By Ryan Velez
Many people are reaching their boiling point when it comes to dealing with their internet service/cable TV providers, whether it’s due to unexpected fees, extended outages, or many other issues. Some try and shop around for a different provider, but many live in areas where that is not an option, leading to the question of putting up with things or cutting the cord. Some may be terrified of living without cable, but there are alternatives that are not region-locked. Black Enterprise writer Samara Lynn is one such person who had enough and moved to internet service only while buying a Roku TV. As happy as she is to be free of cable issues, the move has come with pros and cons.
Perhaps the biggest pro is the fact that there is no shortage of content to see. Lynn chose to use Sling TV’s service, which enabled her to get a number of her favorite channels under one deal for one price. However, there are many different TV streaming services available, including Hulu and Crackle, that provide a variety of content. Between these and independent internet channels, there is no shortage of material that can fit your tastes, whether it’s old favorites or something new.
In addition, internet TV also provides a number of conveniences. These include the ability to pay a little extra to opt out of commercials on some services. Even if you don’t, there are far fewer commercials than on network television. On-demand viewing allows you to live-stream shows during their actual broadcast time or watch them whenever you like after it is added to a channel. In addition, you can turn your TV into a full-on entertainment hub, with the ability to connect video game systems, computers, media servers, and other devices altogether.
Perhaps the big question is do you save by doing this? It depends. In Lynn’s case, where there was only one provider in town, the savings were quite noticeable. However, those who live in areas where multiple providers are competing may have lower prices, to the point where cutting the cord doesn’t really make that much of a difference month to month.
These leads into another major con of internet TV: you need a strong and likely fairly new router. 5 GHz Wi-Fi is a must for handling streaming video, so upgrading will be another expense if it is necessary for you. Of course, if your internet goes down, you won’t have any TV at all.
One thing to note about internet TV is that your content options, robust as they may be, will not match a traditional cable subscription. Some channels don’t allow live streaming of shows, while others may put up content as a series of chopped up clips the following day. Networks are trying to make up for this with exclusive digital content, but it’s not always a fair trade.