The 4th generation Apple TV is a very nice device. It’s designed to fit seamlessly into a modern HDTV home entertainment system. But the total solution for those with a cord cutting mindset, trying to make a transition, is very complex. One needs a multitude of resources, with only one component supplied by Apple.

Curd Cutting

For starters, the cord cutter needs a roadmap. What essential services result in a given monthly bill? Plus what’s the bill for new hardware?

In terms of a roadmap, there’s nothing like a certain kind of graphic to convey information about multiple competitors. Business Insider has constructed such a chart: “This chart shows how absurdly complicated Netflix’s competitive landscape has become.” Not only does this chart size up the “competitive landscape” in streaming video but it also serves as a roadmap for those people trying to construct a cord cutter package that meets their needs.

Streaming services

See original article for full size chart.

For example, one might select Netflix as the anchor and add, say, CBS All Access and then add a sports package. What’s cool about the chart is that the pricing is included in each box, so one can estimate total monthly charges. I liked this chart a lot for that reason, but it also got me thinking about why the rate of cord cutting remains so low.

Cord Cutting Agony

My first reaction was that it’s a very complicated process to cut the cord. If one, say, upgraded a cable DVR recently, then one has committed to a new contract that’s very expensive to break out of. Even if one can terminate the TV service after a pleasant (!) conversation with customer service, it might complicate the bundling of the ISP side if one is with, say, Comcast/Xfinity or Time Warner. And then one may have to spend some time ripping out hardware, reconfiguring, selecting a streaming box, and then selecting streaming services from the chart above.

That’s a big challenge for many families that have conflicting interests. Plus, because it’s a major undertaking, the scope and detail of a guide like this is still very limited. One almost needs an entire magazine, on paper, full of resources, scenarios, diagrams and step-by-step instructions. Complicating that is the arrival of 4K UHD TVs, HDR requirements, 4K UHD Blu-ray players and the need to upgrade, perhaps, a non-cable 4K DVR.

It’s a crazy mess, and the prospects are enough, I suspect, to cause most families to just stay with what they have, doing occasional, piecemeal replacements. One thing that can help is to find a CEDIA professional in your town who can advise and help implement.

Cord Nevers have an advantage. Starting with something simple is easy to build on. In fact, it’s probably a good idea for families with conventional systems to start all over in, say, a den, and build a prototype cord cutter system as an engineering prototype. Later, the configuration can be duplicated in other rooms.

Apple to the Rescue!?

If Apple so desired, there’s a lot more the company could do to make this process simpler and more friendly with cool, advanced hardware. For example,

  1. A simple 55 & 65-inch (OLED) 4K UHD TV with HDR that doesn’t phone home, betraying our privacy.
  2. A 4K OTA DVR (APFS on Flash/SSD) with a (thankfully) modest monthly subscription fee billed to iTunes.
  3. A compatible 5th generation 4K UHD Apple TV.

Everything would “Just work.” Now that would be cool.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of July 11th. iPhone stress relief.

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John: I just back and re-read my post and found a typographical error that renders the first sentence in paragraph 6 uninterpretable. It reads (change italicised), “An important observation that often goes unremarked, and when remarked, whose implication to device creation and adoption is seldom applied to which technologies should be pursued and are ‘smart’ in the sense that they are timely, appropriate and necessary. ” It should read, “An important observation that often goes unremarked, and when remarked, whose implication to device creation and adoption is seldom applied, is which technologies should be pursued and are ‘smart’ in the… Read more »


John: Greetings as I pen this post from my mother’s basement. Literally. You’ve provided much food for thought in this week’s PD, however, I’ll confine myself to but one. There is a unifying theme between Ed Wenck’s article about the future, in which he cites Ray Kurzweil that humans are ‘by our nature, linear’ with respect to our growth and adaptation, and Taha Khalifa’s piece on science catching up with science fiction, in which he poses a valid question; ‘At IFA 2015, one of the world’s leading trade shows for consumer electronics and technology applications, technology was brought to life,… Read more »


There Are a few I nteresting side effects of “cord cutting” that seem to be overlooked often. Right now, it looks good because there is a lot of content that makes it from broadcast and cable TV to “cordless” services, so the idea seems very inticing. But who do you think is paying for that content? Right now it’s cable and satellite systems. But as subscribers go away and revenu drops, so does the vast array of programming. (The same argument can be made for a la carte services. ). As much of the new programming disappears, what will be… Read more »


I cut my cable a year and a half ago when I realized that what I was watching most of the time, MSNBC and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, were both available online. I quickly added a 3rd generation Apple TV with a Hulu subscription and haven’t looked back. I tried HBO Now a couple of times, but I find I really don’t watch it enough to justify the expense.
I’m completely uninterested in sports, so that helps. I’m finding most of my supplemental viewing content comes from YouTube.


We just switched from DirecTV to a small local cable provider that resells a hand full of satellite channels along with local stations. Our monthly bill dropped $38. We also switched from Brighthouse internet service to DSL saving another $15 per month. We use Netflix but are growing frustrated with the growing trend pulling series or seasons from availability. This has happened in the middle of watching the seasons of some series. More and more we are simply buying a couple of season passes in iTunes a month of what we want to watch. It costs less than the various… Read more »


Oh and one more thing. We keep looking at AppleTV and other such boxes and it seems that whatever we want to watch has to be on our cable subscription to show up. Well in that case why bother with the box?


We’ve been exploring cord cutting and, well, it’s not been going well. Netflix Canada has much less than advertised for the US version. I find I use daily-motion more than anything else. Then this is the summer. My wife can use MLB.COM for her baseball fix. But come fall she’ll want to see the Vikings, and Gopher sports, which we can’t seem to find online anywhere. Also as we didn’t completely cut the cord, we just cut back to a bare minimal package, we’re finding that we’re drifting back to turning on cable. It’s just there, easy, simple, a no… Read more »