Coffee Talk #651: Cutting the Cord With HBO Now

Last week, I made the decision to cut the cord and cancel my AT&T U-Verse TV service. The recent launch of HBO Now and the fairly recent launch of Sling TV precipitated the change. With those two streaming television services, I have access to Game of ThronesLast Week Tonight with John OliverESPN, and the first few rounds of the NBA playoffs — vital parts of my TV consumption. My existing Netflix (comp account) and Amazon Prime subscriptions already provide a great selection of movie and television content. HBO Now and Sling TV give me even more to choose from — certainly more than I need. When you add up all the subs, it’s still cheaper than my monthly U-Verse TV package.

One week in and I’m a happy camper. The Game of Thrones premiere streamed without a hitch, I’ve got my weekly dose of John Oliver, my lunchtime break of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption continues, and I get to watch NBA games. While people had problems with Sling TV during March Madness and some people had issues with Game of Thrones on HBO Now last night, those services have been working flawlessly for me. I’m getting almost all the content I want and saving money!

Of course there are things that I’ll miss. Chief among them is live boxing. Unfortunately, HBO Now doesn’t feature the network’s live sports broadcasts. Showtime also has a bunch of live fights that I’d like to see. Since I’m no longer a U-Verse subscriber, I won’t have access to boxing pay-per-view events. Hopefully a solution will present itself in the future. For now, I’ll just have to go to bars or make drop-in visits to friends with cable in order to enjoy boxing. Keep in mind that all of this was expected. Being a hardcore boxing fan is really expensive. You need a cable or satellite subscription, premium networks, and pay-per-view to follow the sport live.

Cutting the cord has been liberating. It’s cheaper and (for the way I like to watch television) better. Yeah, I’ll be lumped in with those Silver Lake hipsters that love to brag about how they cut the cord years ago, but it only made sense for me now. Game of Thrones has been my favorite TV show for the last four years and there’s a bunch of other HBO content that I love (despite the presence of the wretched Olivia Munn). HBO Now gives me all of that. With baseball kicking off and the NBA playoffs starting, this is my favorite time of the year for sports. Sling TV has me covered. Watching TV solely through streaming services is less expensive and kind of cool in that “Hey, look at me! I’m a futurist!” way. For my television habits, Netflix and Amazon Prime were a great start, but HBO Now and Sling TV sealed the deal.

I know that RPadholic Smartguy has cut the cord. Care to give an update on how your experience is going? For you other guys and dolls, what would it take for you to cancel your traditional cable service and go full streaming? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!

  • No problems as far as cord cutting is concerned. I do miss live sports but the premium price isn’t worth it to me. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by Netflix in that when I pay for a timeshifting service I don’t expect to have ads in my viewing which is why I detest my wife’s Hulu Plus subscription. We experienced zero issues with the GoT premier Sunday.

    The only looming issue I have with cord cutting is that content is locked to a specific service now. For example, I recently began watching all of Star Trek TNG and noticed that Netflix only had the SD versions whereas Amazon Prime had the superior HD remastered versions. Granted the commitment to these streaming services doesn’t extend beyond 30 days (a full year in the case of amazon) so that isn’t terrible if you can binge watch what you want in a month.

    Sports:
    NBA TV: No playoffs no sale. The NBA regular season is pretty boring until this time of year so the price of admission isn’t worth it.

    MLB TV: Best value. The opposite of the NBA since MLB is the sport of records and records are made in the regular season. With the season being so long it feels that the level of play in the postseason suffers anyway. So no big deal that the postseason isn’t here.

    I hate Roger Goodell and wish that moron would just stop messing with the game. The NFL unfortunately cannot offer a stand alone streaming service due to the HUGE contracts with ESPN and other broadcasters. Not that I would expect them to do so…this is the sports league that effectively eliminates half of their customer base from mobile streaming due to that Verizon deal.

    As far as live sports in general…I’ll just go visit someone who still feels the need to pay for all of the channels or visit a bar showing the event…or just go old school and listen to the radio.

  • Not a week goes by without thinking about doing this. They few times I do sit down to watch something on TV, I find nothing but old movies, reality garbage and way too many infomercials. This stuff is NOT worth $60 per month (and that’s the cheapest HD tier… with HD being an additional $10, of course!) .

    For the little stuff on TV that I do watch, the value is terrible. Still, I still can’t find that little “push” I need to actually go ahead with this.

    If my wife does quit her job, I may be forced to do this (and probably reduce the Nicaraguan cleaning lady’s hours).

    It is difficult to break a habit I’ve been instilled with since I was three years old.

    • The U and Dolphins both suck so that should help you eliminate pay TV.

  • Excellent points, as always SG. I do wonder how many cord cutters subscribe to multiple services. I can’t imagine having just one as a replacement for cable/satellite. Most of my cord-cutter friends have a combination of services.

    On a side note, Hulu infuriates me a bit. I tried out a friend’s account and was appalled that there are long advertisements on the paid version. Wtf.

    • Yeah the ads suck and unfortunately I find myself a fan of Shark Tank and Blacklist. $8 per month isn’t too bad to watch these with my wife but the ads are just stupid. More infuriating is that you have to have the paid service to use it on an ARM device. That is literally the only difference I have noted between free and paid Hulu.

  • Iceman, the poor movies on premium cable were pissing me off. That and the silly price were factors in canceling U-Verse TV. I don’t watch a lot compared to most of my friends, so the value seemed poor. I have no problem paying for a superior Internet connection because I use it a ton for work and play. U-Verse TV…no thank you.

    As for the habit, I actually prefer it. For movies, I rather watch them whenever the hell I want rather than when a network programs them.

  • Your truthful, snide remark has both angered and saddened me at the same time.

    Curse you.

    Oh, well, at least I still have the Marlins (*goes to check the standings*)

    Aww, crap.

  • The fiance and I have been talking about it too but the NFL is what keeps me with DirecTV.