mirroring with Apple Airplay. But, as of 12/2017, it does not mirror to Chromecast, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV. Only to Apple's box. This why it's not covered in this article.
  42.  
  43. Roku screen mirroring setup
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  45. Google screen mirroring
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  47. (706) 957-8126
  48.  
  49. That said of mirroring, you most likely won't be using it to cast shows either – maybe pictures or video clips stored on your phone - but not shows. However, if you remember from above that the Google Chrome browser does not cast from Google's own Android OS. The main reason is probably due to Google Home. If that app is on your phone, you can get it running and cast anything that is displaying on your phone's screen. That can be Web video that is not on YouTube, a movie/show not in a library like Netflix, or Web pages displaying in a browser. I guess Google found no need to make the cast option available in their Chrome browser on Android, since Home's mirroring is possible in their Android OS. (For full screen TV viewing with Home mirroring, turn your phone to landscape.) Another reason Chrome does not cast from Android, may be due to browser casting is fickle. Play around with Chrome and Edge casting, and you'll see what I mean.

Step 4: Know your Internet casting hardware

You will need a smart device to pick up the Internet from your router, in order for you to watch Broadband TV. Let's call those devices - brains. Now, if you don't want to do an Igor, you'll need to know about the brain you want. Otherwise, deranged Frankenstein brains may be what you return to your castle with.

There are smart TVs that already have brains in their housing. If you have a dumb TV like myself, you'll have to get your Scarecrow ass down to Oz to get some brains. Brand name brains for dumb TVs are Roku, Apple TV, Google Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and maybe some others. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are best known for playing video games, but they can do Internet TV too. Additionally, there are also DVR machines and Blu-Ray players that can access the Internet. The aforementioned are box brains.

However, this article doesn't review those. So while at Oz get the Wizard to hand you a stick to complete media streaming capability. I'm not talking about a broomstick either, Dorothy. You need either Google's Chromecast (A dongle really, but I'm calling it a stick from here on out for simplicity.), Roku's Streaming Stick, or Amazon TV Fire Stick. They plug into an HDMI port on the back of a TV, or into a switch device, if you have more HDMI devices than HDMI ports on your TV. The aforementioned are stick brains. Stick brains are mainly for TV entertainment, and not video gaming or other functions you can get through the boxes.

At this point you're down to choosing between the stick brains, in order to cast shows from your router to your TV. There are similarities and differences between the sticks, which may impact your decision of which device to buy.

For instance, when sitting in front of the TV with a Chromecast plugged in, you'll be using your phone as the remote (virtual remote). With Roku and Fire, you'll not only have a virtual phone remote but also have a traditional remote. Do you want to have both types of remote available?

The choice of remote then determines how you'll open a network app. With Chromecast, there is just one simple way to select a network app such as PBS. Just find that app icon on your phone and tap.

With Roku and Fire, there are 3 ways to open an app. One way is by selecting the app via your phone's screen, somewhat like the Chromecast method. However, when selecting the network app, it's not by clicking on one of the various assortments of app icons arranged on your phone's screen. You'll first open the Roku or Fire TV app on your phone's screen, then go to My Channel for Roku or Favorites for Fire. There you will find icons of your networks to select/tap from. If you don't want to select network apps this way, a second way for Roku and Fire is to use their virtual remote interface for your phone. It's similar to their traditional remote in that there are those up, down, left, right arrows to move between apps and select off the TV screen. And lastly, you'll have a traditional remote to select apps from the TV screen.

Playback is a consideration, too. You're probably familiar with a traditional remote playback, with pressing buttons to rewind and fast forward. However, with a virtual remote on your phone, there are two varieties of interfaces to do this. With Chromecast and your phone, an open app has the familiar web video interface. Playback is accomplished by dragging the cursor to the left for rewinding, and to the right for fast forwarding. With the Roku and Fire TV virtual remotes, you press virtual buttons (not drag) to rewind or fast forward.

One last thing to think about is do you want to view your show on your phone or tablet? If so, only network apps working with the Chromecast can do this. You tap the app, get the video going on your phone, and then if you want the big screen, you cast the video over to it. With Roku and Fire TV, network apps are built be viewed solely on the TV screen and not Android devices.

Stick Device Comparison Chart
ChromecastRokuFire 
Able to Receive Browser Cast via lap/desktopWith ChromeWith EdgeWith Edge
Remote Typephone/tabletphone/tablet or traditional remotephone/tablet or traditional remote
Select Network Apps off ...phone screenphone screen or TV screenphone screen or TV screen
Virtual remote Interfaceresembles Web videoresembles traditional remoteresembles traditional remote
Playbackdraggingtappingtapping
Show/Video Viewed on ...phone or TVTVTV

Which stick you want is up to you.

Conclude

Wrapping up, hopefully this article provides you with enough information to make an informed choice on cutting cable. Good luck with your independence of cable or satellite.

Contact: kerrydezerncrotts@gmail.com