So the Cox bill has been getting out of control. After the latest package deal ran out, the bill bumped up to nearly $240 per month, mostly for crap (in the form of TV channels and phone features) that we don’t want. That’s a ton of money.
The requirements are:
- Landline with caller ID
- Live TV with the channels WE watch. Local channels, Fox News, History, Discovery, AMC, HGTV, several others.
- Internet to support full time telecommuting
I already switched the phone service over to Ooma. I bought a Telo and signed us up for Ooma Premeir service. That gives us caller ID, voicemail, and unlimited calling in & out. That will reduce the monthly phone service spend from $53.62 (I shit you not, that’s what Cox was charging me) to less than $20 per month — for more service.
Now, next up is cable TV. Cox’s bill comes to a little over $154, including taxes and fees and surcharges. I could reduce that by about $24 by dropping HBO and Showtime, which suck anyway and we only have because they were included in the discount package that has expired. Still WELL over $100 a month for, quite frankly, an awful lot of crap. 200+ channels, but of course they include crap we’d never watch in a hundred years just to try to justify the insane price.
The last time I looked at alternatives like Hulu, Netflix, Sling, etc. — and it was not that long ago — they all fell woefully short of meeting any of our requirements. We stuck with cable TV simply because there was no other way to watch, for example, The Walking Dead, or Fox News, or Nebraska football games, live. A few hours or days or a year after the fact, sure. Or not at all, depending on the service. And we’d probably need to sign up for several, resulting in a total bill exceeding what we were paying for cable in the first place. Oh, and get an antenna up that would work for the local channels, since NONE of them covered those.
Well, it seems the picture has changed significantly. For about $40 a month Hulu will give you all their stuff, plus live TV covering all the channels we watch (BTN for Husker football included, woohoo!) and a DVR service. It’s worth a try. We already have Amazon Prime, mostly for the shipping. The decision to go with a Fire TV Cube was pretty simple. I received and installed that yesterday, and signed up for a free trial week of Hulu with live TV. Oh, and as a side benefit… it looks like this may also negate the need to try and find yet another “universal” remote control, potentially saving another few rubles.
Last night was our first night watching Hulu on the Fire TV Cube. Overall the user interface ranges from “fair, needs improvement” to “frustratingly clunky” to “ridiculously obtuse”. Some of that’s the Fire TV, some is Hulu. It’s bearable, and I hope it improved with future app updates. We also had not one, but THREE screwups while trying to watch live TV. The first was innocuous and not a big deal — watching the news, but the program guide listed it as some oddball foreign cartoon name. OK, no big deal. Then we tried watching Vikings on History Channel. Several minutes into the episode it restarted, restarted again, and when we tried to get back to the live stream it switched to some episode of “Forged in Fire”. Horrifically frustrating. 10-15 minutes later we got back to Vikings, but of course missed part of the episode. We’ll have to watch it again.
Then we tried watching another show, “Curse of Oak Island”. What we got was an old episode of “Stargate SG-1”, which most definitely has not improved with age. It would have been funny if it were not for the fact that we couldn’t watch the damn show we wanted to watch.
I will say that non-live streams seem to work perfectly, and the video quality seems to be great. And we can watch some channels for hours with zero issues. I chatted with Hulu support today, and the agent says it’s a “known issue” that they’re working to resolve. IF they resolve it soon, and completely, we’ll have a winner. If they do not, we’ll need to decide whether we stick with Hulu and adapt (watch things delayed a little), or scrap it and pare our Cox cable back to the minimums and deal with the expense. Or something else entirely.
Once we have a final solution to this question, I’ll post a monthly spend and savings analysis. I think we can probably save about $100 a month, to be honest. I’m glad I don’t own stock in Cox or any other cable company. We’ll still have to use them cor Internet access, of course, but who knows how long that will be true?