Cord-Cutting Requires a Special State of Mind

Cord-cutting: In broadcast television, cord-cutting refers to the pattern of viewers, referred to as cord-cutters, cancelling their subscriptions to multichannel subscription television services available over cable, dropping pay television channels or reducing the number of hours of subscription TV viewed in response to competition from rival media available over the Internet….

If only it were as easy as it sounds.

Technical Complexity

The reason there are so many articles on cord-cutting is because it’s a complex issue, requires some planning and study, and is mixed in with consumer preferences, varied consumer equipment, and studio schemes to optimize revenue. The migration may well require considerable research, and that’s just the first mental hurdle.

This is not a cord-cutting guide. But it is an attempt steer you in the right direction.

The Experts

A good place to start is with sites that specialize in cord-cutting technology and news. Authors there make it their business to be in the know.

For example,

  1. Cord-cutting in 2019: What to expect in a pivotal year
  2. The Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting (2019 Update)

These kinds of articles are richly sprinkled with valuable links to previous articles, news, and reviews that provide additional material for your research.

Of course, The Mac Observer has expert articles on cord-cutting, as well as all things Apple TV (4K), iTunes, and Apple’s TV streaming sevice.


Perhaps the biggest challenge in cord-cutting is the planning phase. And by planning, I don’t just mean the selection of equipment but also defining the viewing interests of yourself and, perhaps, your family. For example, Disney is probably betting on unrelenting pressure from children to have parents sign up for Disney+, due out in 2019. (Here’s a great article about Disney+.) Compromises may have to be made.

Planning also means planning for growth, and that may mean considering multiple streaming devices to cover all your viewing interests. It may also mean considering whether your current ISP plan can be upgraded in speed (25 Mbps) and data cap to support 4KTV, something that’ll certainly be on your mind if not now then soon.

Cord-cutting also may require a psychological adjustment. In this article at FastCompany, “The 6 dumbest cases against cord-cutting (and why they’re so wrong)“, the author makes a valuable point.

As for the glut of new streaming services with their own original programming, it’s unclear why that’s a bad thing given all of it is additive, and that we have more scripted television to watch than ever. My theory: All this fretting about fragmentation comes from a fear of not being able to watch everything that might be of interest. But in every other medium, from music to books to video games, we’ve already let go of that notion. It’s about time the same thing happened to TV.

Spot on.

Industry Schemes

Cord-cutting has its technical side, as I described above. But be aware that the industry has no intention of suffering an overall decline in revenues. That would certainly happen if very cord cutter enjoyed an immediate and permanent cost saving.

Considerable industry effort goes into creating desire and demand. And demonstrating growth. It’s good to recognize that lest one fall into the trap of wanting everything, as in the quote above.

Finally, in time, all of our TV viewing will be in the internet. Cable TV and satellite TV will be largely gone. Those irritating, commercial-busting DVRs will be gone, replaced by internet virtual DVRs that have their own rules and price schemes. Plan for change.

In the end, we’ll all pay about what we’re paying now, and I think that has to be a conscious element in cord-cutting, planning, and service selection.

As science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein said, “TANSTAAFL There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Especially in the entertainment industry.

6 thoughts on “Cord-Cutting Requires a Special State of Mind

  • I think there is a big generational divide in attitude towards cord-cutting.

    Think about it…you live in a college dorm and the only “television” access you have in your room is your laptop computer or iPad. You subscribe to Netflix and maybe Amazon Prime or Hulu. You download the free apps that give you access to the main shows on the various networks (NBC, FOX, etc.). In the end, you don’t feel that you’re missing anything especially significant.

    After you graduate, it’s almost seamless to move into an apartment and remain a cord-cutter — upgrading from an iPad to a media player (like Apple TV) connected to a TV. Some may opt for cable instead — but I suspect many/most will remain cord-free.

    In contrast, consider the older population that have had cable almost from the beginning — from when it became a near necessity because OTA was no longer sufficient. These folk are used to easy access to the wide array of basic cable stations — from AMC to FX to Comedy Central to CNN to MSNBC to the Food Channel to MTV to ESPN and more. Plus likely several premium channels (HBO, Showtime). All from one source with only one bill to pay. And all centered around their TV; many probably never watch any TV or movies on a computer.

    For such people, cutting a cord would force a major realignment of how they get all of these stations — if they can even keep getting them at all. And it will likely require re-training on how you get the stations you want to watch — typically involving multiple solutions. Faced with this, people will be much more resistant to cutting the cord.

    Which leads to my prediction: As the older generation fades away and as cord-cutting options become more streamlined and widespread — everyone will become a cord-cutter over the next decade or two.

    1. Ted, nice to hear from you. We miss you.

      Very nice summation. I also think you’re correct. I would only add that there is more nuance to those divisions, particularly as you add family dynamics to the mix, with generational preferences for content. Given the range of demands in our household, I have found that continuing with cable comes our cheaper, similar to @geoduck’s argument below.

      Added to this is behavioural evolution, in which, at least amongst the tech savvy, as options for viewing expand, viewing behaviour is modified. This is cross-generational, and driven by the technology. In our house we may turn on the big TV with the nice surround sound system at most once a week to watch a new movie release, otherwise most of our viewing is on one of several iPads, or in the case of our kids, their Macs as well, simply for convenience.

      In any case, once our kids move out, I’m going to need a compelling reason to continue with cable (likely for my wife) or to invest in another television (likely due to the technology).

  • To be a true cord cutter you’ll need to find a HD or 4K TV with a built in tuner. By a current HD antenna (high band VHF/UHF), and you’re pretty much all set.

    Current trend however is to sell a 8K display only without the tuner. This necessitates the purchase of a ethernet tuner (Silicondust HD Home-Run) and if using the Apple TV the channels APP. This is a good solution as you can watch over the air via Apple TV and use the HD Home Run App by Silicon Dust on your iPad / iPhone devices plus Mac OS with HD Home Run App.

    The above is supplemented with Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.. If doing this, you’re not really cutting the cord as the coax is needed for internet access to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime.

    To counter the above, Comcast will try to sell you their stream TV service for $15.99 a month plus extra $15.00 for sports, additional $15.00 for HBO and on and on.

    So, in the end, the cord is still needed for internet access. Maybe this will change once 5G becomes common place 3 to five years out from now. 5G costs unknown at this point. Large build out of 5G infrastructure is needed with cost probably passed on to the consumer.

  • A special state of mind called commitment, you have to want to do it, like kicking any addiction. I revisited Netflix and Philo in November and December as a “Holiday treat” – I watched them twice before re-realizing what a time suck this is. 48-55 channels OTA in my area and there is way too much to watch. Add any collection of video disks/files plus video games and you have to wonder about the callus you’re building on your ass : )

  • A couple of years ago I experimented with cord cutting. We dropped our Cable subscription and added Netflix. After a few months my wife said it was fine but she was missing X, and Y, and Z, so we added a few channels to our cable subscription. This has gone on and now we are spending more than we did on cable alone PLUS we subscribe to Netflix. Of course if it was up to me I’d drop cable, drop, Netflix, and just stream off of the web. But that’s me.

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